What Camera is Right for Your Vacation?

As amateur photographers, we often get caught up in the exciting world of this lens and that gadget. The expense of the gadgets sometimes outweighs the camera. Here are some practical tips to help you decide what to purchase and what to pack.


I have always been the guy with the camera. I have gone from a 110 Kodak right into the digital age. I have always looked at my pictures and tried to figure out, what makes the magazine pictures better than mine.

I don’t necessarily want to be a magazine photographer but I would like to be able to produce great quality pics of my family and friends and share them with everyone.

So, I have gone through the equipment. I have also confiscated cameras from friends that did not have any business with the equipment that they purchased. I have come to a conclusion.

The best pictures are taken by really expensive cameras. However, the really expensive cameras are not for everyone.

Pentax K1000 Camera with Quantaray MC Zoom 80-210mm f/3.8 Lens & Pentax Flash

As I came into the photography world, I inherited a Pentax 35mm SLR camera. The camera took great pictures. When used with the flash and the right film, the camera produced exceptional pictures, most of the time.

You had to have the light level just right.

You had to place the camera on a tripod most of the time. You had to get the right speed. The camera was not a point-and-shoot by any means but with the right skills, or sometimes luck, you could get outstanding pictures.

Not being able to carry all of that equipment around, I noticed that some people were getting good pictures from point and shoot type cameras. I noticed one that was a Nikon. I used that particular Nikon for several years before it was stolen. Then i purchased a similar model that added a zoom lens.

Both of these cameras took exceptional pictures and sometimes rivaled that of the SLR that I was using before.

Then came the digital age.

My first digital camera was the Nikon Coolpix 990. I had done extensive research and I had included my friend that was a photographer and come up with this as my choice. The 990 was not a professional camera but was used in many studios as the first viable digital for home use.

It was not a digital SLR. In the film world, the name SLR represents Single-Lens Reflex technology.

In these type cameras you can view what is actually coming into the lens by the use of a mirror. When you snap the shot, the mirror moves and exposes the film In the digital realm, it exposes a sensor.

The difference between the digital SLR and the other digital cameras is that when you push the button, an SLR snaps the shot.

It is instant.

What you see in the viewfinder shows up on the lens.

With the other digital cameras such as the 990, it has a delay.

The delay often makes the difference between getting your kids in the shot and taking an empty picture of a swing.

There is a lot to be said for instant when you are dealing with kids or pets.

The information here is helpful because when you are shopping you have to ask that question. How important is instantly catching your subjects. I can tell you from my own and many other’s experiences, very. I used the 990 for over a year and we even borrowed some studio lights and took some really nice pictures.

With the settings all set to manual and having the light and focus already set, you get an almost instant picture. It still does not compare to the DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). I then purchased a Nikon D-100. I had used Pentax, Canon and Nikon.

The Nikon cameras that i had used with film seemed to have an edge that the others lacked. Maybe it was in my head but the photographer friend and countless other photographers were using the F100 exclusively for years and loved it. I thought i would stick with Nikon. The instant pictures was a huge hit at my house. No more pictures of empty chairs.

No more blurs. I could hand my camera to just about anyone and set it to Automatic and get great pictures. Digital cameras have come a long way since the D-100. Canon seemingly took the market over with the EOS 5D. This camera used a full frame sensor.

The others used a smaller sensor which would crop the image in the lens. You have to make an adjustment in that case for the lens.

This camera took that away and it was semi-affordable at around just $3000. Nikon has started to catch up now with the new players like the D3 and the D700. However, the cropping effect is not noticed in day to day photography and for most of us amateurs, it would be wasted dimes to jump into this range of camera for out purposes.

In use for travel, you have a whole new group of problems to deal with. You may want to get great pictures so you can opt for a DSLR with multiple lenses and a host of tripods, bipods and monopods but how much room do you have in your vehicle?

How much room do you have in your pack?

How much weight do you want to lug around?

And how safe will your expensive camera be where ever you are going?

These questions have to play in your mind. For me and my wife, we have the D100 and we were about to leave for out 10 year anniversary to Cabo. Before we went, we discussed bringing the big camera on the trip and we soon opted for the 990 and a camcorder that took stills as well.

The pictures that we took were OK at best but we really regretted not taking the D100. So, you have to weigh your own options.

How much are you willing to sacrifice in the weight, space and risk department?

We still struggle to find a happy medium so my wife talked me into another camera when she lost the 990. We went back to the Nikon dealer and grabbed the latest point and shoot.

It was the P5100.

This camera is small, light-weight and easy to use. It also accepts flashes in a hot shoe and sports 12.1 megapixels. My wife loves it. She did not like carrying the big camera with multiple lenses into school parties and such. So, there is another side to the coin.

I have also used the D90 which is an entry-level camera. It is also a great choice as it is lighter than the larger frame D100, D200 and D300 siblings. I personally would choose a camera like the D60 with a lens range like 18-55mm.

That gives you great flexibility to take pictures of your family and scenic views as you travel around. A tripod is a great tool especially when no one is around and you want everyone in the picture. Just set the timer and jump in there. If you have the funds, 2 cameras is great.

You can grab shots with the small cameras anywhere you are but to get the really good shots, use the SLR types. Some of them do video and that can save you from another accessory as well. As far as brands, I am loyal to Nikon.

However, Canon has lead out in many areas and has a great product. My sister uses the 5D and loves it. She also had a digital rebel that was not worth the plastic with which it was made. So, consider the options that i have laid out.

Then go hold one of them in your hand at a local store. You can also purchase from someone with a good return policy. That way you can get the feel of your gear before you are stuck with it. Once you decide, go with it. Either way has its advantages and you can be happy that you made your choice.

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