More About Cameras

Canon Rebel T5
Photo credit: Chris Gampat

After writing my last post about cameras and Disney World, and why I feel it is so important to NOT rely on a camera-phone, I found myself pouring over my photos…and I was less than pleased. All my family pictures had been taken with point-and-shoot digital cameras, which are miles above a cell-phone camera, but they lacked the crispness and detail that I have seen in many photos as of late. I have over 20 years of experience in retouching and editing digital photography, but my experience in actually capturing great pictures to begin with was pretty much limited to random luck and chance lighting.

I bet you can guess what happened next…

Yep, I joined a Facebook Photography group and asked what a good camera would be to learn on that wouldn’t cost two arms, a leg, and my first-born child. Surprisingly, the responses were wonderful – supportive and kind, and honest about the different models I was inquiring about. After some discussion, I decided to throw out any preconceptions I had and go with the camera most suggested by those who had photography experience – a refurbished Canon Rebel T5.

The price was definitely right – $439 on sale to $299; and it’s a camera I can grow with as well as acquire new lenses and accessories for as I gain experience.

However, there is one thing I was NOT prepared for…to absolutely love it so quickly! I literally just took it out of the box, put in the battery and SDHC card, and started shooting with the auto settings on, and I LOVE this camera! It takes pictures WAY faster than a point-and-shoot even with red-eye reduction and flash, and it doesn’t feel overly heavy in my hands – something I was really worried about with any camera with a changeable lens.

You may recall that I wrote about how larger lenses are able to capture more light and generate a better image here. Here’s the difference between my iPhone, a point-and-shoot Sony Cyber-shot and the Canon Rebel T5 with all settings on auto. Please note that I did not use any zoom, have not edited any of these, and that I used a tripod for both cameras (and for distance with my iPhone). First, the iPhone image…


Flower - iPhone

And the Sony Cyber-shot

Flower - Sony Cyber-shotAnd now the Canon Rebel T5…


Flower - Canon

Now, you have to realize that the cameras were all the same distance from the flowers, and that the image sizes get progressively larger. The iPhone captures at 27″ x 36″, the Sony at 45″ x 60″, and the Canon at 48″ x 72″. The difference in where the camera sees the flowers to be is quite obvious, as are some of the differences in color.

Here are the same images – again, un-manipulated save for cropping.

Flower Cropped

And an even smaller sampling…

Flower Cropped Close

I did have to adjust the size of all of these images so that they would fit on the page, but the image sizes in relation to each other are accurate. I was extremely interested in the difference in the colors – DSLR cameras are said to take relatively “flat” images straight out of the camera, but in this instance, the color really pops, and the pinks and yellows didn’t get washed out at all as they did from the Sony and iPhone.

Now with my background in photo editing, there is RARELY an instance in which I leave an image exactly as it came from the camera…so here are the before and after editing shots from my new Canon Rebel T5.

Flower Original - Canon
Cropped, but otherwise unedited.


Flower Final - Canon
Cropped, and edited for sharper color.

And another example – a picture I took of my son this morning for the last day of school.

C before editing.
C before editing.
C after editing.
C after editing.

I know this article sort of sounds like an advertisement for Canon, but it really isn’t. There are many cameras out there better than a Rebel T5, but for a beginner, I think I was pointed in a great direction and can’t wait to practice with different settings before we go on our next trip to Disney World!

Camera-phones in Walt Disney World

Mickey MouseOne of the things we treasure most after being on a magical Disney vacation is the pictures we take while we’re enjoying all the wonderful experiences Disney has to offer. My favorite pictures are always the unplanned, candid ones that truly capture a moment – the first look at the castle, the first taste of a scrumptious dessert, or the first hug from Mickey Mouse.

There is one thing I see at Walt Disney World that makes me sad though – people using camera-phones for pictures during their special trip.

It’s one thing to take a silly selfie with a character or in some silly pose to post on the internet, but people, please don’t rely on camera-phones for important pictures! Something a lot of people don’t understand about using the cameras that come included on cell-phones, smartphones and tablets is that the pictures they take are really only meant to be viewed on a screen, not printed.

Size – First, lets talk image size. Camera-phones have limited storage capacities, and as such are designed to take smaller images than even an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera. Both my iPhone and Sony Cyber-shot digital camera are the same age…but the pictures my camera takes are nearly twice the size of the pictures my iPhone takes. Photos from my camera are 60″ x 45″, and from my iPhone are 36″ x 26.889″. When these images are reduced to print size, the pixels per inch are adjusted according to the amount of reduction. So, the bigger your image is before you reduce it for printing, the better it will look. Using my image sizes for comparison, my camera takes pictures at nearly twice the quality of my iPhone, and it’s just a cheap-o digital.

Lens – Another major difference is in the lens. Digital cameras often combine optical and digital zoom. After a little playing around, you will definitely be able to see the point where the optical zoom (where the lens actually adjusts) changes to digital (faked zoom). The quality found in optical zoom is miles beyond that of digital, and the cameras on mobile devices rely completely on digital zoom. When digital zoom is used, images tend to get very fuzzy and grainy looking.

Sensor – Now, here’s the really important part – sensors. All cameras have sensors that use light in order to create a digital signal. Common sense dictates that the more pixels a sensor has, the better the image, but in this case, size really does matter. The larger the sensor, the more light that can be captured, equaling higher quality photographs (especially in low-light circumstances). Camera-phones simply aren’t able to carry a large sensor simply because the whole goal of the device itself is to be small and compact. Try taking a low-light image with a camera-phone and you’ll see what I mean…it looks like a dust-storm!

Lastly, here are some of the more obvious differences…

  • Battery Life
  • Storage Capacity
  • Shutter Speed
  • Burst Shooting

Also, here’s a side-by-side comparison from my Cyber-shot and iPhone.

Photo Comparison

I did not manipulate these images at all – I simply cropped them and placed them next to each other so you could see the differences. At this size, you can easily see the pixelization you would see from any digital imaging device, but notice the quality of color shifts and the simple number of colors used in the shifts. Also notice the sharpness of the twigs in the nest. Take a look the color – the Sony Cyber-shot is almost identical to reality, while the iPhone made all of the colors cooler. Once you really take a look, the quality difference is quite obvious.

Now for the glaring difference…take a peek at the branch behind the word “shot”. You can see all the little dimples and textures of a wisteria branch. Now look at the other side. Nearly all the detail is missing because the image is just so grainy.

So, for the love of all that is Disney and the magic Walt Disney World brings to our lives…please get yourself a dedicated camera and leave the cell-phones for checking the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Memory Maker at Walt Disney World

Disney's Memory MakerBeing a member of several Disney groups on Facebook, I see all sorts of Disney-related questions. Memory Maker is by far one of the things people ask questions about the most.

This is a looooong post, so here are some links to help you navigate through the information.

Memory Maker partners with PhotoPass and allows you to have Disney photographers take pictures of your family with their camera or yours, or even both. The real beauty in all this is that everyone can be in the pictures, and some of these photographers are phenomenal! In a few locations, the photographers can even add a little extra “magic” to your pictures with Magic Shots.

You can purchase pictures either with Memory Maker, or with PhotoPass. In my opinion, unless your trip is super-short (like one-day short), it is really worth the $169 to purchase Memory Maker in advance because it allows you unlimited downloads of the photos Disney’s photographers take during your trip. I’m going to say it again – UNLIMITED DOWNLOADS. Some people have gotten over 700 pictures through Disney’s photographers and Memory Maker, and it covers as long as a 30-day trip (who wouldn’t LOVE to spend 30 days at Disney?), so yes, it can really be worth it. The photos you are able to download are high-resolution and once you download them, you own the digital rights, so you can do as you wish with them (including getting prints made anywhere).

  • Memory Maker purchased in advance – $169 – includes all photos taken in the parks, all dining photos, all ride/attraction photos and videos, all Magic Shots, unlimited downloads, and the ability to purchase additional products (see below). There is soon to be a single-day option (only for single-day ticket-holders) for $39.
  • Memory Maker purchased during or after your vacation – $199 – includes all photos taken in the parks, all dining photos, all ride/attraction photos and videos, all Magic Shots, unlimited downloads, and the ability to purchase additional products (see below).
  • PhotoPass – the ability to purchase park photos 1 at a time or on an archive CD (which can be purchased in advance for a savings), as well as the ability to purchase additional products (see below). With PhotoPass, you are under no obligation to buy anything.

How All this Works

Photopass Photographer
Photopass Photographer

The first time you approach a Disney PhotoPass Photographer, they will either hand you a PhotoPass card after scanning the bar-code on the back, or they will ask to scan your MagicBand. If they give you a card, make sure to present it to each photographer for future pictures, AND either a) text yourself the number on the back or b) take a picture of the back of the card. You can use multiple PhotoPass cards, and as long as you have the number, you will still be able to retrieve the photos on a missing card.

Upon returning home, you can access your photos online, share them, and order prints or other products. Everything you need to access your photos is on the Disney website under your My Disney Experience account (if it isn’t already linked to your account, you can link your PhotoPass card after logging in).

Here are a Few Tips…

  • Either text yourself the 16-digit number on the back of your PhotoPass card, or take a picture of it on your phone. You can link more than one card to your account, so missing cards can still be accessed online, AND you can request cards for each person in your party if you plan on splitting up.
  • You may have the same photo linked to more than one card!
  • There are no limits on the number of photos you can have taken.
  • Photographers can take pictures of you in more than one pose, and they can also take pictures with your camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for pose suggestions!
  • Always bring your own camera, just in case the photographers are unavailable due to rain or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • You MUST purchase Memory Maker more than 3 days before you travel, otherwise you’ll pay the full $199 for early activation.

Accessing Your Photos

The simplest way to access your photos is through your My Disney Experience (MDE) account on the Disney website. Way down at the bottom of the MDE drop-down menu, there is a link for PhotoPass…click that link. will open, and if you already have a Disney online account or an MDE account, you just need to log in. If you don’t have either of these accounts yet, just register for one. (If you are attempting to access photos from Disneyland, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Gameday Photos) and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, you will need to do so through separate website links provided on

On the website, you can organize your photos chronologically, change them from color to black and white or sepia, and add borders or stickers. You can share your photos online, and download them (make sure to make copies before editing so you still have the originals).

PhotoPass Tips

  • Your photos expire 45 days from the date they were taken unless you purchase the extension to 60 days from the date they were taken. Only one extension may be purchased, and once your photos expire, they are gone forever, so don’t forget to download them before the expiration date. To view the expiration date, simply click on the photo to enlarge it and the date will appear below the photo.
  • Make sure your e-mail address is correct, as you will receive e-mail notification prior to your photos expiring.
  • Photos expire at midnight on the date of expiration. If your photos expire on 12/12/15, your last full day to access them is 12/11/15.
  • You can create and send e-cards from your account that include your photos and music.
  • You can share your photos online in 3 ways – e-mail, blog, or directly to Facebook.
  • If you register your PhotoPass cards right away, you can share your photos while you are still on vacation. (The only downfall is that your photos will expire 45 days after your first log-in.)
  • If you lose your PhotoPass card and don’t have the number, Disney may still be able to locate them if you are within the 45 days from date taken window.

Magic Shots

Magic Shots add a little bit of pixie dust to your photos by using props and including things like Disney characters or other surprises. Here is a list of Magic Shot locations…

  • Magic Kingdom Park: Main Street USA at Main Street Bakery and Casey’s Corner
  • Epcot: Spaceship Earth near Club Cool
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Crossroads of the World and Hollywood Boulevard at Celebrity 5 & 10
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: Tree of Life – Discovery Island, Tree of Life – Discovery Island Alcove, Tree of Life – Africa/Asia Pathway
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park: Cross Country Creek
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park: Castaway Creek

PhotoPass Photographer Locations

Magic Kingdom

  • Agrabah Bazaar Meet and Greet – Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie
  • Ariel’s Grotto Meet and Greet – Ariel
  • Be Our Guest Meet and Greet – Beast
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial
  • Cinderella Castle, near Crystal Palace
  • Enchanted Tales With Belle – Belle
  • Fairytale Garden Meet and Greet – Merida
  • Fantasyland Bridge
  • Fantasyland Teacups Meet and Greet – Alice in Wonderland characters
  • Fantasyland Thoughtful Spot Meet and Greet – Pooh and Tigger
  • Frontierland Meet and Greet – Jessie and Woody
  • Journey of the Little Mermaid Bridge
  • Gaston’s Tavern Meet and Greet – Gaston
  • Liberty Square Meet and Greet – Princess Tiana
  • Liberty Square Bridge
  • Magician Mickey Meet and Greet – Mickey
  • Main Street USA, near Emporium
  • Main Street USA, near Guest Information Board
  • Main Street USA, near Main Street Bakery
  • Main Street USA Train Station
  • Partners Statue
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow – Daisy/Minnie or Goofy/Donald
  • Princess Fairy Tale Hall – Rapunzel or Cinderella, joined by a Princess friend
  • Rose Garden
  • Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook – Tinker Bell and a fairy friend
  • Tomorrowland Bridge
  • Tomorrowland Meet and Greet – Buzz Lightyear
  • Town Square Meet and Greet – Various characters drop by in the morning


  • China Meet and Greet – Mulan
  • Epcot Character Spot – Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy
  • Epcot Entrance
  • France Meet and Greet – Belle or Aurora
  • France Fountain
  • France Fragrance Gardens Meet and Greet
  • Fountain of Nations Courtyard
  • International Gateway Bridge
  • Germany Meet and Greet – Snow White
  • Mexico Meet and Greet – Donald
  • Morocco Meet and Greet – Aladdin and Jasmine
  • Norway Meet and Greet – Anna and Elsa
  • United Kingdom Meet and Greet – Pooh and Tigger
  • World Showcase Overlook

Hollywood Studios

  • Hollywood Studios Arch
  • Disney Junior Meet and Greet – Sophia and Jake
  • Hollywood Banner
  • Hollywood Blvd
  • Hollywood Blvd Meet and Greet – Donald, Goofy, and Chip n’ Dale.
  • Hollywood Studios Entrance
  • Jedi Training Academy – Darth Vader or get photos of your child participating in one of the training sessions
  • The Magic of Disney Animation Meet and Greets – Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie Mouse, The Incredibles, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanelope
  • Monsters Inc Meet and Greet – Mike Wazowski and Sulley
  • Star Tours Speeder Bike
  • Sunset Blvd
  • Team McQueen Headquarters – Lightening McQueen and Mater
  • Tristate Courtyard Meet and Greet
  • Woody’s Picture Shootin’ – Woody and Buzz Lightyear

Animal Kingdom

  • Adventurers Outpost Meet and Greet – Mickey and Minnie
  • Bradley Falls between Asia and Africa – King Louie & Baloo
  • Bus Stop Marquee
  • Dinoland USA Service Station – Goofy and Pluto
  • Discovery Island Character Meet and Greet – Pooh and Tigger
  • Discovery Island Trail – Pocahontas and friends
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Chip ‘n’ Dale
  • Expedition Everest Overlook
  • Cretaceous Trail in Dinoland USA – Donald Duck
  • Main Entrance
  • Tree of Life
  • Tree of Life Garden
  • Wilderness Explorer Meet and Greet – Russell and Dug

Additional Locations:

  • Disney PhotoPass photograhers are available at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach seasonally, and may not be available during the cooler months.
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – before and after photographs.
  • Dining Locations – You must dine at any of the following locations, where photographers are available, the pictures will show up in Memory Maker automatically.
    • 1900 Park Fare
    • Cinderella’s Royal Table (photos included with meal)
    • Chef Mickey’s
    • Princess Storybook Dining (photos included with meal)
    • Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue and Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue
    • ‘Ohana (Breakfast only)
    • Spirit of Aloha
    • Tusker House (breakfast and lunch)

Special Events

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

  • Adventureland – Tinker Bell, Tarzan & Jane
  • Frontierland – Woody, Jessie, Bullseye
  • Fantasyland – the Princesses at Fairy Tale Hall
  • Hub in front of Cinderella’s Castle – Frollo, Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruella, Dr. Facillier, Evil Queen & Maleficent
  • Haunted Mansion – *Special effects pose with hitchhiking ghost is sometimes available
  • Hearse outside the Haunted Mansion. *Special effects pose with hearse ghost driver is sometimes available
  • Main Street U.S.A. – Mickey at Town Square Theater
  • Check the Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party page on the Disney website for other possible experiences (for 2015, you might even meet a barbershop quartet of dead cowboys who sing songs in the style of the Dapper Dans. They like “axing” Guests questions and answering with puns as part of their “dead pan” humor).

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

  • Adventureland – pose with Tinker Bell
  • Hub in front of Cinderella’s Castle
  • Fantasyland – pose with with the Princesses at Fairy Tale Hall
  • Tomorrowland – Goofy, Pluto, Chip, Dale are usually at Cosmic Ray’s
  • Main Street U.S.A. – Mickey at Town Square Theater
  • Check the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party page on the Disney website for other possible experiences.
  • Other Locations
    • Christmas trees located outside of park entrances of Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios, and inside the park at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
    • Downtown Disney Marketplace – Santa Meet & Greet at Christmas Chalet
    • Deluxe resort lobbies next to the Christmas trees.
    • Goofy’s Winter Wonderland Santa Meet at Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • The American Adventure in Epcot – Santa Meet & Greet
    • Tour Guide Gardens in the Magic Kingdom – Easter Bunny Meet & Greet
    • Tour Guide Gardens in the Magic Kingdom – Santa Meet & Greet
Nikon Picture Spots
Nikon Picture Spots

PhotoPass Photographer Location Tips

  • Disney Visa cardholders get access to a free, private meet & greet at Epcot in Innoventions West. Hours are 1:30-7pm daily.
  • Photographers in the water parks can get some very unique photos!
  • Different times of the day can create amazingly different photos!
  • Make early reservations for Crystal Palace and enter the park before opening for pictures of an empty Main Street!
  • Look for the light-post with the umbrella at Hollywood Studios – take a picture underneath it after pressing a button!
  • If you find photos are missing from your account, get in touch with Disney – they can usually locate them for you.
  • If you are running out of space on your personal camera’s memory card, there are a few camera/photo centers that are able to allow you to download your photos and burn them to a CD.
  • Look for the Nikon Picture Spots! They can be located on the Park Maps.
    • Magic Kingdom
      • Big Thunder Mountain
      • Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel (the Sword in the Stone)
      • Tiki Statues
      • Splash Mountain
    • Epcot
      • Germany
      • Japan
      • Morocco
      • Main Entrance
      • United Kingdom
      • China
      • Canada
      • France
    • Hollywood Studios
      • Rock N’ Roller Coaster
      • Hollywood Studios Arch
    • Animal Kingdom
      • Main Entrance
  • Check out the new Disney Memories HD app for mobile devices! You can customize your photos!

Product Pricing

  • Advance purchase of Memory Maker – $169
  • During- or after-vacation purchase of Memory Maker – $199
  • Digital Downloads (if Memory Maker was not purchased) – $14.95 each
  • 5×7 Print – Single – $14.95
  • 4×6 Print – Two – $14.95
  • 8×10 Print – Single – $16.95
  • 16×20 Print – Single – $24.95
  • 4×6 Print from “My Uploaded Photos” – $0.19 each
  • Set of 20 Photo Stickers – $9.95
  • 20 Photo Occasion Cards – $29.95 each, additional set $19.95
  • 10 Folded Photo Occasion Cards – $24.95 each, additional set $19.95
  • Disney’s PhotoBook – $79.95 and up for 20 pages, additional pages up to 60 may be added for a fee.
  • Photo Storage Extension – $19.95 for 15 Days
  • Personal Photo Archive CD – $19.95, all photos you have uploaded to MUST present copyright agreement to retailer when purchasing prints of customized photos.
  • PhotoGallery CD – $39.95, includes hundreds of photos from Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts.
  • Photo Mugs, Mouse Pads, Ornaments, Photo Puzzles, Address Labels & more – check for current pricing.

Purchasing Tips

  • Check for special offers on any online PhotoPass page.
  • You may upload photos from your personal camera to use in Disney PhotoPass products or to order prints. You can also add borders or captions to them.

Contacting PhotoPass