What kind of camera should you pack on your next holiday?

With your vacation drawing near, one of the things you’ll start thinking about is how best to capture your next holiday’s photographic moments. As a photographer myself, my advice to you is to dispense with modern and expensive mega-pixel laden mobile technology in cell phones, tablets and point-and-shoot cameras. Take with you an older, less expensive DSLR camera and lens combo!

photograph photography camera

Megapixels are not important.  More and more megapixels are being stuffed into mobile devices and point-and-shoot cameras, rivaling (and even surpassing) the number found in DSLR’s. Consider though how megapixels on these devices have grown exponentially over the few years while DSLR megapixels haven’t – the megapixel race has been abandoned by the DSLR industry which focuses more on image quality. Instead of shelling out mega-bucks for a new mega-megapixel device, I suggest visiting your nearest photography shop. There, you’ll score a deal on a used DSLR body with fewer megapixels, lower price and better image quality.

Lenses are more important than cameras. Why are there so many different kinds of camera lenses? Because each photographer does different things with the same camera body. A wildlife photographer will need a different lens compared to a portrait or landscape photographer – so if you’re going to travel, choosing “the right lens” is a better question than “choosing the right camera.” Go DSLR and have an expert show you what best suits your travel photography needs.

Travel light. Don’t go overboard with lenses. That monster camera/lens combo is perfect for capturing the peaceful wisdom inscribed on the face of an octogenarian local at sunset – but there’s a catch. Just two hours into your first day, on your own face will be inscribed the pain and suffering of having to lug around what feels like a swinging block of solid iron. Don’t bring a lens simply for that elusive money shot – just pick out the lightest camera/lens combo that you can comfortably carry all day.

Refrain from changing lenses.  Apart from saving your back, there are other reasons you should stick to just one lens. Why? First off, given the wide variety of situations you’ll find yourself in, changing lenses is going to be frustrating and time consuming. Secondly, you only have two hands and costly mistakes happen in the vacation rush (nice going, butter fingers!). Thirdly, constant changing invariably leads to grime and dust mucking up your camera and lenses. Apart from a lightweight 35-50mm prime lens, there are a number of all-in-one solutions that offer wide-angle as well as zoom capabilities, and which work well in most situations. Unless you’re going on a safari, try to stick with primes as they are handy and inconspicuous, while offering the best picture quality, both during the day and night.

Pick a camera than can shoot in RAW. RAW is a general term for an uncompressed picture – an option that isn’t available in mobile devices and point-and-shoot cameras that only shoot in JPEG. The difference between RAW and JPEG can be likened to the difference between CD quality vs. FM radio quality music. Shooting in RAW will give you much more control over how your final image looks like. When compared to JPEG, RAW format pictures can be better corrected for white balance (color), exposure (brightness) and many other important parameters. It might require an extra few steps to process but, ultimately, shooting in RAW is the best way to go.

Photograph, don’t spray and pray. Fifteen years ago, photographers went through great lengths to make each and every one of their finite film shots count – the same should still hold for you today, even though you can take 30 pictures of your mojito. Think of what you’ll be photographing, then go online and brush up on some simple shooting and composition techniques that are available only for cameras with manual shutter speed and aperture settings. That way, you can prepare yourself to take fewer but way more imaginative photos on your next trip.

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re still not booked for that perfect photography vacation, why not try some of these Combadi photography holidays?

photograph photography camera

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Dimitris Polymenopoulos Dimitris Polymenopoulos is Combadi's content manager. He loves sailing into first-seen harbors, stopping by Phoenecian trading posts to buy fine things.

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