Travel Photography: DSLR or Point & Shoot Camera ?

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Travel PhotographyTravel Photography happened much later. I was in love with photography ever since I was 3-4 year old. My first brush with camera was modeling for my Uncle who used to have latest cameras from around the world. As soon as I started working, I bought myself a Yashica Camera with my first salary way back in 1995. Next came a 2 MP Nikon digital camera bought in 2003 in UK. It worked well till 2006 when I bought myself a 7MP Sony camera in Houston and this one is still one of my favorite cameras. Sometime in 2011 in Hyderabad, I was inspired to upgrade to a DSLR and chose Nikon D7000 and I am still learning all that it has to offer.

My first camera - my first love

After 4 years of travelling with DSLR, I decided to go back to a good point and shoot camera and this time I chose Nikon P600 from the comfort of my laptop in Goa. Of course Point & Shoot cameras have improved a lot since I first started playing with them. I still love my Nikon D7000, but for Travel Photography I prefer my new Nikon P600 and here is why I say that.

Travel Photography – Travel or Photography

Travel Photography is not pure photography unless your sole purpose of travelling is photography. As a traveler, most of the times you are running on a tight itinerary and do not have enough time to experiment or explore photography. For me photographs supplement my stories and not the other way round. Travel comes before blogging and photography.

Not the best time for Photography

I visit a lot of monuments and museums that are open during day time only – which means I do not get the best time to photograph here. Usually, there is no access to these places early morning and late evening. Even landscapes or portraits are available on the go, and not necessarily at the right time of light.

Documentation Pictures

I take lot of pictures for documentation purpose like boards explaining things, minute architectural details and small things that would slip into my writing. This means number of pictures I take is huge and on a DSLR this means so much extra space for pictures that no one except me is going to see. Believe me, even my family does not look at those pictures.

No Photography Please

Most museums and monuments, especially religious places allow minimal photography, i.e. you can take pictures from a distance or only of the outer façade and not inside. If I am spending half a day exploring them, I am either carrying the dead weight of camera or am worried about it being safe in the locker.

Weight Issues

My Point & Shoot Camera weighs around 500 gms and easily slips into any bag. DSLR with its bulky body and few lenses and an equally sturdy bag would weigh anywhere between 3-4 kgs. When you have to hang that weight around your neck, it complains soon enough.

Zoom in

My new Point & Shoot Camera has a zoom of 60 X. I would have to change at least 3-4 lenses to get that kind of zoom range on my DSLR. Add to this the time required to change the lenses, by which time you may have lost the object you wanted to photograph. A case in point being a bird in a distant bush. Not to mention care you have to take while carrying all those lenses. Now you get point & shoot cameras with even higher zooms.

Fear of losing

We all know of friends who lost their cameras while travelling. Well, the bigger your camera is or more expensive your camera is, more is it prone to being stolen. When I sit on a roadside stall to have Chai, I can hang my small camera around my neck or shove it in my shoulder bag, but I had to put the DSLR in its bulky bag and keep it on the table. I have been lucky so far, but we all know this is the best way to lose your camera – keep it on the table while eating.

Quality?

The quality of pictures is comparable in two cameras. Nikon P600 does not shoot in raw, but some of the Canon Point & Shoots can shoot even in raw.

And then there is Smartphone

Combine this with the fact that my friendly Smartphone also serves as a decent camera – at least as a good backup camera if I leave enough empty space on my memory card. Now I click pictures for social media and pictures of any important points as backup on my phone. I am yet to have an iPhone, which some friends tell me can replace a camera for practical purposes.

Panorama Shots

Single panorama shot is what I used to miss in DSLR, and are now my favorites to take an extra wide-angle shots, especially nature shots. I know you can take multiple shots in DSLR and then stitch them together. That is something I would do only for a paid photography assignment. For my travel blog and print publications the panoramas taken by both point & shoot camera and Smartphone are good enough. I also appreciate the time I save with them and the fact that I can use the pictures instantly.

Charging

I can charge my Nikon P600 with a car charger – a big advantage on road trips and high altitudes with limited charging points. While returning from Chandratal, but for car charging, I would have missed clicking pictures on the whole Rohtang pass stretch. On road trips in Ladakh, I charged the camera using my power bank.

dslr-vs-point-and-shoot

Having said that, I must admit there are moments when I do miss the perfectionist DSLR

  1. Taking shots from a moving vehicle – no point and shoot can take them so well
  2. Nikon D7000 switches ON in no time while P600 takes a few seconds and sometimes that is too much
  3. I miss the burst shots of DSLR when shooting things like birds
  4. Depth of field when you shoot say Jungles is definitely missing

It is always a tradeoff when you have to choose between two equally compelling things. I have shared my reasons for reverting back to Point & Shoot camera for Travel Photography after using DSLR for good 4 years. Though I have done this only for Travel Photography and not for photography in general. I still love to drive around Goa and click pictures using my DSLR. We still carry the DSLR when my better half is travelling with me – you see the weight gets divided J

I must admit there have been phases in my travelling life when I have gone off camera completely. That’s a story for another day.

10 COMMENTS

  1. My dads Yashica was also my first camera . I started with a small point and shoot by Kodak but the batteries always had a hate and love relationship with me and although I started carrying a set of additional batteries but it didnt help . I carry a DSLR but carrying a point and shoot has its own advantage

  2. This is very helpful! I’ll take note of everything <3 I've been struggling with all these lighting aspects of photography and this surely helped me understand it a bit easily 🙂

  3. Yup, all very true, that is transition from DSLRs tp PS cameras for travel photography. After having lugged heavy professional gear for almost 40 years, I have now settled for a gorgeous PS – a Sony RX10iii. I carry it around everywhere with as many as 3 spares batteries. What a joy always being ready for the shot. I shoot both, stills & videos (even 4K & slow-motion) with this camera.

    • I am happy Dr. Kumar that you agree with me on camera for travel photography. Like I said, if I go only for photography, I do not mind using DSLR, but for fast paced travel photography I am happy with my multi-purpose Point & Shoot.

      Checking the Sony RX10iii now, maybe that is the next camera I should look at.

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