Last year, I broke down after many years of loyalty to my 35 mm camera and bought a digital SLR. The pressure from most of my photographer friends was relentless. I was spending a couple hundred dollars every time I returned from a trip on developing. Also, my apprehension toward digital quality and familiarity kept me at bay. Of course, digital quality became comparable, if not superior, and great cameras became more affordable. I eventually gave my 35mm camera away.

But, while I rest on the pink cloud of the digital world, recent conversations with several seasoned travel photographers have given me a few things to think about when dealing in the digital realm. There is some downside and other considerations when going digital. Here is what they have to say.

• To maintain the highest quality of your photographs shoot everything in RAW (literally meaning uncompressed). This allows for negatives to be created and changes made to the whole groups of picture easily without the loss or degradation of the quality of picture. Just imagine if all of your shots are underexposed and the ability to change that quickly. However, RAW files are huge and learning to photoshop your pictures is time consuming, especially in the beginning.
• Remember the loss of hard drive, due to a computer crash, or other system malfunction, on your computer means the loss of all of your pictures, so it is important to have a separate hard drive or other back-up option just for duplicates of your photographs.
• While it may be more convenient to shoot the hundreds of photographs on a single CompactFlash card (this will be harder to do when shooting RAW), remember that the larger the card, the more eggs in one basket, which offers the higher likelihood in case the card goes down of losing everything. I now take several cards with me on trips.
• In the old days, people would hand check their film at security check points so sensitive film would not have to experience potentially damaging airport x-rays. It is still recommended to hand check film. However, this is not true in the digital world. In fact, going through the people scanner can be more dangerous to your digital images than the luggage x-ray. It is typically recommended to leave your CompactFlash card in your camera and going through the x-ray machine.

While I may save some money on developing, I have additional costs connected to maintaining and housing my travel memories. But, it’s been worth it, even though I still miss my 35MM.

Written by Devin Galaudet

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