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Photography Question 
Daphne Rubinstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2007

D-SLR Vs. Point-and-Shoot for Trip?

I have a Canon Digital Rebel XTI with a few lenses (18-55, 75-300, 100mm macro). We will traveling to Europe in June and I am pondering whether it would be easy to bring a small point-and-shoot rather than carry all my heavy equipment. Any recommendations?

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1/18/2008 9:33:56 AM

Bob Fately   WIll it be easier to take a small P&S? Naturally; there's much less to lug around and there's less worry about having your gear stolen or having the interior get dusty when you need to change lenses, etc.

On the other hand, the shutter lag on P&S and DZLR cameras can become quite an annoyance - particularly if you shoot moving subjects. And of course the quality of the DSLR will be better, but that's only noticeable if you end up making some bigger enlargements or hooting in low light conditions (the smaller chip size of the P&S cameras lead to more noise than their DSLR counterparts at a given ISO setting)

So, like everything else in life, it comes down to compromise - only you can decide if the higher quality of the images is worth the additional effort and pain of dragging around way more gear.

If the shutter lag thing doesn't bother you, though, and you do want to minimize the intrusion of the camera on your life, you might want to consider one of the DZLRs from Panasonic, Sony, etc., with the long range (10X, 18X) zooms. The lens is fixed, so you don't need to carry an entire bagful of gear, and while the lens speed might be less and the quality might not be as high as a larger and more expensive SLR lens, the weight and size savings may be worth it.

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1/18/2008 9:59:11 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Daphne: I'll bet you would bet better photos with the XTi. Unless you travel to Europe frequently, you might want the very best possible camera.

It would be a shame to find fabulous photo opportunities and not have the best camera and a versatile lens.

Cheers! Peter K. Burian

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1/18/2008 12:38:39 PM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  What a tough one! I often miss the days of my p&s camera, for ease and comfort... I think you also have to consider what kinds of photos you reasonably expect to take... Is this going to be a photography-heavy trip? Or more of a walking-around, spontaneous photos, as time permits? Are you out for dimly-lit cathedral interiors? Or get-up-at-dawn planned landscape photos? Do you plan a box of 4x6 prints to share back home, or, artistic enlargements for the wall? In the end, I'd still probably stick to the SLR every time, which means bulk goes with the territory; but it is tempting to think of that p&s!
I have a similar lens combination for my XTi... the 100mm is my all-time, hands-down favorite lens, and not just for macro images. Followed by the 17-85EFS-IS. I myself would consider leaving behind the big zoom, unless you already envision shots needing that much reach. My zoom is the 70-300 image-stabilized, but it is my least-favorite lens. I got it because my prior p&s (a near-SLR Sony model) had 12x optical zoom, so I felt I'd need an equally big amount of zoom in an SLR lens, when I made the switch. I took all 3 lenses to England, but I also took my tripod---I use that whenever possible, and my 70-300 images turn out best when shot from the tripod, image-stabilizer or no---still, on that trip, it was my least-used lens.
I only realized later that, during the 18 month period I'd shot on the Sony, a small percentage of my overall shooting habits were ever at the full 12x zoom...

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1/18/2008 1:23:12 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Daphne, I totally agree with Peter. If this is a rare trip, I would take the XTi and a tripod as well. There are so many wonderful images to capture and I would hate to have the regret of not being able to get the image I wanted because of limited camera ability.
Some of the classic scenes like the Eiffel Tower, Venice, water fountains, (wherever you will be) taken with slow shutter speed at dusk with as much DOF as possible can be absolutely breathtaking. Hence ... the tripod.
Good luck with your decision!

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1/19/2008 11:28:37 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Frankly, I'd trade your 18-55 and 75-300 in on a Tamron 18-250 or 18-300. That way all you'll carry is the XTi body and one lens.

With my EOS 3 and/or EOS 620 [film, I went to Hawaii, Italy, the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the Greek Isles - fitted with my Tamron 28-200mm zoom.

When I bought my 30D, I did buy the 17-85mm, once I realized that my 28-200 would give me about a 43 mm focal length as the widest aperture. Had the Tamrom 18-250 mm been available at the time, I never would have bought the 17-85mm. I recommended it to my son, so when I leave for my trip to the southwest national parks, I hope to be able to borrow it from him.

Note, for all the trips I mentioned save for Hawaii [at which I attended and took at my nephew's wedding]I brouhgt no extra equipment except a backpack for film, water, etc.

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1/19/2008 12:30:58 PM

Nobu Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  If you are a serious photographer (as you seem to be by just viewing your gallery), then the decision is an easy one (as you might have already figured out by suggestions given): It has to be your Canon XTI and lenses of your choice.
Here is one case I know in which a P&S will do: On a recent trip to Europe, there was another serious photographer in the group. She had both types of cameras, BUT she mainly used her P&S. Her purpose was, more or less, taking photos for her travel albums and her family and friends, i.e., for 4x6 prints. (By the way, she has taken over 1000's photos.) In this case, P&S would do just fine.
If the purpose of taking the camera is more than simply for the travel albums, then DSLR is a must. As far as macro lens is concerned, it's optional depending on your interest in macro work, such as planning to visit floral gardens, for example. When visiting a place like Hawaii, carrying a macro lens is a must IMHO for there are so much opportunity for tropical floral fields and gardens.

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1/19/2008 8:30:09 PM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  I agree with Nobi- it depends on your purpose for the photos.

I've gone to Europe and Mexico- in Europe I lugged all of my SLR & equipment... and vowed never to do it again because it was just so much to deal with. So for Mexico I just brought my pocket Powershot and it was perfect. But I shoot portraits, so any landscapes, monuments, etc were just for my enjoyment, not fine art.

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1/22/2008 5:12:54 AM

Dawn Penso
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/6/2005
  I agree with Denyse: I live in London and go to Europe 2 or 3 times a year and used to take my DSLR plus lenses, filters, spare batteries,etc with me every time. I got fed up with lugging all that bulk and weight around so treated myself to a high quality point and shoot, a Panasonic, and got some excellent pictures with it. You can have it in your hand all the time while you're walking around, and respond quickly to situations.

I strongly recommend taking a tripod for those evening and night shots, and for landscapes. Remember, good pictures depend more on you than on your equipment.
Enjoy your trip!


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1/22/2008 7:53:59 AM

Stephanie M. Stevens   When I go on vacation I like to take both. I find that for touristy activities my DSLR is too much, it's too heavy and I end up with an aching shoulder. So I try to arrange the days so that I'm going locations for landscapes/fine art in the morning, the DSLR comes with me; during the day when the light isn't great for that kind of work we do the shopping and other touristy activities, then the P&S does fine for the album snapshots. Around sunset the DSLR comes back out.

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1/22/2008 8:17:10 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Stephanie: A perfect suggestion!


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1/22/2008 8:19:51 AM

Gary Pope
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2006
  Taking both is, of course, the perfect answer. However, if I had to choose, the P&S would win every time. Especially a pocketable one. Excellent photos can be taken with a good P&S, and the ability to actually enjoy and participate in the activities of the trip instead of merely being an observer is worth it to me. When opportunities present themselves, my P&S is ready within seconds.

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1/22/2008 9:02:01 AM

Cindy Sj
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2007
  coyote at dawn, yellowstone lake
coyote at dawn, yellowstone lake can be done with a point and shoot! [=
© Cindy Sj
Nikon Coolpix P4 D...
  yellowstone in winter
yellowstone in winter
another point and shoot photo with my trusty coolpix p4!
© Cindy Sj
Nikon Coolpix P4 D...
ok...i'm a weirdo....take both, but ALWAYS keep the point and shoot in your pocket. Sometimes, as subjects quickly move away from you, you'll wish you had your shotgun (point and shoot) instead of your rifle (dslr...great accuracy, but sometimes there's just not time!) I've attempted to attach a couple of photos from a trip I took to was a spur of the moment trip that left me with only a Nikon Coolpix P4 to shoot with....I was THRILLED with the results! [= So go forth packin' both but never leave the point and shoot behind...besides, it's a great "back-up" if some bit of technology fails in either camera~ I'm a beginner, so maybe that's why I see the value of keeping something simple in the magic bag of tricks! Have a gorgeous time!!

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1/22/2008 9:32:07 AM

Daniel O   I traded in 2 lenses so I could get the perfect (IMO) walking around lens -- Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 with OS (optical stablization). Expensive and worth it. It rarely comes off my camera. I do a lot of walking around, and a fair amount of travel, and usually it's the only lens I need. Sigma also makes a non-OS version which I used for a year or so and is also excellent, cheaper and lighter to boot. But I can't say enough about that OS -- more keepers shot handheld without tripod, in lower light, from moving vehicles, lower ISO, etc, etc.

Now make yourself a chain pod ( so you don't have to carry a mono pod or tripod all day, and get a small bag, and you're set!

Have fun!


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1/22/2008 12:59:25 PM

Mary E. Lake
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/6/2006
  I too am going to Italy in March and am faced with the same situation. Last time I went I used my P&S, but now I've got a Sony DSLR and will be taking both. My P&S took some nice shots, but this time the tripod is also going. I plan on taking some night shots and for that we all know we need the tripod. The P&S is light as is my DSLR, the smaller one is in my pocketbook, and the other around my neck at all times. Have a wonderful picture taking time!!! Enjoy your trip!!!! Mary :-)

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1/22/2008 6:01:41 PM

Linda Shapiro
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/28/2005
  This last October I went on a Mediterranean cruise and then a week traveling in Italy by train and decided to take both a P&S (Canon Powershot SD850 IS) and my Rebel XT with the 17-55 and the 75-300 lenses. I carried it in a Lowe shoulder bag and found it to be quite manageable. I took no tripod or my monopod-- I understand that in Paris, one must purchase a permit to use a tripod in any public place -- anyone have factual info on this? The fact is, in Rome, Florence and Siena, the crowds were so large that you would have a tough time finding a place to set up a tripod without risking damage to your equipment with people tripping over it or motorcycles running it down! Lean and brace, push your ISO as much as possible, choose your moments -- there will be plenty of good opportunities even without a tripod. By the third week of the trip, I resorted to using the P&S almost exclusively because of fatigue with schlepping the Rebel and a big lens. I was thrilled with the photos when I got home and loaded all 1000+ of them. Good luck and have a fun trip!!

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1/22/2008 7:36:14 PM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  When we went to Eastern Europe in 2004, I took my Nikon FM3A and a tripod, but was turned away at the St. Vitus cathedral at Prague because I "looked like" a professional with my gear, our guide told me. On the other hand, tourists with point and shoot cameras were allowed to take pictures.

I'm not certain whether or not it was the tripod, or my larger SLR and exterior flash unit that had the guards in a huff, so I disappeared into the crowd, turned my tripod into a monopod, angled my flash off the camera and captured images along with the rest of the tourists.

I recommend taking both, but keep in mind; the more you take, the more than can be stolen. If you are with a tour, it is not always safe to leave your expensive lenses on the bus. I've seen drivers leave their buses and thieves can sneak in and steal gear. On the other hand, I've seen creative photographers carry diaper bags, which were actually photographic bags. Few thieves are going to reach into a diaper bag to steal something, but they may take a bee-line for a Canon or obvious camera bag.

I had an expensive Kaeseman Circular Polarizer Multi-Resistant Coating Slim Glass Filter lifted from my pocket in China. It was wrapped in germ infested Kleenex for less than 15 minutes, before it was gone --a $150 mistake! It depends how much you value your equipment.

Leaving equipment in your hotel room is not always safe either. Lap tops have been stolen, even when they were tucked away in suitcases. Lenses may or may not fit in room safes.

In China, where I could only take one lens, I chose the versatile 28-135mm for my Canon Élan 7E. But, I also carried a monopod everywhere during the day; my light weight tripod was packed amongst my clothes in my suitcase for at night when the crowds are less. I did not carry a lot of equipment to China, but still lost my $150 polarizer to theft.

In summary, only take what you can afford to lose. Don't take everything.
Then, have a fun trip with less worry!

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1/22/2008 9:44:36 PM

Dawn Penso
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/6/2005
  A further note on tripods: you certainly can't use them on the streets of London or most of the European cities - too crowded, and sometimes just not allowed. (You can use one in Venice, in the squares and on some of the bridges.) Elsewhere, however, you can usually find a lamppost or wall of post box to brace yourself against - I've successfully taken pix at 1/15 sec using this method.

Do take note also of the comments regarding theft - keep your camera in your hand or around your neck all the time and if you must put your bag on the ground then put your foot on the strap, and do the same in restaurants! I'd leave the laptop at home, if I were you.

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1/23/2008 1:32:51 AM

Dawn Penso
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/6/2005
  La Madeleine, Paris
La Madeleine, Paris
Leica M7, Fuji Neopan 400 ISO, f5.6, 35mm Summicron lens.
© Dawn Penso
Leica M7 Rangefind...
ps - just noticed a typo in my reply above - it should read '... find a lamppost or wall or post box..."

Thought I'd attach a pic taken in Paris last week inside the Madeleine, a very dark interior. I used my scarf as a beanbag and rested it on top of a chair for this shot. (I shoot b&w film, not digital, and scanned the negative then a touch of Photoshop.)

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1/23/2008 2:07:42 AM

Paul Shanley   Save yourself hassle and backache - take a decent P&S. For family holidays, I take my Canon G9 which gives full manual control, great quality etc.,
From my last break in Prague, one of my images of the Charles Bridge was used by a holiday company on an A3 double cover.
As always, it's the picture that counts, not the equipment.
The P&S also causes less intrusion into a family holiday - excellent for relationships!!!!

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1/23/2008 7:33:31 AM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  When we were in China, one of our tour members had a camera around her neck and a man came by and pulled, which put her on the ground. Another man pulled a point and shoot which was simply around another tourists wrist. If she didn't have her hand wrapped around her camera, it would have been a goner.

A former teacher recommended that I wrap the strap several times around my hand (rather than my neck) when carrying the camera, then having the camera firmly in my hand.

We also saw that wherever crowds congregate, like around a toddler who was walking without hold his parents hand, that this was an organized sting as another of the toddler's family was snatching purses, cameras and camera bags by slicing the straps when attention is diverted.

Turn your bags to the front of your body or under your arms and stay alert of everything and persons around you at all times. That's difficult when you are setting up tripods and carrying a lot of gear. Diverted attention is a prime target for theft.

The more you take, the more you risk losing. Only take what you can afford to lose.

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1/23/2008 10:23:11 AM

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