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digital or manual camera...which travels better?

Travel Forums Travel Photography digital or manual camera...which travels better?

1. Posted by backpacker (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

backpacker has indicated that this thread is about USA

Okay, A question for those that have more experience taking photos abroad. I have taken several photography classes over the past few years, but each time I borrowed a manual camera from either the school or a friend. I myself only own a small point and shoot camera that I purchased here in the USA for about $50. I am looking to upgrade my camera...but I dont know which is better for my trip to Europe and around the world. Digital or Manual? I am planning on spending somewheres between THREE and FIVE YEARS of constant travelling (I may have a chance to visit home for about a week) and I just dont know whether it is better for me to continuously buy film and try to store that with me? or send it? or do I go the digital route? I am worried that despite my experience taking photographs I may find a digital camera a hard adjustment. Does anyone have any recommendations on which type of camera to buy? and if so...would you like to suggest a particular model or brand? My price range is somewheres between $80 and $240 USD and I am hoping to find a camera that will travel well both here and abroad, so it cant be too heavy/bulky or hard to download/carry film, etc. Anyone?


2. Posted by Peter (Admin 5791 posts) 12y

Hey Jessica,

You are confusing a couple of concepts in your post. You say 'digital' or 'manual', but it is actually quite possible to have a manual digital camera :) There are four options really the way you are describing it:

- Digital Fully Automatic
- Digital SLR (usually both manual and automatic options - very expensive, but good - lets you change lenses for example)
- 35mm Fully Automatic (like the point and shoot one you have now)
- 35mm SLR (usually has both automatic and manual options - still much cheaper than their digital counterparts)

I'm possibly making that a little too segmented as quite often these lines are blurred somewhat. Someone correct me if there's a better way to describe this.

I'm a big fan of 35 mm film SLR cameras still, but I must say looking at the price range you are considering and your previous experience I can't help feel that a Digital automatic camera of some sorts would be best for your purposes. You won't have a hard time learning it - they're designed to be simple to use generally. One function that I would like having in a digital camera is stitching (which will let you make panoramas quite easily). The Canon Powershot A80 is an example.

Look through some of the previous discussions on this topic though, particularly there is some information on storage that would be of interest to you.

Cheers, Peter

3. Posted by quixote (Budding Member 7 posts) 12y

It would seem the key word in this note is "backpack". Where would you carry and/or store film for an extended trip? What happens if you are in a remote area and need can be very expensive when there is only "one store in town".

Digital cameras have come a long way,and a good one can be purchased for your price range. Buy lots of cards (still cheaper than film in the long run) and play with it before the trip. My grandchildren, ages 6-9-12 all have their own cameras and I take them on extended vacations each summer. They have learned to shoot lots and lots of photos of one sight and then cull them to the best 2-3 to save (can't do that with film). If something is very special, and you want it large size, you can shoot in a higher resolution...snapshots in a lower resolution giving you lots more photos. Digital is far cheaper in the longrun, because you can keep a computer scrapbook (with backup) and only print the ones you want to share or send. If you are like some of us, why take one photo of the Grand Canyon when you can take 100 - even if they all look alike. You can always delete at least 50 of them if you get into a bind and need more "digits".

Some really great sounding digitals are terrible when it comes to flash photos, so check them out carefully if you will be doing a lot of indoor stuff. We replaced one expensive digital camera because we shoot lots of family shots, and the flash was virtually worthless at any distance greater than 3 feet.

I envy your trip. Have a great time.

4. Posted by alainwee (Full Member 57 posts) 12y

Hi Jessica.

Buying a digital camera is the easy part. (Check out However, you will need an access to a computer, back up battery issue, mobile storage device, etc. to really get you started.

I will always op for digital mode.



5. Posted by backpacker (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

Thank you to those that have helped me get closer to making my decision on which camera to purchase. I appreciate all of the imput greatly. And when I do take some pics, you can be sure that I will post them up on this webpage!


6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Hey Jessica,

Just out of curiosity, what did you decide on/are begining to lean towards??

7. Posted by backpacker (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

To answer gelli's question: I think I am leaning a bit closer to a digital fullly automatic camera...although I havent quite made the decision...I dont know which model and I havent really committed to one type yet. I will let you know when I find one...


8. Posted by mtlchica (Respected Member 922 posts) 12y

I really like how Canon PowerShots shoot. I took a digital photojournalism class a couple semesters ago and they lent us those cameras for the entire semester. They were great, simple to learn, and really reduced fuzzyness (if have a bit of a shakey hand). Right now I have a Fuji camera, and while it is good, I really perfered the Canon. Just a personal choice here though!

Katie ;)

9. Posted by Jonty (Budding Member 4 posts) 12y

Hi Jessica

I read your dilema and had to reply.

Yes digital is easy and does have its plus sides. I shoot sports photography freelance for a couple of local papers and digital has the edge for that field.

However if it was me I would choose a good old 35mm "manual" SLR. You say you have done a few classes so maybe you will have a grasp on exposure etc.

The problem with digital cameras is that when they go wrong (which they do) you are often in big trouble. If you have problems with a digital camera on your travels chances are that you wont find a shop that can offer a quick repair mainly because they wont touch it, they will only send it back to the manufacturer for rapair, and that will take weeks, believe me.

With digital you will need a regular supply to top up your battery, and if you travel to colder climates the lithium and NiCad batteries used in these cameras can run low very quickly.

If you go for a regular 35mm SLR such as a Canon or Nikon you could easily get something half decent second hand for your money. It wouldn't rely on batteries so much. You could drop it a few times no problem and it wouldn't miss a beat. Depending on where you are travelling 35mm film will be far more available than memory cards. Just keep posting the film home.

Go to your local pro photography shop and I'm sure they will be able to help you out.

Hope I haven't confused you too much, sorry to go on


Ps if you want any more info let me know

10. Posted by iloveflyin (Full Member 159 posts) 12y

I just got back from a two-week trip to Vietnam via Tokyo Narita. I must have shot about 1000 photos. How much film did it cost me? Zippo! Zero! I use my digital camera. I brought with me a one-gig, a 256meg and two 128 meg compact cards. I also stop at photo processing stores along the way to download some of my photo from my compact flash cards to 3 CD's at the price of about 2 to 3 dollars a piece. Needless to say, my 35mm SLR was left at home. When I have time, I will post some photos for viewing.
I used a Canon D300 SRL digital with a 18-55mm and a 70-300mm lense. Pictures were taken along a 17-hour train ride from the South to Central Vietnam and back. I stop at Hue and Nha Trang- still have a little jetlag, other wise, no problems. My camera worked perfectly well. All most all photo processing places in Vietnam will download your digital photos to CD for a couple dollars.