An insider's guide by travel photographer Mike Marlowe.
The Best Camera Kit for travel
Like many things, choosing the best camera equipment for travel is an exercise in compromise and you have to weigh up the pros and cons around your decision.
The Panasonic Lumix, one of the most popular compacts for travel.
For the casual photographer who just wants to pick up good shots as they come across them then a small compact style camera is a great choice. There are many advantages including relatively low cost, light and small and reasonable quality for web use or small prints. The main disadvantage is the limitations of manual control and the ability to use the different effects of more professional lenses.
For the more serious photographer who wants to get better quality then a step up to a ‘bridge camera’ or entry level SLR with one zoom lens (usually sold as a kit) can open much more of the creative side of photography that really make travel photographs come alive. They are still relatively small and compact although will need thier own dedicated camera bags, unless you have very large pockets!
For those that want to capture and create the best shots then either an SLR or mirrorless system is the way to go. The advantages are high quality, maximum creative control and the ability to use top quality lenses for clear and crisp image quality. The downsides are, besides the cost, the weight and bulk of carrying camera bodies and lenses. This shouldn't be underestimated as this can really exhaust you on a longer trip.
The mirroless camera systems now available have made an incredible leap forward in just a few years and offer a real solution to the issue of lugging heavy kit around. Many pro travel photographers are switching to these systems.
There is another camera system that is also now becoming a close contender for the ultimate travel companion and that is a smart phone. The quality is not too bad and even low light capability is often good. They still use a tiny fixed lens so they are not going to equal higher level equipment but there are many fantastic travel images shot on phones and tablets. As long as you are prepared to let a few good shots get away, there is a lot you can accomplish with this.
And remember the old photographer adage - the best camera to use is the one you have with you when you are there!