From the professional photographer to the casual user, almost everyone brings some type of camera on her travels, whether she’s packing for a weekend getaway or a year (plus) round-the-world trip.
I was pleased with my point-and-shoot camera until I met some travelers with a D-SLR. I knew the quality of their photos was a blend of the camera itself and their skills, and I instantly knew I wanted to learn how to take better photos and upgrade to a D-SLR.
Once I was traveling around Australia, I quickly realized that my entry-level D-SLR (Nikon D3000) might not be the most travel-friendly camera. I wondered if I should also purchase a point-and-shoot. Months later, I owned an iPhone 4 with a built-in camera.
I’m still wondering which camera I want to pack on two upcoming trips and realized that the pros and cons of various cameras will heavily influence my decision. Which style of camera do you travel with? A D-SLR, point-and-shoot digital camera, or a camera phone?
Ability to change lens – in addition to the kit lens that comes with most camera bodies, a variety of other lens are available for your brand. Choose the ones that meet your travel and personal needs. I love to take photos of food, and my next lens will be one that better allows me to capture my meals.
Manually alter depth of field, ISO, shutter speed, etc. – Have more control of your photos and get the image you desire. You may only be here once!
>> See the positives in taking a DSLR on a trip
Price – Can you afford the initial investment (and additional lenses) while you’re curbing your spending habits to save for your next trip? If you break a part on the road, it will be expensive to replace. I accidentally broke my kit lens in month two of my trip and had no choice but to buy a new one.
Size and weight – You can’t easily take it everywhere… especially if you are carrying multiple lenses. I traveled with two lenses, and sometimes wished I didn’t have to tote my camera equipment everywhere – especially on hikes where one false move could have resulted in disaster.
>> See the negatives in taking them traveling
Point and shoot digital camera
Compact – In size and weight. Most will fit into the palm of your hand, in pants or jacket pockets, or into even the smallest of purses.
Quality of higher end models – Both the number of megapixels and features in the best point-and-shoot cameras will be more than enough for most travelers.
It lacks the pros of the D-SLR and a (smart phone) camera phone.
While most cameras now include a built-in camera, I am discussing only smart phone cameras here.
Quality – The megapixels and quality equal many point-and-shoot models (e.g., 5 in the iPhone 4 and 8 in the iPhone 4s).
All-in-one – Pack more with less equipment.
Instantly share your photos – Share your experiences with family, friends, and social media followers via email and social media.
Apply effects and filters using apps – Hipstamatic and the popular (and free) Instagram are two of many!
Keeping it safe – How often do you misplace your phone (temporarily) at home? Lose it on the road and you’ve lost both your phone AND camera.
Fewer features of a higher-end camera – Among others, they lack the range of zoom and attempting to do so with an object at a distance may look grainy.
For the none-smart phone cameras – The quality of the camera varies widely and some may offer only a couple of megapixels. Sending photos via text can be expensive.
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Next weekend I plan to travel within the US and fly with carry-on only. I love to take photos with my D-SLR, but I don’t think I have enough room to bring it. Perhaps it’s time to once again invest in a quality point-and-shoot so I can spoil myself for choice when I travel.
What type of camera best suits your needs, and does your choice vary based on the trip you’re taking?