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How do you know when to use your cheaper point and shoot instead of the more expensive dslr?
March 10, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

When you go out, how do you know when to use your cheaper point and shoot instead of the more expensive dslr?

I'm an amateur photographer and I bought my first dslr. I'm trying to learn the nuances of photography but I often find myself to be too afraid to take out my more expensive dslr when I go out because I'm mostly afraid I'll get it stolen. I live close to a city and love it there, so I see so many photo opportunities for the capturing, but there is also opportunity for my camera to get jacked and/or me to get held up.

How do you know when to bring/use a point and shoot rather than a dslr?
posted by enroute888 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If I'm not willing to pull out my DSLR because I'm worried about crime, I'm likely too concerned about my personal safety to be there in the first place.

I think you are acutely aware of what your kit is worth, because you just bought it, but that doesn't mean it is going to be a beacon for muggers. Make sure it's covered on your insurance (homeowner/renter insurance) and go out and shoot.

The only thing that makes me choose the p&s over the DSLR is the portability factor, not concern about crime.

You don't specify which city, but I'll venture that if you are willing to put your own self there, you and your camera are likely going to be fine.
posted by ambrosia at 9:45 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Surely the only difference is in the carrying about. Taking pictures makes you as conspicuous whatever camera you use. Get a fairly scruffy but waterproof case for carrying the DSLR in and be vigilant when out and about.

To answer your question directly, if I can't be bothered carrying a DSLR about, I may take a smaller camera, if I can't even be bothered with that then I have my mobile phone.
posted by epo at 9:47 AM on March 10, 2012

I take photos in cities. To answer your first question:

How do you know when to bring/use a point and shoot rather than a dslr?

If I have the dSLR with me, I use it. That is, the main question is whether I want to lug it around. If I'm lugging it, I'm using it.

In terms of theft prevention, I don't walk around the city with it visible except for shots, and I don't carry an obvious CAMERA GOES HERE bag. No problem in 5+ years.
posted by zippy at 10:00 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only thing that's awkward for me is carrying a big kit and changing lenses in the middle of say, a busy city street. So for more causal expeditions I'll take my DSLR and one moderately sized "kit" zoom lens.

Most people aren't camera experts. The only thing that's going to tip them off "hey expensive camera gear" is one of those huge 2' long lenses. I try to avoid that because I feel like the more I look "serious photographer" the more people get uncomfortable if I'm accidentally putting them in the picture or even pointing the camera near them. And then there's the fascist cop "you can't do that here" problem, if you're in NYC or another big city....
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:03 AM on March 10, 2012

The samurai approach: I consider my DSLR already lost or stolen.

I got a used DSLR that I could lose or have it stolen without taking a huge hit. The simple fact is that if you're worried about your equipment getting jacked, you're going to miss opportunities to take pictures. So now I carry my DSLR whenever it's not too heavy/bulky and use it whenever I want. A good bag, as zippy said, is very helpful. Walking around with it around your neck is uncomfortable and makes you look like a tourist anyways (which can cut both ways).

Also if you're not using your DSLR that much, then you're not getting what you paid for. Use the damn thing, and you'll be amazed by the results you get when you conquer that fear.

My P&S is usually with me when I'm going to work, or out on the town at night and don't need the weight of the DSLR.
posted by Mercaptan at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I want to participate a lot and make some pictures as a bonus, I pocket my camera.

If I want to participate some/none and make a lot of pictures (i.e., my making the pictures is my activity), I bring the big glass.
posted by introp at 10:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Why is it a 'rather than'? You should carry the point-and-shoot everywhere you go, ready at a moment's notice - I prefer to keep mine in a trouser pocket, sans case, so that I'm never more than three seconds from taking a photo.

Pack the big camera whenever you're in the mood to lug it around and be all photographer-y.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:08 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Years and years ago, when I was shooting bands in bars and walking all over Mpls shooting, I just made my camera gear ugly. Covered the cameras with stickers and beat it up, carried it in a cheap hardcase that I spray-painted [badly] black and gray, covered with stickers and dragged behind the car for a few blocks. I used to leave that case, filled with camera bodies and lenses, sitting in the corner at bars and no one ever touched it.
posted by chazlarson at 10:53 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

My point and shoot is more in my hand than the cellphone ever is... as someone said above, why choose which camera, always have one somewhere easily accessible with you.
posted by infini at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2012

The best camera is the one you have with you, may it be DSLR or iPhone.

I used to be really paranoid about having my kit stolen/damaged/lost that I barely took it with me anywhere. Then I realized, I'm defeating the point of having a camera in the first place. Now I take my DSLR kit with me everywhere.
posted by pakoothefakoo at 11:25 AM on March 10, 2012

I think we're talking about Washington DC, if anyone wants to add more specific advice about shooting safely in that city.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:37 AM on March 10, 2012

Being street-smart will help the confidence level. But yeah, use the DSLR - take some classes to feel more comfortable with it so you don't expose yourself to the chance of paying more attention to your camera than your surroundings.

As for leaving a bag behind, I've always noticed that photogs who drink and tip the bartenders always seem to have a safe place to stash their bag. I like chazlarson's idea as well, though.
posted by chrisinseoul at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2012

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