What this post is not
This is not an article on buying the best Travel Camera. It’s a quick and dirty guide to buying a compact camera for your travels and why. Don’t get me wrong, if you read our article, Tech Travel Tips, you know I like my devices. You can go out, buy and carry the best camera with thousands of dollars of equipment but there are good reasons to travel with minimal photo gear.
Lugging around lots of gear might end up causing you more problems than you’d like. You have to worry things will get stolen or forgotten. You will stand out in the crowd if you have a monster telephoto lens, a top of the line DSLR or a bulging gear bag. I’m not saying if you have the extra cash to not to swing for the fences. There are times for all that stuff but not usually when you are on vacation.
When I travel, I carry my iPhone, a Canon 60d with one 18-200 telephoto lens and my Olympus Tough TG-4 underwater camera. We recently added an adventure Travel Camera for deeper diving and Michelle carries a compact to catch what I miss or me taking pictures. Don’t get me wrong, if I was on assignment for a big company I might carry more, but I find I don’t need or want more when I’m travelling. For our trip to NYC, my compact camera was all I needed. Dealing with the weight of a full DSLR as we walked around all day sounded painful. I also didn’t want to stand out as a tourist with my big one hanging around my neck. It is also great to take when we go down to the Caribbean. I don’t know how big the hotel safe’s are and definitely don’t want it laying around the pool when I can’t keep an eye on it.
When Buying a Compact Travel Camera
The things you want to keep in mind:
- Waterproof, dust-proof & shock-proof – if you are travelling you will frequently be around pools, beaches, or places with sand and dirt. You might also be subject to sudden rain downpours anywhere in the tropics.
- Mega Pixels (MP) – Simply put, this is how detailed and how big you can print your photos. Unless you buy the cheapest of cameras, you should be fine. A 10-12 MP camera can easily print 24×36” print.
- Optical Zoom – On the box, it will give you the amount of zoom it can do. It’s usually a “white lie.” A lot of times the zoom advertised is digital zoom, how much it blows up the picture in your camera. This is something to do on your computer phone. Optical zoom is like the MP. you need it to get the sharpest images. Just trust me on this one, if it doesn’t give you an optical zoom, stay away.
- 1080p Video: If you are going to make a video you are going to want at least this.
Everything else beyond this is personal taste. Screen size is also something that’s displayed on the box. I personally think they are all too small and only glance at the screen to make sure I captured something because I’m going to transfer it to my iPad or computer. The average is usually 3”.
The Extras for your Travel Camera
But, (you knew there was going to be a but) if you want the right stuff these days I’d would recommend these extras:
- WiFi – wireless transfers to your phone or iPad.
- GPS – nice to know exactly where you took “that photo” but it is a battery hog.
- RAW – if it can take raw format photos that’s a bonus I’ll explain in another post soon. Not many compact cameras offer this yet but I expect the market will expand soon.
That’s my simple recommendation on buying a compact Travel Camera for travel photos. But remember, there is a common saying; “the best camera is the one you have with you.” Use that cell phone or fancy camera if it’s on hand.
Until next time. Happy travels and shooting.