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How To Save Your Money On Travel Pictures

[Adventures In Travel Photography]  [How To Save Your Money On Travel Pictures]  [Care Of Your Photo Equipment During Your Travel]  [Composition Of Travel Pictures]  [How To Photograph People During Your Travel]  [Travel Pictures In Bad Weather]  [Close-Up Pictures In Your Travels]  [What To Do With Your Exosed Travel Films]  [Sound Accompaniment In Travel Pictures] 

The first advice is to buy all your film supplies in your home town before your trip. In your town you know the stores that will have fresh film at the lowest possible price. You can buy your film anywhere where you can get the best discount, without any professional advice. You know what film or films you need and Kodak film will be the same in any store.

You can expect to pay higher prices in other places in the U.S.A. and outside the U.S.A. Sometimes the film can be more expensive, up to twice the price you paid in the U.S.A. The price of Kodak film bought outside the U.S.A. may include developing by Kodak.

Buy all the film you need, and some extra in case you need it, but no more. Today with the x-ray equipment in the airport you should carry your film with you and not in your luggage. Also have your carry on luggage inspected. The effects of x-rays are cummulative. The more times your film is x-rayed, the more damage is done.

In an emergency, you may buy foreign film, like Agfachrome. Most foreign films will include developing, but seldom will you stay a week or longer in a particular city to get your film back from developing. Most foreign films may be developed in the U.S.A. and most labs will accept the developing charge, as with Agfachrome. Though with some foreign films, even when bought with the mailers, you may have to pay for the developing when developed in the U.S.A.

With foreign color film you may get slightly different colors from that of Kodak. In some cases, this may be objectionable. Buying film in foreign countries may bring additional troubles. The film could have been kept in a hot and humid place, and later when the film is developed it will give an erratic color. Or sometimes a less than honest salesman will sell you a film with an altered expiration date and you will get an old film.

You still may use black and white film. When you take pictures for publication you should have 8" X 10" glossy black and white prints. Black and white film is easy to get any place in the world. It is easily developed even in your hotel room or by the local photographer. You can also make black and white negatives from your color film but not always with the best results. Low contrast color slides will be the best because each copy will increase in contrast.

Saving money on photo equipment bought outside the U.S.A. may sometimes be a good idea. But, you should know the price of the camera or equipment in the U.S.A. and then add to it the price of the customs charge. You are allowed to bring home only $100.00 of foreign merchandise duty free.

The problem is again that when you buy a new camera or any new photo equipment, it will take time to get used to it. Experimentation may not be successful, and when using a new camera you can never be sure that you will get perfect pictures. These are good reasons not to take a camera or any photo equipment that you are not familiar with.

Saving money means buying only what you need. You do not need any fancy stuff to carry. The only useful things are what you have used before and know how to use. Be prepared for bad weather, have an electronic flash for inside pictures, and have some higher sensitive film for indoor pictures without a flash, or pictures outside when the sunlight is low. Do not buy any unnecessary items.

You save money when you save some films. So when you know what you would like to have on your pictures, and when you avoid unnecessary pictures than you save.

Saving money on your travel photos is to take everything with you that you will need and not buying any unnecessary items. When buying, sometimes you will have to know beforehand the price of the same equipment in the U.S.A. You save money only when you take and carry only what you need.


Nobody will tell you which camera to take. Only you know what kind of pictures you would like to bring home, and of what quality. You may be happy with a light small Instamatic camera and postcard size prints. Or you may be happy with a 35 mm camera and color slides, or 21/4"X2~/a" size for larger Super Slides. Or you may be happy with a Polaroid camera. Every camera will have some good and some bad sides. But it is not the camera, but the photographer who makes good pictures. Consideration must be taken in the size and weight of the camera you would like to carry. A little Minox, using 9mm film, will weigh just a few ounces but may give you satisfactory pictures.

What you mostly see today are tourists carrying pocket Instamatic or 35 mm cameras. In movie cameras, the most popular are the hand-held Super 8's. They are light, easy to use, and with little care they give good color films. The 16 mm movie film will cost more. But with 16 mm you will have films that can be projected on a large screen, or for T.V., or could even be blown up to a regular 35 mm theatrical size.

How much should you spend on a camera? There will be little or no difference in pictures taken with a super expensive camera. A super expensive camera will offer more flexibility and have more adjustments, making it a more complicated camera, which has more things that may go wrong. Once when traveling through Europe, my wife took her Leica and our daughters took their simple cheap Exaktas. Today the color slides are all mixed together and nobody can tell which slides were taken by which camera. (One was a $60.00 camera and the other was a $600.00 camera)

A simple camera of rugged construction may be more useful in adverse weather or climate conditions. They may stand more strain and more injury. The more elavorate, expensive camera may have a better objective and light meter, but they are heavy and delicate.

Expensive cameras, like the Leicaflex or the Nikon F2 may make you feel proud that you have the best camera. Maybe you will even be the envy of the two other travellers. But still, the camera will not guarantee that your pictures will be better than the others taken by the less expensive cameras. But some people like to spend money to have the "Best."

In the last few years the Polaroid camera has gotten more popular on travels. Surely it is a pleasure to have instant pictures to give to your friends or to surprise the primitive natives. But Polaroid film is not available in any African, Asian, Pacific, and Communist countries. You must carry your own film supply with you all the time. Secondly, you would probably like to have more than one of the same picture, for example, for your friends. Duplications are possible to make yourself, but still it is a little complicated and expensive.

Today most cameras need some kind of battery. Always put in a new battery before your trip, but it still may be a good idea to take a battery along as a spare. In many countries your particular camera battery will not be available. A camera without any battery would be the best for trip in extra hard conditions. (A spring operated Bolex was taken on the first trip to Mt. Everest.)

What more equipment should you take? It depends on how you travel. If you are traveling with a car, trailer, or motor home, then take everything you have. But on a longer plane trip, where your luggage is limited and you expect to do more walking, often in adverse weather conditions, it would be better to take only what you think would be necessary. Remember that it does not matter how much equipment you take because you will always be missing something. And even if you take very little you will still find some equipment that you did not need or use. Next to the camera additional lenses are desirable. This may be a heavy load. The wide angle lens is the most important, and then the tele photo lens for people's faces and animals. A tripod is a must for better pictures with a movie camera, close pictures, or for just showing that you are a better photographer because you use a tripod.

An electronic flash is a must. Today there are many types of automatic flash units that are quickly recharged and make hundreds of flashes. Recharging your flash far from home could be a prob lem. If your flash uses penlight batteries, take extra batteries with you. Some flash units have rechargable batteries. It is important is to have a flash that can be charged with a 110 volt (U.S.A.) or with some other country's 220 volt. For Europe, you will need an electric plug. (With round prongs.) But still in some countries, as in Australia, England, or some Islands, you may still need a different plug for your flash in order to recharge it. You may also need an auxillary transformer if your flash cannot accept both 110 and 220 volt electricity. Look in the mail order section of a photography magazine for these flash accessories.

Even the lightest tripod is better than none. Some can be put together, or dismantled and put into your luggage. A good tripod head, preferably a fluid head, could be heavy, but is the best for a movie camera.

In addition you should take a hand held light meter. Your meter against the other by metering the same spot (A uniformly colored wall or street) with both a polarizing filter will the water and help make the sky darker and the clouds whiter. Close-up lens attachments or extension tubes will allow you to photograph small details and tiny objects which will add variety and impact to you travel photographs. These are unlimited possibilities, but you should know what type pictures you intend to take and what additional equipment you will make your traveling easier (lighter), and will give you better pictures.


Before your departure from the U.S.A., all photo equipment, your camera, lenses, flash unit, and even your tape recorder, should be registered with the U.S.A. custom's office. It takes only a few minutes time, it costs nothing, and it may save you a lot of trouble and money, or even the loss of your camera. When you return to the U.S.A. customs officers will look through your luggage and find your camera. Then you will have to prove that it was bought in the U.S.A. or pay a duty or penalty fine by trying to hide a custom duty item. So register your equipment before leaving. Some international airports in the U.S.A. do not have a customs office. Register well in advance. The registration form will never expire.

If you forgot to register or did not have time to do so, you could still bargain with the custom's official (when you return) that you will send them proof that your camera was bought in the U.S.A. This could be the original bill of sale.

If you have more expensive photo equipment it would be a good idea to have it insured. In many countries things are stolen, even from closed hotel rooms. Insuring will bring proof that you had your camera before leaving the U.S.A.

Different countries have different laws that will limit the number cameras and films you can bring with you. Customs officials are usually very lenient, even in Communist dominated countries. But the law is law and sometimes is enforced. Generally, one still and one movie will be allowed per person. The amount of film allowed to be brought in duty free is often ridiculously small. most countries will put the limit at a "reasonable" amount; of what you would expect to use in the country. With 10 or 20 rolls of films there would be little problem, but with 100 or more you may have problems. What can you do when you travel through different countries with a large amount of film? You will have with you some exposed film and some unexposed film. From this you can estimate how many films you will use in a particular country. and leave all the rest of the used and unused films with the Custom's agent and pick them up again when you leave the country. This will make Customs happy and you will have less weight to carry. But in some more war sensitive countries, as in Taiwan, you may have problems with even small amounts of film you may want to take with you to travel through the country.

The stealing of photo equipment is a common occurance in many countries. Never leave your equipment alone. Never let your eyes, hands, or feet leave your your expensive photo case. In an airport or railroad ststion. You will often get tired, sleepy. or careless, but always watch your camera. Hotel rooms give little protection, even in expensive hotels. (Maybe there is more stealing because there is more expensive equipment left in the room) So when you go for your supper or dinner, take your camera with you. You may sometimes see an occasion for original pictures. Insurance will later pay for the camera, but you will either continue with no camera or buy one abroad which will not be familiar to you.

Your camera and camera bag should have your name and address on them. Sometimes an honest citizen or taxi driver may return it to you. In some countries the airport and railroad station will have some special lost and found office. If you lost your camera you could go there or call. Sometimes you will be able to find your camera there. It happened once to me. In changing a train I left a camera in a railroad changing a train I left a camera in a railroad car. Three days later I saw a "Found" sign on a railroad station's office. I went there and after a few phone calls my camera was found and later returned to me, with no extra cost.

Generally when traveling, especially when you have to change many times your location and mode of transportation, do not carry more items then you need, and be sure not to be seperated from them. Use one large bag for your camera, accessories, and some films. It is easier to watch one piece than four.

Always use common sense. As expensive looking aluminum case for your photo equipment will attract thieves for miles. But the same case painted black or dark brown will look like any other piece of your luggage not worth stealing. Very often in airports, railroads or buses you give your luggage to a luggage porter. Never give your photo equipment to anybody to carry. Carry it yourself. The same is true whin you arrive at the hotel. Do not leave your camera bag in the hall with the other luggage to be brought later to your room. Take your equipment with you at all times.

I don't have to state, "Never take any new photo equipment with you that you have never tried before at home." In most cases this would be asking for disaster, and you would surely travel with great anxiety wondering if your pictures will be O.K. New equipment has to be tried at home. You should be thoroughly familiar with every piece of equipment you carry.

Buying a new camera or photo equipment in a foreign country may sometimes save you money. But not every duty-free shop wil sell a camera below the price you would pay in the U.S.A. You could buy the same camera in the U.S. with a better discount. When you travel with the intention of buying a new camera it would be better to inquire before what the camera would cost in the U.S. If the cost is over $100.00 (Your duty free allowance when returning to the U.S.A.) you may have to pay duty on the camera and lenses. A bargain may not be a bargain at all. But if you know what you want, buying in Hong Kong may save you some money.

Losing your photo equipment could be a very unpleasant experience during your travel. Insurance and registration of your camera before your departure may help, but otherwise, never trust anybody with your camera anywhere in the world. Watch it and you will keep it.