A Question About Travelling Cameras

The question kitty has deposited a freshly eviscerated question before me. Viv asks:


Im going off overseas to teach English and while Im all over the place I want to take some photos (Digital) good enough for a book idea I have. Sadly I know nothing other than how to take a shot. I need something that will take action and wildlife, scenery etc.

What does one do in a world where technology should have come up with some technology to help the human to buy


Oh how I feel your pain. Consumer electronics manufacturers have no trouble at all creating 82 variations of the same product, and yet they haven’t invented a device that will select the correct product for you.

However, in your case, you may need narrow your focus somewhat. This book you speak of, is it a book full of photographs; or a book full of text, with some photographs; or a book based on some photographs, containing no photographs at all? Let’s call these scenarios a, b and c: we’ll revisit them later on.

You also need to set yourself a budget. Regardless of the constraints you set, you will find cameras that range in price by thousands of dollars.

Scenario A: The Photobook.

If the photos are the subject of the book, then compromise you must not. Yoda would tell you to buy some serious camera gear. Such suggestions are beyond the scope of my abilities. Although I did have a short but passionate affair with a Canon EOS 5D MkII. I call it my Lottery-Win-Camera.

Scenario B: The Book (with Photos)

In this case, if it were me, I’d sacrifice quality for portability, a bit. On the high-end you could go nuts with a Leica M8, but personally I’d go more mid-range with something like a Canon G10 or the Panasonic LX3.

Scenario C: The Book (inspired by Photos)

If you’re looking to capture memories and snapshots, your choices become almost boundless. I would not be surprised if there is an up-market hotel suite with a tap in the bathroom marked: Cheap Cameras. I’m not being helpful am I? If you have a specific requirement for say, big zooms, or low-weight, you could try something like DPReview’s Buying Guide (I’ve previously said that DPReview is the last word in camer nerdery).

Scenario Helvetica: Travel Tips

Aside from choosing the camera, there are a few things you should cogitate on before traveling with a digital camera:

  1. You cannot have enough backups. Whether these be multiple memory cards, some sort of external hard drive, a laptop, or just having photo shops burn CDs that you send home. It sucks to lose all your photos by misplacing a single memory card.
  2. Quantity can create quality. Just shut up and keep snapping. Seriously, it’s not like you have 24 shots on a film roll anymore. Modern memory cards can store thousands of photos, and the likelihood of a wonderful shot on a given day is directly proportional (duh!) with the number of shots you take on that day.
  3. Be the camera grasshopper. Learn to use your camera. If you need manual controls, find out where they are and what they do. If your camera has built-in scene modes, play with them. Find out how to turn the flash off. This is a corollary to point 2: futz around with the settings and take lots of shots, you’ll be surprised at the results.

Oh you asked a question? Sorry, I got distracted there for a moment. Returning to my initial point, if the above hasn’t proved useful, perhaps if you refine your requirements and experience somewhat, I can unrantify and get more to the point? Otherwise, I hope this stream of consciousness has been enlightening.


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