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D-SLR Cameras: The Negatives in Taking Them Traveling

brooke dslr

brooke dslrAs a D-SLR owner, I go back and forth often about the benefits and drawbacks of carrying a bulky camera while traveling. I love the photos it takes; the quality is like no other. However, I can’t sometimes get myself to want to take it out for the day with fears of bulky bags and shoulder pains.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. Taking a D-SLR on your long-term travel adventure will require a bit of extra care, thought and worry. Here are my top negatives involved with the decision to do so:

  1. You risk losing it, breaking it or having it stolen. Hello, money? D-SLRs are not cheap cameras, so constantly traveling and moving about in maybe more crime-ridden areas can be a risk. There’s nothing like the feeling of losing something worth lots of cash to be a downer on your travels.
  2. They attract attention. Just by having a great size, they do make you stand out more in a crowd. Trying to take a discreet photo? Think again. Oh, and it just might attract the wrong attention, as listed in point 1.
  3. They take up precious packing space. The difference between a D-SLR and a pocket camera is immense, especially if you consider the addition of extra lenses, filters and cleaning supplies. You have to really consider whether or not you want to actually haul the extra weight around.
  4. They weigh you down when heading out for the day. Sightseeing and walking around all day is not the same when you have a few extra pounds having off your neck. I constantly deal with neck strain and stress when I’m on my travels and actually taking my camera out.
  5. The photos may take up precious computer space. If you’re taking those images in RAW formatting, you can expect them to take up a hefty space on your laptop or netbook with their larger size. Not only that, they will require some sort of post-processing work before putting them online for others to view.

You have to really consider the type of person you are when deciding on the camera you want to take. For me, I have found that I often will leave without taking it (thus missing out on great photo moments) just because I can’t fathom the idea of hauling it around. What’s the point in having a really awesome camera on your adventures if you’re not going to use it?

Good question.

How are you when you travel? Did you take a giant camera with you just to be disappointed?

Stay tuned for next week when I talk about the positives of having a D-SLR

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Christine says

    I can definitely relate. I always debate whether I’m going to have a “photo” day or not–basically, whether I want to drag my DSLR around with me. It’s so heavy and annoying sometimes. I’ve found that I have to be in the mood and the place to take a lot of photos–if not, it’s not worth it. I also travel with a Canon Powershot that’s small enough to throw in my bag on “non-photo” days just in case I come across something amazing–or if I’m limited to just bringing one small bag!

  2. Claire says

    I always take my DSLR. I’ve dealt with all of those negatives and think it’s worth it. I don’t always carry the telephoto lens though.I even had my camera stolen once – an old film SLR comparable to today’s mid range DLSRs. It’s what insurance is for. I’ve always thought… why have the camera if you’re not going to have it with you? I use a compact for when I can’t carry it (e.g. skiing) or if I need to be discreet

  3. Caroline in the City says

    I understand the dilemma, but I love having mine. I bring it in a Lowepro Slingshot 100 when I know I’m going to be taking lots of photos (like on the Great Ocean Road or a trip to the Sydney Opera House) but otherwise I keep my little Canon Powershot in my purse for quick snaps.

  4. Vanessa says

    Good straps and bags help, but even when I know it’s heavy, I can’t go without mine. It would frustrate me to see something I want to photograph but can’t do it well because I don’t have the DSLR on me.

  5. Stefano Pedroni says

    I could never travel without my DSLR camera, that’s why I bought it for!!!! Being a good traveler photographer it’s a job, and as every job it requires effort, patience and dedication.
    I think the real question to be asked is not “should I take my DSLR with me” but “should I buy a DSLR to take with me?”. If you are not prepared to take the weight, the responsabilty and the hassle that comes with it do not buy one in the first place 🙂 IMHO of course 🙂

  6. @reubenacciano says

    Last trip, I had five – count ’em, 5 – cameras with me…

    Most were small (film) point and shoots for ultimate portability, but I always bring a dSLR.

    @Christine, I just can’t do the ‘photo day’ thing – the day you leave the cam behind is the day you’ll see something unforgettable/amazing that you know you don’t have time to come back to. It’s bad enough having B&W in the cam when I want to shoot colour! HATE lugging a big heavy SLR, so small film cams are heaps easier, and I am pretty selective – I don’t ‘machine gun’ heaps of frames.

    Smaller cams with big sensors are getting better all the time – a compromise between dSLR quality and compact convenience; I may go this way in the future. I really want one of these: (not affiliated).

  7. Susan says

    I take my D-SLR with me, including all 4 lenses. I have a Nikon D300, and have used it in China and Iceland. My traveling companion in Iceland had the same camera, so we were able to share lenses. My camera bag is one that will fit into my LL Bean Deuxe bookpack, with room to spare, so I don’t have to worry about carrying multiple bags. If I only want one extra lens, then I’ll carry it in a wrist bag. This was ideal while hiking up volcanos in Iceland. This summer, I am travelling to Italy, and I know I will take at least 2000 pics ( I take pics of everything!) I definitely want good quality photos! It is not a question of tking the camera, but when to carry all 4 lenses with me!


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