In this day and age, we don’t really need to bring a camera with us when we travel because our smartphones can do the job. But somehow the quality and creative functions of our phones still cannot match those of a travel camera. And if the ability to shoot great quality photos is of utmost importance when you’re travelling, you know you can’t rely solely on your iPhone.
But fret not. You don’t have to worry about lugging around a bulky DSLR with heavy lenses on your next trip to Bali or Hokkaido. There are much smaller and lighter cameras which are just as good as the DSLR. Here are three models to consider.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC H400
This 20.1 MP compact (also known as a bridge) camera looks like a small DSLR, except that the lens is fixed to the body. But that’s not something to sniff at because the lens has a whopping 63x zoom, which is equivalent to 25-1550mm! If you were to take a picture of the moon, you could zoom in to see the footprints left by the astronauts in the 1960s (ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration).
The DSC H400 may look like a DSLR but it’s lighter, weighing around 650g, hence kinder on your shoulders. It has a nice large handgrip which provides a firm and comfortable hold. I had no problems shooting with one hand.
Having manual controls on the dial on top will allow a more advanced photographer to be creative with his or her shots, like working with different aperture settings or using a slow shutter speed to achieve motion blur.
The super zoom lens is a truly awesome feature to have, especially when you’re travelling. Imagine you’re a few kilometres away from an iconic structure like the Statue of Liberty or Big Ben. You simply zoom in the lens and you’re able to capture a close-up of people inside the crowd or the patterns on the clock face. This time it’s no exaggeration.
Caption: To demonstrate the power of the DSC H400’s zoom, these two photos were taken from the same location (but on different days).
Olympus PEN E–PL8
This mirrorless camera is the smallest of the three. It has a 14-42mm lens which makes it ideal for street photography. One of the things I love to shoot while on my travels are the locals going about their daily routines on the streets and having a small unimposing camera makes it easier to get those candid shots. Some people tend to be wary of photographers with big cameras and aren’t happy having their pictures taken.
One of the nice features of the PEN E-PL8 is the tilting touch LCD monitor. You can flip the monitor to face the same direction as the lens – perfect for high-quality selfies! And with built-in Wi-Fi, sharing your photos on social media platforms couldn’t be simpler and quicker.
To help you become creative in-camera, Olympus has included 14 art filters for you to play around with. These include things like Pop Art, Pinhole, Diorama and Grainy Film, and they’re quite fun to use to make your images a little special.
If you also want to shoot video during your travels, the PEN E-PL8 has full HD video recording capabilities. With Wi-Fi and the flip monitor (and its touch screen making it a cinch to control), this camera is all you need for your daily vlogging on the road.
The Fujifilm X-T10, another mirrorless camera, has a magnesium alloy body which makes it sturdy and robust. And you know you need something tough when you’re constantly on the go. In the standard package, this 16.3MP camera comes with a 16-50mm lens but I got to test it with an 18-135mm zoom lens. This lens is a little bulky for the body but it’s useful to have that extra zoom range for your travels.
Fujifilm has made its X-series range of cameras more for the serious photographer. And this is evident on the manual controls available on the X-T10. Dials like the shutter speed and exposure compensation make it almost effortless for a photographer to adjust camera settings. There’s no need to go deep into the software menu to find the controls. This is great to have on a travel camera because the last thing you want to do is waste time trying to tweak the settings.
Another strength of Fujifilm is its film simulation modes: Provia, Velvia and Astia. This means you can shoot digital but have your images emulate the feel and colour of these classic film looks – a nice touch to have, harking back to the romantic travel era of the past.
In addition to its built-in Wi-Fi, the X-T10 also has Geotagging which registers the location of where the pictures were taken. The tilting LCD monitor is a useful feature to have when taking high (holding the camera above your head) or low shots. Unfortunately, it’s not a touch monitor.
Whatever camera you decide to take with you on your travels, do remember to enjoy your time in that foreign land you’re visiting. Don’t get too hung up about camera functions and settings or you may miss experiencing being in a beautiful place with wonderful people, a town or city which you may never visit again. And lastly, do respect the local culture and don’t take pictures of people if they don’t approve. Just have a friendly chat with them instead. It will leave you with happier memories than your camera can.