We used to travel with a full DSLR kit. We wrote about that here, as well as about what lenses we traveled with. And don’t get me wrong. I loved my canon DSLR. I really, really loved it. But the truth is, it was my ex husband who was more of the avid photographer. It was also him who was therefore motivated to carry around all the heavy gear.
I try to pack light. I try to travel carry on only as much as possible. That gets difficult get you have 10 kilos just of camera gear. About one and a half of our collective family carry ons would be devoted to gear and tech. There is also the problem that I am lazy. My ex husband was motivated to carry the heavy camera bag around with him every where he went. I am less so. I would find that more often than not, the heavy DSLR camera would stay in the hotel room, and I would end up taking most of my images on my mobile phone.
I decided there had to be a better solution.
What is the point of having fancy camera gear, if it never gets used? And as much as my iPhone is pretty decent at taking photos, I wanted something with a little bit higher quality for capturing these once in a life time travel moments.
I decided to downsize.
I ended up selling my DSLR camera and all it’s lenses, and opting for a high quality, compact, mirror less camera instead.
The mirror less camera technology has grown in leaps and bounds and there is now a wide range of camera options on the market. Some of them are quite pricey, and can cost you as much as a traditional DSLR camera, while others are more affordable.
For my mirror less camera I decided I wanted to keep my budget to under $1,000, ideally closer to the $500 range. I also decided that I wanted a camera with a standard viewfinder in addition to the electronic viewfinder display. I also wanted something which could connect to my phone via wifi.
After a bit of research, I decided to go with the following.
Whats in our Camera Bag – The Downsized Version
Even though my compact mirror less camera is significantly lighter than my DSLR, I still sometimes leave it in the hotel room and opt for taking photos with my phone. My phone has the benefit of being able to easily fit into my handbag or purse. It’s also less conspicuous if I want to take photos without standing out as an obvious tourist.
Phone photography accessories – Pixter lenses
Because I still do take a lot of photos with my phone (it’s just so easy – especially when I want to be able to immediately share with social media), I decided to look into small, portable lenses which can enhance the phone photography experience. There are a myriad of companies which manufacture these clip on phone camera lenses with a wide range of quality. I wanted something which was going to actually enhance my photography, so I avoided some of the cheaper and more gimmicky brands, and got myself a Pixter lens to try.
I take mostly landscape photography when I travel, so I opted to get the Pixter pro wide angle lens. The lens clips firmly onto your phone, and installation is as simple as positioning the lens over top of your existing camera lens. Your phone viewfinder will assist in making sure this is properly aligned. Pretty much as soon as the picture is clear on your phone, you are good to go. This lens is the equivalent as a 16mm lens, and allows you to capture a field twice as large without any distortion. This is vital for capturing that stunning landscape, or getting a wide angle shot of your awesome hotel room.
I love that the lens of compact, durable, and high quality. It is also super easy to install, and the silicone grip makes sure it stays in place.
Before – With standard iPhone lens
After – With Pixter Wide Angle Pro
Mirror less compact camera – The Fujifilm XT10
The Fujifilm XT10 is the more affordable version of it’s very successful XT1 camera. Since I am new to mirrorless cameras, I didn’t want to drop the same amount as I would on a proper DSLR, so I opted for the XT10 instead. Also, this version has already been on the market for a while, so I was able to save even more money by buying a second hand camera.
For me, the main points I was after was a proper viewfinder (I hate looking at screens), a pop up flash, and wifi connectable. The XT10 delivers on all those things, as well as offering full manual controls. I also like that the camera has an interchangeable lens system.
I have only taken it for a spin on one trip, and still have to get used to the feel and the control set up – it’s much different to what I was used to with my canon. But so far it has provided great quality images, while weighing considerably less.
What I no longer carry
Since I have downsized my gear, I no longer need to carry multiple heavy camera lenses. I also no longer carry some of the other gear like the intervalometer. And of course, I now ditch one of my bulkier items – the tripod. Yes this does limit some of my photography capability, but with two kids under 5, portability and ease is much more important to me now.
In the future I may go back to a DSLR. I will always love my canon. But for now, I will enjoy my much lighter camera bad.