Best Camera for Three Weeks of Travel?

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Best Camera for Three Weeks of Travel?

Postby jdroth » Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:35 am

My wife and I are traveling to England, Ireland, and New York for three weeks this summer. I want to take a camera, but cannot decide which option is best. I own a Nikon D70 digital SLR and a variety of lenses, including a fast 50mm.

I'm considering the purchase of either a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Canon-PowerShot-Digital-Image-Stabilized-Optical/dp/B000HAOVGM/"><b>Canon PowerShot SD800 IS</b></a> or a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-FX01-Compact-Digital-Stabilized/dp/B000EBOC9U/"><b>Panasonic DMC-FX01</b></a>. (Both are ultra-compact 7mp cameras with wide-angle lenses.)

With the SLR, I have versatility and familiarity. With the ultracompact, I would have portability and security. Help! I'm torn!

If I take the SLR, will it be a bother so that I don't take any photos? If I buy a new camera, will I have buyer's remorse?

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Postby tinyhands » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:02 am

My girlfriend's BiL had a similar self-debate on his recent trip to England: Bring the D80 or a cheap point & shoot. He intended to only bring the P&S but wound up bringing the D80 as well. He mainly used the D80 while his wife shot stuff with the P&S, though much of her indoor shots turned out blurry. But without the P&S, he wouldn't have been in more than 1 or 2 shots.

If you're experienced enough with the D70 to be able to grab shots without fumbling through all the settings, I vote for that with no more than 2 lenses. If you need a birthday/anniversary/just-because present for Kris, maybe you buy her a P&S and kill 2 birds with one stone. :)
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Postby brad » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:12 am

Someone famously said "the best camera is the one that's there when you need it." I vote strongly for ultraportable when traveling. You'll use it more even if the DSLR is a better camera. I would use the DSLR for "serious" photography and the ultraportable for travel and snapshots.

I actually have that Panasonic (or rather I stupidly bought the Leica version of it, the C-Lux 1, which is pretty much the same camera with a few cosmetic differences and a higher pricetag). Having owned a Canon PowerShot as my first digital camera I would definitely opt for the Canon over the Panasonic.

The pictures I got from my old 2.1 megapixel Canon Digital Elph were noticeably better than anything I've gotten with this 6 megapixel Panasonic/Leica. It all boils down to the sensor, I think, as well as the various effects (sharpening, default color saturation, white balance, etc.) set by the manufacturer. You can fix things afterwards in PhotoShop or iPhoto, but I have to say I was much more impressed by my little Canon than I am by my current camera. My next camera will be a Canon.

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Postby morydd » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:26 am

Personally, I shoot much less with a P&S than an SLR. This was true when I was shooting film, and seems to be true with digitial. I think my attitude is similart to why I prefer linux. If, in the end, something is going to be screwed up, I want it to be me that screwed it up. Not someone else. You specifically mention "familiarity" in regards to your SLR, which leads me to belive you'll be better off with that. You'll shoot more with a camera you know and like than one you're not sure about.
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Postby squished18 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:50 am

JD,

What would you likely do with the photos afterwards? Some possible answers come to mind:

* blow 'em up and put 'em on a wall
* some nice boring snapshots for the familys to look at on Thanksgiving
* keep 'em on the computer and reminisce about them a few years later

That might help to answer your question.

Personally, I would bring along a Canon P&S, for a couple of reasons:
* don't want the hassle of worrying about an expensive piece of equipment when I'm running for a train
* it can take videos! (I actually like looking at video clips more than pictures now)
* less intrusive on the subject of the photo

squished

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Postby plonkee » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:57 am

I'm not a photography person, but I think that it depends on your previous vacation camera experience.

Will you really carry round the heavier camera?
Would having poor quality photos upset you?
What do you plan to take pictures of?

Like I said, i don't do photography, I also hate carrying things around so I'd be tempted to go for a lighter easier option. There's no point in taking something that you won't use.

The other thing is - how upset would you be if you lost either option in the airline baggage ether? Clearly thats not especially likely and you should (must) have travel insurance, but if losing one of them in particular would cause a more emotional reaction, perhaps you'd be better off taking the other.
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Postby jdroth » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:03 am

Thanks for the input so far.

I am an experienced amateur photographer. I am very familiar with my digital SLR. I have no immediate plans for these photos other than to post them to blogs. One of my personal goals is to sell a second photograph in the next three years, so if I can make a sale-able image, that's a bonus.

Canon vs. Panasonic: The Canon image quality is supposed to be better than the Panasonic, but in all other respects the latter is reportedly the better camera. In particular, its construction is much more solid. I held and used one of the Panasonics the other night and found it pleasing. I'll try to get to a store so that I can play with one of the Canons.

I agree that the best camera to take is one that I'll use. When we vacationed in San Francisco last year, I lugged my digital SLR with me all around the city. It was something of a nuisance.

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Postby brad » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:18 am

jdroth wrote:I am an experienced amateur photographer. I am very familiar with my digital SLR. I have no immediate plans for these photos other than to post them to blogs. One of my personal goals is to sell a second photograph in the next three years, so if I can make a sale-able image, that's a bonus.


If you're really mainly going to post them to the web, then even an older 2 or 3 megapixel point and shoot would give you good enough image quality unless you want to crop. But either of the 6-megapixel models you're considering could produce a saleable image (unless RAW files are required)

As for familiarity, the point and shoot models are mostly no-brainers, it doesn't take long to become familiar with them. It's just when you get to the advanced features (which most people never use) that things get complicated. I look for cameras that have dedicated buttons rather than on-screen menus, but menus are a necessary evil and everyone gets lost using them. The main thing I miss in using these little point and shoot cameras is the inability to choose aperture priority or shutter priority. Having that feature is essential to serious photography, but I've managed to take lots of good photos without it. I prefer cameras that let you control everything (even focus) manually, but the convenience of point and shoot cannot be beat and I've taken some remarkably good photos with those little units.

jdroth wrote:The Canon image quality is supposed to be better than the Panasonic, but in all other respects the latter is reportedly the better camera.


For me, image quality is paramount. I do like the controls on my Panasonic/Leica better than those on the Canon, and the build quality is great on everything except the battery compartment latch, which feels flimsy. But I've been really disappointed with the Panasonic/Leica because I was expecting better image quality and it has certainly not delivered in that department. Or rather, I should say, it's fine but nothing exceptional. I assumed when I upgraded from a 2.1 megapixel Canon that I bought in 2002 to a 6 megapixel model in 2006 that there'd be a noticeable improvement. I was wrong!

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Postby jdroth » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:47 am

I prefer cameras that let you control everything (even focus) manually


Amen!

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Postby pf101 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:24 am

squished18 wrote:JD,

What would you likely do with the photos afterwards? Some possible answers come to mind:

* blow 'em up and put 'em on a wall
* some nice boring snapshots for the familys to look at on Thanksgiving
* keep 'em on the computer and reminisce about them a few years later

That might help to answer your question.

Personally, I would bring along a Canon P&S, for a couple of reasons:
* don't want the hassle of worrying about an expensive piece of equipment when I'm running for a train
* it can take videos! (I actually like looking at video clips more than pictures now)
* less intrusive on the subject of the photo

squished


I'd tend to agree with this. I lived in/traveled around europe for 14 months and the portability of the small camera was REALLY nice. But it also depends on how you're going to be traveling. I'm a cheap-o so I travel that way which means my bag serves as pillow, chair and many other functions that I would have been nervous about with large, expensive equipment.

Also, it depends on how you like to track. Personally, for 3 weeks in Europe I'd have 1 carry-on backpack so that doesn't leave a whole lot of space for large equipment.

Finally, keep in mind the *very* real possibility of losing it. Having large bulky equipment that's harder to hide makes you a much bigger target and pegs you as a tourist which just ups that a bit more. A small camera that you can tuck in a pocket, particularly in crowded areas or when walking alone in not-so-crowded areas might be much more handy. As someone who got robbed while on a train from Berlin to Krakow I can tell you that I was much more upset about losing my memory card than my camera - but my camera only cost $200. (hint here: when traveling, keep your memory card on your body rather than in your camera)

Also, do you really have to buy a new camera? If you're only going to be using it for this trip, it might make sense to borrow one. I have a (relatively - it's a couple years old) small cannon digital I could loan you if you want. It would be silly to spend the money if you are then never going to use it again.

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Postby jdroth » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:41 am

<i>Also, do you really have to buy a new camera? If you're only going to be using it for this trip, it might make sense to borrow one. I have a (relatively - it's a couple years old) small cannon digital I could loan you if you want. It would be silly to spend the money if you are then never going to use it again.</i>

Nobody <i>needs</i> a camera. However, Kris and I do <i>want</i> a digital point-and-shoot. It would be so much nicer than lugging the SLR everywhere. I'm going on a hiking trip in a couple of weeks for example. Last time I hauled my camera in, but it was a headache. Kris finds the SLR is more complex than she would like. So, no, we don't <i>need</i> a P&S, but we do think it would be useful...

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Postby pf101 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:51 am

jdroth wrote:<i>Also, do you really have to buy a new camera? If you're only going to be using it for this trip, it might make sense to borrow one. I have a (relatively - it's a couple years old) small cannon digital I could loan you if you want. It would be silly to spend the money if you are then never going to use it again.</i>

Nobody <i>needs</i> a camera. However, Kris and I do <i>want</i> a digital point-and-shoot. It would be so much nicer than lugging the SLR everywhere. I'm going on a hiking trip in a couple of weeks for example. Last time I hauled my camera in, but it was a headache. Kris finds the SLR is more complex than she would like. So, no, we don't <i>need</i> a P&S, but we do think it would be useful...


Well than that's a whole different ball of worms. If you're actually going to use it for more than this trip than go for it... Personally I'd get the Cannon (I love mine) but I'd shop around a bit to see if you can get a good deal somewhere. I personally love Tiger Direct and have found some great prices there.

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Postby brad » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:00 am

In defense of the image quality of point-and-shoot cameras, I really think they are well capable of producing images beyond simple snapshots. These were taken with my old 2.1 megapixel Canon Digital Elph:

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Postby jgs9455 » Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:51 am

I say get the Canon. It will fit in your pocket and will be with you for those "I wish I had my camera" moments.

I'm a Canon fan. I have a 4yr old Canon A70 and the sensor in it died. I sent it to Canon for a repair estimate, even though I had pretty much resigned to buying a new Canon SD700 IS Digital ELPH (IXUS 800). Canon replaced the sensor for free and my camera is as good as new. Now I'm a Canon fan for life.

Some great digital camera review sites:
http://www.dpreview.com/
http://www.steves-digicams.com/

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Postby nickel » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:47 am

I have a Nikon D80 with the Nikkor 18-200 lens, so I can get by under pretty much any circumstances with just that one lens. Highly recommended if you can afford (and are willing to wait -- mine was on backorder for about 3 months).

My wife has a Casio Exilim EX-S600 that's great for using 'on the go.' 6MP, user-friendly, nice image quality, can shoot videos, HIGHLY pocketable.

My son saved up his allowance and bought a Nikon Coolpix L10. Great little camera for a kid.


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