Recently I have seen the travel photography work of an older photographer. These are superb 18 x 12 prints, well composed and technically excellent. All of them are printed straight out of camera. What did make me stop,and think, though was the fact that all were shot on one of the better quality superzoom bridge cameras.
Recent trips to Tenby and Ireland have highlighted for me the hassles of carrying a DSLR and a couple of lenses on a trip. There are a lot of options for the travel photographer, but it wanted to work this out and find a solution which I liked. Here’s the result.
Travel Photography – the Problems
Size and Weight
Travel by car, or on a long haul flight is less of a problem. A fairly large camera bag is fine in the car, and can be hand luggage on a long flight, giving space for a DSLR body or two and a couple of useful lenses.
On a budget flight, however, with just hand luggage of limited size and weight, just a body and a couple of lenses become an issue.
On the Street
It’s great having the DSLR when you are hunting golden hour shots, or on safari, or on a hike. When you are just walking about during the day, regardless of the type of DSLR, it’s bulky, gets in the way and will often irritate others when you are shooting.
Quality of Photography
On a short break the traveller is often limited in terms of the time of day, and choice of shots. You are there, you may not ever be there again. The keen travel photographer wants to make a quality record, but at the same time, many of the photographs taken will be for Facebook or a personal record, where technical quality is less important.
Travel Photography: Travel Camera Solutions
Have a look on the internet and there are many solutions. I particularly wanted a solution which would give me good print quality in a compact package. Key factors in my choice:
- Manual control;
- RAW image capture;
- A fast lens;
- Good ISO performance
For various reasons some possibilities were kicked out quickly.
- A mirror less system, either as a second system or as a swap for my DSLR system was not an option. I am not confident of the ability of current mirror less systems to replace the DSLR, but that was irrelevant as the budget dictates that I can either travel or have the new system.
- A superzoom lens would be an interesting alternative mounted on an entry level DSLR. It is still a bulky package to walk around with. There are better options than the quality compromise delivered by these lenses as well.
- The bulk of the superzoom compacts and bridge cameras don’t deliver the quality In the end I took a look at Alamy, who publish a list of recommended and not recommended cameras. This gives a reasonable indication of the potential quality of the camera’s results.
In the end there were a number of solutions, but I selected two which suited my needs and personal likes:
- The Canon Powershot G16 is compact, with a nice fast lens and apparently good ISO performance. I am a bit biased towards this camera as my current DSLR system is Canon. This camera is in Alamy’s recommended camera list.
- Panasonic’s DMC TZ60 is also a good candidate. With full manual control and raw capture, its big zoom is attractive, noting that it is on Alamy’s not recommended list.
To sum it up, there are many options for compact, quality travel photography gear, but it’s an easy decision to get wrong. These are my two choices. Yours may be very different, but think carefully before committing your hard earned cash. One question does remain in my mind. Would my travel photography benefit from acquiring both of the above cameras, giving me high quality combined with a long zoom? Watch this space for further developments.
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