What is the best DSLR for travel photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jhonmartinvish, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. jhonmartinvish macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2012
    I want to get into travel photography in particular and want to know want to know wether there is a particular make of camera that is good for these conditions. I want clear, high quality, images as i will be taking pictures of animals, places, people and colour will be the main theme.

    I want a well built, and professional quality camera which i can work with and learn about in more detail.

    Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc which one.

    I should think that it is the person behind the camera that matters the most.

  2. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    You need to give us a total budget, otherwise we will not be able to give recommendations. Plus, you should also have a look at mirrorless cameras with interchangeable optics: they use sensors of the same/similar size as dslrs, but are smaller and lighter (lighter does not necessarily mean lower built quality).
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    That’s a bit like asking “What’s the best car for driving on a road?”...

    Yes, the person behind the camera matters the most. As long as I had a few weeks to acclimatise myself with a new camera system, I’d be very happy with a simple set-up from Nikon or Canon or another manufacturer. Within each system there will be a range of lenses: not just from wide to tele, but in different price bands too.

    You’ll need a wide view for landscapes, and a telephoto for animals; you can get wide-tele zooms that will go from one extreme to the other without having to change lenses, though many photographers will argue that prime (ie non-zoom) lenses offer critical sharpness and definition.

    My own kit is very simple (basically a Nikon D200, 18-70mm lens + tripod) which encourages me to have my camera with me at all times. I’d recommend a similar set-up, in that it’s light to carry and (relatively) inexpensive. You won’t really know what you want from a DSLR until you’ve used one for a good period of time, so maybe think of the first few months as a time to learn... rather than producing the great pix you want. There’s a learning curve even to become proficient; ‘professional’ extends that learning curve a good deal further. Good luck...
  4. h1r0ll3r macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2009
    As Doylem pointed out, you're request is pretty broad. Canon, Nikon and Sony all make very good DSLR's so you would fine going with either brand. Personally, I prefer Canon as I've been using their camera products for years now. Once you get a DSLR, lenses will be your main concern as there really isn't a one-size-fits-all lens that will do everything you need to do. In terms of focal range, there are numerous lenses that would work such as the Canon 18-135 or 18-200 or the Tamron 18-270 lens. With these types of lenses you will sacrifice some picture quality as a result. If you choose to get better lenses, your focal ranges will be limited however the picture quality will be much better. All depends on what you want and how much you're willing to spend.
  5. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Yes; very broad question.

    I travel a lot, and enjoy travel photography of various subjects. My primary camera is a Cannon T3i/600D, for which I currently have 4 lenses (Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS, 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS, 50mm f1.8 II, and Sigma 30mm f1.4). Which lens(es) I take with me on any given trip varies, but usually on longer trips, I take them all.

    There are definitely better lenses I lust for, and looking 1-3 years down the road, I will probably eventually upgrade to a better body. But overall I'm pretty happy with what I have right now as a reasonably-priced, hobbyist setup. However, this doesn't mean that my setup (or a similar gear profile from Nikon or whoever) would be right for you.

    I'd say a good place to start would be to go handle some different body and lens combinations at a store to get an idea of how much weight & bulk you really want to carry. This will inform whether you should be looking at something really small like a mirrorless system, a small DSLR like my T3i, or (and if you have the budget) a larger and more capable body like a Canon 7D or even 5D.

    Assuming you are a beginner, though, regardless of how much weight you're willing to carry I wouldn't go too high-end on your body unless you simply have money to burn. Quality lenses are far more important, and any of the entry-level DSLRs (or mirrorless) will have more than enough capability for your first 2-3 years of photography.

    Your carrying capacity preferences will also inform your lens choices. As h1r0ll3r notes, zoom lenses with really broad focal ranges do involve some compromises elsewhere, but there's definitely an advantage to having a "shoot anything" lens. In addition to less to carry, a broad focal range also means you don't miss shots because you have the wrong lens mounted (particularly important with wildlife). Presently, I use a middle-of-the road tactic here, as I generally carry 18-135mm and a 70-300mm zoom in my bag, rather than a single 18-270mm or similar.

    Finally, there's personal preference and "feel". I prefer Canons because their control layout and UI just makes more sense to me intuitively, but other photographers prefer Nikons, Sonys etc. for the same reason. You really have to handle the camera themselves and figure out which one works best for you. Most major DSLR (& mirrorless) brands/bodies have more than enough lens choices available for the hobbyist/enthusiast photographer, though if you are contemplating going with one of the smaller brands, and/or a newer body form (like some of the newest mirrorless systems) it is a good idea to check the lens choices are available for that brand/body, just to make sure you will have the options you need to shoot the way you want to.
  6. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Elyria, Ohio
    You beat me to it! I like the way you think Doylem. I thought the same thing when I read this post, and then I saw your reply. Too funny!

    I agree with the members who replied, more information is needed. Furthermore, there are so many choices that it's not even funny. I think size and weight are a factor and whether a system that offers interchangeable lenses is acceptable. I agree that that OP needs to handle a lot of cameras! Have fun shopping!
  7. nburwell, Sep 12, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012

    nburwell macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2008
    You mentioned "professional" camera in your original post, OP. Are you looking to spend upwards of $3-4K for a body?

    I also believe that you should take a trip to your local camera store and play with each brand models to get a feel for each one. Coupled with the Sales Associate, you will get a better understanding for the features that each camera system offers.

    But like the others have said, we need more information. Specifically what your budget is.

  8. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Get a Nikon V1 with the 3 lens in a kit. Then get Nikon's DSLR lens adaptor. The small lenses allow for quick and easy use out of your pocket. With a Nikon DSLR lens attached you get a 2.7 multiplier for extreme reach without any penalty in light reduction as you would using a teleconverter.

    When you get back home the V1 can be your backup camera to a DSLR like D7000 or D800. No wasted investment.
  9. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Look to your budget. Decide what brand you want to concentrate on. Attend a travel photography seminar like those the National Geographic Society presents as recently as September 9 in my area. See what those who are involved in travel photography use both as professionals and advanced amateurs.

    Read National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines (both available on your iPad)

    I travel with Canon 1DIII, 5DII, and 5DIII bodies, numerous flashes, and a dozen lenses. I'll pair that down to 3-4 lenses, the 5DIII and two flashes if traveling light.
  10. Abstract, Sep 14, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012

    Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    By "animal" photos, do you intend on carrying a $10000+, 500 mm f/4 around? Are you going to take photos of birds, or lions on safari, or are you going to take photos of your cat?

    The best, "professional" cameras are the ones that costs the most. Personally, I'd get the Nikon D800E because Nikons are generally very good, I like the ergonomics, and that model currently has the highest pixel count, which will allow you to crop a lot (perhaps important for bird photography).

    Now, if I had to choose a travel camera, I'd get the Fuji X-Pro 1 or X-E1 because the lenses Fuji make are all excellent quality, especially for the price. If you get the Sony, and you want the best prime lenses (primes will give you the best image quality), they're going to be Zeiss lenses, and they're quite expensive when compared to the rest of their lens line-up. The Fuji X-Pro1 is, perhaps, too much money, but the X-E1 is not.

    My 2nd choice would be the Olympus OM-D, but I do find that camera too small to hold comfortably. And due to the small size, I find the buttons difficult to press when I'm shooting. I have small or medium sized hands, so that's pretty odd.
  11. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    If you require the highest 'professional' quality from your holiday snaps then you undoubtedly require a view camera rather than a DSLR. Try Linhof as a good starting point and perhaps the Hasselblad 200MP Multi-shot back if you prefer digital to film. Anything less just isn't worth considering and people will laugh at you for being an amateur. :D
  12. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    For high quality landscape you might want medium format film.

    Otherwise I like the Leica M9; it's very compact and produces excellent pictures. Leica glass is superb and it's all manual so you have lots to learn.
  13. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    I have a Sony Alpha 65. Takes great pictures. Also has GPA built in so you can pinpoint on a map where they were taken.

    Two things to keep in mind, though: first, if you want a vertical grip, go with the Alpha 77. The 65 isn't compatible with any vertical grips. Secondly, be prepared to spend hundreds on lenses, but that's what you get with DSLRs/DLSTs.
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    It is the D800.
    The medium format digital industry is caked by it. It is astonishing in terms of IQ, and delivers top class sharpness, colour reproduction and dynamic range. Better, Nikon delivers with its NEF/Capture NX2 workflow flawless results that eliminate most lens faults as Bayer sensors allow to compensate for them in digital processing (not available in film). Also the smaller lenses are of much higher quality than many MF or a view camera. Throw a Nikkor PCE T/S at a D800, and do out of your hand in seconds what took half an hour with a view camera on a tripod, with comparable quality!
  15. Edge100, Sep 24, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012

    Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    While your point is a good one, something tells me that the PhaseOne 180IQ shooters are not all switching to the D800.

    Re: film, aside from the aesthetic reasons for shooting it, it should be noted that the highlight retention of the D800 will be poor compared with negative film (especially B&W negatives), though it will hold shadow detail better than film. Film also doesn't suffer from moiré, and film is (arguably) a better archival medium than digital Raw files on a magnetic hard disk.

    To the OP: you say you want a DSLR, but ask yourself why. A DSLR is bulky, and these days, one can have equivalent or better IQ in a small camera such as the Sony Nex-5n, Fuji X-Pro1, or the Oly OM-D (the Sony and Fuji, more than the Oly). If I were looking for a travel kit, I'd get one of these with a 35mm FF equivalent and a 85mm FF equivalent, and be done with it. In fact, that's just what I've done: X100 for the 35 equivalent, X-Pro1 with a 60 f/2.4 for a 90 equivalent, and toss in the Fuji 35 f/1.4 for kicks. Awesome travel kit.
  16. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    I doubt whether B&W film can match todays sensors in D-range. It may feel like that, but shadow is very dirty on negatives. With a D800 you must measure light differently and shoot at the highlight clipping point.

    Also the archiving of film is much harder. To do it good, you need conditioned rooms, lots of space, where a 3 fold hard drive storage is refreshed every 2-3 years as you migrate to larger drives. And you store in 2 or 3 locations with ease. With film, you never can make exact duplicates, so hurricane or fire means archive destroyed.

    And the moire thing: Film does not suffer from it, but who makes analogue prints of film? As soon as you scan, it is as moire-prone or even worse than a D800.
  17. Edge100, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I don't disagree with your last point; both digital and film have their own unique challenges regarding archival storage.

    Re: dynamic range, B&W negative film can have 18-19 stops of DR (T-Max, for instance), with most of that coming in as highlight retention. Which is why the old adage is true: expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. You do this knowing that the highlights will hold many stops of overexposure, and boosting the exposure of the shadows vs. where they will ultimately be printed means that they will also retain detail. Newer C-41 films like Portra 400 has 17-19 stops of DR, again with great highlight retention. Ektar is an odd duck, with noticeably lower highlight retention than other modern C-41 films. I refer to Ektar as having all of the drawbacks of reversal film, with none of the advantages. I still manage to put a roll or two of it through my cameras every year, though.

    DxO Mark, which is notoriously Nikon-centric, puts the D800 at 14.4 stops of DR.

    So negative film still has the advantage of a far greater overexposure latitude. On the other hand, if you underexpose negative film, it's going to be a horrid mess, while the D800 deals with underexposure with no problem; in fact, one could argue that it makes sense to underexpose slightly with the D800 (given that there is no latitude for highlight clipping on a digital sensor, and the noise performance of the D800 is so spectacular...all of the D800's DR comes in the form of shadow retention).

    None of this applies to reversal film, of course. I see no reason to shoot 35mm (or even MF) chromes in 2012; the DR of FF or MF digital is easily better than any chrome on the market, and the cost of E-6 film and processing is becoming exorbitant (if you can find somewhere to process it, or even if you do it yourself). Large format is a different story, of course, since there are no feasible LF digital systems available, besides some crazy-expensive scanning backs.
  18. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Loads of people make wet prints of film.
  19. cvaldes, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    cvaldes macrumors 68040

    Dec 14, 2006
    somewhere else
    The two biggest limitations with these non-Canon/Nikon brands are the lack of rental gear availability and the limited used equipment market.

    Let's say you want to do a little bird photography over the weekend. Well, the classic lens would be the 600mm f/4, a $13000 lens. You can rent one of these very reasonably over the weekend, but only for Canon and Nikon SLR mounts. You are SOL with Sony, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

    This particular lens is available for rent at $100/day at the local pro shop. A Friday-Monday rental is considered 1.5 days ($150), a Saturday-Monday rental is considered 1 day. A weeklong rental has a 3-day rate ($300).

    Yes, you can take awesome photos with these non-Canon/Nikon brand cameras or non-SLR cameras. However, if you want access to exotic lenses, an additional rental SLR body or two, a large pool of used equipment, you need to pick either Canon or Nikon.
  20. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Absolutely a fair point. The SLR is the reigning champion in versatility, no doubt. And Canon/Nikon are the kings of the SLR.

    I suppose one has to determine what one needs in a camera. I have my X-Pro1 and X100 for general colour use and all of my travel photography, a 5D2 and L glass for commissioned work and wide angle landscapes, a 1D2 for sports and fast-moving subjects, a Leica M6 for general B&W use, and I'm adding a Hasselblad 501cm for portraits. I also have a Canonet QL17 GIII that I sometimes use when I want a fun, pocketable film camera (as small as the Leica + 35 Summicron is, it's not a pocketable combo). All of this, and the only zoom I own is the 17-40L; otherwise, it's fast primes all the way.

    That's not to say that everyone needs to have 7 camera bodies; a decent DSLR and a couple of standard zooms would cover all of this. But that DSLR wouldn't achieve everything I can do with each of these cameras. It wouldn't the speed of the 1D2, the awesome DoF and IQ of the Hasselblad, the stealthiness of the X100 and Leica, or the incredible IQ and portability of the X-Pro1. If you want one camera body to do everything, get a DSLR; and if you want maximum compatibility and flexibility, get a Canon or Nikon DSLR. But be prepared for the drawbacks of the system (and there are drawbacks).
  21. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    I travel with two D70's, a D60, D7000 and a D800. YMMV :D

    Although I am ready to retire one of the D70s and the D60. ;)
  22. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Geez! Do you carry a lifetime supply of Advil, too, to deal with the inevitable back pain? ;)
  23. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Well here film labs and self developing people have evaporated. Even my dad stopped with the mess.
  24. Edge100, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Just because you aren't aware of people developing and wet printing their own film doesn't mean people aren't doing it. I assure you that there is a large community of photographers who do just that. I still have yet to see any digital camera provide the DR and tonality of, for example, Tri-X developed in Rodinal, scanned or wet printed. Colour is one thing, but B&W film is still king. The subtle gradations in tone that one gets with B&W film are still, IMHO, beyond any digital sensor, save perhaps the very best 16-bit PhaseOne backs.
  25. smetvid macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2009
    I'm really surprised nobody suggested the Panasonic Lumix cameras. They are micro 4/3 cameras and not only take very nice stills but shoot very high quality video. The video modes tend to have less aliasing and moire artifacts compared to other DSLRS from Canon and Nikon.

    There are a fairly wide range of Panasonic and Olympus lenses for the micro 4/3 format as well as adapters to adapt many other types of older lenses. I use a lot of older Canon FD and Nikon lenses with my Panasonic GH2 which can be bought for very cheap. Not as easy to use since they are full manual but they give yet another option.

    The micro 4/3 lenses and cameras have great stabilization and auto focus when shooting stills and video and at times can be a much easier experience for shooting video then other DSLR cameras. You can even get a 45:175mm zoom lens from Panasonic with a motor zoom rocker for smooth zooms while shooting video. All around a very versatile camera for vacations.

    Not to mention the cameras and lenses are typically much more compact and lighter then other DSLR cameras. Especially if you want a longer lens to shoot on vacation. A decent zoom telephoto lens on micro 4/3 can weigh much less then a Canon or Nikon lens of similar focal length.

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