Many of the larger European cities are notorious for pick pockets, snatch and grabbers, muggers and other low life scum only too happy to relieve you of your expensive photography equipment so when visiting large European cities you need to carefully consider what camera and equipment you want to take with you. I was careful on my first trip to Rome and managed to avoid the pick pockets and snatch and grabbers by keeping everything securely on my person at all times, however I could not keep the violent muggers at bay, and ended up losing quite a bit of kit.
Fortunately, I was insured however filing a report with the Italian police to get the documentation I needed to make a claim was an absolute hassle and I ended up getting a “goodwill gesture” amount from my insurance company after a long battle and a threat to go to the regulators.
When visiting any large European city I would avoid taking a dslr camera period. It’s a shame because the European cities are beautiful and picturesque, there is a lot of history and architecture and the tight streets and waterways make for some lovely photos. Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Verona and Naples are all cities I have been to where I would have loved to have my dslr and ultra wide-angle and fish eye lenses however after my experience in Rome I decided it simply wasn’t worth the risk.
If you have anything that stands out as being expensive or valuable in any of these cities you instantly become a target for muggers, and using a full frame dlsr and professional grade Canon l lenses is not a good idea. I have read about people putting black tape over their Canon or Nikon brands on their camera bodies, but this is something I wouldn’t recommend. A dslr camera is going to attract attention whether you cover the brand or not, therefore don’t take it.
When you visit European cities I suggest taking a point and shoot camera. These cameras are small, discreet, and won’t attract attention. Point and shoot cameras are the types of camera most tourists carry around with them so there is nothing that will instantly make you stand out as a potential target.
The top end point and shoot cameras are exceptionally good and the image quality is getting close to that of an entry level dslr camera. The point and shoot camera I use for photographing European cities is the Canon G1X and I have to say that I am very impressed with it.
The Canon G1X has a large 14MP sensor and offers full manual control over the aperture, shutter speed and ISO so you can adjust the settings exactly as you see fit to capture the types of photos you want to capture.
The image quality of the Canon G1X is superb and it is powerful enough to produce large prints of good enough quality to sell on and earn some cash. I have many images taken with my Canon G1X for sale on various stock sites and print on demand stores, and I have actually had quite a bit of success in selling them. Just because the Canon G1X isn’t a professional camera it doesn’t mean you can’t take commercial images with it.
The Canon G1X has a zoom lens of 28mm – 112mm which is a useful range however it isn’t quite wide enough for my liking. In order to capture ultra-wide angle and fish eye style images I use a wide angle converter and fish eye converter respectively. The converters do decrease the image quality a little but it is so slight you can barely notice it. Besides, using a decent bit of photo editing software (I use PSE14) I can tweak the photo and boost the quality levels to where they would have been if I had not been using a converter at all. European city streets are narrow and tight, and 28mm is not wide enough to get everything in. When taking photographs in European cities a wide angle converter or a fish eye converter is an essential bit of kit, and fortunately they don’t cost much either.
There are other top end point and shoot cameras out there, but I considered the Canon G1X the best of the bunch. I spent hours researching, devising short lists, going to camera shops to take test shots etc. and the Canon G1X came out on top.
If you are visiting a European city in the future please do not take your expensive dslr camera and lenses. Out in the countryside or in the smaller and less touristy towns and cities you will be fine, but not in the larger European cities. It doesn’t matter how careful you are (like I was on my first trip to Rome) you can’t do anything about the violent muggers, other than not drawing attention to yourself or your photography kit of course. Get yourself a top end point and shoot (which is perfectly capable of capturing stunning high quality photos), blend in to the background, enjoy yourself and make sure you return home with your camera and a few memory card full of photos of your travels.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.