Choosing a Travel Camera

Taken somewhere in North Dakota with a Canon SX110is. So, here's the scenerio: You're going on a trip and you want to take a digital camera. But, you have very limited space - certainly not enough for a DSLR and lenses - and equally limited access to electrical power. So what do you do?

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A few years ago, I was presented with exactly that scenario. We were going by train, 2/3 of the way across the country, to Montana, and I wanted to carry as little as possible. I also had a budget. So, I started researching compact cameras. What follows is a little food for thought on choosing a traveling photo companion.

My criteria was "simple". The camera needed to be:

  • something smallish and light
  • a large LCD screen
  • manual exposure control
  • quality lens
  • decent optical zoom range
  • image stabilization
  • excellent image quality

Since I knew that access to power for recharging batteries might be sketchy, I also decided that the camera should use commonly available batteries.

At the time, I selected a Canon SX110is.

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The little Canon has proven to be an excellent traveling companion, and I've taken so many pictures with it that I've completely lost track of how many. I've purchased at least one other point-and-shoot since, but I still use the Canon a lot.

Most digital cameras these days can produce excellent images, so finding a good camera is pretty easy. What is difficult is finding one that you can take anywhere in the world and be assured that you're going to be able to power it, especially when you need or want to travel light.

One power source that's available pretty much everywhere in the world is the AA battery (it's referred to as a Mignon battery or LR6 battery in other parts of the world), so I think that choosing a camera that can be run on AA batteries is an important choice for a travel camera.

A search of the B&H web site reveals about a half-dozen point-and-shoot or advanced compact cameras that meet all the criteria, and two DLSR models (both from Pentax in a wide variety of colors). While my personal criteria calls for something in the point-and-shoot category, coupled with a super-zoom lens like the Tamron 18-270mm or Sigma 18-250, a DSLR like the Pentax K-30 could be considered as a good on-the-go camera when travelling light.

All images on this post made with a Canon Powershot SX110is.

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