Hey guys! My name’s Mark and I run a site for professional and enthusiast photographers called Shotkit. I’m a big fan of Oli’s work with Rad Season, and use the site to plan my travels based on the world’s best festivals and events.
One thing’s for sure when I’m traveling – I always have a camera in my hand. Over the years as a professional photographer and reviewer at Shotkit, I’ve come across hundreds of cameras. Here are 4 tips to help you choose a great camera for traveling on your next trip.
Note how I’ve said “right size for you”. For some people, the right size may mean a point and shoot camera or a compact camera; for others it might mean a mirrorless camera or even an entry-level DSLR.
Rarely though should you be traveling with large, expensive full frame cameras… unless of course your work depends on it.
You already know that to be able to fully enjoy your travels, it’s important that you travel light, especially when hiking or backpacking. Having a small, lightweight camera is essential to ensure your camera can be carried easily, ready to be used straight away.
Another recommended camera is the Canon Powershot G9X Mark II – a capable, robust and extremely popular compact camera which is the perfect size for travel.
Running a website about camera gear, I know only too well how tempting all the associated camera accessories can be, especially when you’ve just bought a new camera.
When packing for your next overseas trip however, it’s wise to exercise some restraint when packing all your favourite photography gadgets.
Lens filters, tripods, flashes… it all adds up, and rarely will you need them while traveling.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the importance of a DSLR tripod for getting a steady shot while on holiday, but do you really need to be lugging it around with you for your whole trip? Surely you can use the ground, a bench, or another steady object to achieve the same thing?
I don’t even bring a camera bag with me while traveling, choosing to use one of these Domke camera wraps instead, and chuck my camera in my regular travel backpack. Recently I’ve been experimenting with camera sling bags too – my current fave is the LowePro Passport III.
…and if I really need a way to get a steady shot without compromising the weight of my bag, I’ll pack a mini tripod for my iPhone.
So in summary, only pack what is absolutely necessary to get your shot – often this means just one camera, one lens and a spare battery.
Cameras these days have a lot of great features – high ISO, image stabilisation, high mega-pixels, 4k video recording… some of these may be important to you, but as a bare minimum, I always recommend getting a camera with the best auto focus that you can afford.
Having fast auto focus is essential in a travel camera, allowing you to get the shot and move on without wasting time. If it works well in low light without having to resort to your flash, all the better.
You don’t need to spend a lot on a camera to find one with great auto focus – the Sony a6000 for example is a camera under $1,000 that’s renowned for its excellent AF performance. (I wrote a full review on the Sony a6000 if you’re interested in learning more, and included some useful Sony accessories too.)
Another slightly more expensive compact camera with blazing fast AF performance is the Olympus OM-D EM-10 Mark II, which also features an incredibly useful touchscreen shooting function.
What’s the reason for taking a camera with you to the world’s best events? Is it really to capture the memories just for yourself? I bet you want to show off your photos to all your friends on Facebook and Instagram too, right?!
Having WiFi, Bluetooth or NFC on your camera makes sharing an image to your phone or tablet a piece of cake, and it’s so much more convenient than fiddling around with memory cards.
Once on your phone, your favourite photo is one tap away from social media… and it’ll look 10x better than a photo taken just with your phone!
I recommend you back-up your memory card to a laptop often whilst traveling, but for transferring a handful of photos, nothing beats wireless.
Another great use of your camera’s wireless technology is being able to use your smartphone to see what the camera sees, and take a shot remotely. This means you can take well composed selfies at more than arm’s length, and be part of every group photo with any friends you make whilst traveling.
Most modern cameras have either WiFi, Bluetooth or NFC built in, but one camera that implements the technology especially well is the Fujifilm X-T20 – a compact camera with lots of great features, including Fujifilm’s gorgeous film-look presets.
I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface on the topic of choosing a camera for travel, but hopefully I’ve given you a better idea as to what’s available for traveling photographers here in 2018.
Remember, as long as you have some way of preserving your memories while traveling, that’s what is most important.
Even if you’re just using your iPhone to snap some fun pics on holiday, that’s better than just trying to rely on your memory! Happy travels 😉
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