Top ten compact cameras for travellers

Nov 11, 2011
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
All this bollocks about "I'm going to X Y and Z which 4 cameras and 7 lenses should I restrict myself to?" isn't worth the effort......... and it ends up being a trial rather than a pleasure.
A few years back before I turned into a cameraholic, I had a simple, minimalist kit. A Panasonic gf1 with 20mm lens a medium to telephoto zoom and the Panasonic 100-300mm lens. That was it. I almost never used the in between zoom. Most of the time, I just used the 20mm lens. I took better photos then than I do now and the simplicity of the kit and the limited options were a BIG part of the reason why. I think most people would be better served by having less gear.....myself included.
 

serhan

All-Pro
May 7, 2011
NYC
Excellent article and photographs about Art Wolfe and his new book "Earth is my witness" in outdoor photographer:
http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/locations/north-america/earth-is-my-witness.html?start=3#.VCb7J3nD-Uk

Canon, Nikon, Olympus—they're all great, but I use the Canon EOS-1D X and 5D Mark III. I only own two camera bodies.

I have far less equipment than the average doctor who has become a photographer. Our feet are good zooms, and we can get closer or move back. It's about economy of scale and travel. I have to be judicious with what I buy.
It was easier w/ dslrs for me eg one FF and one crop w/ 16-35, 24-70 and 70-300mm (+ a low light prime) with same batteries but still weighted a ton and size for 12-15hr walking days... M43 helped me drop the weight so much and gave some extra reach, but still going for the FF look so having 2 systems make it confusing...
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
My two big photo/travel months, in New York and the Amalfi Coast were done in opposite ways. In both cases, I was staying in a rented apartment the whole time, so I could have whatever gear I wanted there and just take what I wanted on a particular day. In New York, I basically had ALL of my gear. And there were days, particularly early on, when I took too much of it, shot with a small portion of what I took, and felt pretty stupid about it. So then I learned to bring less out each day and I had a great time and it helped me narrow down how much gear I needed in general, not just on that trip. I sold a good bit of stuff when I got back - of course I bought a good bit of stuff in NYC that month too! For the Amalfi Coast, I basically took four fixed lens cameras, all of them small. Two weren't actually fixed lens, but since I only brought one lens for each, they effectively were. One almost never left the apartment, but it was still nice to have for the amazing views we had from our deck. If I had it to do over again, though, I'd have brought an extra lens or two for that camera, to get even more reach. It wouldn't have taken up much room in the luggage and it never would have gone into the camera bag anyway. The other three were my most commonly used focal lengths, all in small setups. And most days out, I took two or all three of those, and sometimes just one of them. I never felt like I had too much or needed to justify shooting with each. I shot with what I wanted to. And never really felt the desire to have ore or less in the small bag this all fit into. I had a freaking awesome time shooting on both trips and having too much or too little gear was never more than a momentary concern or distraction. I wouldn't trade either experience for anything. The was nice to have but was secondary to the experience...

So I'd say bring less if you KNOW which portion of your gear you really want to shoot with. And if you don't, bring more and figure it out. Of course this depends on your mode of travel. If it's all on your back, I'd take as little as possible. If it's in the car or in an apartment or hotel room and you can choose what to take each day. take what you want and don't worry about having too much with you - just use what you want when you want it.

-Ray
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
When I posted in this thread I was under no illusions that I was telling anyone how they should travel or whether I was representative of how most people should travel. I know that I don't travel how most people would and I definitely don't travel where most people would and I thank god that I've done it how I wanted to, not how most most other people would have done it.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
bart
^Which is why I thought the good folks at NG had made a nice list (to get back to the original subject :wink:), as it has something suitable for many different styles of travelling and many IQ / weight / size requirements.

Still, Nic, I can't help but fantasize about all the possible photographic purposes for that evil eye thingy :biggrin: :p
 
Jan 31, 2011
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
I haven't been traveling lately, but the more I think about it, the more I think the camera should just stay at home. Enjoy the trip. There's already a bazillion beautiful photos of wherever you are going. They're a lot like wedding photos. You view them once when your trip is done (or the wedding is over) and they are promptly forgotten about for all eternity.
You're absolutely right. Sort of. I think theres an element of being able to say to yourself in 30 years "I wuz 'ere" In other words... the memories. I'm really sad I have hardly any photographs from the travelling I did manage to get done before becoming both financially and physically challenged. Both times were pre-digital, and the negatives are either lost or damaged. However, those I do have are dragged out once in a while as a memory jogger, and thats a good thing.

I plan to have more books made, of various events/circumstances etc from the past. I do drag out the old photo albums occasionally... again.. memories. Some good, some not so much. All worthwhile though.
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
SoCal
Bob
My two big photo/travel months, in New York and the Amalfi Coast were done in opposite ways. In both cases, I was staying in a rented apartment the whole time, so I could have whatever gear I wanted there and just take what I wanted on a particular day. In New York, I basically had ALL of my gear. And there were days, particularly early on, when I took too much of it, shot with a small portion of what I took, and felt pretty stupid about it. So then I learned to bring less out each day and I had a great time and it helped me narrow down how much gear I needed in general, not just on that trip. I sold a good bit of stuff when I got back - of course I bought a good bit of stuff in NYC that month too! For the Amalfi Coast, I basically took four fixed lens cameras, all of them small. Two weren't actually fixed lens, but since I only brought one lens for each, they effectively were. One almost never left the apartment, but it was still nice to have for the amazing views we had from our deck. If I had it to do over again, though, I'd have brought an extra lens or two for that camera, to get even more reach. It wouldn't have taken up much room in the luggage and it never would have gone into the camera bag anyway. The other three were my most commonly used focal lengths, all in small setups. And most days out, I took two or all three of those, and sometimes just one of them. I never felt like I had too much or needed to justify shooting with each. I shot with what I wanted to. And never really felt the desire to have ore or less in the small bag this all fit into. I had a freaking awesome time shooting on both trips and having too much or too little gear was never more than a momentary concern or distraction. I wouldn't trade either experience for anything. The was nice to have but was secondary to the experience...

So I'd say bring less if you KNOW which portion of your gear you really want to shoot with. And if you don't, bring more and figure it out. Of course this depends on your mode of travel. If it's all on your back, I'd take as little as possible. If it's in the car or in an apartment or hotel room and you can choose what to take each day. take what you want and don't worry about having too much with you - just use what you want when you want it.

-Ray
Ray, the more you write the more I agree.

When I am on that occasional vacation trip, shooting,seeing and connecting is a major reason I am going. I cannot imagine not having some camera with me at all times on that trip. Then sitting for hours next to a pool with a drink in my hand is not my idea of a relaxing vacation, but neither are tour buses, cruises or resorts. While I agree as I get older my ideas of what is adventure is changing with each year, I still look for trip that are an adventure. In fact I have just finished building out my 15 year old Landcruiser to take out on whatever photo expedition my wife and I decide to do.
The funny thing to me is all I bring for me to shoot on my own when on a work trip has been my GR and now some times the RX1r, all the other stuff only goes on vacation trips.
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Actually most of the non photo people are shooting all the time they just use their cell phone or tablet, no need for a disposable camera
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
^Which is why I thought the good folks at NG had made a nice list (to get back to the original subject :wink:), as it has something suitable for many different styles of travelling and many IQ / weight / size requirements.
That's right, and while it's nice to see a camera that you own or even want to own in the list, when it comes to ranking cameras a Top Ten list is really just...a list. I have one camera mentioned in the list (E-M1) which was only just this morning described to me by someone who saw it as an "intense" looking camera, which in this post-DSLR era doesn't sound like a descriptor for something being touted as an ideal travel camera. I think that it would do the job nicely but it isn't all that small or discrete.

Still, Nic, I can't help but fantasize about all the possible photographic purposes for that evil eye thingy :biggrin: :p
Ha ha, well it is purely functional rather than being a prop. Something has to keep all that bad energy away :)
 

stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
Down Under
Mark
Must say the little Canon G-series has done a number on me. I now want no bigger than the G15/16 - seriously I even found the G1X-c (that's "c" for classic) and Fuji X-Pro1 too large for travelling. I want a similar lens too please - 28-140mm (OK you can give me a little more on the wide end) with maximum f2.8 through the range. Just wouldn't mind the Fuji sensor and jpg engine on-board….with a little from both when it comes to ergonomics and UI. Might be down to my getting old but if you can give me this then I'd crave prime lenses no more. Much prefer the convenience of going solo nowadays. Also keeps the dust and hesitation at bay in the field not to say anything for the perpetual research other wasted hours back at home base.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
The funny thing to me is all I bring for me to shoot on my own when on a work trip has been my GR and now some times the RX1r, all the other stuff only goes on vacation trips.
Well, the RX1 and Nikon A, more or less the identical small kit, was my most common carry during that month in Italy last year. I'd occasionally grab the Fuji XE1 with the 14mm lens for a wider perspective, but mostly I liked the simplicity of the two camera kit. Great minds and all that! :cool:

-Ray
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
On the last real vacation I took (to Paris last November), I took my M9 and three lenses: 24, 35, and 50. I had also brought the 90mm, but that one did not see the outside of our hotel room. Every morning, I would put one lens in a coat pocket, the second in another pocket, and the third on the camera body, which hung from my neck. No need for a bag, and about as inconspicuous as I needed to be.

If I could not bring my camera and take photographs, I would not bother to go on vacation. To me, a vacation is simply an excuse to go somewhere interesting to take photographs.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

iau

Rookie
Sep 11, 2010
Since travels are my favorite photography opportunities so I would probably bring my DSLR, but have a X-T1 I hope will eventually replace it (or its successor).

Just got back from a short trip to Berlin and only brought the X100S and the small Ricoh GR. First day I went out with the X100S, but returned to the same route later with the GR just because the 35mm FL was too tight. Guess I prefer the wider view.
 

Crsnydertx

Top Veteran
Jan 21, 2011
Houston, TX
Chuck
Next month I fly to my high school reunion near Ray's neck of the woods. Packing will be challenging; my clothes will be in my roll-aboard, so I'll have to squeeze cameras and - probably - laptop into a "small personal item" as the airlines call it. Will want a camera or cameras for two distinct activities: outdoor/daylight touring some of the monuments of my youth; and evening social activities where pocketable is the key word. My one camera solution might be the LX7, but I don't want to give up the resolution of a larger sensor camera for the scenics plus it's not truly pocketable or "beltable". Lead case now is an abbreviated Fuji kit (X-E2 or X-A1 with 14mm and 27mm or X100 with wide angle conversion lens) for daytime, and GRD IV or Panny LF1 for evening. A Sony RX100 would be nice but budget for 2014 is blown...
 

john m flores

All-Pro
Aug 13, 2012
I haven't been traveling lately, but the more I think about it, the more I think the camera should just stay at home. Enjoy the trip. There's already a bazillion beautiful photos of wherever you are going. They're a lot like wedding photos. You view them once when your trip is done (or the wedding is over) and they are promptly forgotten about for all eternity.
This is a really interesting point, as the practice of photography changes your relationship to…everything. I'm sitting here nursing a strained achilles tendon while dreaming about a cross-country bicycle ride. The trip if it ever happens is likely years away but I've already started to think about what camera to bring. Weight and size will be high priorities since the only internal combustion will be me eating burritos. I'm an inveterate documenter but I know that the trip would be vastly different if I just left the cameras at home.
 

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