You’ve probably heard the saying “The best camera is the one that you happen to have with you”. This is very true for ensuring you come back with some memories of your trip. But try taking this a step further. Take good travel cameras that are relevant to the kind of trip you are about to embark on? What travel camera would you use?
I think everyone would agree that a Digital SLR in the right hands will produce the best results. They do after all give you full control of everything. With a dazzling array of different lenses and filters. But not everyone will want to carry all their photography equipment on holiday. It just adds another bag to your luggage allowance. I totally get this if it’s your hobby or passion. I often see stunning photos that could never be matched with anything less than a digital SLR.
But for the less ambitious of us, what travel camera can we use? Perhaps the best camera for holidays may just be a dedicated compact camera. It contains all the features we require to get some fantastic photos of our trip while still having full control over shutter speed, aperture and exposure. Or we may still want to use our smartphone but perhaps add some items to make it more flexible such as a waterproof case or clip on lens. Whatever your situation, a little hindsight can really pay off once you arrive at your destination.
Good Travel Cameras – Smartphones
Smartphones are great for all round photos and most people have a phone about their persons by default. The latest phones can give great results but do have that main limitation of having just one lens. Quality can also be hit and miss in darker situations. Sure, they have an LED flash, but these can still result in a bad photo unless your subject is reasonably close. You just can’t beat a proper Xenon flash on dedicated cameras as they are simply much brighter and cover a better distance. But the latest models do have additional options that most dedicated cameras are still trying to catch up on.
This feature has been around for a few years now on both Compact Cameras and Smartphones, but it’s the smartphones that have pushed this to a level with more frames per second than ever before, and can now produce stunning results.
This can be a lot fun as long as you have the patience to wait. To get a decent length video, you have to be prepared to leave your phone in a static position in the knowledge that you won’t be using it for that long period of time for anything else. Here is an example of a time-lapse I shot on an iPhone7. I literally left it on a sunbed untouched for an hour in the Drakensburg mountains, South Africa. I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Good Travel Cameras – Compact
The array of compact cameras for travel are mind-boggling and always updating at an alarming rate. But what type of compact camera is for you? Do you want a simple point and shoot model without all the bells & whistles, a mini model you can take with you anywhere or perhaps a superzoom for far away subjects? Aside from the actual quality of the photos, the main features are what helps decide what is best for you. I actually own 4 models with different features that I pick from depending on the type of trip I am about to go on:
Simple point & shoot – used for sun, sea and sand holidays. A great all-rounder that is also waterproof for simple shots in and out the water.
Standard – can be used almost anywhere as it has all the different pre-sets for each situation, although you can manually set everything too if required.
Superzoom – You’re not always right on top of your subject so being able to zoom up to x60 is essential to get those far away shots.
Mini – As I don’t normally have any kind of bag with me in the evenings, it’s nice to a have a small camera that is unobtrusive and slips easily into your pocket.
Good Travel Cameras – Action
The first time I saw one of these, I didn’t see the point at first. It’s just another camera right? Well, the fact they are very small, have an array of different mounts for all purposes, waterproof casings, wide angled lenses, my opinion was soon changed. It’s only once you see the resulting output video that you see how good these cameras can perform.
Good Travel Cameras – Disposable
Admittedly these are probably the most unappealing of all the cameras available but they do have their own niche. Again, if you don’t have a camera on you or have perhaps run out of power, these are invaluable as a cheap alternative that can be found in most shops.
Having some memories of your trip to bring back home with you can still be achieved with these. But you have to wait for development of the photos to see the results. Great for special occasions such as birthdays or weddings. These cameras are cheap enough to be left on each table at the event for anyone to take photos. A great way to ensure that lots of photos are taken for that important occasion and by many different people.
Good Travel Cameras – Instant
Instant cameras have been around since the sixties giving the owner instant photos within minutes of a click. Back then you had to pull out the photo, peel off the negative from the positive image, wave the around photo for a bit, then sit back and wait for the image to appear. But why would people want to use this old technology now when you can take digital photos and see them immediately?
Well, instant cameras such as the instax mini 9 are making somewhat of a comeback. People love to have a physical photo to pass around or put on show especially at organised events. If you have been to a big personal or corporate event recently you may have come across photo booths. People put on wigs and other props, sit in a booth, pose and get an instant photo of the outcome.
The photos are then often stuck in a scrapbook with additional comments added by the people in the photos. These are great fun and give the occasion an extra item to take away for prosperity. These booths still involve digital cameras and expensive printing out of the photos. You can do this yourself on a smaller scale without hiring an expensive booth.
This same method can be applied at events away such as Stag & Hen dos, weddings or special birthdays. You could bring your own simple props, a scrapbook and instant camera. The VIPs of the trip would then have a fun and personal item to take away with them afterwards. We tried this recently at a 50th birthday party and was surprised at the photos and comments from all the guests. A truly great gift to look back on.
Good Travel Cameras – Wildlife
These cameras are a little different as they rely solely on the subject coming to you. You set these up in an area where you believe animal activity is likely to happen, point the camera at the area, strap it to something (normally a tree) and come back later. The camera is triggered by movement and can be set to record photos or video. I used one of these in a game park not long ago and had fun looking at the images (and video) the next day. Rodents, Monkey’s & Hyenas were all stars of the show.
Good Travel Cameras – Conclusion
It’s clear that not every camera will be perfect for every occasion so perhaps think about where you are going to be and what you will be filming when you get there. When hiking around mountains you may need a camera capable of wide angles but also robust for all the possible knocks and bumps it may take. If you are filming wildlife, a zoom is essential as you will not get animals coming to you for posing.
You may not want to take a camera and rely solely on your smartphone. So think about additional accessories for the phone to give it an extra dimension that only dedicated cameras can give you. There are no set rules as long as you come back from your trip with great shots. Having the correct camera can give you so much more. The the ability to zoom, waterproof, stabilize & protect, etc. This will ensure better photos to show everyone when you get back home. Make those memories permanent.