Travel dilemma: film or digital camera?

For those who have both film and digital cameras (or many cameras), do you face the dilemma of choosing gear before you embark on your travel trip?

I do.

I had to make the decision for my Hong Kong trip in November 2016. My travel style is minimalist, I only bring stuff that I need, such as clothes, chargers, camera stuff and toiletries. Hence, I have never need a check-in luggage for any short trip in Asia.

Since I like to pack light, I asked myself: which camera should I leave behind? Am I willing to take risk by only shooting film? Am I gonna leave film camera behind and wish I had brought it with me?

Street photography

Hong Kong, 2016 (Nikon D3300)

Bringing both

Because I cannot decide, I brought both digital and film cameras in the end. Can you imagine having both a dLSR and a tank-like Nikon FM2 in your bag? On top of water bottle, travel guides, batteries, jacket, etc. They are heavy as f*. My style of travel is also to walk and walk. Luckily I am still young and strong. But I still find myself exhausted and feeling sore at the end of the day.

I figure this should not be the way to travel. Having a heavy bag would not only ruin my mood to travel-walking, it also hinders my photography as I would be too tired to even think about making pictures.

What should I do for my next trip?

I would still bring both my digital and film cameras. The thing is I recently just bought a mini film camera, the Rollei B35. It’s so tiny it can fit into my pocket! I have taken 2 rolls of film with it, and currently waiting for the developed result!! Excited! If you guys haven’t already know, this Rollei is a rangefinder that has no indication to warn you if your photo is focused or not. So I have been estimating the distance to take shot. If I am good (I hope) that all my estimation is right, I will leave my tank-liked Nikon FM2 at home and bring this little Rollei with me instead.

Moving forward, why do I still bring both medium? Ok, my plan is to bring both, but only bring one out on alternative day! Why? because I still cannot let go.

For my film part, I suck at taking pictures at low light and I don’t have a flash light. So if I know on particular day, I will travel late till the night or that I allocate for museums or mostly indoor, I will bring digital camera.

I hope one day I will become a better film person to the extent that I can shoot everything with film with great confidence. Then I might just bring my film camera with me to trips.


So yeah it’s a long rant. I hope my strategy works for my upcoming trip. Otherwise, comment and let me know your travel style so I can learn from you!




  1. Less is always more. Film is lighter, battery free and let you concéntrate in the trip more than in your camera gear. So in the next trip I’ll take all my cameras with me!! ( both digital and film) Life its hard. Good post

  2. Too late now to affect your decision, but I’d take a digital camera on a trip only if I didn’t care about the pictures. I’ve travelled with film many times (was just in Wales a month ago) and have had no hassle. It is important to take a camera you know and trust, of course!

    • filmbasedtraveler

      Haha! after several months of shooting film, I fall so much in love with film that I must bring a film camera with me while travel 🙂 of course , like u said, it is important understand and trust the camera inside out!

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