Travel Photography happened much later. I was in love with photography ever since I was a 3-4-year-old. My first brush with a camera was modeling for my Uncle who used to have the latest equipment 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 one bought in 2003 in the UK. It worked well till 2006 when I bought myself a 7MP Sony model 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.
After 4 years of traveling 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 traveling 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. And travel comes before blogging and photography.
Not the best time for Photography
I visit a lot of monuments and museums that are open during the daytime 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.
I take a lot of pictures for documentation purpose like boards explaining things, minute architectural details and small things that would slip into my writing. This means a number of pictures I take are 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 the equipment or am worried about it being safe in the locker.
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.
It has a zoom of 60X. 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 traveling. Well, the bigger the camera it is going to be more expensive and 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 equipment – keep it on the table while eating.
The quality of pictures is comparable in both of them. Nikon P600 does not shoot in raw, but some of the Canon Point & Shoots can shoot even in raw.
And then there is a Smartphone
Combine this with the fact that my friendly Smartphone also serves as a decent camera – at least a good backup to take pictures if I leave enough empty space on my memory card. Now I click pictures for social media and pictures of any important points as a backup on my phone. I am yet to have an iPhone, which some friends tell me can replace a camera for practical purposes.
Single panorama shot is what I used to miss in DSLR. They are now my favorites to take 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.
I can charge my Nikon P600 with a car charger. A big advantage on the 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.
Having said that, I must admit there are moments when I do miss the perfectionist DSLR.
- Taking shots from a moving vehicle – no point and shoot can take them so well
- Nikon D7000 switches ON in no time while P600 takes a few seconds and sometimes that is too much
- I miss the burst shots of DSLR when shooting things like birds
- The 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 equipment for Travel Photography after using DSLR for a 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 traveling with me – you see the weight gets divided.
I must admit there have been phases in my traveling life when I have gone off it completely. That’s a story for another day.