Photography / Buying Guide

Travel-Friendly Camera and Lens Systems

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The topic of this article might seem easy-breezy to compose, but truth be told—it isn’t. For starters, how do you define “travel friendly?” Where are you going? How are you getting there? And what exactly do you plan on photographing once you get there? Do you already own a camera and lenses? If you do, are you happy with them and, if not, why?

There’s simply no way we can address every scenario but, at the very least, we can offer you food for thought.

Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better

With few exceptions, it would be fair to say just about every camera we sell at B&H would make for a good, if not terrific, travel companion. Cameras featuring sensors with upwards of 100MP can take breathtakingly sharp, detailed photographs, but are the pictures they take necessarily better than the pictures we take with cameras containing smaller-format, lower-resolution imaging sensors? Not always.

There’s no shortage of pocket-sized point-and-shoots and compact DSLR-style bridge cameras with ridiculously broad zoom ranges. There are also many larger (and heavier) mirrorless and DSLR options. The questions are: A) which of these camera systems can you hang off your shoulder for extended periods of time before suffering curvature of the spine and, B) which camera system will best capture the type of pictures you plan on taking where you will be traveling?

The following are my thoughts on the “ideal” compact travel system, a system that would satisfy my creative needs 85-90% of the time based on size, weight, and performance levels. Considering that the perfect camera doesn’t exist, 85-90% of the time is more than acceptable.

A Few Words about Variable-Aperture Zooms

The problem with many less expensive zoom lenses and point-and-shoot cameras is that they have maximum apertures of f/3.5 or smaller, making them difficult to use indoors or in low light without resorting to the limitations of the camera’s flash. And that’s at maximum aperture. Zoom in and the maximum aperture becomes progressively less efficient, which in turn diminishes the speed and accuracy of the camera’s autofocus system.

In the case of superzoom cameras with advanced image stabilization, these cameras become increasingly difficult to hold steady at longer focal lengths without resorting to a tripod (so much for portability). These performance issues hold true regardless of camera format, be it full-frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, or pocket cam.

This is a primary reason why, when it comes to traveling lightly, I prefer to rely on a pair of wider-aperture fixed focal length lenses—one wide-angle, another slightly long, and I’m good-to-go indoors or out, daytime or night.

Optical and Electronic Viewfinders (OVFs and EVFs)

One feature I hold sacred is an optical or electronic viewfinder. LCDs are wonderful, but try using them while holding the camera at arm’s length under bright sunny skies. Worse yet, handholding the camera at arm’s length under bright sunny skies with the lens set anywhere past the halfway mark of its super-zoom’s focal range. In my book, cameras that lack an OVF or EVF never make it into my bag.

Optical Viewfinder (left) and Electronic Viewfinder (right)

Keeping these thoughts in mind, I’ve decided to break my camera and lens choices into several categories, the first being rugged, water- and shockproof point-and-shoot cameras.

Tough Point-and-Shoot Cameras

OK, OK, I know I said I wasn’t going to discuss point-and-shoot cameras but, rugged, waterproof point-and-shoot cameras and the few point-and-shoot cameras featuring fast, narrow-range zooms are the exceptions. The beauty of the rugged, waterproof cameras is that they’re ideal for rough-and-tumble travel. They’re built to tighter standards and you can feel the difference when you pick them up. They contain more metal alloys, less plastic, and every button, seam, and flap is lined with waterproof gaskets. They’re waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, which means you can bounce them off the walls of your igloo without voiding the camera’s warranty.

Rather than hiding behind a thin metal curtain when the camera is at rest, the lenses on these tough digicams reside behind scratchproof (and very easy to clean) glass ports. These cameras are terrific in that you can slip them into your pocket and use them in the worst weather. The best part? The most popular models sell for $150 to $450.

Did I mention Leica makes a rugged point-and-shoot camera? They do—the Leica X-U (Typ 113). Leica’s X-U features a 16.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7 ASPH lens (35mm equivalent). It’s waterproof to 49' (IP68-compliant), shockproof from 4' falls (MIL-STD 810G), and is built like a rubber-clad tank. And even if it didn’t sport the red Leica dot, it would still look very cool.

Leica X-U (Typ 113) Digital Camera

Non-Rugged Point-and-Shoots Worth Considering

Non-rugged point-and-shoots I would consider, specifically because of their wider maximum apertures, include the Canon PowerShot G5 X (24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent), Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 (24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 equivalent) and Lumix DMC-LX10 (24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 equivalent), which feature short but fast zoom lenses. And let us not forget the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), which is a gussied-up version of the Panasonic DMC-LX100. The wider apertures on these cameras greatly extend their AF and AE performance when shooting in low light.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Digital Camera

Bridge Cameras

On paper, bridge cameras are the perfect camera. They’re small (though a few are larger than compact DSLRs) and feature lenses that can capture subjects that are millimeters from the front of the lens, or subjects two miles away. The problem with most bridge cameras is lenses that are optimized for brighter lighting conditions, but become increasingly balky as light levels drop off. A few of these cameras have zooms that open to f/2.8 and remain relatively fast throughout their zoom ranges.

These cameras include the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III (24-600mm equivalent f/2.8-f/4), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 (25-400mm f/2.8-f/4) and, although they start getting precariously slow at the telephoto end of the zoom range, the Nikon COOLPIX P900 (24-2000mm equivalent f/2.8-f/6.5) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 (25-600mm f/2.8-f/8), and Lumix DC-FZ80 (20-1200mm equivalent F/2.8-f/8) are worthy options.

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera

Single Focal Length Fixed-Lens Cameras

For some people, the thought of venturing forth with only one camera and one lens can invoke an anxiety attack. For others, it’s liberating. The following are premium cameras that will match or surpass the image quality of whatever camera you currently own.

The Leica Q features a 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor and 28mm f/1.7 equivalent Leica Summilux lens. The Q is pure Leica. The construction is rock solid and the image quality is top shelf.

Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera

The Sony RX1R II is one of the smallest full-frame cameras on the market—it’s ridiculously small. It features a 42MP CMOS sensor and a 35mm f/2 lens that was designed specifically for this camera. The cool part of this camera is that the image quality is so good you can crop deep into the image file and still retain an amazingly sharp photograph. As with the Leica Q, Sony’s RX10R II is a solidly built camera, small and light enough to take anywhere you go.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II Digital Camera

If the Leica Q and Sony RX10R II are too pricey for your budget, take a look at the Fujifilm X70, a solid compact camera that features a 16.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a 28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens. If 28mm is too wide for your tastes, check out the Fujifilm X100F, which sports a 24.3MP APS-C sensor and a 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent). As for image quality, they’re both wonderful.

Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera

Mirrorless Cameras

In my opinion, mirrorless cameras are the best choice for travel photography, for reasons of size and weight. The lengths, widths, and heights of carry-on baggage have dramatically decreased over time. Fortunately, camera and lens sizes have decreased, too, thanks in part to the introduction of mirrorless cameras. By taking reflex viewing systems out of the equation, camera and lens manufacturers have been able to reduce the form factors of cameras and lenses dramatically.

As an example, if you view a Sony A7R II mirrorless camera and its DSLR counterpart, the Nikon D810, side-by-side, it looks like a before-and-after photograph for a diet supplement ad. The specs, performance capabilities, and most notably, the resolving power of both cameras are remarkable. So is the size difference between them.

Determining which mirrorless cameras fare best for travel is challenging, due to the broad choice of camera styles and sizes we can choose from. The size differences between a Nikon 1 J or AW-series camera with a kit lens and a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II are negligible, but the differences in image quality between the results you get from Nikon’s 20MP 1" sensor—as amazingly good as they are—pale when compared to the results you get from Sony’s 42.3MP full-frame sensor.

Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm and 30-110mm Lenses

The Nikon 1 AW1, which contains the smallest-format sensor among mirrorless cameras, features a 14.2MP CX-format (1") sensor. A good match for this camera is the Nikon 1 NIKKOR AW 10mm f/2.8 lens, which like the camera, is waterproof down to 49', shockproof to 6.6', and freezeproof down to 14°F. Though not waterproof, the Nikon 1 NIKKOR 32mm f/1.2 (86.4mm equivalent) makes for a nice complement to the above mentioned NIKKOR AW 10mmf/2.8.

Nikon 1 AW1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 11-27.5mm Lens

Nikon offers a choice of zooms for 1-series cameras, but all have variable apertures with maximum openings starting at f/3.5, which is fine on sunny days but increasingly fitful indoors and after sunset.

The Canon EOS M5, which contains a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor is similar to Nikon’s 1 AW1 in that, aside from the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM (35.2mm equivalent), all of Canon’s EF-M-series lenses tend to be on the slow side. They’re good lenses, but when it comes to travel, I prefer the advantages of wider apertures over the convenience of a smaller-aperture zoom.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Fujifilm offers an extensive line of APS-C format mirrorless cameras. The top gun of the group is the Fujifilm X-Pro2, which in addition to channeling many of the best attributes of a classic Leica M camera in a state-of-the-art digital camera, begs to go on vacation with you. Equally travel friendly are Fujifilm’s X-T1, X-T2, X-E2S, and if medium format is your preferred format, the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 Lens

Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras from Olympus and Panasonic are available in a choice of body styles, and there’s an impressively wide selection of MFT lenses available to go along with them.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

For wider-angle scenes, I would recommend the Venus Optics Lauwa 7.5mm f/2 MFT (15mm equivalent), the super-fast Voigtländer Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 (21mm equivalent), the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12mm f/2 , Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS , and Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH (each 24mm equivalents). If you prefer a lens a little less wide, check out the Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH (30mm equivalent), the 34mm equivalent Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8, Voigtländer’s super-fast Nokton 17.5mm F/0.95 35mm equivalent lens, or the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH, which at 40mm equivalent, is a smidgen shy of a normal lens.

Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 Lens for Micro Four Thirds

For tighter shots, I would recommend the Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH POWER O.I.S (85mm equivalent), the even faster Panasonic Lumix G Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH Power O.I.S., or the 90mm equivalent Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 45mm f/1.8.

Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. Lens

And remember, for wider-field photographs, you can use your camera’s Panorama mode (assuming it has one), and for tighter shots you can always crop (yes… It’s OK to crop a picture if it makes the picture better!)

If you’re an MFT fanboy (or fangirl) I’ll allow for a fast (f/2.8) zoom, which would include the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO, Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 ASPH Power O.I.S., or the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens

There are too many full-frame and APS-C format mirrorless cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Leica , and Sony to name in the space of this article but, if you follow Explora, you’re familiar with most of them. Which ones are best for travel? Again, I prefer smaller-profile cameras for traveling, and there are many to choose from the abovementioned manufacturers.

As for lenses, according to the B&H website we stock about 130 wide-angle lenses for full-frame and APS-C mirrorless cameras with apertures f/2.8 and faster, and about 77 medium telephoto lenses for full-frame and APS-C format mirrorless cameras, also with apertures of at least f/2.8. Keep in mind that you can, no doubt, justify traveling with any of the MFT lenses we sell, just make sure you factor-in the size, weight, and light-gathering abilities of the lens—if it’s big and heavy, the size and weight of the camera becomes secondary.

Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens

DSLRs

DSLRs are available in more sizes and formats than mirrorless cameras. If you currently own a DSLR and you’re happy with it, you’re welcome to use it. If your current DSLR is too large and heavy for long treks, or you don’t own a DSLR, I suggest a smaller-profile APS-C format DSLR simply for reasons of weight and mass.

Compact DSLRs worth investigating include the Nikon D3200, D3330, and D3400, which come with 18-55mm kit zooms. If these cameras are too small for your likes or needs, by all means check out the Nikon D5300, D5500, and without a doubt the D500 and D750.

Nikon D3200 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens

The Canon Rebel-series cameras have been hot sellers for years and the Canon EOS Rebel T5, T6, T6i, & T7 carry the tradition forward. Prefer something even smaller? Try Canon’s EOS Rebel SL1 and recently announced EOS Rebel SL2. Prefer something a bit larger from Canon? Check out Canon’s EOS 7D Mk II and the recently announced EOS 6D Mk II.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera

If you’re looking for a truly compact DSLR that can handle wet weather, the camera you should look at is the Pentax K-S2, which is weather-resistant and a solid performer in every meaning of the phrase. Pentax also produces several smaller pancake-style lenses that complement the form factor of Pentax’s smaller camera bodies.

Pentax K-S2 DSLR Camera with 18-50mm Lens

Lenses

When selecting equipment for travel, I try to pack as efficiently as possible, especially when it comes to lenses. From personal experience, I know a fast, wide-angle lens (24mm or 28mm) and an equally fast short telephoto lens (85mm to 105mm) are sufficient for 90% of the type of photographs I take. Would a fast 50mm normal lens be handy? No doubt, but by stepping closer with the wide or stepping back a bit with my longer lens I can often capture results that more than satisfy my visual needs. Would a 24-105mm f/4 zoom accomplish the same goal? Pretty much, but I prefer two fast lenses over a single larger, bulkier lens any day.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

If there’s a downside to wider-aperture lenses, it would have to be that they’re heavier than slower glass. There are fast (f/2.8 and f/4) super-telephotos that get you so close to the polar bears you risk soiling your trousers, but do you really want to carry one around all day? When choosing lenses, this is an element you must factor-in to the equation.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Lens

Figuring out the best combination of cameras and lenses for travel is difficult because we all have unique criteria, based on our specific personal needs.

Do you have a favorite travel camera, lens, or system? If you do, drop us a line and tell us about them. And if there’s a camera or lens choice I missed (no doubt!), let us know about that, too!

Items discussed in article

58 Comments

While it may be due for a up-date, the Panasonic LX100 is a wonderful travel camera.  It has a fairly fast, Leica designed  24-75mm (Equiv.)  In a fairly small body. (I use mine as a back-up for my GX8)

For me, the Olympus EM5 mk ii + Oly 12f2, Panaleica 25f14 and Panasonic 45-175x make a perfect travel kit.  The 12 and 25 are fast enough for very low light operation (plus with the EM5's stabilizer, you can easily hold down to 1/4 second).  The 45-175x is definitely slower, but since it is so compact and doesn't extend, I pretty much always have it on me.  I really can't complain about the image quality with any of those lenses.  Although both the 12 and the 25 are somewhat outclassed by the Oly 12-40 pro, their combined size and weight are quite a bit less, plus it does make a difference when walking around with a much lighter lens mounted all the time (less conspicuous too).  The total kit, plus spare batteries and FL300 flash (if needed), easily fits in my Domke F-5XB shoulder bag.  I have the pro zoom, but if I'm travelling light, the kit above is my choice.

I have a doubt. When I bought my B & H Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera (Silver) B & H # NICPA900S MFR # 26505, among so many good reasons, was its zoom 24-840mm (35mm Equivalent) for covering wide-angle to telephoto perspectives to suit working in Wide variety of environments. Reading the Explora, Photography / Buying Guide - Travel-Friendly Camera and Lens Systems, by Allan Weitz, I'm in doubt if I'm on the right path. It seemed to me that the new vision for photography - except for specific use professionals - indicates a way of using cameras with big sensors with upwards MP that can take breathtakingly sharp, detailed photographs instead of powerful telephoto - thinking about cropping after post-editing . Got it, right?

 I'm relatively new to digiital photography, so please define/explain the following, and explain what the alphabetical designations stand for, in words:

Micro  Four Thirds;  CMOS; FullFrame; APSC-C; CX-format.

Thank you.

OK Ray here goes...

The above designations haver to do with sensor sizes, which are as follows...

Full frame (FX)                   24x36mm     (1:1)

Micro Four Thirds (MFT)      21.6 x 17.3mm  (Approx half size of full-frame)    (2:1x)

APS-C                                23.5 x 15.6 mm (Canon only - 22.2 x 14.8 mm)    (1.5x or 1.6x for Canon)

APS-H                                27.9mm x18.6mm    (1.3x)

CX (1" sensor)                     13.2 x 8.8mm   (2.7x)

CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) - CMOS sensors are the most commonly used digital imaging sensors. Other types of sensors include CCDs (Charged Couple Device) and Foveon sensors.

Does that help?

AW

 

Sorry, I forgot to say. My 21mm Zeiss  Distagon iwas made in Japan. It is beter, in my opinion that any Nikon/Canon/Sony, since I bought it for $850 and It doesn't really matter where they are made it is all based on the tolorences of the design and how close they keep to the specs of the lens designers. Also, it is better to buy a cheaper model of a Nikon/Canon/Sony with a more expensive lens, In the $800-$1200 range. Actually I would say a FX/Full frame 16-80 or 15-80 and use it on an APS-C and later at the full size  on your next camera, an FX/FF... This saves more in the long run... also a DX/APS-C uses more of the center of the sensor and lens so the photos are a bit better.

Sorry, but your articles about, EVERYTHING, are worthless and confusing to most people who really want some one to select the best camera from their need... and part of the problem... Most want a camera that is well beyong their needs. B&H sells everything, so you write about everything. I have never seen a blog or site that says... you can buy any camera by N/C/S that costs under $500 and use it for six months to a year and trade it in for $150-$175 or sell it to a friend for $250 to $300 and then buy a better camera, if you really need it. What is NEVER discussed is: The importance of the size of the pixels and howmany shots the camera shoots before you need a new shutter... It is mentioned sometimes, also, it is seldum discussed is that the Panasonic Leica and Sony Zeiss lenses are not made by Leica or Zeiss but by Panasonic and  Sony. Most all of the lenses under $2,000 cannot be made in Germany. My Nikon lenses which are both great lenses for my nees are made in Thiland and my Zeiss Distagon 21mm 2.8, which I use as a 31.5 mm on my D-71000 and will use on my next Nikon... Either a D-860 or a D-760 whenever they are available and I can test them against my D7100 and an older D-750... Then I will decide. Of coudrse if you have an extra $10,000, which is deductible from your income tax as a capital investment, and the best way to impress your clienst and be the envy of your friens and compitition.. Look at the new Fuji GFX50 with a 23mm=18mm or whichever fits you liking. The zoom or a 120mm, or better yet, wait for the next model, which has to be "Improved". maybe more pixels or Multi-shot... Should be out in 2018 for Photokina. Or then you will be able to buy the older model, GFX50 for about $1500 less. Now you know.  The main rule... Test and print large and test again...

Geoffrey

You're complaining about the direction and content of this article?

Your comments are about EVERYTHING.

Focus m'lad, focus thy thoughts...

There are too many choices and my choice is combination of Sony a7rii and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2

Easy to carry and give you nice pictures - but they are pricey

I just spent 5 weeks camping in Iceland and I took with me 2 Sony A6300 camera bodies a 10mm f2.8 Rokinon lens, Zeiss 16mm-70mm f4, and Sony 70-300mm F4-5.6 lenses. I found that combination allowed enough versatility to cover all my optical needs plus wouldn't break my back lugging them around the rough, extremely windy, wet, and rarely bright Icelandic landscape. I also of course carried a Benro tripod which folds to 22" and weighs about 5 pounds with a RSS ball head. The fact that both the cameras and lenses are rugged and water resistant proved very good. My camera and lens managed to hit the ground several times in storms and were drowned by sideways blowing rain. My other big toys that stayed home and it was a good thing because they would never have survived and would've dragged me down with their size and weight. Sure there were a couple of times that I wished I had a real powerful telephoto with f.2 and 50,000mm would be nice. Of course you would have to be able to afford it and find the hulk to carry it! All in all I covered everything from museums and narrow streets to landscapes to birds with no problem. (ps I don't need to shoot the optic nerve in a birds eye from 5miles away, just the bird). But what serves me won't serve the person with unlimited wealth and strength.

My dear friend. If you are smaller than 5 '5"" and weigh in at under 120, I might agree, but if you add your two bodies and three lense you could have taken any smaller FF/FX Sony/Nikon/Canon with 2 zooms of 16-85 and 100-200... I hope you made a typo or a joke. There are no 50,000mm lenses.,, except maybe you could have turned the Hubble or Deep Space telescope arouns  and pointed toward Irland, But he weight is rally very heavy. And to add if you use the lenses on the FF/FXs at the same size as you 60000 they would be up to 300 and if you just brough a 18-28 and 250-350 tele they could go up to 525mm OK.              Good enough for you?

Geoffrey,

You just bashed a guy for making one typo.

That's pretty brash considering you made a total of 7 grammatical and spelling-related errors in your response.

Remember what they say about people living in glass houses Geof...

Tyler

Why do these so called guides seem to coinsistantly seem to be nothing more than infomercials???  Every brand , every possible choice, and all is wonderful.

Ted Breg wrote:

Why do these so called guides seem to coinsistantly seem to be nothing more than infomercials???  Every brand , every possible choice, and all is wonderful.

Dear Ted,

I totally agree. Please read my mails in this section.

I'm finding the Fuji X-Pro2 to be a very versatile travel companion. I've downscaled from a rather large Nikon Df system. The issue for me was weight and bulk as my travel involves historic cities, tight spaces, public transportation and 24/7 tours with limited luggage capabilities. The Fuji kit with 14 and 18-55 plus either a 23mm f/2 or a 35mm f/2 fit within those constraints.

This is not a wildlife or safari kit; it is a urban kit. The 18-55 is the workhorse with the 14mm providing interior, landscape and some street coverage. For those times when I can concentrate on some traditonal street photography or after dinner walks, the 23 or 35 comes into play. Only one of the 23/35 pair makes the trip, depending on the venue. A two lens Fuji kit fits easily into a Domke F5xb bag that conveniently slips into the bottom of a small daypack for airline transport. The "extra" lens slips in about anywhere inside a neoprene pouch. 

A smaller Fuji body (e.g. X-T20 or X-E2s) might be preferred. I picked the X-Pro2 as it fits my hand size well and it also doubles as my primary body for my general photography applications.

I often throw in a Ricoh GR Digital. It's my "strobe" and can be very unobtrusive is situations where I might prefer to either not carry the Fuji kit or just need something less "invasive". I've tried to ween myself from toting this camera and it's accessories along, but while the Fuji kit gets the heavy duty use, the Ricoh is just so convient that I kick myself every time I decide not to take it. The snapshot mode is a wonderful "cure" for jet lag. 

Receommending cameras that cost over $3,000 for most readers is simply pointless. The DSLR section is the most useful of this article. The lens choices make sense unless you are planning to do nature photography - birds, anaimals or insects, when you need long zoom telephotos or macro lenses.

I believe a camera is only a tool…. many and varied and only as good as the person using it.

You make the photo, you please your self first, if you can make a good photo with any tool then that’s truly rewarding, otherwise any tool can document the world for you.

Less emphasis on equipment and more on making a photo that communicates a message or story, technically is sound and has a wow factor, that’s what you or the viewer wants.

To me B and H are the best in the business and this is not a suck up I have been dealing with them since the 90s from all around the world..

I travel with DF Nikon which has the (D4 D4s sensor and true iso quality) which allows me to use successfully the wide range 28-300 for all round versatility and a 50mm Zeiss 1.4 for special or lower light applications, all bases are covered, the image quality is staggering for every subject and in all conditions as I can float the iso to 8000 - 10,000 with awesome results.

The key here is less and Larger pixels gather easily more light (photons) or (red green and Blue).

Or for in my pocket I still use in RAW mode my very old G10 Canon, or a I phone which in many cases takes as good if not better images than most expensive devices.

There is an argument about more pixels are better and that’s truly not the case…however saying that if you need a tool for that specific purpose then yes a 36 mp or 50 mp slr with a 28 or 50mm 1.4 is unbeatable for that purpose.

Above all enjoy what you do, please yourself, learn to improve your creative skills in seeing the subject, that’s what makes a great photo not just the equipment.

There are many great devices out there…don’t get lost in them LOL

Enjoy your photography.

Rolf in Australia

One very usefull thing forgotten in this article is a tele-converter. Yes, it will reduce the amount of light getting in to your camera, but that should not be a problem if you just open your F-stop a little more or use a slightly slower shutter speed. This will increase your lenses focal length and they come in various factors of 1.4X, 2X and even 3X or more. Some are extremely compact and light weight. I have two of them. One is 2.5X and the other is 4.8X. If i put both of them on my lens it makes it 7.3X of what it is. The picture quality does not suffer that much.

Albert S. Lobel

North Las Vegas NV

Albert,

Good catch, and you're correct - teleconverters are ideal for expanding your focal range without having to expand the size of your camera bag.

Many thanks for the feedback.

AW

I bought a Nikon P900 for the express purpose of traveling. Incredible camera. I own Big Canons but this camera fits the bill better. I  anticipated requiring long shots, close shots, image stablilization and great ISO range for indoor/outdoor. The clincher was the zoom and video. It will focus track zooming video. The Canon Powershot will not. You have to buy a blunderbus to get that.  I shot from moving vehicles and cruise ship (to shore) and on monopod for some long shots. The 83X optical zoom is so incredible that to not own this camera is to do a disservice to myself. Since January I've taken it on a Mediterranean Cruise, Cancun, and believe it or not - Ohio. Hard to believe huh?

Bill,

I believe everything you say except the part about taking your P900 to Ohio.

A Mediterranean cruise? OK.

Cancun? OK.

But Ohio? 

We're not that gullible...

W

My favorite lenses are the Nikon VR 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 G and the Nikon 24-85 f/2.8-4D when I take my DSLR. Otherwise I have travelled with my Nikon S610, which may be old but very functional and performed very well

For me, the ultimate travel combo is the Sony A6000/A6300/A6500 with the Sony 18-105mm f4 G lens. Small, lightweight, versatile, and cheap with the a6000 option. These cameras are very good at high ISO, so the f4 aperture is no issue on most scenarios, but if you want to take photos of your candlelight dinner in Paris then trow a Sony 35mm f1.8 oss lens and still it will be a very portable and lightweight set up.....just my two cents.....

And it's 2-cents well spent.

Good gear choices too

AW

I've been traveling with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 (mostly an old one, last trip with a new II), and mostly with the compact kit 12-50 mm lens, a couple of times with the bigger 12-40 mm f 2.8 PRO.  I suspect Olympus's little 45 mm f 1.8 might have been as useful, with a 12 mm in the pocket.  The new camera does seem to have better video (first tried on lighted fountains at Longwood Gardens at night) and spectacular image stabilization (I was startled by an inadvertent 1.0 sec, 12 mm hand-held shot.  People were blurs, foliage and architecture, tack-sharp).  

My OM-D EM-1 got to visit the Outer Banks in February with a 300 mm f4 lens, its first chance to shoot surfers, which went pretty well.   My original reason for getting that camera body was that it promised to play well with a nice older Olympus four-thirds lens, which it did.   Neither the EM-1 nor that monster lens seem necessary for normal travel.

The new EM-5II looks like it'll force a subscription to Lightroom 6.  Yuk.

I'm a casual camera user; had an SLR since the early 70s, took up Olympus DSLR because at the time, it was a choice of them or Pentax for weather resistance.

David,

If you can find one cheap, I would definitely pick up a Panasonic 45-175X.  It is a seriously underrated lens due to a badly designed IS system (which of course means nothing to the EM5).  Optically good (not amazing but will easily match my legacy Takumar primes at the same lengths), doesn't extend so no dust or wear issues, built nicely and exceptionally compact and lightweight.  If you are going to be packing a 300mm, that would be a pretty good companion to it.  Optically, probably about a match to the Canon 70-300 IS, but unlike that lens, I always carry my Panasonic lens and as a result had gotten some incredibly lucky wildlife shots just by stumbling across them on mountain bike rides (bobcats, coyotes and hawks don't see me coming).  I'll be getting an older 4/3rds 50-200 ED soon, but obviously that monster will not be coming along for those rides!

The real weight is in the glass.  When I want to travel light I use a light weight "pancake" lens like the  Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens on a Canon 5Ds R.  The combination weighs 1,007 grams or 60% more than one of the Leica cameras on the list above.  Carrying 2.2lbs is just not a big deal in my mind.  The pancake lens is not as good a the L series lenses that I leave in the hotel unless I'm going out at dawn or dusk with tripod in hand to attempt a more serious effort than the travel snapshots I take during most days.   The advantage is that I'm very familiar with this camera and I end up with  large RAW files that can be easily edited and cropped.   

Passable as an opinion piece full of personal preferences and hypothetical suggestions of non-existing cameras (while many applicable existing cameras are ignored). Useless as a shopping guide based on what does work practically and realistically for most people.

Trong Nguyen,

Would you be good enough to provide me with your thoughts on optional, quality cameras & lenses selections principally for photojouralism & street photography. Thank you & regards, Ralph

Of course most of this comes down to individual preferences and the type of photography involved. For an enthusiast like me who enjoys photography and documenting our travels, the MFT system is hard to beat. I also have a 1DX which is now relegated to very low light situations and local use only. The weight differences become really important if your travel involves any hiking. And while I know most photographers prefer primes to zooms, "zooming with your feet" is often not possible in travel situations. In addition, environmental issues (like my last two trips - rain and wind in Iceland and dust in Africa) sometimes make lens changes in the field impossible. So to me, the selection of great weatherproof zooms combined with the much lower weight of the MFT system makes it my travel choice.

Hi Allan!

Thanks for the useful discussion. I'll show it to daughter that does a lot of travel and is looking for an upgrade in the Canon slr line.

If one has to go "light" (relative term as I used to be a USAF photojournalist), I carry the "odd couple." -- A Nikon 28mm F2 and Nikon 135mm F2, currently on a Nikon Df. Add a 2x extender for the 135mm and a polarizing filter for each lens. Like you, I never found much use for a 50mm or zoom lenses. Like you, I need to look through a viewfinder to see exactly the image.

I also have an Olympus Tough TG 2 and its teleconverter which is a pocketable camera that can take excellent images. However, frequently frustrated when the auto focus doen't focus.

Thanks,

Mike Laughlin

Sounds like a system I would take out for a spin.

I too like using older Nikkors with my Sony - I like both the look and feel of them.

The pix they capture are pretty good too!

AW

I would add the Ricoh GRII to this list, the only APS-C camera that can fit in my jeans pockets. Superb image quality along with a very capable control layout, weighing less than many lenses alone. I never travel without mine, even when bringing other photo gear.

You are right, but don't sit down.

Are you implying Gary should take his pants off before sitting down when traveling with his trusty Ricoh?

This could be problematic when traveling to places beyond your front door.

AW

If only it wasn't so hard to find a nice little camera that shoots raw that doesn't require me to replace my OS system and subscribe to Lightroom in the Cloud for life (not to mention having to replace all of my other software on my computer because it would no longer work on the required OS, and maybe I'll have to replace my computer too, while I'm at it, and other devices like printers and scanners...) just to add the photos to my workflow. I don't understand why camera manufacturers don't use native DNG format. For Lightroom users, the new cameras artificially require you to upgrade to the Cloud, when if you use their dorky software to open the files, they'll open on a really old system. So it's not the computer that is the problem. I think only Leica uses native DNG, but it costs too much. I'd like a nice little camera that makes photos that I can add to my workflow, and not have to completely revamp my workflow for the photos. I'm perfectly happy with my computer and software and workflow as is, I just want a nice new camera. 

No mention of the killer-app of "small enough to always be with you and deliver stellar imagery of the RX100 lineup? Kinda weak writeup. Just a list of products without really solving the problems.

After two summers driving around Alaska, I'll admit my DSLR isn't the handiest.  Unless your companion is experienced with "Hold this while I change lenses" (My wife is used to that.), a bridge/superzoom/slr-like camera is much handier.  A tripod is needed for telephoto lenses anyway and I've used mine as a walking staff in the steep or rugged stuff.  When viewing our photos on our flat screen TV,  the photos taken with our compact cameras look fine.  Few of us will sell our photos for publication, so don't need big, high count sensors.

Strange that there was no mention of nearly all the extensive Sony mirrorless line. Not enough markup?

Allan,

After much research, I decided that the Fuji X series is the better choice because it is totally unlike most of the other camera (DSLR or mirrorless).  The reason is the X-Trans sensor, which images more like film than the conventional Bayer sensor that most of the other camera use.  This means that there is NO anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor, giving you a much sharper image.  I can get as sharp an image from my X-Pro2 compared to a Canon D5 Mk 3, with a lot less weight and bulk.  The anti-aliasing filters deliberately blur the image so as to cover the rows of pixels.

Also, the Fujinon lenses are really good.

Sounds like you've done your homework - that's a nice bag of gear!

AW

Going to Alaska in a couple of days, bringing camera gear in a backpack.  A couple of years ago I disciplined myself to use a tripod much of the time (age), so, a small carbon fiber tripopd is on my pack.  While it slows me down, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I switched from a lifetime of Nikon going back to film, to the peace of mind offered by weatherproofed Pentax cameras, mine is the K-70.  While I'm bringing a number of lenses, I know that 75% of the time I'll have the 18-135 on the camera.  About 15-20% of the time I'll use the 10-20, then the macro, and finally the 300 zoom for animal shots.  I always long for that really long lens, but never can bring myself to pony up the cash.  The "real" need is very small, and, really, no matter how long your lens is, there are shots you won't be able to get anyway.  If load were an issue, it would be the K-70, the 18-135 and the 10-20, foregoing the tripod, the macro and the 300 zoom.

I can understand if you feel a mobile phone does not qualify as a 'Travel camera' but consider the following. I have travelled with a 1.3Mega Pixel Fuji, 5Mega Pixel Olympus 50Z, a Canon HS-260SX, a Canon G7X, a Canon 20D, A Canon 550D, a Canon 7D Mkii, A Canon HF-S10 HD Video Camera used for stills and mobile phones like a Samsung S5, Samsung S7 and Samsung S8

I have made enlargements for A3 size photo books from all of them and while I'm the first to admit that I'd prefer my Canon 7D when it comes to taking a scenic shot, the size and weight of DSLR gear compared to a mobile phone takes a lot of pleasure out of your holidays.  For me it is no longer about taking the perfect shot on my holiday travels, but being able to enjoy the day and bringing some good memories of that back to reminisce over in years to come.  The best camera for that is the one you have with you

Having said that, if your holiday is a game safari, nothing else but a good DSLR and good glass with suffice

Hi Guys,

I'm going on a safari to Kenya soon and I'm planning to buy a new camera for this trip.

After doing some research online I'm thinking of buying either a high-end (1" sensor) bridge camera or an entry level DSLR + (super) telefoto lens.

Now (like you mentioned) the bridge camera's look really good on paper. I'm wondering how they would compare against a buget DSLR + telefoto lens? and if its even possible too buy a good quiallity DSLR + telelens within the same price range?

-For Bridge camera's I was thinking about the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, -FZ2000 or maybe the Sony cybershot RX10 III (though that's about the top of my budget).

-For a DSLR body I'm intrested in the Nikon D3300, Canon EOS 750D or someting like that... with maybe a Tamron or Sigma lens? I've read for a safari I'd need atleast an ** - 300mm but preferably 400-600mm tele zoomlens.

Could you give me some advice about a good lens for these camera's?

Ps: I'd prever too buy a DSLR set because It has a lot more options and I'm planning on making photography a bit of a hobby. I'm also not that conserned with the weight and size. However, like I mentioned, I'm going on safari so I do want good quiallity foto's, a nice zoom range and the ability to make some great action foto's (even when there is a bit less light)

Hopefully you can give me some advice. thanx!

I did a safari last year - you get much closer to the animals then you might realize!   Unless you are going with a high end photography group, you will not have time to set up a tripod, and will need to hand-hold your camera and lens.  I can't think of anything over 300 mm that you can hand hold!  I ended up taking my Canon 760d (T6s) and a 70/300 DO lens and a 40 mm 2.8 pancake.  I seldom took off the 70-300, only for a few shots within some of the villages and markets.  

The animals are either SO far away that no lens will capture them well, or they are pretty darn close.  At most of the safari parks (Kruger, Chobe, Hwange, etc), you can get amazingly close.  Some of the parks are set up with viewing areas near the watering holes.  

If you are traveling within Africa, you'll probably be on small planes - carry on baggage is severly limited in weight and size - pack accordingly.  

If you are going to Kenya on a safari, I'd suggest something better than a "bridge" camera. Better save the money: take your  smartphone and go with a  pair of  good  binoculars to Kenya. A "bridge" camera take to Disneyland instead. For a special trip like  a  real safari in Kenya I would take a full frame Canon 6D Markii or 5Dmark VI with long, medium and wide Lenses: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM,  a  Canon EF 1.4X II Extender Telephoto Accessory, an  EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens or a 24-105mm f/4 L IS II.  And finally a Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens.  Total of 3 lenses giving me a long range from wide to telephoto. But that would be a big investment all together.  A  crop sensor (APS-C sensor) camera would also be a good choice for less money but choosing carefuly the appropriate lenses. I like the Canon 7D Mark II.The The Canon 80D is another fine crop sensor camera. Right now BH has a good offer of a Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera Body with 18-55mm and 55-250mm Lenses for less than $1400.  https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1254798-REG/canon_eos_80d_dslr_camera.html  Of course think about a good quality bag to carry and protect your gear and some other necessary accesories. If for some reason you don't like Canon then look for Nikon.  Do your homework. Research for reliable information on the web. Learn to use the camera you select. Prepare and plan for that kind of trip. Then, enjoy and shoot a lot of photos. Come back and share your adventure  photos. Good luck.

Hi Herman, thanks for the advice.

Your first option cost more than my whole 2 person trip.... but the 80D package looks quite nice.

I've ended up buying the 'Nikon D5300 zwart + 18-55mm VR + Tamron 70-300mm Di LD Macro' this option was only €700 euro's, so I decided to save some money for other things :)

BTW calling bridge camera's for Disneyland seems a bit biased, since the top models like the RX10 III or FX2500 seem to compare quite well against the 'same price' DSLR sets. 

Thanks for the tips Michelle!

First thing you need to do is decide what type of system you want and work from there.

My best advice - call one of our camera Phone Chat folks, spell out your needs and concerns, and have a detailed discussion with whoever is on the other side of the line.

I guarantee you will be able to make an informed decision after that discussion.

Good luck!

AW.

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