Posted September 20th, 2017, 07:54 AM
I wholeheartedly agree that you should go with equipment that you're comfortable with. Beyond that, it's completely a matter of personal preference.
Advantages of a point and shoot - No hassle. It's easy to carry, it's easy to keep dry, and it's easy to access for a quick, unexpected shot.
Advantages of a DSLR - You can get some more complicated shots if you know how to set them up. You'll have much better luck shooting birds in flight.
I've been to Antarctica twice with this camera
, and while I can't blow my photos up to full wall size, I have a few printed out and hanging on the wall behind me. It's a fairly old model, so the newer versions have improved resolution that would help with this.
Unfortunately, my high-end point-and-shoot died a horrible death in the dunes of the Sahara earlier this year, so I had to make our recent trip to the Arctic using a borrowed DSLR. I have a background with a fully-manual film camera, so I wasn't completely lost, but there was a definite learning curve. I pulled it off and got some decent shots, but honestly, I would have rather had my point-and-shoot. There were a few shots I couldn't have gotten without the DSLR, but overall I'm not sure the hassle was worth it.
Who are you traveling to Antarctica with?
My last trip was with Hurtigruten, and we spent very little time in the Polarcirkel boats. The trips to/from shore were generally smooth, and we did very little small-boat cruising in lieu of landings. Handling the DSLR in that environment wouldn't have been a big issue. However, my first trip was much more similar to my recent Arctic trip. We spent a lot more time the zodiacs, getting up close to wildlife and icebergs, and since we were covering more distance, there were higher speeds and more splashing. Keeping the camera covered during these times was a must, and unlike the point-and-shoot, I couldn't just tuck it away in a pocket. I eventually found a solution of keeping a drybag clipped over it (though not roll-sealed) and then taking it off and clipping it to my life vest when I wanted to shoot.
I carried two lenses with me, a fairly general purpose telephoto lens and a wide angle, but I pretty much never switched lenses on shore. It would have been too much work given the limited time. The added weight of carrying the extra lens would have bothered me as well. On long hill climbs, I found the weight of the DSLR to be a bit annoying as well, and I wasn't even carrying a long lens.
Honestly, I missed the optical zoom of my point-and-shoot, because when we encountered wildlife that was a bit farther away, I had no chance of getting a great photo without a giant telephoto lens. Definitely don't feel like you must
have a DSLR to get some incredible shots in Antarctica. You'll be up close to the ice and penguins, so with a decent optical zoom you'll be able to get plenty of good shots. The biggest advantage I've found to the DSLR is the shutter speed. If you want to shoot seabirds from the ship, a point-and-shoot probably won't cut it. Ice, penguins, and seals all move pretty slow.
For me personally, next time I head to Antarctica, I'll probably go back to a high-end point-and-shoot. I would rather spend less time setting up my photos and more time experiencing the environment and the atmosphere, even if it means that my pictures aren't all National Geographic quality.
And if you do choose to go with the DSLR and you bring along a long telephoto lens to get the great up-close wildlife shots, pleeeeease
be careful about getting in people's way! On my most recent Antarctica trip, there were so many people with giant camera lenses who weren't careful about them, and I got knocked in the head multiple times! Not to mention the number of photos I took where someone swung their lens around at the last minute and it ended up in my carefully-framed shot!