Choosing a Digital Camera for Travel
If you’re looking for a digital camera to take on your travels, here are three important considerations to help you select the most appropriate one for your needs.
1. Nature of Travel
a) Fully organized tour — you can safely carry a larger, more costly camera, or camera bag, as you will be with a group, providing greater security.
Suggested: high-quality digital compact camera with at least a 3x zoom lens, but preferably a 10x zoom for greater flexibility. For more serious photographers, a digital SLR with a couple of lenses.
b) Independent traveler, using trains and buses — security is a consideration plus you need to travel light, carrying as little as possible.
Suggested: small, compact digital camera with 3x zoom lens that can safely be kept in a pocket or hand-bag.
c) Back-packing, staying in hostels — you’ll be carrying the bare minimum, with theft a risk.
Suggested: small, inexpensive, compact camera you can carry in a pocket or fanny pack together other valuables. No need for the more exotic features, but should have 3x zoom for some flexibility.
2. Type of Trip:
a) Holiday to a seaside or resort hotel — security should not be a concern, so can carry a larger camera or a camera bag with your gear.
Suggested: majority of pictures likely to be on the beach or at the pool, plus photos of people, so a big camera with 10x zoom not essential. Better to opt for a 3x or 5x zoom that covers a wide focal length for scenic shots. If within your budget, a digital SLR with a wide angle or standard zoom lens — although this set-up can be a hassle to carry around.
b) Focus on sightseeing and historical sites — flexibility important, so need a big zoom range offering wide angle to telephoto.
Suggested: digital camera with 10x or 12x zoom so can zoom out for more expansive pictures of large buildings and zoom in on smaller details. Would also be suitable for street photography, where you can take pictures using a range of focal lengths without having to move around.
c) Great outdoors — if mainly hiking, then weight is crucial, but less so if going on an African safari.
Suggested: for walking or hiking, a light, showerproof compact with a 3x or 5x zoom lens for scenic pictures plus informal people shots. For a safari vacation, if you want to photograph the resident wildlife you’ll need a compact superzoom (10x zoom or more). For more serious photographers, a digital SLR is the preferred option — but try to limit your lens selection because of space/weight constraints.
3. Your Interests:
a) Historical sites, architecture — need wide angle capability for exteriors of bigger buildings and for interiors where space is tight.
Suggested: digital compact with built-in flash, plus capability to shoot at higher ISO for available light pictures. Image stabilization will be a plus, allowing slow shutter speeds in low light conditions. Must have a 3x zoom at the minimum, as wide as possible on the wide end.
b) People, candids, reportage — need good telephoto so can shoot unnoticed from a distance.
Suggested: compact digital camera with 10x to12x zoom or compact digital SLR with one or two lenses that cover from wide angle to tele.
c) General countryside, landscapes — wide angle will be more important than telephoto.
Suggested: digital compact with 3x to 5x zoom should be adequate.
Of course, whatever digital camera you buy for your travels will ultimately be governed by price and your budget. However, if you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a far-off destination, then push that budget to the limit and get the best you can, as you may never have the opportunity to capture those special events, scenes, and situations again.
My preferred travel gear is a Canon EOS 450D as it’s a light and compact for a digital SLR, plus one or two Canon EF-S lenses, including a Canon wide angle lens for landscapes and scenic shots.
NB: Don’t forget to check out our great selection of Travel Posters and Prints (sampling below).
Filed under: Travel and Leisure