How To Pick A Travel Camera

Originally Published February 6th, 2019


As photographers, our first instincts when traveling is to bring every tool in our photography kit. That means packing a suitcase (or two) loaded with one, two, three camera bodies, all of the lenses (all of them), a couple flashes, tripods, light stands, disassembled mannequin (for test shots), memory cards, batteries, spare batteries, chargers, backup chargers etc.

But wait there’s more—we should probably bring our cool film cameras too—we don’t want to miss out on the chance to capture a foreign country on Tri-x 400. Better pack the Canon AE-1 with lenses and several rolls of film.

You know what else would be cool? Instant photos—dong forget the Instax mini & large format cameras with appropriate film.

All of this will be perfect for our day trip to the Beach!

Unless you’re working for National Geographic or traveling for extended periods of time—there’s really no need to bring so much gear.

Too much gear will weight you down.

So how do you pick the perfect travel camera?

Here a are a few things to consider.

The Perfect Camera Doesn’t Exist

Boom, sorry to burst your bubble. You won’t find a list of top travel cameras here. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a perfect travel camera. No matter what model you choose, you’re going to compromise.

For example, I carry a small, lightweight camera with a fixed lens. I like it for its portability, picture quality, quiet shutter, and wifi capabilities. But what I sacrifice for these functions is a zoom lens.

I don’t want to bring my heavy DSLR & zoom. 

Granted—there are compact zoom cameras on the market but most of them have smaller sensors, meaning I would have to sacrifice image quality for zoom—among other things.

My point here is to not get tangled in the weeds when searching for the perfect travel camera. Instead, focus on what you’ll be shooting and go from there.

Pick A Tool Based On Your Needs

What will you be photographing most on your travels? Indigenous peoples? Pyramids? Vast etherial landscapes? Your food?

Pick a camera that will match your subject. If you’re taking selfies and photos of your food the whole time—consider just using your phan (phone).

On the other hand, if you plan on shooting images in the hopes of having them published—maybe consider an APSC or full frame sensor.

Going deep sea diving or searching for cavernous waterfalls? Maybe you should get a camera that’s weather proof.

I like to photograph landscapes & street photos when I’m traveling. So I bring a camera with a wide lens that is very quiet & stealthy.

Maybe those things aren’t important to you. Be specific about your subject—then pick a camera that best suits those needs.

Zoom Is Overrated 

Unless you’re photographing your trip out the window of a boat, plane, or uber—don’t focus so much on zoom.

Consider this—if something is so far away that you have to use a zoom lens in order to see/capture it, is it really part of your adventure?

In my opinion, anything between 28-50mm is a good range. If I need to zoom—I use my feet.

Have Camera Will Travel

If you take anything from my rambling consider this—what good is a camera if you can’t travel with it. 

I used to be the guy lugging around a ton of camera gear on all my trips.

It’s uncomfortable—it weighs you down.

In recent years I’ve adopted a more minimalist philosophy when it comes to gear.

Less = more.

Limit yourself to one camera, one lens, and get close to your subject—experience what you’re photographing.

The photos will be more intimate, compelling, & ultimately tell a story.

After all isn’t that the whole purpose of traveling?

Thanks for reading gang! Happy travels!






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