Photography in Europe
Which cameras and gadgets work best for your travel photography? Any tips on getting the best shots? Do you carry a big DSLR camera or a point 'n shoot? What about your preferred storage devices, batteries and lenses? Do you still travel with a 35mm camera?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Low Light Photography
I have always utilized a tripod for low light shooting. This is great for night scapes and low light interiors e.g. cathedrals. You can find some very light weight and compact tripods that also happen to be inexpensive.
Houston, TX USA 03/20/2013
what i did to choose cameras
i spent 6 months researching what camera to buy. Originally i was going to get a DLSR, but decided i wanted to go compact due to less bulk and hopefully just as good pictures.
Eventually i settled on 2 cameras. the zoom capabilities overlapped more or less, but what i wanted was wide angle to mid/tele. i didnt plan on needing a extreme zoom lens since i figured i would need more of a wide angle in the city, monuments, museums and such.
Camera 1 is a "pocket" type. no lens pops out and it has a 25~100 mm lens. Its water proof, but that was a bonus feature. Its about the size of a cigarette pack so i carried it EVERYWHERE i went and it was the most used camera. The only thing was that it was NOS since the newest version wasnt given great reviews. IAC, once the next version comes out i may look at that. also, this one does movies, panoramas and has auto shots like for nights and such.
Camera #2 is a Canon. it has a 35~392 mm zoom lens on it (optical) not digital and its also a sweet camera. Fireing up takes some time, but its a nice one to use. It also has movie capability and it uses SDHD cards. It does go tru power faster than the sony,but i got an extra battery for each. It can do some nice shots, but i need to lean how to use it more. It also has manual, auto, Aperature priority, shutter priority. the zoom lens can be adjusted in movie mode whereas the Sony cant.
they both have +/- but thats okay. As i said i used the sony more since it ALWAYs in my shirt pocket. The Canon in a camera pouch on my belt.
i have about 4 extra SDHD cards and a spare battery for each.
I still have my SLR, and should sell them since i dont use them at all which is too bad.
If youre going to buy a new camera do some research. there are some web sites that offer alot of data and testing.
portland, OR USA 03/15/2013
Taking the right camera lenses
The type of camera really depends on your goals and country in Europe. If you are doing cityscapes and cultural stuff in compact areas always bring wide angle and fish eye lenses. Telephotos work great for people as well. For landscape stuff in the country a wide angle or starter 18-55 works just fine. These are all for SLR style cameras obviously. I've learned a lot about travel photography in general with this Travel Club that is free to join--worth it just for the advise whether you travel with them or not...
Sausalito, CA USA 03/08/2013
Nikon - Photography in Europe
The best camera is a Nikon Coolpix (I used the P310 and swear by it!). No lens to change, long battery life (bring an extra!) and it fits flat in your pocket. But the results are more than impressive.
New York, NY USA 02/05/2013
Best travel camera bag
If you are looking for a great travel camera bag, I LOVE my Lowepro FlipSide 200. I've taken it to Europe several times and have lent it to others for travel as well.
It is large enough to fit my DSLR, two lenses, replacement batteries, memory cards, a small and large tripod. But it is small and compact enough to be very low-profile (especially if you get it in all black). I don't feel like it screams 'expensive camera inside.'
It fits like a backpack, but the zipper is internal, so no risk of stealthy unzipping in crowds. The best part is the strap that allows the bag to 'flip' to your front for easy access to the inside. I love this feature as it allows for quick, easy changing of lenses without having to set anything down and risk forgetting it.
I can't emphasize how much I love traveling with this bag. I've had 4 separate friends borrow it and then buy their own when they return from their travels. It is that awesome.
Atlanta, GA USA 12/28/2012
I take a lot of organized tours to multiple locations. Prior to traveling, I calligraphy the name of the towns I will be visiting on an index card. I take a photo of the card before I shoot the pictures so I know where they were taken when I return Home
Pembroke, MA USA 09/07/2012
Great low light pocket camera
Last year I was having trouble taking pictures in Europe's churches. I suspect the lighting is kept dim in some of them so you will buy their pictures and books.
After a bunch of research I found the Canon Powershot S100. This camera is awesome as it performs extremely well in low light situations. It is the size of a point and shoot but takes pictures as good as my Nikon DSLR. It has gotten the highest reviews. Ken Rockwell calls it the "best pocket digital camera ever made." http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/recommended-cameras.htm#pocket
Charlotte, NC USA 08/18/2012
Which are you?
It is helpful to ask yourself the question: Am I a traveler who takes photos or am I a photographer who travels? If you are the former there are numerous cameras from point and shoot models to bridge cameras to micro 3/4 cameras that can do an amazing job. I rarely print larger than 11x14 with a rare 16x20. Most of my prints are much smaller. A point and shoot are great at 8x10s. To help your photography if you are a traveler who takes photos, a) learn your camera.... EVERYTHING it can do and how b) invest in decent post-processing software and learn to use it c) remember the most important element in a great shot is the eye... composing the great pic. If you are a photographer who travels, enjoy the extra equipment, time spent shooting and producing really special pics of your travels!
Portland, OR USA 03/24/2012
Start Small, Then Grow
It was traveling that started my love affair with photography. My very first trip was a 7-month odyssey across Europe for which I had no camera at all! After that I gave in and started getting equipment...
Getting a good point-and-shoot camera is a great way to start learning photography as they are affordable, and generally very capable. While you don't have the flexibility and control that an SLR gives you, the current crop of small cameras take some very good pictures, especially if you spend the time to understand composition and lighting. I took a Canon PowerShot SX10 on a trip through northern Poland and the Baltics a few years ago (you can check out the images at blueline.smugmug.com) and learned a huge amount about what to do with a camera (mostly by learning the what-not-to-do rules the hard way!).
I currently travel with a Canon 7D and a collection of 3 lenses (one flexible zoom as a "walk-around", one zoom with a longer focal length, and one "fast" prime lens for use indoors). If you do make the commitment to get an SLR, make sure to keep in mind the kinds of pictures you plan to take and get the appropriate lenses!
Loveland, CO USA 02/09/2012
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
Spent 8 days in Rome over Christmas and took 1,530 photos with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 camera. This camera is great for travel as it is compact, light weight and will fit in a jacket pocket. The results were somewhat mixed, varying from grainy and somewhat blurry in low-light settings to crisp and sharp in sunny, outdoor locations. For the most part, a great performer and one to consider for your travels, although Panasonic now offers the LX5, a further refinement of the LX3. Good luck and good travels.
Dallas, USA 01/20/2012
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 12/31/2003
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 12/18/2003
Photos of Europe
My photos of Europe, and other subjects, are at www.bobsheldon.com
Reading, PA USA 11/06/2003
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 10/28/2003
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 10/22/2003
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 10/16/2003
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!).
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 10/11/2003
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 09/14/2003
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 09/05/2003
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 09/01/2003
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 07/10/2003
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 07/10/2003
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 07/08/2003
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 07/07/2003