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Compact or SLR

nomadicmatt

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
Hi all.

I'm have a big trip planned starting August and cant decide weather or not to take an SLR or a point and shoot camera. I want to make photography a big part of my trip and get the best possible photos i can get but not sure if it worth carrying around a big lump. It would be great if any of you out there have any examples of travelling with both versus quality of photos! if so what models you have used and find produce a good enough result! I am currently looking at either the Canon S90 or Canon D7, a big difference I know but I think these are probably the best in both categories.

Cheers peeps.

Kate and Dan

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Holds PhD in Packing
 
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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
Neither — in my opinion — go with a different format entirely — Micro 4/3s!

Kathyrn and I recently pulled the trigger on a new camera, one that we can bring along with us on the road. We were looking for something that's portable without sacrificing the bells and whistles of a traditional DSLR. After reading reviews of the Panasonic Lumix GF1, we're now leaning towards the micro 4/3 format.

With the ‘pancake’ lens, our whole kit can now fit in a handlebar bag. The last time we travelled for a considerable length of time, we lugged around a Canon Rebel with an 18-55 kit lens. Not only did it take up a lot of space in our daypack—the kit was heavy! What’s more, the small profile of the GF1 has the added bonus of making you feel less conspicuous when taking pictures. So far, this seems to be the ultimate travel camera—an unobtrusive creative tool that you can carry anywhere! And one in which you don’t have to sacrifice results.

To squeeze this level of image quality into a camera of this size was unheard of until just recently. The Micro Four Thirds standard delivers results that approximate the results achieved with entry-level DSLRs. Ultimately, the GF1 does not measure up as a substitute for DSLR, but serves as a great complement to one—especially for travellers wanting to carry a small light body.

For our full impressions, check out our mini review of the GF1 on our blog.
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Grey

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
I agree,

I wanted something with power under the hood but not so much as to make me regret bringing it. I've signed up to the minamalist packing philosophy but I understand your worry, I'm hoping to make photography a big part of my upcoming trip and I'm worried I'll have wasted a year in Africa by not bringing the right equipment.

I ended up going with the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-38 although I've looked at the G1 also and might have gone with that instead if it had been out during my research.

I'm by all means an avid amateur, I don't own a DSLR so I guess it wasn't a big choice for me, but I wanted something more than a point and shoot, and this mid range should help me a lot in learning the ropes and hopefully taking some nice pictures. The person takes the photo's not the camera, the right camera is the one you have with you and other assorted quotes :)
Wandering Africa for a year in Search of Sunsets.

Wild Jasmyne

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
I am not a huge photographer, but coming to Africa I knew I needed something decent to take wildlife pictures, market pics, etc. SLR's seemed out of my knowledge base and the idea of carrying something with detachable parts seemed like an accident waiting to happen (I dread sand getting between the lens for example). I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 which is a point and shoot that is waterproof and shock proof, basically Africa proof. I mainly bought this for spur of the moment/everyday.

However I also bought a Canon Powershot SX20 IS which is a large, 20x zoom camera. It's a lot like a DSLR but with no detachable parts. Very similar to the Panasonic. The one thing though is it runs on AA's which is a LIFE SAVER. Finding somewhere to charge a camera while on safari or in the desert is pretty difficult so it's much easier to just throw in new batteries. Also it has a moveable screen which is great for taking pictures of yourself and you can turn it around and close the screen when you are not using it to protect it. It has 12.1 MP and takes vivid, clear pictures even at the max zoom. Very easy to use, but also has some more advanced options if you want to really get into it.

I am highly impressed with both Canon and Panasonic now. I have yet to experience the large Panasonic you are talking about, but it looks very nice. However my selling point on the Canon (at the time I had only Canon and Olympus options) was the AA batteries, and the moveable screen.
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Pelke

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
Hi NomadicMatt:

I got a Canon S90 last year and really like it. The picture quality is a lot better than with your typical point n shoot owing to the larger sensor size and better lens. You can get really good low light and night shots since the aperture opens all the way to f2.0 (compared to f3.5 or higher for most compacts). One feature that is really nice on the S90 is that it has a ring control around the base of the lens that you can program to step through aperture settings, shutter speed, focal lengths, etc, and a second ring control on the back panel to adjust exposure control. So, if you want to shoot in aperture priority mode, you can just rotate the lens ring to step through your aperture settings as you set up your shot, just like a DLSR!

In the end, it still is limited like most point n shoots. You can't get great depth of field control like you can with a DLSR (subject isolation -- blowing out the background to focus on a face, etc) but for a compact, it's the best I've come across so far. Plus it is still quite small and can fit in your coat pocket, etc. I like the fact that looks like a "cheapo" camera as I can get away taking pictures in situations where a DLSR would stand-out too much (ie: attract trouble or be obtrusive).

I'm torn whether to upgrade to a DLSR to get some better control of my photos, but in the end, I still don't want to give up portability and packability. I am, after all, not a professional photographer on assignment, so weighing myself down with a lot of equipment just gets in the way of enjoying the trip.

Pelke

nomadicmatt

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  • Added on: July 18th, 2010
Thank for all your help guys! but Kate and Dan.....i'm pretty impressed with what you guys have introduced me to! probably going to go with that! thanks again! and happy travels. :)

Wild Jasmyne

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Location: Bamako, Mali

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  • Added on: July 18th, 2010
Matt and Kate & Dan, I too checked out the Panasonic now and it looks awesome! Is it a good starter for someone who doesn't know anything about DSLR's? I am heading back to the states next year and will likely look for a new camera (I seem to do that every time I'm there...) so this one seems like an awesome contender. It will be interesting to see what other companies take off with this idea but the Panasonic looks good.

How is the battery life? Does it take video? Are the lenses included or is it a separate cost from the apparatus? Is it easy to use? I'm very interested in this as well. Living in Africa I constantly come across reasons to take intricate pictures and I have issues focusing on one thing (like blurring out the background and focusing on one animal or person for instance). This looks like the whole package. Thanks for the tip and for asking the question Matt. Good one!
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Kate and Dan

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  • Added on: July 18th, 2010
Hi Wild Jasmyne —

Check out Craig Mod's review here. It should answer all of your questions!
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RTW2010...

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Location: Nepal!!!!

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  • Added on: July 20th, 2010
There is a lot of great information already posted here.

The decision of which camera(s) to take on our nearly 1-year long trip caused me a fair amount of mental anguish. I am a pretty serious amateur photographer (although I have had photos used in professional settings), and I really care about the quality of photos I take home from any trip.

I initially wanted to go light and had decided not to lug my DSLR. I bought a Canon G-10 hoping it would be compact enough and provide enough photographic control and good pics. After testing it by taking approx 1500 pics I sold the G-10.

I am already glad to have brought my DSLR on our trip (we left a little over 2 weeks ago). I have learned that I am okay with point and shoots when lighting is mediocre or I am just documenting the day. When the light is good and I really want control of the end product you can't beat a DSLR. The obvious downside of lugging around an expensive and heavy have to be evaluated with your expectations and your knowledge of photography (although a RTW would be a great learning environment).

To mitigate some of these downsides I purchased a Panasonic TS-1, which is pocketable and allows me to shoot in crowded places and when it is raining. BTW-I have been pretty impressed with this little bugger so far.

One last thing, my DSLR is already 3 years old and if it got stolen or broke on the trip I probably wouldn't shed too many tears. It has already taken 15,000+ photos and shopping for a new camera would be fun and exciting.

The first pics from our trip are online at if you care to take a look:
http://picasaweb.google.com/107285135439832122984

Cheers,
Nick

muhanji

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  • Added on: July 25th, 2010
i use a Sigma DP2 - i think the best compact camera around. I also travel with a Panasonic GH1 whih is a micro 4/3, but because the stock lens is pretty slow, i use it mainly for video. though i would highly recommend it if you could get the pancake lens.



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