Technology has made it much easier for anyone to take great photos. That said, if you’re new to photography, buying your first “serious” camera can be a daunting task—even more so when you’re planning on taking that camera on a Classic Journeys trip! Whether it’s getting a close-up of a friendly sea lion or snapping a panoramic portrait of a Provençal vineyard, travel photography presents its own set of unique challenges for even the most experienced photographer. Here’s what you’ll want to consider before you purchase a camera for traveling.
Where Are You Going?
It’s important to think about the type of travel you’ll be doing. Will you need a waterproof camera in Morocco? Will you want to carry a tripod and a bag full of lenses up the Inca Trail? Consider the activities you’ll be doing, and the locations you’ll be visiting. This will help you determine the size, weight and even functionality of your ideal travel camera.
What Kind Of Pictures Will You Be Taking?
It’s probably safe to say that most of us take photos to simply preserve our experiences and share those experiences with others. If your ambitions for publicly sharing your photographs don’t extend past Instagram and Facebook, you probably don’t need to spend a whole lot of money on a fancy rig—your smartphone should do the trick! But if you’re more ambitious - looking to take a picture of sea lions underwater, or capturing the full-color spectrum of a glacier—then you may want to consider something more advanced. (We’ll get to those in a bit.)
Budget, Bells, and Whistles
Photography can be a very expensive hobby—a high-end camera can count thousands of dollars, and components can also drive your expenses up. Relevant to where you’ll be traveling is the question of what you’ll really want and need from your camera—some models even come with WiFi and GPS!
The Four Types of Camera: Which One Is Best For You?
Cameras can be broken down into four basic categories:
DSLR: DSLRs are the choice of professional photographers because they allow the user to fully adjust the photo settings in-camera. Advantages: They’ll enable you to take fantastic pictures, and you’ll have a wide range of lens to choose from. Disadvantages: They’re heavy, can be very expensive, and can be daunting for entry-level photographers.
[Top pick - Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D: Small for a DSLR, making it travel-friendly! The flip-out screen is clear and the camera focuses brilliantly when using live view or when shooting videos.]
MIRRORLESS: Mirrorless cameras—called that because they don’t have an internal reflex mirror—are a step down from DSLR, both in size and price. Advantages: They’ve got most of the features found in a DSLR. Disadvantages: They’re still heavier than compact cameras or your phone, and may have poor battery life.
[Top pick - Olympus PEN E-PL9: This camera gets major style points and is perfect for getting those Instagram worthy shots of landmarks, night scenes, and cityscapes.]
COMPACT: The classic point-and-shoot digital camera is a favorite among travelers, and you’ll no doubt see a lot of your fellow Classic Journeys guests carrying them. Advantages: Price, compact size and rugged build make them a perfect addition to your daypack. Disadvantages: The photo quality may not be as good as a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, and a lack of interchangeable lenses.
[Top pick - Canon PowerShot G1 X III: For the traveler who wants the best possible quality in the smallest possible package. This camera is sharp, lightweight and even comes with a zoom lens.]
YOUR PHONE: Yes, your phone is a great travel camera—in fact, for many seasoned travelers, it’s the best option!
A little about the author:
Jason Avant is a freelance writer based in Carlsbad, California. An avid surfer, hiker, and backpacker, his outdoor passions fuel his love of adventure travel. He’s traveled extensively across the U.S., including three years spent in Alaska; he’s also journeyed through Mexico, Costa Rica, France, and Italy.