Pick the best camera for your trip

A large part of what makes travel such an enriching experience is sharing those wonderful memories. The anticipation of reminiscing with friends or family over a glass of Shiraz makes the long flight home from an exotic destination that much more palatable. However, with advancements in technology racing ahead quicker than Usain Bolt over the 100m, many travellers are dazzled by the variety of options available to record those jaw-dropping moments. So what are the preferred devices for taking photographs you’d like to bring back home?

Stift Melk in Austria
Stift Melk in Austria

Smart phones

It is compact, versatile and interfaces effortlessly with social networking sites for rapid dissemination of images to an intended audience.

The best camera is not a lumpy Canon 5d Mark III or Nikon D800. It is the one you have with you. Most people now have a smart phone or tablet with them at all times. Whether it’s an Apple iPhone, Blackberry or Android-based mobile, they are all equipped with one or more cameras ranging from a few megapixels to impressive eye-popping pixel generation.

There are quite a few benefits to using a smart phone or tablet while travelling. It is compact, versatile and interfaces effortlessly with social networking sites for rapid dissemination of images to an intended audience.

The plethora of apps available to record, edit and manipulate images also satisfies the most exacting creative types. Want to record an image in HDR? There’s an app for that. Want to stitch a panorama? There’s an app for that? Want to doodle all over the leaning tower of Pisa? There’s an app for that too!

My picks:

Apple iPad (recording device)
Snapseed (camera and editing app)
DMD (panorama app)
Awesomize! (effects)
Instagram (sharing)

Compact cameras

The next step up is choosing a compact camera. While many of the larger brands have impressive bells and whistles, such as RAW image files, and Manual, Aperture and Shutter priority modes, compacts also appeal to those who just cannot be bothered with the intricacies of photography. All they want is something they can leave on Auto, aim at the subject and shoot – and still get excellent results.

Once again, this is a camera you can carry with you most of the time, slotting easily into a handbag, bum bag or even a jacket pocket. They are also (usually) less expensive than large digital SLR cameras.

My picks:

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Panasonic LX7
Canon Powershot S110

Micro four-third cameras

What sets certain Mirrorless cameras apart from compact cameras is the ability to change the lens.

Want more creative power than that provided by a compact point-and-shoot but retain the portability of a smaller camera? A Micro Four Thirds or Mirrorless camera is the answer.

What sets Micro Four Thirds cameras apart from compact cameras is the ability to change the lens. The type and quality of lenses play a pivotal role in the photographic creative process and relies on an elevated level of knowledge to gain the most out of these products. By switching to a fish-eye lens, it is possible to capture the imposing interior of St Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna, while a macro lens will allow for the photographic capture of tiny insects in the Botanic Garden.

Along with larger sensors, excellent low light abilities and manual controls, Mirrorless cameras will unleash the creative animal in any traveller with satisfying results.

My picks:

Sony Nex-7
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Check out this INFOGRAPHIC, which makes it easier to choose the perfect camera for your travels!

Digital SLR

These are the big daddies of travel photography. Larger and more bulky than their Micro Four Thirds counterparts, they nonetheless lend a certain gravitas to the recording of travel images.

Digital SLRs are divided into crop sensor and full sensor cameras. Crop sensor versions (15mm x 22.5mm) are typically cheaper than their full sensor (36mm x 24mm) kin. They are regarded by many as a ‘prosumer’ camera as compared to the ‘professional’ cameras used by those who earn a living from photography.

There are benefits to owning a crop sensor rather than a full frame D-SLR. For one, they are cheaper and, secondly, you get better bang for your buck on lenses when zooming in on lions roaming the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Why? Because the crop sensor gives you a narrower angled view and therefore achieves more reach. However, the downside is that on the other side of the equation you lose out to the wider-angled view of a full frame sensor should you be more interested in architectural photography.

D-SLRs, with a plethora of lenses, allows for outstanding results in a variety of interests, whether it be landscape panoramas, architecture, portraits, time-lapse or macro photography.

This is the ultimate camera for the dedicated hobbyist or professional who is serious about their photography.

My picks:

Nikon D800 (full frame)
Canon 5D Mark III (full frame)
Canon 7D (crop sensor)

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