Photography in Europe: 2003
Which cameras, film, and gadgets work best for your travel photography? Any tips on getting the best shots? Carry a big 35mm camera or a point 'n' shoot? Is a camcorder worth the trouble?
I've been to and from Europe twice in the past year. I have not had any problems with film going through multiple x-ray machines. My pictures have always turned out beautifully.
Philadelphia, PA USA 12/31/03
Making Digital Photography
I spent over two months in Europe (mostly France and Italy). I came home with over 8000 pictures (and that was after editing!). I am a professional photographer and yes, I am addicted to my digital camera. I haven't shot a roll of film for over three years and will not shoot film ever again. But that's me. I am camera-savvy, I own professional equipment and I know what I'm doing. I also traveled with my laptop so I could download and edit. That's probably way too much for most people, but i did this with my husband and three year old daughter. We had one suitcase and the laptop was inside it so no one knew I had a laptop as well as a really nice camera and lenses.
And for the quality of digital files? Please. I have stunning 16x20's and 20x24's hanging on my walls from what I photographed in Venice and Sarlat. There is absolutely no spotting pixels or any tell-tale clues that it's a digital file. However! Because I'm a professional, I know how to use Adobe Photoshop and my equipment is pretty high-end. There are more and more higher-end comsumer type of digital cameras that are on the market these days but to get consistently great shots, shoot at the highest resolution, get a camera with at least 4.0 megapixels and make sure you know how to use it!
Use black electricians tape (or use a black sharpie on masking tape) and cover up EVERYTHING on your camera that states what kind of camera it is. My Canon 10D had about 7 or 8 pieces of tape covering it but I never had any problems with would-be thieves. I traveled with three lens in a backpack (don't use a camera bag, that's screaming "Steal me! There are cool things inside!"). I bought a pair of those really thick warm socks that you usually only wear when it's negative degrees outside and your feet are freezing. I slid my lenses into those and they were completely protected and who would have known that there was pretty expensive lenses in them?
Next, always keep a hand on your camera at all times! I rarely put my camera away (except in Nice, that experience was a bit scary) so that I wouldn't miss anything let alone, let a thief think that i was easy pickings.
Memory is getting very cheap nowadays. One gig worth of memory really isn't that much anymore and may be worth it so you don't have to track down an internet shop. I averaged about 100-200 shots a day. Most people wouldn't come close to this but I use it for stock photography and greeting cards. I burned everything to CD in the event that something was stolen. There are plenty of Internet shops around that would do that for you. Or, borrow a friend's memory discs for more memory or get a portable hard drive that you can download into. I also took along a battery recharger and plenty of extra batteries.
Go out either in the early morning
or in the hour before sunset. The light is absolutely stunning! Tuscany
is fantastic for that. Look down alleyways (Sarlat and Beynac were my
favorites), the light is usually filtered which gives it a nice glow and
there's usually a beautiful set dinner table, a gaily painted door or
pots of flowers. I'm heading off to Madrid the end of January and can't
wait! For inspiration you can go to my website: www.serendipitypics.com
and click on Destinations. Enjoy.
Duvall, WA USA 12/18/03
Photos of Europe
My photos of Europe, and other subjects, are at www.bobsheldon.com
Reading, PA USA 11/06/03
We used our digital camera on our recent trip to Italy. I had extra memory cards (2-128mb) and also took rechargeable batteries (with a dual voltage 1 hour charger). The charger was relatively small and really did not take up too much space (about the same space as 5-6 rolls of film) and really came in handy. The batteries lasted approx. 2 days with fairly constant shooting - I kept the view screen off most of the time. We had no problem finding internet cafes or photo shops to burn CD's for us (3-6 Euro each). We took 1,045 photos and burned 4 CDs there (with between 140 to 190 photos per disc) and two more when we got home. Xray machines did not damage the memory cards or CD's. I haven't done the math so I can't speak as to the economics but I have good pictures and knew whether they were good or not immediately. That's worth something all by itself. I didn't have to worry about lugging about several rolls of exposed film that may or may not have had good pictures or worry about xray damage. Overall, I have no complaints with digital travel photgraphy. It may be a little more expensive overall, but I found it to be less worrisome and we have good quality photos of a great trip.
Spokane, WA USA 10/28/03
I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago and visited the Louvre. I was shocked at the zoo that has become the Mona Lisa exhibit. Despite signs forbidding flash photography, the minute I walked into the room, all kinds of flashes were going off, people were video taping and literally within 5 feet of the painting. Security guards were just standing around doing nothing. The room is brightly lit too. I was pretty surprised at this whole thing. I was expecting something totally different.
San Leandro, CA USA 10/22/03
X-Rays - Camera Bag for SLR - Tripod
Just got back from a trip to Central Europe with 40 rolls of film. Speeds varied from 100-400. I was able to request a hand inspection in the States when I was leaving, even though I left within days of the new warnings on Cameras, I didn't have any problems. The inspectors were very good, but it took a couple of requests for the hand inspection. Europe on the other hand, was more difficult. All my film was in a clear zip lock bag for ease of inspection. I was not able to get a hand inspection at Heathrow, but again, the inspectors were very nice. I left Europe from Warsaw, and actually had a local write a message in polish to hold up to the security folks at the gate. They still made me pass it through the xray machines. Oh well, it was worth an effort. Total number of passes through the machines 3. So far I have not noticed any fogging of the film at all. One thing of note. I brought over a nice SLR camera and was worried about how to carry the body and lenses around, without being too conspicuous. I settled on a courier or messenger bag and bought some small wraps to protect the body and lenses when inside the bag. It worked pretty well, but was a bit akward, because I had to put the camera together before I could take a shot. I did bring a tripod but only used it a couple of times. Next time I will probably just bring a monopod and a mini tripod.
boston, ma USA 10/16/03
Tiny zip lock bags for batteries, etc
Our new digital camera takes two AA batteries. Having purchased several extra rechargeables, I was looking for a simple, lightweight container to use to keep my spare batteries in at home and while travelling. I had originally been searching for small plastic boxes made specifically for batteries (which are available on the internet, but it costs more in shipping than you pay for the boxes). What I found was 2 x 3 inch zip lock bags. They are called 'pill pouches' and come in packages of 50 at the pharmacy for under $2 (look in the section with the pill storage boxes). These zip lock bags fit two AA batteries perfectly, keeping them from shifting around enough to have the contacts touch. I cut out several red and green squares of construction paper, the appropriate color to be placed in each bag with the batteries....red for dead batteries, green for charged. Or you can label the outside, as each bag has a 'write on' area, intended to indicate date and time for pill dosage. The bags are surprisingly sturdy and would be useful for all sorts of small things (even pills!).
NY USA 10/13/03
Flashless in Europe
I am just back from Europe. It has been said before, learn to shoot without a flash. Also, if the thing you are shooting is military, it is also a possible target for "bad guys" so don't shoot there.
CA USA 10/11/03
Photography in St.Petersburg, Russia
Be very careful if you are taking any pictures in the Metro. I took 3 but had an official rush out of his office, very unhappy to see me taking a picture. The metro used to be a bomb shelter and they still don't want you taking pictures there.
Cincinnati, OH USA 09/14/03
Bery good MColor film from Migros
The best value for film in Switzerland, in my opinion, has to be "MCOLOR" from the Migros group. A 3-pack of 24 exposure film is 8,50 SF, and the 3-Pack of 36 exposure film is 11 SF. That is far better than paying 20 SF for a 3-pack of Kodak film and the quality is almost indistinguishable. I really liked the results of my photos with the MCOLOR film.
Foster City, CA USA 09/05/03
Compact Flash Card Transfer
Just made contact with the people of Miller Optik (Innsbruck and Vienna) who will download your images from a Compact Flash Card to a CD for 5 Euros. If anyone knows of a shop in Munich or Zurich who offers such a service, please drop me a note.
San Francisco Bay Area, CA USA 09/01/03
Love those 8mm Movies
In my previous post, I mentioned my 8mm movie camera. I love it! I can hold it in the palm of my hand, it can zoom in much farther than my zoom lens, and lots of Europeans have them. This means if you are in a tourist location, you don't seem out of place. They even let you use them at museums and at Disneyland Paris. They say you can't use them inside the rides but eveyone else was so I did too (I just don't use the light). It is also easy to use my Cannon ES because it does not have a red light. You can set it on a table or stand and record without anyone knowing unless you can't keep from looking at it. It does not have the LCD display which I do find annoying. I find it easier to look through a lens like a regular camera. The battery is only good for two hours but you wouldn't film every minute of every day anyway. I plug in the charger at night or if I come back to the hotel in the middle of the day, and in a half hour I 'm ready to shoot again. I also like it becuse it's small enough to hang around my neck like a regular camera.
Janice L. Killingbeck
Saginaw, Michigan USA 07/10/03
Photography and Film in Europe
I am an avid photographer I have made three trips to Europe, two in the last two years. I am particular about my results and therefore don't like digital because on enlargement the pixels are very evident unless you use the best setting, which gives you very few pictures per disc.
I used to request hand examination of my film because i was worried about the xrays and didn't believe anyone who told me it wouldn't hurt the pictures. Since both my last trips have been since 9/11, I have not insisted so my 80 rolls of fim went through xray machines in Saginaw, Detroit and Paris plus at various sights that routinely xray purses and bags (such as the Louvre, Ste. Chapelle, Versailles). So some of my rolls went through even more xrays. The prints all came out superbly. No fogging that i could see.
As I carry a 35 mm SLR camera, a point and shoot waterproof 35 mm camera, and an 8 mm movie camera, my bag puts up an "electronic equipment red flag" sometimes when going through Security. To save hassles I keep all my film in plastic ziplock bags. I buy Fuji film both because it is cheaper and because I like the blues better than Kodak. It comes in translucent plactic containers instead of the opaque containers of Kodak. That helps make it obvious that it really is film. I learned this back in 1986 when I was coming back from England and the inspector had to open every single one of my 100 rolls of film to see if it was really film!
Also I usually don't have time to label film as I take pictures but I always mark the day and where I was on the film canisters in permanent marker. So when I get home and can't afford to develop all the fim at once, I can turn in a representative sample each time.
I don't take all three cameras when I'm out: I pick one still camera and the movie camera; or just one still camera. I use ASA 400 film because I can take pictures without flash anywhere on my SLR: inside Notre Dame or outside in the bright sunlight.
The only real probem I have is taking pictures of mountains. The automatic cameras and the light meters often expose to the whole scene, making the trees and houses in perfect exposure but allowing the high snow clad peaks to fade into non existance. There was a beautiful sunset of the Aguille du Midi near Chamonix but when the picture came back from my point and shoot camera with no telephoto lens, it showed only the trees and no snow topped mountain glowing golden in the setting sun.
I think digital pictures are best for those who see them only as fun
and aren't really serious about the results. Most people who show me pictures
they took that they love, I would find unacceptable for me: out of focus,
the subject so small you can hardly tell what it is, under or overexposed,
and terrible composition. If you just want a picture to point to and say
I was there, any camera will do. But if you are into enlarging or into
the artistic aspects of photography, then I feel film is best and a 35
mm SLR camera with a telephoto lens is a must. Just remember it is you
that will be dragging that extra weight all around Europe so make sure
you really are an avid photographer!
Janice L. Killingbeck
Saginaw, Michigan USA 07/10/03
Digital is THE way to go
I have made several trips to Europe and China with both film and digital. There is no comparison, digital wins hands down. All of the problems given by the previous writer, except time lag and batteries, also apply to using a film point and shoot camera.
The time lag can be cured as noted in the response below, or by reading the camera reviews. There are several digital cameras with mimimal lag.
The weight of batteries, come on, what do they weigh, 1 or 2 ounces? My Canon 10D goes at least 400 photos between charges. I can get away with only one battery, but being a belt and suspenders guy, I would carry a back-up to Europe.
The writer complains about using auxiliary lenses and then recommends prime lenses. Is putting on an auxiliary lens any more of a problem than changing lenses? If anything, the auxiliary lens is easier.
For film speed, you cannot beat changing ISO with the push of a button instead of having to either carry two cameras or changing film mid roll (both of which I have done) because you just went from outside to inside a cathedral. The 400 ISO photos from my Canon 10D are very clean and are better than 400 ISO slide film.
With digital, I know immediately if I got the shot, not a month later at home. If it is not what I wanted, I can trash that shot and take a new one. (Saves on air fare to go back to get that "one" shot you really wanted.)
One last item, I no longer have to carry and try to get hand inspection
of 40+ rolls of film at every airport.
Reading, PA USA 07/08/03
Digital delay - How to solve it.
Solving the problem of "digital delay", the delay between when you push the shutter release and the time the actual picture is taken, is no mystery. The delay can be a few seconds with some cameras in certain situations. It is based upon the camera you use and how you use it.
1. If you use a digital SLR then the delay is similar to that of a film SLR. Examples of DSLR's include Nikon's D100, D1x, and D1h and Canon's 10D and 1Ds. I use a Nikon D100 and there is not delay problem at all IMHO. Most news and sports photographers use digital SLR's and this crowd wouldn't if delay was a problem. Digital SLR's are generally priced from $1,500 (in the US) and up for the camera body and use the same lenses as the same manufacturer's 35mm SLR bodies.
2. A point and shoot digital camera (generally under $1000 in the US) will have delays of up to a few precious seconds. I have owned a digital point and shoot camera since 1997 (first an Olympus 320 and now an Olympus 3040). The delay can be maddening but it can be minimized. Digital point and shoots generally have ways (read your manual) that will allow you to take one or more pictures with minimal delay at a time. Generally the strategy is not to use flash, to pre-focus and possbily to engage a special mode in the camera's menu.
3. Digital ZLR's - (Zoom Lens Reflexs) are a hybrid. They show you in the viewfinder what the lens is seeing (like a SLR) but have a fixed zoom lens. An example of this is an Olympus E-20. Some ZLR's have delays close to that of digital SLR's (read the spec's and try it out in a store). I have played with the Olympus E-20 and it has a very minimal delay.
An excellent source of information about digital cameras can be found
New York, NY USA 07/07/03
Downside of Digital
Having recently returned from 7 weeks in the UK and one wonderful week in Paris here is my rant about digital. Don't shoot digital! (Only reason to shoot it is to save $). Among the problems, it comes with are:
A: Time lag between pushing the shutter button and decisive moment the picture is actually captured. This means ALL decisive moments are missed consistently.
B: Memory. You need to take sufficient cards which can be an initial large investment.
C: Need to change to aux lens for wide angle or telephoto, both of which are not powerful enough most of the time. At times, this leads to infuriating frustration.
D: The speed of lenses are usually too slow. Being a zoom, it loses at least one stop at telephoto.
E: For good quality, can only shoot at lowest ASA, usually 100. Higher ASA leads to noise of pixels.
F: Batteries: Digital cameras usually suck juice out even when camera is on, but not in use. Only way to really use the camera is with the LQD on with the awkward magnifier/light shield on and that really sucks juice because it is like having a light bulb on. Also have to carry at least two (2!) additional sets of batteries in camera bag in addition to the set in the camera. That adds a tremendous weight to carry. I carry an additional three sets in a small container adding even more weight. They lose energy each day.
G: At the end of each day, you have to recharge all those batteries. That means carrying at least two if not three separate complete charging units with their own heavy transformers along with 2 or 3, three-way adapter plugs, plus step down adapter for European use with all its separate plugs for each county's own electrical system. I always wondered if the batteries really got fully charged with that set up.
H: The time it takes to find a place, be it an internet café or photo shop, to upload onto their computer & then burn CDs; not to mention the time consumed actually in the internet cafe & the cost. Most internet cafes exist to surf the web, word processing, or playing games & do not have the equipment or will not allow it due to fear of copyright law.
I: The need to burn a back-up CD in case the original is lost or damaged in shipment.
J: The time taken in packaging and shipping the CD back home along with the cost.
K: Of course, you have to measure all the above except "A." You save considerable cost of shooting film, processing and prints. I had estimated I would save $2,000 to $3,000 for the trip to Britain & Paris. Since I deleted many shots each day and didn't keep track of all costs I have no idea what the cost would have been if I had shot film.
Film would have been a real pain going through security since I would have so much of it when I departed Chicago.
I did not keep track of the cost of shooting digital either: burning CD's postage, re-burning many CD's back in Chicago and all the print costs at Costco. Well, that is not quite true. When I went back and totaled up all the receipts, I found that the digital costs broke down as follows: 903 total Costco reprints at 21˘ each 186.06; 23 total CD burns at $8.24 average* 189.53; total digital cost 375.59 cost/day based on 55 days 15.72 * Internet café time has to be considered along with their charge for a fee to burn a CD and sometimes they charged me for a CD, even though I brought my own. Sometimes they used mine and sometimes would not use mine. (Additional back up and final archive CDs burned upon return to Chicago are not included in the above figures. Nor are any additional Smart-Media cards that I purchased just for the trip.) A solution to burning CDs along the trip can be eliminated by purchasing a Delkin Memory Bank.
For the pure joy of photography, I agree with another posting just previous
to mine. Take a Leica with a 21, 35 and a 90. If you are traveling with
a companion, this will allow you to enjoy some photography and not have
to waste your valuable time contending with all the downside of digital.
And it will preserve your relationship with your companion!
Chicago, IL USA 07/04/03
I love rangefinders
I work as a professional photographer and on my vacation I needed to pack light and not take my job with me. I carried a rangefinder, which is 10 times lighter than an slr, and the lens on it is superb with minimal lens distortion. There's less camera shake so you can hand hold at slow speeds. It's smaller, inconsipicuous and not a juicy target for thieves. I also carried a digital camera- fuji A303. A great, good quality fun camera. All in all, I'm enjoying these photographs in my post vacation blues. There's enough good material for a show, hurray!
Seattle, WA USA 06/16/03
Labeling film cassettes.
If you take a lot of 35mm film cassettes with you on your overseas trip, keeping track of which cassette has been exposed can be tricky. I usually attach a strip of masking or drafting tape around each cassette, and when the roll is exposed, I immediately mark it as "Exposed and give it a number, such as roll #1." But now that I've switched to digital, I don't have this problem anymore.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 06/14/03
I took our new digital camera and also some disposable 35mm cameras on our trip. Being new to digital photography, I didnt really understand how it worked, and while the digital is great for still photography and being sure you got the shot, it does not work well for taking pictures in rapid succession. We took the Paris river Seine boat tour and it took too long for the computer in the camera to load the information between shots. So, after that I always carried one of the disposable cameras with me.
La Habra, CA USA 06/14/03
Our Canon Elph is our favorite because it fits in your pocket. I noticed that the tourist with digital cameras took way too many photos. I saw someone taking photos of every plant at Kew. Who wants to sort through those later? Stick with 35mm film and it will be more archival too.
Denver, CO USA 06/13/03
Digital for a Month
My wife and I each took our own digital camera, two 256mb cards, and a 20g super Digibin. In a months time in Barcelona, Spain, Beynac, France, Locham, Holland and Ramstein, Germany, we managed to accumulate close to 1700 pictures of flowers, stores, people, churches, etc, between us. I have a Canon G2 and she has a Canon S320. We download every other night. We had no problems with storage or battery problems. The only problem I have is now I'm going through all the pictures and reliving our wonderful trip and putting into different categories. Goodbye to film forever!
OAKLAND, CA USA 06/10/03
Hand Screening of Film
I have just returned from Europe and found that if you are persistent, baggage screeners will hand screen your film. I made sure I was not in a rush to get to the gate, and I just insisted and refused to hand over the film until someone agreed to hand screen it. I also told them the ASA was over 1000 on some of the rolls (even though my fastest film was 800 ASA) and they capitulated. The payoff was 18 rolls of beautiful European scenery and a very happy photographer.
Los Angeles, CA USA 06/06/03
Disposable Panoramic Camera
I took one disposable panoramic camera (Kodak--25 exp.) along with my regular camera. I took pictures in the Collesseum (Rome) & Effiel Tower (Paris) and the panoramic pictures turned out great. The format allows you to get so much more of the view & monuments in the frame. It cost more to develope but it's worth it.
Burnsville, MN USA 06/06/03
a very cheap price on print film
When I travel I like to use 36 exposure rolls because you get 12 more pictures than the standard 24 in the same size cannister. The problem is these can be costly since you usually cannot buy them in "value packs." After shopping around and finding the best local price to be $6.00 a roll (which would be $96 for the 16 rolls I plan to take,) I found www.cheapbatteries.com where I was promptly shipped 16 rolls at $2.35 each! What a deal. By the way I do plan on packing my film in clear baggies and in a lead bag.
Charlotte, NC USA 06/03/03
XRay protection bag
I recently bought an Xray protection bag made by Sima the XPF 20 and the screener told me that they absolutely could not see through it. The manufacturer says you can check it but I would not under any circustances check unprocessed film regardless of any protective bag. The screener was telling me that most of the ones people use are useless. My pictures came out flawless (except for user error).
GA USA 05/30/03
Sneaking photos in galleries, etc.
I have to comment on the restrictions on taking photos in certain galleries. I was in Europe in 98, and am planning on going back this year. The first trip, I was very frustrated with tourists in the Sistine Chapel who insisted on trying to "sneak" photos... Most point and shoot cameras do not allow you to turn the flash off (and many users don't know how to use this option if it does) and these lights can hurt these artistic treasures. Likelihood is, rather than trying to argue with tourists saying that they thought they had turned their flash off, these monuments decided to disallow all photography to save the pieces. Good for them. So, PLEASE, if you are going to try to sneak any photos in galleries or otherwise, please INSURE that your flash is turned off. We have to preserve these sites for future generations.
St. Louis, MO USA 05/29/03
Restricted photo taking
P. Bartels comment about restricted photo taking in major galleries is, unfortunately, the reality in major cities in Italy, if not all over Europe. And I agree that this restriction probably has to do with photo rights and selling postcards and books at the galleries' souvenir shops. I did manage to sneak a photo or two inside Venice's Ducal palace and St Marks Basilica, and if one is discreet (and careful enough) one might even sneak a picture or two at other restricted galleries and some churches. Maybe we need to develop the art of stealth photography. Regarding the copying of digital photos from a SmartMedia or CompactFlash card to CD-ROM, I do that at home and am thus not tied down with additional accessories to carry with me. Just get a couple of large capacity cards (128 Mb minimum) and you should be good for hundreds of photos shooting at 1600x1200 normal resolution.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 05/26/03
Instead of finding someplace that will let you burn CDs of your photos, you can purchase a Disc Steno CP100. It is a portable, battery driven, stand alone (no computer required) CD burner. It is distributed by JOBO (www.jobodigital.com).
Reading, PA USA 05/26/03
DigitalPhoto's to CD
As a Digital Photographer, this upcoming trip to Europe, I dont want to take along my laptop to download Images from my CF Cards to a CD.I was wondering if anyone might know of a company who could download the Images for me in the Following cities:Brussels,Amsterdam, Munich,Innsbruck,Zurich. Any help would be much appreciated.
San Francisco, CA USA 05/22/03
Taking fewer pictures
As a frequent traveler, I have begun to realize that photography actually prevents me from fully enjoying what I am seeing. Lately, I've been buying picture postcards and picture books of sights. I like to take pictures of the food, the people who work in the little hotels, the outdoor markets, locals going to work riding the trams, etc.
Take care of your negatives! There is nothing in the world as disappointing as having the perfect travel photo reprinted only to find that there are irreparable scratches on the negative. And odds are, no matter how often you travel back to the place you took that photo, you will never get the same one again. Invest in negative sleeves from your local cameramonger or try an online source such as: www.calumetphoto.com. You took the time and care to take the photograph, take a little extra time to preserve the negative.
Las Cruces, NM USA 05/04/03
Good photo taking
It's your trip of a life time so why spoil it with bad photography? Look through travel brochures, etc. to see how the experts "set up a shot" and then you can take your photo from the same angle, etc. And be sure you practice a LOT with that video camera so your footage is still and not bouncing all over the screen! (*Don't forget to turn your cam off either! No one wants to see sideway shots of the sidewalk or, worse yet, when that camera dangling around your neck is left on when you hit the urinals! Yuck!)
Keeping film safe
In the U.S., airport security is now expected to do a hand inspection of your film if you request it, so you shouldn't have any problems here. Putting your film in ziplock bags as others have mentioned definitely makes the process rather painless. In Europe, you may or may not find someone willing to hand inspection. (I had no problems with this recently in Germany and Italy.) Your safest choice is to process any film faster than 400 ISO in Europe. For 400 ISO and slower films, you should be able to have them go through three or so security checkpoint x-rays without any problems. And of course, NEVER put your undeveloped film in your checked baggage. My film always turns out fine when I follow these procedures.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 04/18/03
Develop film in Europe
If you are going to be in one place long enough I like to develop some of my film while in Europe. I've developed film in Italy and Greece and it is the same quality. The only difference in Italy was they used borders, which I liked. You don't have to worry about film getting ruined, but do make sure you have something to put the pictures in. Small accordian files do a nice job and can be purchased anywhere that sells office or school supplies. Oh one other nice thing about developing there is you get their language on the back of the paper.
Compact flash card to CD
On a recent trip to Spain, we took digital cameras that used Compact Flash and Memory Stick cards. Also, we brought Compact Flash and Memory Stick card readers (very small and lightweight) and a few blank CDs. In Barcelona, we found Casanova Foto (www.casanovafoto.com). They downloaded the files from our cards and burned them onto a CD. If you are willing to do some research online, you can probably find an Italian photo shop that will do the same for you, especially if you have the card reader (a computer store might also do this). Our card readers do not need any external drivers for Windows 2000, ME or XP, so it was easy to find someone to burn the CD for us. I'd look into this before dragging my laptop along.
Albuquerque, NM USA 04/16/03
film prices in Europe
I always use a Sharpie marker to number my film rolls, not the canisters, then note what I shot, especially if I don't plan to develop them immediately. Memory blurs the details, such as whether that quaint village church was Greek or Italian. A question, though: everyone talks about how expensive film is overseas. My next trip will be a lot longer than I'm used to, and I've never been one to ration my film. I know I can't possibly carry enough and still have room for luxuries like clothes and a toothbrush, so can anyone tell me what I should budget for film purchases? Thanks!
Tallahassee, USA 04/07/03
x-ray bags and machines
xray machine handlers do not have the ability to "crank up" the xray machine. They can magnify (isolate the object and get a better image)the image to try an identify what the object is. Once they are able to identify it they may let it pass or ask you to open your bag so they can verify that it is just a bag of film.
florida, USA 04/03/03
As for film shield bags, sometimes they work and other times they don't. My last trip to Europe, prior to 9-11, I flew out of Frankfurt, and watched the checker crank the x-rays up when she saw the black shape in my bag. When I got home and developed the films, I noticed 80% of the films were fogged. Having been in the photo industry for over 20 yrs, the past 10 managing a 1 hour lab, I was suprised. Some frames were ok, but some were completely shot.
San Francisco, Ca USA 03/28/03
photography tips I've read
So I've been reading some in preparation for my Euro trip this summer. This is what I've found:
1) Hand inspections of film are available here in the states but can't be counted on in Europe.
2)Slide film is much better. You can have the slide scanned digitally and then produce a print any size you want.
3)You can Fed-Ex your film home from Europe to avoid x-rays on the return. Add the 'do not expose to x-rays' sticker on the package.
4)Developing film w/ film mailers is REALLY cheap, say 2$/roll vs. 10+ at a shop. I'll fed-ex the film back and my family will mail it in for me so that I'll have it waiting when I return.
5)It's worth bringing film over digital, but you still need to keep an eye out for thieves.
6)I've invested in an additional manual, used SLR (less than $80) as a back-up camera. It'll give me the ability to shoot black and white or color anytime and switch between two fixed lenses, a 20mm & 50mm.
7)A cheap tripod and a small bean bag are good little tools to have.
If anyone has any other ideas, please pass them on...
Pittsburgh, PA USA 03/27/03
Develop Slides in Europe
I lived in the Netherlands and I found the developing costs to be much lower there than in Florida. I pay $10 to get one roll of slide film developed (uncut unframed). A roll costs $7 (that is Fuji Velvia). In Holland, I paid 10 euros (about $11) to buy a roll of Fuji Velvia but processing (uncut unframed) only costs 2.50 euros (about $2.75). So develop all of your slide film in the Netherlands, if you have the opportunity. Quality is good but it'll always be better if you go to an in-house developer than a place that sends it out.
Ft Pierce, FL USA 03/17/03
We just returned home from a week in Italy. Shot 4 rolls of 35 mm and filled a big digital card and an 8 mm tape too, but... I have to say how disappointed we were at the number of sights where all forms of image-making has been totally banned. For example, in Rick's 2003 Florence book, he says photos without flash are OK in the Uffizi. It is not. And they give you no reason, but I am inclined to believe the lady in line next to me who said "it's because they sold the rights." If true, that's just sad. Last time I was there, taking your own pics was fine, but now, having a camera in any building is useless. What's next, bans on outdoor photography too??
Saginaw, MI USA 03/13/03
Travel photography articles and guides
On Photo.net, there are some excellent articles regarding travel photography as well as city and country guides with recommendations and galleries. While most of the articles are geared towards the photographers who use non-digital SLR systems, the advice in the city and country guides are appropriate for all types of photography. Start with the article "Choosing a camera for a long trip" and then use the links at the bottom of that article to get to the location guides. Don't forget to read the comments after the articles, they're the equivalent of the photo.net Graffiti Wall!
Denver, CO USA 03/12/03
Film Inspection, Tripods, & a Warning
I was able to get film hand inspected anywhere in the US (the FAA website states that consumers are permitted to ask for hand inspection). Returning was a different matter though, and from Paris (CDG) , they would not hand-inspect. Since that was the only time it went through a machine, I'm not expecting an issue.
Tripod use: in Paris, most museums or government-regulated tourist spots do not allow the use of a tripod. Actually, you must obtain a permit in advance and pay dearly for that permit. It is a way to deter professional photographers from making money off their sites. I was not allowed: Arc de Triomphe (either up top or on the outside pedestrian level), Sainte Chappelle inside, Notre Dame inside, Musee d'Orsay inside. I was allowed at the Trocadero and the outside of Notre Dame and along the Seine.
Beware when using a tripod! Since its typically at night, you may become
a target for thieves. I know there were two people who were "closely observing"
me at the Trocadero at night while using my tripod. You are typically
focusing on your camera (nice pun, huh?) and not as aware as you should
be. I was warned by a young French couple to be aware of "imminent danger
and someone watching me and my equipment." I used that opportunity to
pack up and head home for the evening. Be safe folks!
I routinely use the lead bags when traveling through Europe. Usually, I first ask for hand inspection. If it is refused, I make sure they see me placing the film in the lead bag...actually bags. I use 2 of them. I've never had a problem with my film. Lots of travel photos on my site here: http://www.jimtardio.com
LA, CA USA 02/28/03
The cable release in my camera pouch was rolled up and appeared suspicious
to the luggage screeners. I can't even tell you how many times they sent
my bag (with the camera pouch and film in it) through the X-ray machine,
taking out different things one by one, before they figured out what it
was. They wouldn't let me take out the film! Upon my return to the US (after
ALL the security at my airport of departure), they made us put our bags
through the X-ray machines again--for agricultural inspection! Once again,
no special consideration for film.
The alleged story with lead pouches is you'll just get the person running the X-ray machine to hike the level of X-ray. Think about it. If they let film pouches go unchecked what else could be in that pouch?
Use of lead film pouches
I've seen these advertised for years, and now that I'm actually going to Europe, I think I might get one. No one here has commented as to their effectiveness yet. I also can't find any airline restrictions saying you can't have them. I'd appreciate any advice on this. Thanks.
Winston-Salem, NC USA 02/14/03
Photography in Europe
Don't expect to be able to off load your digital pictures and send them home using an internet cafe.
1) Your camera has its own software for transfering the files from the camera to the PC. The folks at the internet cafe will probably frown on you trying to load software on their machines.
2)Those photo files are pretty big-between 1-3 megs compressed. Not only will they take forever to transfer to your mail server, they may overflow you mail box. Most ISPs provide you with 5megs to 20 megs of storage space-that max is only 10 photos from my high resolution camera!!
All is not lost. There are things called PSDs (Personal Storage Devices)
that will hold almost you can shoot. A portable hard drive, these things
hold between 10 and 40 GIGABYTES of data. They cost between US$150 and
400, depending on storage size and bells and whistles. Mine cost $200
and holds 20 gigs: that's 8000 hi res photos from my camera. Check such
sites as www.dpreview.com for info and details.
Baton Rouge, LA USA 02/07/03
i was studying in prague for 9 months and took about 18 rolls of film total (including side trips). rather than waiting until i got home to develop the photos (and risking them not turning out), i took the film to 1 hour kodak places around the city. i could have saved a few dollars waiting for 24 hour developing, but seeing them right away was worth the money. granted, developing film in europe is more expensive, but i found that the quality of photo was much higher than one hour places here. i didn't find the quality issue entirely true in greece or ireland, but they could develop the photos in a half hour. p.s. i brought most of the film with me, because film is outrageuously expensive (no costco package deals). i have heard, though, that the new security x-ray machines are worse than the old in ruining film quality.
A Point or Two
I have been a photographer, and photo finisher (ie. photo lab). Just a few points for your consideration.
1) Get to know your equipment. This is not the time to learn new equipment's quirks.
2) Film choice is personal, but slide film is expensive, difficult to store, and unforgiving when conditions are less than ideal.
3) When flying have cameras (unloaded), flash, and film easily accessable for easy inspection/xray. Gallon baggies and sharpie markers are great. Have film out of cannisters and organized in ziplocs. Simply pull out the baggies when you send EVERYTHING else through those little xray machines.
My last trip the security was very understanding, but having everything
ready to go was an obvious relief for these stressed overworked employees.
After 9/11 I am also leaning more towards the processing of film overseas,
but I would reccommend talking to locals to find the best deals and quality
processing. Good Luck!
Smith Center, KS USA 02/04/03
I get around reluctance to hand-inspect my film by taking the rolls out of their canisters and carrying them in a ziploc bag. At checkpoints, I just pull out the bag and hand it to the inspector. It's easy to just shift the bag around a little and see everything in it, so I've never had a problem. Inspectors hate those little canisters, though.
Tallahassee, FL USA 01/24/03
I've been worried about the same radiation issues. Found a simple way. Check the web for mail order shops. Some will deliver to your hotel. If you're staying long enough then get it processed there. The difference in cost is alot less then one bad roll of film. Slides/prints? Shoot what you want to end up with. If you want slides shoot slides. Want prints shoot print film. If you seriously want better quality bring a bigger format camera. Size matters.
Slides vs Prints
I want to slightly disagree with NY's advice concerning the use of slide film. There are a couple of other reasons that slide film is more common used by pros with better results than amateurs. First, slide film is extremely unforgiving with regard to exposure and focus. That three-dimensional look comes from extremely sharp focus across the ENTIRE picture.
Second, the pros equipment is much higher quality than consumer level SLR cameras especially the lens. If you do not have good glass, you do not get good pictures. This is a critical elements that is almost never discussed. I have prints that have nearly a three-dimensional quality because they were behind a Zeiss lens.
Third, pros truly understand the use of light and are prepared to bracket their images by shooting a half stop or more over and under to achieve that perfect picture. Something that an amateur will seldom do.
Finally, slide is film is a poor choice for Point and Shoot camera. The
PS cameras have inexpensive lens and the auto systems are programmed from
print film. Unless you have the experience and the equipment to take full
advantage of slide film, stick to print. Besides you can only see slides
on a projector and it's often much easier to flip through a scrapbook
(and may be less boring for your friends and relatives).
Centennial, CO USA 01/23/0
I am in dire need of advice regarding film and damaging x-rays at the airport. No matter how many times I beg the security guards to inspect my film by hand, they practically laugh in my face, saying that it won't harm my film. The last time I returned from Paris, one roll of film was ruined because of the x-rays, the others were really dark. How can I get them to inspect the film by hand?
KS USA 01/22/03
Slide only for pros?
Of course it is possible to buy film in Europe and have it developed there as well. That handily solves the security radiation problem, although at a cost, namely the higher European prices and the time it takes.
I disagree, however, with the view that slides are used by pros and prints by amateurs. In fact, pros do use negative (print) in some circumstances. However, both pros and experienced amateurs know that nothing has the impact of a slide. A good slide has an almost three-dimensional look, a realism that prints can't even begin to approach. Naturally, this includes digital prints, too.
If you want a really good photographic momento of your trip, take slides. 400 speed slide films are now getting good enough to permit the use of point-and-shoot cameras, although you should test before you go to be sure that your camera has a sufficiently accurate exposure system. (Slide film is very intolerant of under- and over-exposure.)
And remember the motto of one of the great pro photographers (Robert
Capa, if I'm not mistaken): if your pictures aren't interesting enough,
you're not close enough! Go to a bookstore and look at some travel photography
and see for yourself what makes the published photos of, say, the familiar
sights of Paris so interesting compared with what tourists normally come
New York City, NY USA 01/17/03
Film and Radiation
Pro photographers are not exclusive to america. My point being that there are pro photographers in europe as well. Many shoot slide film, and they manage to get it developed in Europe just fine. If you are that concerned about radiation, I would have the film developed before you come back.
Phoenix, AZ USA 01/16/03
Keeping Film safe from x-rays
I'm in the process of planning for summer 2003 to Europe. Going to be taking slide film, two SLR's and a digital for fun. By the advice of a pro photographer, I'll be shipping my film back to the states via Fed-Ex or DHL with the sticker on the side "Do not expose to radiation." The pro said that many traveling journalists use this method.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 01/08/03