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Travel Photography: How to Pick the Best Travel Camera

by Elaine Clara Mah

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One of the very top things that you have on your travel-packing checklist before setting off on an adventure is your camera. After all, how else are you going to capture and freeze those memorable moments that you are bound to experience? 

When traveling, be it going on relaxing holiday by the beach in Costa Rica or on a thrilling wildlife safari in Africa, there will always be some picture perfect moments that you’d want to capture for memories’ sake. Granted, it’s important to know how to capture these shots so that they aren’t just meaningless photos, but the equipment you use to capture your photos matter too.

From fancy camera gadgets that weigh a ton to simple point and shoot devices, there are pros and cons to every choice. So how do we know if we have the best camera for travel photography? To help you choose the best camera for your trip, here are some easy tips and tricks! Once you’ve ticked all these check boxes, you can be certain that your travels, wherever in the world they may be, will be well documented!


What Camera to Buy

best travel cameras

Have you ever stood in a camera shop, getting more confused by the minute trying to figure out which camera you should get? When it comes to cameras, the market is extremely saturated as companies scramble to try to cater to the budding photographer’s every wants and needs. But no worries for newbies like us! Here’s a simple breakdown of the types of cameras available on the market today:


Point-And-Shoot: Point-and-shoot cameras are one of the most basic cameras available today. These compact digital cameras are pocket-friendly, both in terms of size and value. They are relatively cheap, lightweight and small enough to fit in bags and pockets.


Point-and-shoot cameras are for you if:

You want simplicity and no hassle. They are also cheap so it’s best for the budget-conscious.

Point-and-shoot cameras are not for you if:

You are looking to take professional photos. If you are shooting wildlife photography, using a point-and-shoot may limit your range, as wildlife tends to be at a distance.


Mirrorless: A mirrorless camera, much like the name suggests, does not have a mirror reflex optical viewfinder. A mirrorless camera is considered a hybrid between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR. They offer the user the flexibility of changing lens while still maintaining the compact body of a point-and-shoot.


Mirrorless cameras are for you if:

Having had some experience with point-and-shoot, you want to move on to a more sophisticated device without investing in a DSLR. They are also great for those who are looking to experiment with different camera lens.

Mirrorless cameras are not for you if:

You want more lens option. While there are quite a few zoom lens options available, they are still fairly limited.


DSLR: A digital SLR was once considered the crème de la crème of cameras due to its high quality pictures, manual control capabilities and greater choices of zoom lens. Though now largely overtaken by mirrorless cameras, DSLRs are still a go-to choice for professional photographers and are particularly great for taking wildlife pictures.


DSLR cameras are for you if:

You are a wildlife photographer and are particular about focus speeds and lens options.

DSLR cameras are not for you if:

You don’t like carrying bulky items when you travel. DSLR cameras and their kits are also pricey, which makes them  better suited for those with bigger budgets and are very serious into photography.


Action: Action cameras are designed for the adventure junkie and used in extreme photography situations. They are built for taking photos in snow, wind and water but are generally more basic in terms of manual controls.


Action cameras are for you if:
You love adrenaline and travel in search of extreme adventure. These cameras are suited for mountain climbing, so if you are thinking of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, this is the camera for you!

Action cameras are not for you if:

You are taking still shots and at certain distances. Action cameras don’t allow you to zoom and have significantly less manual controls, therefore limiting your ability to frame shots.


How to Choose?

DSLR cameras

Having listed down the types of cameras available, you now may have an inkling of what your choice of camera may be. But to help you make the right choice, let’s break down certain factors for you to consider.



The price, for most people, is the most important consideration when shopping for a camera. Just how much are you willing to pay for a camera? Once you determine this, it becomes fairly easy to limit the cameras that you should consider. The most budget-friendly camera range is the point-and-shoot camera, while the most expensive is the DSLR range. Action cameras and mirrorless cameras fall in between, although mirrorless cameras can turn out to be quite expensive depending on the type of lens that you will purchase.

When considering price, do also consider the myriad of photography accessories that you may need to purchase such as memory cards, extra batteries and filters.



travel photography

First, determine the amount of gear you are willing to carry. Point-and-shoot and action cameras are generally lightweight, needing only for you to pack a single camera along with its necessary accessories such as batteries and charger. DSLR and mirrorless cameras may have even more accessories to carry – considering its multiple lenses – resulting in a more bulky bag. Keep in mind some other accessories that you may want to bring with you such as a tripod and telephoto lens (for DSLR cameras).

In general, carrying bulky photography equipment when going on a classic safari in Africa would be less of a concern as you are mostly seated in a vehicle while viewing game. However, if you are considering more hands-on activities such as a walking safari tour, the lesser the bulk, the better your experience will be.



While buying the most sophisticated camera in town may get you the promise of good shots, a camera is only as good as its photographer. Point-and-shoot cameras are considered basic and can be maneuvered quite easily by rookie photographers without compromising the quality of the pictures. However, more sophisticated cameras with more manual control do require a skilled photographer to make the most out of it.

If you want to buy mirrorless and DSLR cameras, be prepared to put in the work. You will be spending quite a bit of time learning the various functions of the camera. You may also have to take your camera out for a few spins to master it.

Aside from equipment, good photography is also made up of composition, lighting and aperture, so be sure to brush up on those before setting out on your holiday!


Photography Terminology – Good-to-Know Words

camera accessories

Aperture – Aperture is the hole in the lens through which light passes. It is measured in f/stops and is written as numbers. For example, f/1.4, f/2.8 etc. The smaller the number is after the “f”, the bigger the hole and therefore more light gets in. When looking at aperture, shop for cameras with smaller apertures.

Megapixels – Megapixels are the number of pixels the camera sensor has. Anything above 12 megapixels is a  great camera option, which is the case for almost all cameras on sale. Only shop for higher megapixel counts if you are considering printing extra large images.

Shutter Speed – Shutter speed refers to the length of time your camera’s shutter stays open for. It is typically counted in fractions of a whole number, for example, 1/15 or 1/1000. Longer shutter speed means that more motion is captured, therefore requiring you to be still. Faster shutter speed means that less motion is captured. If you’re considering capturing live, moving objects, opt for faster shutter speeds. 

Test out your camera’s capabilities by taking it out on an adventurous motorcycle safari experience!

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