A note on traveling with expensive cameras

At the Vagabonding.net Q&A, Jos

Posted by | Comments (2)  | June 22, 2004
Category: Vagabonding Advice

2 Responses to “A note on traveling with expensive cameras”

  1. cquirk Says:

    My biggest concern (and rightfully, it turned out)on my recently completed RTW was whether the camera could be repaired. We brought a fully manual canon AE-1 (used, about 25 years old for $125. They’re very common) with no computers or electronics and a small point and shoot. We were very hard on our cameras — trekking, awful busrides, dust, horse riding — and it took a toll. My ae-1 stopped working in Bukhara, but I was very lucky to have found a Ukranian dentist who ran a camera repair kiosk in Kiev who could repair it. The guy fixed it for overnight just $20. I was only two weeks without a camera, plus I got a 10% off coupon on dental work.

    I believe that I would have been out of luck if had I brought a camera with a lot of electronics that could only be repaired by the manufacturer or a specialist. The downside was that the manual camera was trickier to use (the manual focus, for example), but that’s why we brought the point and shoot for quick snapshots. That one broke too, so we tossed it and bought a new one in Warsaw.

    Probably it’s not such a concern if you are travelling in the developed world, but if you’re headed off into the wilds, it’s something to think about.

  2. Rolf Says:

    Cquirk raises an excellent point. It is, of course, possible to take precautions and protect your camera from the elements — but it’d be a shame to live a less adventurous journey just to protect your camera and electronics. If in doubt, I’d err in favor of adventure, and let memories take priority over photos.

    Another reason why I recommend traveling with a cheap point-and-shoot is personal experience: On my first vagabonding trip — 8 months around the USA in ’94 — I brought a nice, tricked out Minolta, but I ended up not using it 80% of the time because I felt like a dork carrying it around all the time. Plus I never got any good pictures of myself, because my traveling companions weren’t very good at using it. In the end, it was easier, more enjoyable and less conspicuous to carry a cheap, small camera in my pocket. I found that — through proper framing and use of light — it was just as effective in capturing memories, and when it broke I just shelled out $30 for another one.

    Most all of the Asia photos you’ll find in my “Images” gallery at RolfPotts.com, by the way, were taken with a $15 camera.