Getting Camera Gear for your Next Trip

Concept #1: How many photos will you take?

When it comes to photography and trips, it’s all about the balance of time spent snapping photos and time spent doing activities or relaxing; it’s about how you want to experience your trip. Are you the type of person who spends hours waiting for the right light before taking a photo, or do you snap a single shot and move on? Are you trying to get the artsy shot or are you perfectly happy just to record the scene once? Part of your plans to take photos will depend on who you’re travelling with and whether you’re on a pre-scheduled trip, or free to make your own schedule. Are you travelling with someone who is a photo enthusiast, or will your travel mates grow impatient the instant you pause to take a shot? Have you signed up for an organized tour, or can you stay in a city for an extra 3 days if you wish? Are you planning to visit 30 cities in 30 days, or just 1 city in 2 weeks.

The number of shots you take will depend on who you are and the nature of your activities. For example, if you’re hiking through forest or jungle for 8 days, you may be too tired to snap more than a few shots a day, let alone carry anything heavier than a small camera, whereas if you’re staying in central Venice for 8 days, you may plan to take hundreds of shots a day and can easily change cameras or lenses should you need to go back to your hotel.

Concept #2: Airports and Customs

The obvious concern of travellers these days are the X-ray machines and what damage they can do. Digital cameras and memory cards have no reported incidences of damage from X-ray machines at airports, so you’re pretty much safe if that’s all you carry. Film photographers, however, do need to be concerned about film passing through X-rays, so be sure to pack your film in your carry-on luggage in a separate bag so that you can specifically request the bag be manually searched instead of X-rayed. Note that checked luggage typically have more damaging X-rays pointed at them, so checking your film is not a good idea. At modern airports, there tend to be fewer problems with X-ray damage, but I know a friend of mine who went to Iceland returned with blemishes on virtually all of his 12 rolls of film after airport authorities convinced him that X-rays would not damage the film. Better be safe than sorry.

Concept #3: Lighting conditions when you get there.

Flash will use up batteries faster than non-flash, as will using the built-in digital viewfinder on point & shoot digital cameras. So consider how much photography you’ll be doing in low light. Museums and indoor photo opportunities may require flash, or use of a tripod, whereas sunny outdoor shots may need you to increase the brightness of your viewfinder.

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