DSLRs are popular for their large sensors, interchangable lenses, and full control of image, but it really sucks if you spend $800+ on a great camera and can’t bring it on your vacation to Rome/Kansas/Your sister’s wedding, so I’ll teach you here and now how to travel with a DSLR.
Is travelling with a DSLR possible? Yes. I just took my brand new camera (Canon EOS Rebel T3i) on a 5,000 mile journey to Hawaii. Here’s how.
- Find a glove, not a mitten. Translation: Don’t take around a case meant for your camera and your 10 favorite lenses (OK- Don’t call me out. Maybe 5 lenses). DSLRs are bulky enough. Buy a case meant to around your camera, and nothing more, because DSLRs are heavy enough, and carrying a separate case is a pain, so it should fit in your bag. I use an old Tamrac camera-shaped case which perfectly fits one camera, one lens, one spare battery, and doesn’t take up my entire backpack.
- Don’t bring your band, bring your guitar. Translation: You don’t need a tripod, or 5 lenses, or a lighting setup (I’m not kidding- people have brought them). Think about it. If you spend more than 30 seconds setting something up, you’re going to miss most shots. Plan for shooting on the go (one prime lens, one zoom maybe) and you’ll save time, money, space, and a backache.
- “No sir. Hotel safes do not store digital photos”. Never count on the security of your photos, and never count on a single memory card. If you can, transfer your photos to your laptop at the end of each day, and bring a spare memory card just in case. You don’t want to waste your whole card taking pictures of useless art, get to the mona lisa, and find out your only card is full.
- “He’s a tourist”. In some places, if you walk around wearing your camera strap you’ll guarantee a mugging or a pick-pocket. Make sure your camera bag is discreet (should be if you followed step 1), and make sure it is securely attached to you so that someone doesn’t swipe your gigabytes of precious memories without you knowing.
- Common Sense saves dollars and cents. Don’t put your $800 baby at risk. Make sure your case has proper waterproofing, and avoid taking out your camera while it’s raining (more people do this than you’d think). For additional protection when surprises come, stick your closed camera bag between your rain jacket and body to keep it especially dry. Moisture and extreme temperatures are also not good, so if it seems really hot/cold/humid PUT THE CAMERA IN THE BAG. It’s not worth the risk. In dusty areas keep it in the bag as much as possible, do not change lenses (lets dust in the sensor), keep the lens cap on as much as possible, and keep a towel handy to keep it protected.
That’s it. Follow those five simple tips and traveling with your DSLR, whether it be Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Prosumer, Professional will be fine. And you can take photos like this (photo credit: myself).