The market is filled with a bunch of Travel Cameras in all shapes, sizes, prices and classes. Every Tom, Dick & Harry tries to convince you why their latest gadget is the best for you. The information is overwhelming. The options are endless. Some are bargains and some will leave a hole in your pocket.
Do you go for an expensive DSLR Camera, a Compact Camera, a Bridge Compact (Super Zoom) Camera, an Action Camera or will you stick with your phone? So how do you choose the perfect travel camera?
How to choose your Travel Camera(s)?
I had a Canon 350D in 2009 with a 50-300mm Zoom Lens and ‘downgraded’ to something much simpler. I switched over to a Bridge Compact/Super Zoom Camera because it was a light-weight, all-in-one, not too big camera that gave high quality images.
So, why did I downgrade to a Bridge Compact Travel Camera when I could have upgraded to the latest DSLR at that time?
Well, I asked myself five questions and realised what my needs were and how my needs needed to meet my budget, my style and passion.
The Travel Camera(s) Questions
How serious are you?
If you’re not a serious photographer then the most professional camera might not be for you. The best, top of the range camera won’t give you the best photos if you don’t know how to use a DSLR.
What do you want to capture?
Consider your needs. Do you want to win awards with your photos (DSLR), take high quality images (Bridge Compact/Super Zoom Camera), everyday moments (Compact Camera or Phone) or do you want to capture action shots/videos under water, in the air or snow (Action Camera)?
What’s your photography style?
If you follow a specific photography style such as capturing close-up, portraits, macro photography, wide angle shots or landscapes, choose your camera accordingly. Nowadays it’s easy to buy clip-on lenses for non-DSLR cameras and to get accessories for your phone.
What kind of traveller are you?
Choose something that fits your style. I chose a travel camera that gave me quality images while being perfect for all sorts of travelling as well as bicycle travel. I could easily put my camera in my bicycle’s handlebar bag, hold it in my hand while walking, put it in a backpack or carry it around my neck without pulling a muscle. If travelling light is important to you choose something that’s small, compact and lightweight.
What’s your budget?
How much you can afford is probably the most important factor when buying a travel camera. If you can spend a lot, good. If you can’t spend a lot, good. Don’t judge a camera by its price. Inexpensive cameras can be good too. Just remember. It’s not how much you pay, it’s how you use your camera and how you train your eye!
My Choice of Travel Cameras
Canon SX50 HS
Purpose: For hiking, biking, travelling and everything else.
The Canon SX50 HS is an easy to use compact camera that gives high quality images. The zoom of this camera is amazing; the filters allow you to get creative while you still have more than just an auto setting.
Accessories: Before my Canon I had a Fuji Bridge Compact Camera and got an amazing clip-on lens, Raynox 250HDR, for macro photography ($110). In October 2014 I hunted another set of lenses down and found a lens kit with a 0.43x Wide Angle Lens, 2.2x Telephoto High Definition, Filter Kit (UV, Polarizer, Fluorescent) , a Macro Close-up Set of 4 and a Soft Rubber Lens Hood. All this for only $120.
Other Travel Camera recommendations: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, Sony Cyber-shot RX10, Canon PowerShot SX60 HS and Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR (my favourite).
Purpose: An action camera for underwater images and/or any adventure activities.
SJ What?! A lot of people have never heard of the SJCAM because of the GOPro’s dominance in the action camera territory since 2006. Before my trip to Nepal I got an itch for an action camera and found an article on Huffington Post about alternative action cameras and the SJCAM caught my eye.
The quality of the SJCAM surprised me and it keeps on surprising me. The price is unbeatable! This little camera did his job well during the Holi Festival in Nepal.
Accessories: The SJCAM comes with more accessories than the GOPro – the tripod mount, bicycle mount and clip were all included in the original kit.
Other Travel Camera recommendations: GOPro, Drift Host-S and the Garmin VIRB Elite Action Camera.
SJCAM Tip: If you can, buy the camera in Malaysia or Indonesia, it’s the cheapest there. I got mine from an excellent seller in Kuala Lumpur. In March 2015 I got the SJCAM 5000, plus an external USB charger, extra battery and delivery fee for RMB550 ($148).
Samsung Note 3
Purpose: For everyday things; the quick moments and the times when you don’t have your camera with you.
Most of us travel with our phones and it’s just convenient to pull out something quickly to capture a moment forever. No fuss or frills, just a phone.
Accessories: I recently bought 3 lenses (fish-eye, wide angle and macro) for $15 and I’m quite impressed by their capability.
Other Travel Camera recommendations: Samsung Note 4/Edge, Samsung Galaxy S5/S6, iPhone 5/6, LG G4 and HTC One M9.
The Final Focus
Whether you spend $100 or $1000; buying a camera will always be a big deal. Always do your homework and research before diving in and making a purchase. As I’m writing this, someone clever somewhere in the world is designing an even better, more functional camera than the cameras in stores today.
- Never buy a camera because someone said so or because everyone else is buying one.
- Never buy a camera you don’t understand if you won’t make the commitment to learn.
- Never buy a camera that’s out of your league financially.
It doesn’t take an award-winning, top of the range camera to take a superb photo. It takes a person with an eye focused on the moment.