Searching for the ideal travel camera

Over the past year I’ve been searching for the ideal travel camera to replace my Olympus Pen. The wealth of great mirrorless cameras available from Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm, Panasonic a now Nikon keeps piling on the complications of what I want, need and wish for.

Travel photography

Olympus Pen

What I want from a travel camera

Size – compact and build quality
Ergonomics – menus and controls
Lenses – fast glass
Video – 1080p (4K), 120fps
Features – articulating screen, stabilisation, video, wifi, gps and bluetooth

Deciding what to look at was a changing remit, each time I looked at models the features appear to be focused on a particular market and people expecting everything in one camera.

My list isn’t extensive but these are the main driving points, there is one I don’t wan’t that is for the camera to look like a miniature dslr I’m looking towards the range finder styling. These requirements really eliminates a lot of the brands before I even start drilling down to their specifics.

Greek islands

Olympus Pen

Researching what cameras meet my criteria

YouTube has become my place to research new gear, prior to using this I would read reviews in magazines or online sites occasionally I would check out user feedback on Amazon but this is really risky as so many are quite clueless so I rarely bother.

Since my needs aren’t for a professional camera for client work I can disregard many of the complaints about a camera not meeting certain levels, I needed a camera for my purposes which is a camera to have with me on vacation, street photography, vlogging, and as a behind the scenes and reccie camera but better than my current Olympus Pen or iPhone.

Looking at my needs in detail

  • Size this has to be the main feature, my working cameras Canon 5Ds and 5D mkiii are no lightweights they are build for professional use, I need a camera that isn’t a toy and doesn’t need to be large even though I’m used to large cameras.
  • Full manual control, I rarely ever use any priority or program modes in fact I can’t remember when I ever use these, but I need manual control to be easy not wading through menus to change the aperture, shutter or iso this was the biggest issue with my Pen, I would prefer dedicated controls for each that allows me to work on my composition while rocking the EV, it’s the way I work.
  • Fast lenses, this is probably a wish as I’ve yet to find optics for mirrorless cameras that would even come close to my Canon L glass, so this where compromises need to be made after all my Olympus Pen though basic still took great images as I use these more for social media than commercially so the trade off in quality isn’t really that important. I do like a shallow depth of field so f4 and above will be inhibiting, especially on crop sensors that will compound the problem. I could use an adaptor and have access to my main lenses but that adds weight and bulk not what I’m looking for in my travel kit bag.
  • In body stabilisation, it was never on my agenda but I’m really impressed with the Sony offerings of both in body and in lense stabilisation. So this has swayed my decision to seriously consider the feature.
  • Auto focus when videoing, I normally use manual focus for stills or if I’m working quickly I’ll use the back focus button I don’t usually use any sort of tracking or servo modes as my work is usually static. Video has become increasingly important when vlogging and I know the Sony has about the best AF in the market.
  • Slow Motion 120fps is a feature I’ve added to my spec it wasn’t part of the travel requirements but I’ll blame YouTube for all the b-roll slow motion it really caught my imagination and combining a compact camera to be both a travel and vlog tool makes sense.
  • Lenses is my dilemma if I go with the Sony native zoom lenses I’m going to be investing in glass that won’t be wider than F4 if I want to keep the size down, I can buy fast primes like Sigma which would suit a lot of my style.

Shortlist

The shortlist has come down to the Sony A6xxx series my only reserve is the crop factor it’s better than M43 a sensor size I didn’t really like, full frame would be nice but that’s a professional feature I don’t really so there is no point in looking at the other Alpha bodies.

There are rumours of the A6500 replacement which should address the issues with the current models which would be nice.