Travelling cameras

Akrotiri, Santorini. Shot on a Panasonic Lumix LX2
Akrotiri, Santorini. Shot on a Panasonic Lumix LX2

A friend has just asked me for advice about which camera to buy for her holiday and I thought the advice might be useful to others.

She wanted a camera that would produce images of sufficient quality to make good frameable prints and yet would be portable for travelling.

I’ve made a list of a selection of cameras that have caught my attention recently as being good in their field and hope this helps. It depends very much what you are looking for in terms of price and size and complexity.

Wonderful Greek salad in Akrotiri, Santorini. Shot on a Fujifilm F100fd.
When I am travelling I take a Fujifilm FinePix F100fd, for its low light capability, a Panasonic LX2 for it’s wonderful wide distortion free Leica lens,  (It’s really useful to have a camera – or two – that are small enough to always have with you) AND a NikonD60 DSLR which is lighter than my other DSLRs and but still ties in with my other Nikon lenses.  I keep my Nikon 18-200VR on the camera and pack a 50mm amd a Lensbaby to have fun with. And I never go anywhere without at least the F100fd in my pocket.
Caper flowers growing in Santorini. Shot on Panasonic Lumix LX2
Caper flowers growing in Santorini. Shot on Panasonic Lumix LX2
Although not the smallest available, the two Fujifilms, and the Panasonic are pocket sized compacts, and produce excellent images, (the F200exr is reputed to be a real improvement over my F100fd). There is a limit to the quality you can get from a compact camera but these and the Lumix DMC-LX3(which has replaced my LX2) are excellent.
If you are not prepared to compromise on quality of your holiday pictures  – the especially in lower light – you will have to consider a DSLR, but even the smaller models from Canon, and Nikon are pretty hefty. If you have the energy look at the Nikon D5000 Digital SLR, or for a lighter alternative a four thirds camera from Olympus like the E-450
For the best of both worlds – or a compromise – whichever way you choose to look at it, consider a halfway camera. There are lots of bridge cameras to choose from – quite small, but similar in some ways to a DSLR – like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38These are very useful and flexible and much lighter than DSLRs.
Rather more serious is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G – an unusual camera in that it has changeable lenses and yet is small and light and is very well reviewed, (the DMC-GH1 is the same plus video) and the Olympus PEN E-P1 is similar in that it is also smaller with interchangeable lenses, but maybe trickier to use. Nevertheless it is highly desirable and top of my wish list just now!
Click on the cameras below to see reviews from DPreview.