Best Camera For Traveling
Like anything you ever read here on this blog, I want you to know that whatever I write is simply just my opinion. My thoughts come from part research but mainly trial and error experience. Experience that hopefully helps you in some way. So. I got the above question direct messaged to me on Instagram. My mind immediately went two ways on this question. And you're probably not going to like my answer. I can already see you rolling your eyes. The best camera, in my opinon, for traveling....is...the one you have.
But....also a compact DSLR.
Ugh. I know, so annoying, right. What the hell does that mean, Syd? It means if you have a nice DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) frickin bring that shit with you. If you have a point and shoot from Costco you've had for a while dust that off and pack it. I'm guessing 90% of you exclusively use your phones for the pictures you take and post on social media so this conveniently works out for you. I don't necessarily think you need to go out and get a "fancy" (haha I'm not sure why that is always the word associated with large cameras you see people these days using) camera in order to get amazing travel photos. But if you plan on traveling a lot, I think it's definitely worth the investment. And if you're not ready to take the plunge you can actually rent cameras from camera retailers either locally or online. Photographers I know rent lenses and other equipment per day or week. It's not the most economical but it's an option you could look into.
After quite a few trips and living abroad I have found weight and size of a camera to be important; factors of convenience and comfort. So while I will stick with my original answer, I also think that the best camera that I would want to bring with me is something relatively light, with a great lens, and wifi. Wifi to be able to send photos direct from the camera to your phone. (Side tip: if you have a wifi compatible camera that has a coordinating app for your smartphone you can get great photos when traveling alone by using the remote feature on the app and the camera's self timer. ) I'll touch more on that later but for now I'll go a little more into what else I think goes into choosing which camera (s) to bring with you on your trip.
Where are you going?
Where I am going can determine which camera I bring. For reference the cameras I own are:
- Canon 6D and I use a Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 lens (Bought the camera body for about $1200 and the lens was $900)
- 2 Polaroid 600's (both are super old. Got one from my aunt when I was like 10 and the other from my dad when I was in college)
- Fujifilm instax 210 (bought this from Urban Outfitters a few years ago)
- Fujifilm Mini 90 Neo Classic (got this as a gift this past Christmas. Has super cool features. Double exposure, long exposure, self timer)
- iPhone 7s bay-beeee
- Olympus 35mm Infinity Stylus (just got this off Depop for $50. Rad little point and shoot film camera)
So if I were my friend and going to Europe, I would bring my DSLR. It might be a while before you get to go back there again so you want quality shots, frame worthy. Lots of architectural and epic landscapes so if you big camera has a wide angle lens that you'd be able to fit more view in frame then say your phone.
It is heavy. (Hmm I just googled my setup's weight and it's 3 lbs. Trust me though that biatch will get heavy) So it may or may not get annoying to you carrying it around. I used to carry my big Canon with me in my backpack when I would travel. And then anytime I would stop to take a picture. I would have to take my bag off. Open it up. Take the lens cap off. Take the picture(s). Put the lens cap back on. And then do that. every. frickin. time I wanted to take a picture. So I wouldn't reach for it as much. Side advice: if you're bringing a DSLR just keep it out and on you. What's the point of having it with you if you don't really use it. Side-side advice: depending on where you are and what time of day it is a big, couple thousand dollar camera visibly hanging off your body can make you stand out as a tourist and someone to rob. Just use your best discretion.
I used to lug around at least one polaroid with me in my bag in addition to my DSLR. I seldom pulled it out. Felt a bit too much to take the same photo with the polaroid as with my big camera. I got this Fuji Instax printer for Christmas and that has changed THE GAME, HOMIE. Not only does it print photos wirelessly from your phone onto actual polaroid film, you can print ANY photo. Yes, any photo. You can post existing photos, edit your photo, anything. And have it come out and look like you just took it on a polaroid. So convenient. Now I hardly ever bring the polaroid on trips. I think, for me personally, those are more fun and suited for hanging out and casual things. Not the most detail can be captured in the mini at least.
What kind of trip is it?
If I were going to visit friends or have more of a social trip, I don't really want to carry around a big clunky camera. Don't want to be that girl/friend at the restaurant that whips out this big-A camera to take a picture of my eggs Benedict for my insta story. Eggs don't need 20+ megapixels to show you that my breakfast was good.
I'd want to be have the nearly handsfree freedom of just either my phone or my latest addition which is that point and shoot film camera to just take a picture in the moment and then move on. Phones would be nice because not only can you see the pictures as you're taking them but they take up such little room and weigh nothing. Film will be an expensive road to start traveling down, but in the beginning it has been kind of a fun novelty.
- my little dinky film camera = $50
- 5 pack of Kodak Portra 400 film =$39.99 (which was actually a pretty good deal for this brand and type)
- Developing 1 roll onto disc with no prints = $15.98 (found a local small shop that can do it and this is a decent price)
It's cool to just take the picture unsure whether it looked "perfect" and then just be done with it. Can't look at it. Not til the roll is developed. And since you are paying per roll of film and then to develop it you'll probably be more selective and intentional with what you are choosing to capture and remember. And when you get your film back you can see the little collection you curated over however long it took you to use it up. I think its cool.
But now there are so many compact yet powerful DSLRs out there. If I could go out and get a new camera today I would check out the Fujifilm x100F or the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark III. Honestly any of the canon Rebels are great. My sister @jill_baylon has taken some great photos on that camera even though it is a "starter" camera. And there are a few mirrorless cameras on the market now from Sony or Panasonic that are so so good.
What are the pictures for?
I hope ultimately the pictures you take are for YOU. I admit that I used to be so caught up in documenting whatever it was I was doing or wherever I was visiting immediately and with the intention of "I can't wait to show everyone how cool this is." To a degree I still do that, especially if it is something I think other people would appreciate seeing. But I'm no longer so fixated on taking photos to make my life appear a certain way. My life is a certain way; not parts of it. All of it.
One thing to consider, if you're planning on blowing the pictures up and getting large prints or stretched on a canvas you'll want them to be high resolution. If you're just posting them to social media, you're phone will suffice. But I guess phones these days have some pretty excellent cameras.
So you took a bunch of photos at the top of your hike and you look at them after someone hands your phone or your camera back to you and you go "ew, I look disgusting" and immediately delete them. I used to do this. My mom would always say "why? no you don't. You don't have to post them. You'll want them later." She was right. Who in the actual f*ck cares, dude. In 5, 10, 20 years who knows if instagram and the internet will still be a place we immediately upload and post our lives to. And if we edit ourselves, literally and figuratively then what will we really have to look back on?
I love taking pictures of some less "liked" or popular things. I like taking portraits of homeless people, of weird stuff lying in the street, of funny and sometimes crude things on walls. I promise, if you take photos of whatever you're into, you're not only going to get better at taking photos of said interest, you're going to have a nice collection over your trip and over the years of trips of things that mattered to you in your life at the that moment in time.
Truly there are no rules with these things.
Sometimes the plane touches down and I'm instantly inspired and I see a million things that I want to remember and capture and show my friends when I get home. I take my camera out and I have my phone to record and I'm living for it. Other times I feel the same inspiration but I want to just be as present in it as possible and don't use my camera hardly at all. I've been places where the cliche "a camera wouldn't really do it justice" is appropriate. And sometimes its ok to go somewhere and not really have anything to "show" for it. Pics or it didn't happen? Eh, totally up to you. You're in control. It's supposed to be fun, not stressful. If you're not having fun you're doing it wrong. If you're having fun and you're inspired then score.