Home » Photography » Backpacking With Point and Shoot or Digital SLR Camera?

Backpacking With Point and Shoot or Digital SLR Camera?

Published 26-09-2009
 
by Paul Dow ~ 3 mins, 37 secs read
dslr camera

Should I take my DSLR camera around the world?

My real interest in photography began on my first trip to travel the world. At the time I had packed a small pocket point and shoot digital camera. It was only after a couple of months traveling I became a little frustrated with the limitations of the camera. I really wanted an upgrade to something a little bit better.

Although I’m a great believer in traveling light, I sometimes have a dilemma.

Whether to take a point and shoot camera or a digital SLR camera traveling.

Point and Shoot Digital Camera

Advantages

  • Small and compact
  • Less expensive
  • Discreet, less likely to be a target of thieves
  • Doesn’t take up much room
  • Great for nights out
  • Good for taking quick shots
  • Don’t have to change lenses
  • Carry them more often due to the size

Disadvantages

  • Quality of shots
  • Lack of customisable options
  • Lack of add-ons, flashes, lenses
  • Battery life is often lower than that of an SLR
  • What you see on the screen isn’t always how the photo turns out

Digital SLR Camera

Advantages

  • Has view-finder as standard
  • Batteries tend to last longer than point and shoot
  • More flexibility with add-ons such as flash units and lenses
  • More control over taking a photo
  • ISO range is larger
  • Depth of field – DSLR’s can give you a great effect of having the foreground in focus and the background blurry
  • Higher quality of picture

Disadvantages

  • Takes up quite a lot of room
  • They tend to weigh more than a point and shoot camera
  • Less decret, more likely to be a target of theives
  • More expensive
  • Making sure the camera is safe due to expense and size
  • Less likely to be able to take it everywhere with you
  • Many digital SLR’s do not have a live view on the LCD screen

After 4 months I upgraded slightly to a point and shoot super zoom camera, I found this great for taking photos of amazing sights such as the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia where the zoom came in useful. Although once I have made it back home I wish I had taken something a little more powerful like a digital SLR.

I own the following digital cameras:

Digital Camera Canon Digital Ixus 90 IS

I bought this Canon point and shoot for every day usuage on the road and also to take out on nights out.

It’s small, compact and easy to fit in your bag or pocket.

For it’s size it takes some good quality shots.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Digital Camera

Whilst traveling I felt my point and shot camera wasn’t really capturing the images at the quality I wanted. So I went for a bigger zoom and a few more megapixels.

Although the camera isn’t pocket sized it was small enough to fit into a bag and with the extra zoom as well as a flexible LCD screen, it came in very handy whilst traveling.

Canon EOS 450D Digital SLR Camera

After my trip around the world I regretted not owning an DSLR.

Although it would have taken up much more space and would have been heavier to carry I think the benefits from having more control and the superior  quality of images would have made it worth taking.

On future world travels I’ll be taking my point and shoot Digital Camera Canon Digital Ixus 90 IS for nights out and for everyday photos, but for sight seeing at some mind blowing temples or scenery I’ll be packing my Canon EOS 450D Digital SLR.

Unfortunately my super zoom Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Digital Camera will be left at home, but I find it a useful camera for anything in between, if I’m going out for the day somewhere special but need something smaller than the DLSR but slightly more powerful than my pocket point and shoot.

Whether you decide to take (or even buy) a point and shoot digital camera or a digital SLR camera will probably depend on how serious you are about capturing great shots of sights and scenery.

If you’re not that interested in taking the perfect shot then take the point and shoot, but if you want to capture some amazing scenes on your travels I’d think about packing both your DLSR and the point and shoot.


Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Avatar Image
Paul Dow is the Editor of TravMonkey.com and has travelled solo for 2 years through Asia, Oceania, New Zealand and South America. Now based in London whilst exploring parts of Europe and further a field when given half a chance.
  • Authors Website
  • Facebook Page
  • twitter
13 Comments, have your say...
  1. It’s a interesting debate and to be honest a personal one up to the individual. I’ve always had an interest in photography but never had a SLR, so went with my point and shoot, but I ended up resenting that I could have taken a much better photo if I had a SLR so got one and take it with me. I’m also an advocate for lightweight travelling, but have made a big exception with the camera. It’s certainly not for everyone, it weighs more and is twice as expensive as my laptop for a start, more so if one carries additional lenses and a tripod.

  2. I agree with AdventureRob that it is up to individual on whether to carry a DSLR or a PNS. I personally own a D80. it allows me to take amazing shots but it’s too bulky and heavy.

    I think if you are a DSLR owner, you should have a proper backpack to keep it and its accessories like lense and tripod. else, try to go for a high end PNS or even smaller DSLR.

  3. A decent post. I take both a point & shoot (the same as you!) and a DSLR. It does make my daybag a little heavy and this means any airline carry-on luggage is heavy, perhaps too heavy, but it's worth the compromise.

    I only take one lens with me (18-200), I draw the line at multiple lenses – too bulky.

  4. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the comments. I think it’s often a difficult compromise.

    I think it sometimes depends on the trip you’re taking. If you’re off on safari for a couple of weeks then taking multiple lense would probably be well worth it. Backpacking around the world on the other hand I think I’d have to limit myself at two lenses, DSLR and PNS.

    Thanks,

    Paul @
    TravMonkey.com

  5. I would also suggest that it greatly depends on how much experience as a photographer you have. Don't buy a DSLR right before the big trip when you've never used one before. My first two weeks with the DSLR I was way overwhelmed but now (after many books and a class) I love it. If you are only going to use the DSLR on automatic mode, buy a good P&S or super zoom. You need to understand aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. before you lug that heavy thing around foreign countries.

    When we travel (my wife and I) we take 2 cameras. My DSLR and "her" P&S. We carry the P&S everywhere and the DSLR most of the time. The next P&S we buy will be one of the waterproof models that way it can really go anywhere we go.

  6. Hi Mike,

    Some great points there, I don't think it'd be wise to jump straight in with a DSLR if you've never used one before.

    I definitely think it's worth packing both p and s and the dslr after all the p and s doesn't take up much room.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Paul @

    TravMonkey.com

  7. I think starting with dslr without prior experience is not a bad idea. I actually recommend people to use dslr more than pns because it offers more superior capability and produce better photos.

    but jumping straight into dslr without proper research and reading will not be wise.

    @mike i like the fact that you carry both pns and dslr. Because both can be handy depending on the situation.

  8. For years I travelled with two SLR bodies, numerous lenses, a huge flashgun, tripod and other accessories. Then I had a neck injury, and was no longer able to carry all that equipment. I bought a small point and shoot, but was bitterly disappointed with the results.

    Now I use a bridge camera – Panasonic Lumix FZ38 – and it gives me (almost) as good results as my old SLR, with a fraction of the weight. It has the same zooming capability as all my lenses put together and the batteries last way longer than my original point and shoot.

    I love it!

  9. Hi Grete,

    That sounds like a good solution if you don't want the hassle and weight of the full slr kit.

    I used a super zoom canon camera and found that pretty useful too.

    Thanks,

    Paul @

    TravMonkey.com

  10. Hello Paul. I stumbled on to your website because i am going over to Malaysia next spring for a month, and a year after that over to China/India and be there up to a year. I am currently looking around for a camera and its funny that you should own one of the cameras that i was actually looking at today. The other one i was thinking about is the Olympus SP-590UZ. The Olympus does not have the flexible LCD screen though. Did the flexible screen on the cannon come in really handy for you? I know that it is probably personal preference, but any advice will help. Thanks for your your time and your great website.

    Brent Ashton

  11. Hi Brent,

    I think you're talking about the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Digital Camera?

    The flexible LCD did actually come in video handy especially for taking those kind of natural shots of people when they don't know you are taking them. Ie you can be looking at the screen and the camera is actually pointing in a different direction.

    The zoom on the camera also came in very handy on my travels.

    Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Thanks,

    Paul @

    TravMonkey.com

  12. Great insight on the various uses of the different camera types. I love my DSLR, but as you said it often takes up more room than I am willing to spare.

    Patrick
    campthesummit.com

  13. Thanks Patrick,

    I don't think everyone needs or even wants to take a DSLR. You have to be prepared! :D

What do you think? Add your comment...


CONNECT WITH TRAVMONKEY.COM

  • Instagram
  • TravMonkey RSS Feed TravMonkey.com RSS Feed