It’s a question we always ask ourselves each time we go on a holiday. “Do I take something big and expensive that takes super awesome shots, or just a little point and shoot to be safe and is cheaper?”. The answer is a lot more simple than you think!

But to answer a question with a question… Why does a camera that takes super awesome shots have to be big and expensive? To put it simply, it doesn’t! First of all, the above question has a false dichotomy. Perhaps that used to be closer to the truth back in the day when sensor technology was still going through it’s adolescence. But there’s been significant technological strides made in this last decade, and now you can take something that is super awesome in a much smaller package than ever before.

If I could summarise everything I’m about to tell you in the shortest number of words possible, it’d be; “go light”. Going light with only the essentials enables you to keep your gear on you more often, and most importantly it puts that camera in your hand at times when it may not have been before. So ditch some of the luxuries and concentrate on what’s going to get you that shot you want.

Check out the following two photographs. The first was taken in 2008 with a 5MP Canon point and shoot, and the second in 2013 with a Sony NEX-7 mirrorless.


Neither of the two cameras are heavy or bulky SLR’s, yet both managed to take quality photographs, worthy of hanging on my home wall. Admittedly, the latter (Sony NEX-7) is a much more recent and technological superior camera than the point and shoot, but the point is made. Both are lighter options that are able to capture your holiday, beautifully.

Traditional Digital SLR’s

The traditional option for photographers

Up until recently, these were the only descent option for pros and enthusiasts alike. They may be big and bulky, but they are also very reliable and powerful. There are several descent brands available to choose from, which all maintain a large range of lenses with bodies to suite any photographer’s needs. Top quality gear that is very capable of bringing you home some stunning images.

DSLR’s don’t have too many disadvantages, as they are very solid pieces of equipment. But if there was to be one, it’d definitely be the size and weight combination. When you’re off camping or trekking, or undergoing longer travelling stints; carrying all the essential items is heavy enough as it is, and the last thing you will want at times is to add a few (or several) kilograms of camera equipment on top of your load. Long days out exploring, or hiking for several days in the wilderness, your back and shoulders will definitely feel the brunt of the weight. Another consideration is that the larger dSLR’s often attract more attention from foreign locals, and can be considered obtrusive. This needs to be taken into consideration depending on where you’re going for your next holiday. And you should almost certainly have a backup point and shoot camera to go with you in such occasions.

But if you’re someone who’s a fan of large and next to unbreakable cameras, regardless of the potential weight and size issues, then these cameras will definitely be your weapon of choice.

 

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From left to right: Nikon D800, Canon 5D mkIII, Canon 7D mkII

Taken with Sony NEX-7

Introducing Mirrorless Cameras

Packing the punch without all the bulk

Lighter weight, smaller body dimensions, more compact interchangeable lenses, but same high quality images. These mirrorless designs have done away with the flapping mirror and pentaprism found in traditional dSLR cameras, and provide an EVF (electronic view finder) instead of an optical one. In my opinion, this provides many technological benefits. For example; capacity to view a live feed in the viewfinder, gaining insight of how your image will look “on the fly” before actually taking the shot; focus peaking; live histograms; ability to review images in the EVF; and much more. Once I tried a modern day EVF, I couldn’t go back.

These cameras are often half to a third of the weight of traditional dSLR cameras, nearly half the size, and come with a much more appealing price tag, which gives you some extra $$ to put towards your lens choice. Yet this equipment can also carry the same size sensor as dSLRs and punch out the same extremely high quality photographs. Here’s a few examples of excellent mirrorless cameras that are more than worthy of taking amazing pictures of your next holiday.

 

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From left to right: Sony A7R, Olympus OM-D E-M1, Sony A6000, Fujifilm X-T1

I did a year and a half around the world with the Sony NEX-7 (predecessor to the Sony A6000 above), and couldn’t be happier with the photo quality. Currently, my main camera is the Sony A7R (above), which has revolutionised the photography industry in the last year or two, and is now used by a huge number of pro photographers around the world.

In my experience, the lighter weight equipment, smaller form factor, and less room consumed in my day pack from these mirrorless setups, enabled me to get it out far more regularly and capture more of my experiences than ever before. It’s safe to say, it’s completely refreshed my travel photography experience.

Taken with Sony NEX-7

Point and shoot cameras

For the non-photographer who’s after convenience

In addition to the above, point and shoot cameras have come a very long way in the last 10 years. The image quality on these pocket size cameras are quite amazing under most conditions. What these little cameras lack though, is complete control and ability to work in difficult environments. But if you’re someone that’s not obsessed with photography and not keen on going to those greater lengths to capture different perspectives, then these are very much likely to be all you’ll need.

But by far, the best thing about these point and shoot cameras is the fact that the majority will fit in the pocket of your jeans. This simple fact is enough to convince the majority of people that this is what they want. Great quality pictures in the most compact and super slim body. So if you’re someone that’s not interested in a camera that takes up a chunk of room in your bag, or that requires a special camera bag (whether it be a back pack or side bag), and would like the ultimate convenience of being able to tuck it away or pull it out whenever and wherever, than this type of camera is the way to go.

Some great point and shoot examples…

 

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From left to right: Sony RX100 III, Panasonic Lumix TZ60/ZS40, Canon PowerShot G7X

Taken in 2007 with a 5mp Canon point and shoot

The last word

Putting it in perspective

After viewing some of my photographs, occasionally people will say “wow, you must have a good camera”. Well, I do have a good camera (now), but by no means did that have anything to do with creating the quality photograph the person was astounded by. Years of practice, perseverance, and a countless number of failed attempts, is what brought me to where I am today. The point is: you do not need the biggest or most expensive camera. What you need is something that’s going to assist you in getting the photographs you’re after, not hinder it. After all, it’s you that’s going to bring home the gorgeous shots, not the camera! So with this in mind, the best advice I can give is to get something that you’re comfortable with (both financially and physically), and not too complicated for you, as it’s not the camera that’ll make the big difference with your photos – it’s you!

In the end, there’s no perfect camera for everyone, as the needs differ from person to person. I’d love to hear from you about what you ended up choosing to accompany you for your holiday, and what you thought of it…

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