The answer is: The best you can afford.
But seriously, we get asked this question all the time. Taking pictures to remember your experiences abroad is probably the one thing that every traveler enjoys and finds important. So you want to make sure you have a good camera for your trip.
Now in my personal opinion, if you are in the market for a new camera, then it is well worth considering either a DSLR or a full frame mirrorless camera. Now that piece of advice usually is met with a couple objections, which I will address in this post.
Objection #1 : DSLR cameras are too expensive
This is almost always the first objection I hear to getting a DSLR camera before a trip. And I do understand this one, I really do. You want to travel for as long as possible, and have been saving up money for ages, so why go blow a big chunk on a camera? Well, in my opinion you will save more money over the long run with a DSLR camera.
I used to buy your standard point and shoots. My first digital camera cost me about $400.00. The camera was crap, but this was back when the whole digital camera thing was a pretty novel idea. I had a bad experience with this particular camera and it broke after a couple weeks, spent 10 months being repaired, and then broke after another couple weeks. So I gave up and bought a new camera. My next camera was a nice “bridge” Fugifilm camera. It was one of those cameras that is halfway between DSLR and point and shoot, but it does not have removable lenses. It was a great little camera and cost me $350.00. A year later, after dropping it, I opted to get one of those “tough” cameras which is waterproof, dust proof and shock proof. It cost me another $400.00. It lasted about 2 years before dying right before Dan got that amazing swimming with Humpback whales shot.
Ok, getting to the point – in 4 years I spent $1,100.00 on digital cameras that were average at best. Finally I decided enough is enough, I want a DSLR. I bought a Canon 550D kit which came with two lenses, a camera bag, tripod, and SS card for $800.00. It was slightly reduced as the newer 600D model had just been released. 4 years later and my Canon 550D is just as good as when I bought it. So by buying a DSLR I actually saved $300.00 in the same time period since I didn’t have to buy any replacements.
Objection #2 : I am too scared about breaking a DSLR camera
Another objection I often hear is that people don’t want to take an expensive camera traveling because they are too afraid of breaking it, so instead they take a cheapie camera which takes pictures that they end up being disappointed with after the fact. But in my experience, my DSLR has been much more durable than any of the cheaper digital cameras I have had in the past.
My camera bag has fallen off a bus, fallen off a top bunk, it’s been played with by babies, taken into freezing snowy weather, and it has even had me land on it with full force when I slipped on ice in Iceland. And so far… nothing has broken on it. It takes just as good of pictures as when it was brand new. My older cameras on the other hand….. one of my old cameras broke when my purse fell off a chair.
Objection #3 : It’s too difficult to use a DSLR
This couldn’t be further from the truth. All DSLR come with your standard auto and program settings as well as manual, so even absolute beginners can use them. And learning to use a DSLR in manual is much easier than you think. There are *heaps* of tutorials online, and you can always start with either the aperture priority setting or the shutter priority setting. In these settings you are only adjusting one variable and the camera chooses the other setting for you, as opposed to controlling both variables yourself. By using one of these settings you can slowly learn your way around the camera, while taking amazing photos at the same time.
Personally, I prefer using the aperture priority setting, while Dan prefers full manual.
Objection #4 : It’s too heavy
Ok yeah, it is. It’s much heavier than a standard point and shoot. And once you start collecting other lenses and gear it gets even heavier. But the photo quality you will get with a DSLR is SO MUCH better than what you will get with a point and shoot – so in my opinion, it’s worth it. You want to remember your travels for the rest of your life, and what better way than with some amazing photographs.