Photography

How To Choose The Best Camera (And Lens) For Your Travels

September 20, 2016

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I’ve always been a little obsessed with camera gear, so I frequently get asked for recommendations by friends. Figuring out the right camera and lens setup for traveling has taken years and I’ve finally settled (for now) on one I really love.

Cameras

The Canon 6D is the first full-frame camera I’ve owned and I can’t recommend it enough. The difference in image quality between full frame and crop sensors is really noticeable. You can find some decent deals on used 6D bodies, just make sure you buy from a reputable source that serviced the camera before selling it, such as Adorama or B&H. There are lots of great cameras out there and picking the right one can be a challenge.

What to pay attention to when buying a camera:
  • Dynamic Range – this will help you capture bright skies and dark shadows in the same photo.
  • Sensor Size – there are several advantages to a larger sensor all contributing to better image quality.
  • Low light performance – a camera with low noise can allow you to shoot with minimal light.
  • Weather Sealing – if you are going to be traveling, this is essential.
  • Ignore built-in flash capability, especially for travel photography.
  • Ignore megapixels, at this point it’s basically irrelevant for image quality.

Lenses

Lenses are the most important investment in your camera setup. A great lens on a decent camera will always look better than a kit lens on a $10,000 camera. Good lenses can last decades, you’ll cycle through cameras over time, but your best lenses will stay with you. If you are working out a budget, always prioritize the lens and think long-term. As a rule of thumb, never buy kit lenses. Either buy the camera body only or look for package deals that include a higher end lens.

–  Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II – This is hands down my favorite travel lens. It’s incredibly sharp, can act as a landscape or portrait lens, and at an f/2.8 it’s fast enough for low-light situations and creating beautiful bokeh. You can find the original version of this lens, Canon 24-70 f/2.8 I, used for less than half the price. The original is still a great lens at a decent value, although not as sharp as the current version.

– Canon 50 f/1.8 STM – The other lens I always recommend for people who are new to photography is the 50mm prime. There is no better lens for the money. Shooting on a prime lens (no zoom range) can take some getting used to, but this lens produces amazing images and will blow any kit lens out of the water.

–  Canon 24 f/2.8 STM – This wide angle is a good partner for the 50mm prime I mentioned above. It can take beautiful landscape photographs and lets you get a fairly shallow depth of field for a wide angle lens. This lens is a great value and fairly fast at a f/2.8. If you are looking for the cost effective lens setup, the 24 & 50 primes are the way to go.

Tips for buying lenses:
  • Focus on sharpness, contrast, and speed (f-stop).
  • Don’t pay too much attention to huge focal ranges, an 18-200 sounds attractive but odds are it isn’t going to produce great images at any of those focal lengths.
  • Buy for the future – I don’t really believe in buying mid-range lenses. Either buy a great lens, or go with something like the 50 f/1.8.
My Gear:
  • Canon 6D
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II
  • Canon 24 f/1.4L
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L II
  • Rolleiflex 2.8gx
  • Hasselblad 503cw
  • Leica M7

Have camera questions or want feedback on a camera and lens setup? Post your comments below.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Hayley September 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

    This seriously came at the right time for me – just when I am starting to think about upping my photography game! Thanks so much for the great tips! Thanks so much!!!

    • Reply - Selena September 26, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Hayley! You are so welcome. 🙂

  • Reply Monique September 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you so much, i really needed this post!

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