Six Considerations When Picking A Travel Camera for Blogging
As a travel blogger, I’d argue that one of your most important pieces of equipment is your camera. Images are a powerful tool for getting your story across to your viewer, and it should definitely be a bit of kit that you are comfortable using to get the photos you need.
There are a wide range of camera choices with various feature sets and at different price points. In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through some of the things you need to consider when looking to buy a camera as a travel blogger.
One of the most important considerations has to be the budget. With camera prices ranging from about one hundred dollars to the tens of thousands of dollars, there is definitely something for any budget.
At the lower end you can invest in a good mobile phone camera, compact camera, and compact action cameras and accessories like GoPros. In the mid to higher range you can look at mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras which range from entry level to professional. You’ll want to carefully weight budget versus what you want to be able to do with your camera.
Obviously the camera itself (and any needed lens) are going to the biggest factor in terms of cost. However, when looking at making a purchase, you also need to factor in any additional camera accessories you want need/want like memory cards, tripods, memory cards, spare batteries, filters, and camera bags. Depending on the type of camera, you may also want to invest in additional lenses.
You also need to think carefully about the cost of insuring your new bit of kit, and whether or not that is going to be affordable. More expensive kit costs more to cover, and will usually require specialized insurance.
I’d suggest that for most travel bloggers needs, a camera set up in the range of $300 – $900 USD will likely suffice. However, if your blog is heavily photography focused and you plan to sell professional photos, you’ll likely need to invest more. If your camera needs are outside your budget, consider buying second-hand or refurbished pieces or starting off on a more basic camera and upgrading when you can.
Just remember that spending more money won’t necessarily get you a better camera or make your photos better. No matter what you invest in, just learn how to use it well.
Size and Weight
The best camera is always the one that you have on you. When choosing a camera, you need to think about whether or not it’s going to be something you are likely to port around with you. Buying a big heavy DSLR and lenses isn’t going to do you any good if it sits at home all the time.
If you don’t fancy dragging 10 pounds of camera, lens, and accessories, think about buying a decent compact camera, or even a well specified smartphone. If interchangeable lenses are a must, then a good mirrorless camera can be a great trade-off between weight and features.
Cameras can be complicated pieces of equipment – generally, the more expensive they are, the harder they are to get great shots from. If you don’t have much experience with cameras or are planning to invest in an upgraded model, I’d strongly advise reading through the users’ manuals and doing a lot of practice with your new camera. You may also consider taking a photography class or workshop designed for the type of camera you have, or take an online photography course.
If you are the kind of person who just likes to point your camera at the scene and press the button, then I’d advise against investing in a top of the range DSLR or mirrorless camera, which have quite a learning curve for getting the best results. Same with those whose main focus is writing, audio, or video. If you don’t concentrate much on photography, then go with something that you know how to use and you’ll be sure to take with you while traveling. Instead, look at investing in a mid-range mirrorless, compact camera, or even a smartphone with a good quality camera, which often have some fantastic auto capabilities, and can help you get great shots without having to read a thousand page manual. You can always upgrade in the future.
If you decide to buy a mirrorless or DSLR camera system, it’s important to pick one which offers a selection of lenses that match your budget and shooting style. The lens you pick is going to have a huge impact on your photos, so it is good to do research on this to get it right from the beginning. In general lenses are more important than the camera body, but are also more expensive investments.
Different camera manufacturers and camera types offer different varieties of lenses, and they don’t usually work across different brands of cameras. So if you buy a Nikon body, you won’t be able to use Canon lenses, and vice versa. So make sure you do your research into the best lenses for the type of travel photography you want to do, and ensure the camera you end up picking comes with a choice of lenses that match your needs.
In terms of DSLR cameras, Canon and Nikon dominate the market in terms of bodies and there is a wide range of lenses available for both. For mirrorless cameras, you have more competing brands that also include Panasonic, Sony, Fuji, and Olympus. Mirrorless cameras are newer to the market so there are fewer lenses available for systems so be sure to do some research before making a decision on your body.
Many cameras come with a range of features beyond those strictly related to travel photography. For example, some cameras have built in GPS, which can be handy for remembering where you took your photos.
Other features to look at include the video capabilities of the camera, which may be important to you if you’re planning on creating video too. WiFi connectivity can also be a real plus, letting you pull images off your camera for real time social media sharing without needing a laptop.
Some of the more expensive professional camera include a level of weather or dust proofing, protecting your camera from some of the elements. Whilst these aren’t the same as a fully waterproof camera, they can keep your camera safe in bad weather. Finally, check the warranty. Travel can be tough on camera equipment, so if there is a good warranty or service program included with your purchase, that might be a great investment.
Where you can use it
Something else that’s really important to consider when picking a travel camera is the sort of photography and travel that you do. If you spend your time doing things like white water rafting or surfing, then you’re going to want a camera that is specifically designed to deal with action environments where it might get wet. Those wanting to do underwater photography will likely want to invest in special cameras and gear designed for this type of photography.
On the other hand, if you’re more likely to be shooting landscapes, street scenes, food, or portraits, then a camera with the right lenses and capabilities is going to be more important than something designed for rugged use.
And that sums up my guide to some of the things you need to think about when picking a travel camera as a blogger. If you’re interested in specific suggestions on camera models across all camera types and budgets, check out my ultimate guide to picking a travel camera.
Laurence Norah is a full time professional travel photographer & blogger, who has been travelling the world since 2009, and taking as many pictures of beautiful places as possible along the way. He co-runs two travel blogs: the travel photography and adventure focused Finding the Universe, and the couples travel focused Independent Travel Cats with his wife Jessica Norah. He’s also the author of the Superstar Blogging Online Photography Course, which will help you improve your photography, no matter your level or experience.