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furious 26 Jan 2007 13:05

DSLR disadvantages

I love traveling and photography too! I am taking about 6000 photos every month at the road!!! I want to buy a DSLR but I find a lot of disadvantages on them:

1) I have a compact Canon Powershot A95 (I think...) and I record in my camera voice descriptions about each place I photograph. The voice description attaches to the image as a .wav file, so I can organize the photos later. How do you record notes about the photographs you take with a DSLR camera?

2) At a DSLR you cann't see what you will photograph through the screen and this means that you can't take a photo with the helmet on your head. So you must take off the gloves, the helmet, take the photograph and put all these on you again!

3) You cann't take video with DSLR.

I will have my compact A95 with me as a second camera for sure, so let say that I will use the compact when I 'll ride and for taking video. The 2nd and 3rd problem solved. But what about the first problem?

Finally, is there such a huge difference at the photograph's quality between a DSLR camera and a good compact like Canon Powershot G7?


Bjorn 27 Jan 2007 16:25


1) Not quite a voice recording, but it might help you: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0608/06...sonygpscs1.asp
This records your position via GPS and you can later embed that data into your images' "IPTC" data.

2) Would a flip-up helmet do the trick? Other solution: there are devices that attach to the viewfinder and "translate" it onto a little monitor. I think they're about £150

There is a HUGE quality difference between compacts and DSLRs... depending what DSLR you get. Some differences are: less noise, faster frames per second, nearly instant focusing (with good lenses), more versatility (interchangeable lenses), more powerful flashgun (if you carry an external flash), more megapixels (if money doesn't matter and you go for a Nikon D2x Canon 5D or above)... and above all: every DSLR can shoot in RAW mode. And there's so many cool things you can do with a RAW file (changing temperature, recovering highlights/shadows,...) it's unreal! On my last trip my friend shot with a high quality compact in JPG mode, bracketing a lot of shots & wasting time that way. I shot in RAW, knowing I can later adjust the exposure +- 1 or 2 stops if needed!

BTW: The Powershot G7 doesn't shoot RAW. The Fuji E900 (9 megapixels) and the Canon G6 do.


MarkLG 27 Jan 2007 20:57

If you've never used a D-SLR then you'll be more than happy with a compact. Most of the modern ones perform very well, and you can get good results with them.
Once you've owned and used a D-SLR for a while you're expectations will change considerably as you get used to the extra performance, features and picture quality. I've used D-SLR's for about 4 years now, and I have tried to go back to a compact for travel photography, but I soon became frustrated by the lack of features and hit and miss picture quality compared to my SLR's. In the end I went back to an SLR (Nikon D50) and accepted the size/weight penalty over a compact.
The main advantages you'll see compared to your compact are:
- instant start-up
- nearly instant focusing (with a good lens), with very few out of focus shots
- the versatility of interchangable lenses
- much clearer, sharper pictures when viewed at higher magnifications
- much less random digital noise in low light shots
- better quality enlargements

The list goes on, but you get the idea. If you really want to get serious about your photography then keep your compact for quick snapshots, but get yourself an SLR for the photos that matter.

furious 29 Jan 2007 15:54

Thank you for your replies! I am not bothered about the delays of a compact to start-up, focus etc. I mostly photograph landscapes not motion, so I am not in hurry. Also, I am not interested about changing lenses because I don't want to carry all these kit. If I 'll take DSLR I will have only the standard lenses with me. Finally, I am not interested about flash because I never use it. I like to take night shots of landscapes or sights without flash.

So the only thing that I am worried about is the photograph's quality. I searched my photos and I found some similar which a friend of me took with Canon EOS 350D and I took with my Canon PowerShot A95. Look the photos!

It's amazing! I counldn't believe on my eyes. Some of them was taken faulty. I am not worried about this but about the colors. Note that I always use the Vivid color effect. Tell me your opinion... Honestly, which photographs do you like more? Those from compact or from DSLR? I tried to correct the colors to the DSLR's photos but I couldn't achieve a good result.

You can see the same results from a comparison between Canon PowerShot Pro1 and Canon EOS 350D:
Pro 1: http://img2.dpreview.com/gallery/can...31-1136-16.jpg

350D: http://img2.dpreview.com/gallery/can...s/img_3961.jpg

About the noise I saw at the night photo that there is a lot of noise at the compact's photo and almost no noise at the DLSR's photo. But this is seen only when magnifying. This isn't enough for me to take a DSLR.

But what about the colors? Why there is this difference? It seems crazy to me!


MarkLG 29 Jan 2007 18:49


Originally Posted by furious
Note that I always use the Vivid color effect.

This is the reason for the differences you're seeing.
Most compacts are set to produce quite high contrast pictures as standard, and by selecting the vivid option you're boosting the contrast even further.
D-SLR's are usually set to produce a more natural looking photo as standard. If you go into the menu's you can adjust the contrast to given the picture more impact, or you can adjust the contrast using Photoshop or similar.

My guess is the D-SLR shots your friend took are closer to the colours you would have seen with the naked eye when the photos were taken. Even though they don't have the same impact as the compact shots they are more true to life, and give better scope for adjustment in Photoshop at a later date, depending on what you're using the picture for.

Be careful when printing these 'vivid' high contrast pictures, as they can easily look over the top and quite harsh when transfered to real paper prints.

Bjorn 29 Jan 2007 19:56

I second Mark's opinion. It was the same for film a few years ago: Kodak Ultra (amateur film) was oversaturated; Kodak Portra (professional film) was more neutral. The same applied to other manufacturers and their amateur/pro films.

DSLRs give you the option to oversaturate. Try this:

- On a cloudy day (muted colours), take a picture with a DSLR using RAW mode (not JPG!!!)
- Load the RAW file into Photoshop's RAW converter
- move the "Saturation" slider all the way to the right & see what happens

This is not possible to achieve AFTER the RAW conversion but only DURING the RAW conversion (in the "Adobe Camera RAW" interface). If you try to boost the saturation in the processed RAW file, it'll start to look funny at some point.
Everyone to their own. Personally, I would never(!) shoot JPG. I'd rather buy a large memory card and a compact that shoots in RAW mode. (Personally, I am using a Canon 5D and a Fuji E900 (9 megapixel RAW). Canon's Powershot G7 is a great camera, but the lack of RAW makes it look like a pile of junk to me. Canon simply didn't want to cannibalise their DSLRs, that's why they left the RAW feature away. (That said, there's a book called "Hacking Digital Cameras" if you're interested in modyfing equipment.)

On a different note: Noise. If you want to shoot at night, this becomes a huge issue. On a 5D I can shoot 20s at 3200ASA and still get good results for A4 repro. Of course, if you only want 6x4" prints or screen resolution, a compact camera might do the trick.
Also, there's degraining software (Noise Ninja, Neat Image and thelikes).

Hope this helps

timk519 7 Nov 2007 19:21

I took Rebel XT DSLR on a 8100 mile romp around North America this past summer, and did a lot of "blind" shooting - ie, point the camera at the subject, shoot, then check the rear screen to see how it looked. All while heading down the road at speed.

What I found is that with some practice it's possible to get pretty good at it, without having to stop, setup, shoot, pack up, and then get back on the bike and continue on again. The pictures may not be the same quality as ones taken from a stationary position, but it's still possible to get good shots while heading down the road.

What I found to be the big advantages to the DSLR compared to some point-and-shoots is:
* Can go into 'standby' mode easily in a minute, and the 'wake up' nearly instantly
* Nearly instant focus
* Large storage capacity
* Wide range of settings enable one to adapt to the current shooting environment
* Able to use different lenses for where you go from "rider" to "tourist on foot" mode

Biggest problem with DSLR was the size, weight, not waterproof (it's a hassle when getting caught in the rain) and the battery tending to go out towards the end of a 1K picture day.

Overall I'm very happy with the Rebel XT's performance on the road.

Rosinante 21 Nov 2007 18:03

DSLR v Compact
The greater versatility of a DSCL can also be a problem - each time you change a lens there's the chance of getting dust on the sensor,although some of the later cameras have dust removal features. You don't have this problem with a compact. I have a Canon G5 which can shoot RAW or jpeg. This camera has been supseded many times and I'm surprised Canon didn't retain this feature on later models.
As to recording data, I carry a digital voice recorder which can record four hours of speech. It automatically records the time and date of each recording.

jkrijt 21 Nov 2007 22:13

On my trips I use a Nikon D70s and I only take my Tamron 18-200 zoomlens with me. WIth this lens I can do almost anything and don't have to change lenses in dusty conditions.
I always have it in my camerabag when I don't use it. That takes a lot of space but with my old GoldWing I don't worry to much about that. :-)

You wrote:
> The voice description attaches to the image as a .wav
After making a picture somewhere and willing to store the location, I take a (jpg) picture of the map in my tankbag while pointing my finger to where I am. Together with the timestamp that the camera adds to each file, I know where a picture was taken.

> At a DSLR you cann't see what you will photograph through the screen
The latest DSLR camera's can use the display like compact camera's so you don't have to worry about that anymore. I use a flip-up helmet so it is no problem for me.

Next to my DSLR I always carry a cheap Kodak compact. There are situations (like on my trip to South Africa) you want to take pictures but don't want to show an expensive camera.
If you want to take videos, use your compact camera and use the DSLR for pictures.

One of the most important reasons I use a DSLR now is that is so easy to adjust almost everything without going to all kinds of menu's on a little screen but if that is not important to you and you are happy with your current camera, nothing wrong with that.

teflon 22 Apr 2008 00:10

If you've been getting away without taking your gloves and helmet off, then stick with what you have - you'll miss less.:wink2:

pecha72 22 Apr 2008 08:07

Just spent 6 months on the road, and carried a Canon 5D plus an Ixus 50 pocket camera. For the 5D I had an external flash plus 3 lenses.

They (the DSLR components) are very inconvenient to carry around, and then you´ll worry about them getting stolen if youre not careful....... but the picture quality from the DSLR just blows away any compact cameras, especially on low light! Even the best compacts are quite bad at ISO 1600, but the 5D performs well at ISO 3200. So if youre using a fast lens, its on a totally different level in those conditions.

I used to have a Canon 20D, and sometimes really missed the pop-up flash, because simply could not attach the external one on and off all the time. The 5D is better than 20D in many ways, but not by so much, and the lack of the flash on 5D actually made them closer (for me). Some say its not "professional" to use the pop-up flash, well maybe its not, but would´ve still used it, if the 5D had one.

You can get pretty good photos with modern compact cameras, too, but I think I will take the 5D with me next time as well. Probably take only 2 lenses with me, though. The percentage of those real good photos seems to be very low (probably 1 out of 100, or even less) but when they´re good, they are really good. For me, its worth the hassle.

Flyingdoctor 22 Apr 2008 11:43

The thing that's stopping me buying a DSLR at the moment is the way I'm using my images. I shoot travel pics and either put them on my blog or sites like this via Photobucket. I may show them to others using my laptop and that's about it. I'm happy with the 3MP images from my phone and often use my Fuji S8000 at lower resolution than 8MP max as it keeps the file size down a bit. If you shoot 10MP + files on a DSLR and you're on the road you've got to be able to store them until you get back. I have this problem as I shoot plenty of video too. I've got a Eee-PC and a 250Gb harddrive for this year so I'll see if that works. If it does then I may try travelling with a DSLR. But I come back to the way I view my images, do I need 10MP?

Bjorn 22 Apr 2008 21:32

If I was to get a DSLR for normal (amateur/hobby) use, I would not worry about the megapixels so much. 8 Megapixels is good for A3 inkjet.

What's more important I think is: the new DSLR cameras all have 14bit RAW files (very nice for shadow and highlight detail). And they feature live view – which comes in handy when you want to shoot next to the road without taking your helmet off everytime.

Get a tankbag & fit the camera in there. For a BMW F650 I've even come across someone who's taken a LowePro MicroTrekker photo backpack and put a zip onto its back, so he could zip the photo back-pack onto a tankbag-base.


teflon 25 Apr 2008 01:05


Originally Posted by Flyingdoctor (Post 186033)
...If you shoot 10MP + files on a DSLR and you're on the road you've got to be able to store them until you get back. I have this problem as I shoot plenty of video too. I've got a Eee-PC and a 250Gb harddrive for this year so I'll see if that works. If it does then I may try travelling with a DSLR. But I come back to the way I view my images, do I need 10MP?

I plan to download my cards to a hard drive, then copy to dvd to post home. In the case of robbery or breakage, I still have most of my images.

On the subject of cards, here's a good place to buy them for roughly half normal price. 7dayshop.com - Online Store

pecha72 25 Apr 2008 07:21

Yeah you´ll probably want to make back-ups of your photos.. not a nice idea to travel for a long time, and lose all of them at one point!

USB flash-memory sticks are nowadays big enough to contain most peoples travel photos, there are at least 32 gigabyte ones, or now maybe even bigger and they dont cost a fortune anymore, either.

You can keep them hidden inside your clothes, where you have your passport and other valuables, for example. Very hard to steal, and very unprobable for both your memory cards and your USB-sticks to get corrupted.

So far I havent seen a device that could handle the simple copying of files from the cards straight to a USB-stick, so you need a laptop in between, but maybe its not far away at all, when such a device exists (or maybe I just havent stumbled across one, yet??)

A laptop-format USB harddisk is also surprisingly small, just bought one (160gb) and you can keep it in your pocket... but the same problem here, how you get the data copied without a laptop.

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