So you want to buy a camera..

CamerasYou’re about to head off to travel around southeast Asia for six months, and you want to bring along a camera to record the experience. You’ve been using the same cheap point-and-shoot for years. Is that going to meet your needs? You decide that it might be a great excuse to get a new camera, but what to get? There are so many options! Fully automatic, or manual? Able to take different lenses, or just the lens that is included? Compact Flash or SD? AA or proprietary batteries? Resolution? Pixels? Zoom?

Obviously, choosing a camera is a very subjective thing. Various factors matter differently to different people. Some long-term backpackers just care about size and weight. Others want more features, or the ability to change lenses. It pays to do some research into the options available. Gliffy has an interesting flowchart for recommending several camera options. For DSLRs specifically, Bob Atkins at has a great breakdown of the factors to consider when choosing a Digital SLR Camera.

Once you have an idea of what you might be looking for in terms of features, it’s time to compare models against each other. Hands down, the best site for camera research is Digital Photography Review. Their Buying Guide has both a features search and a side-by-side comparison, both of which allow you to look at multiple models to evaluate them against each other in terms of features, price, and owner opinions.

As a semi-professional photographer, I tend to take my beloved Canon 20D along with a couple of additional lenses, but I always carry my smaller, compact, Canon A610, which offers zoom, manual mode, a flip screen, and runs on AA batteries.

Posted by | Comments (9)  | January 21, 2010
Category: Travel Gear

9 Responses to “So you want to buy a camera..”

  1. Ahimsa Says:

    Timely. I just bought a camera for a 6 month trip in Asia. I am definitely a point-and-shoot gut, but the Panasonic Lumix brand have cool features, the most important for me being the 12x zoom and HD video. It would not be enough for any serious photographer, but for me it’s small enough and has enough features to keep me happy.

  2. David Says:

    But these days we all have smartphones with high Megapixel cameras.Isn’t it better to keep a smartphone perfect travel companion with GPS, Wifi and Travel Apps and of course camera.I have Nokia N82 and it take very high quality photos even in dark.

  3. Michael Says:

    Speaking as a photography nut and an experienced traveller, the Gliffy Blog flowchart is dead on. If someone knew nothing at all about photography, they oculd follow that flowchart and get exactly what they need.

    Re: cameraphones. Phones in cameras are still really awful. The lenses aren’t sharp, all but a very few have any zoom capability, and the tiny sensors just can’t get enough light. A cheap $80 pocket camera will take better photos than the camera in an iPhone.

  4. Tom Ott Says:

    If I’m going to be traveling where I can charge my camera, then I bring my one and only digital camera, a Canon G11. Its perfect for travel/street photography and very light weight. If I’m going on an extended trip into regions where I can’t charge my camera, then I take my 35mm film camera with a 28-105mm zoom lens, 10-15 rolls of film, and an extra battery. If I use my flash sparingly, one battery would last me months!

  5. Brett Stuckel Says:

    I just waded into the world of D-SLR with a used D40 and am a bit concerned about the cumbersome factor mentioned above. Still love my battered little Canon Powershot and plan to take both on the road.

  6. GypsyGirl Says:

    Brett- D40 isn’t too cumbersome- as Nikon SLRs go- what lens do you have with it? Keep in mind that your digital SLR sensor is going to take in WAY more light than your PDH camera.