Tis’ the season to ask this question “What camera should I buy?”. It’s a gift giving/receiving time of year and what a better gift to receive or give than a brand new camera. Arguably one of the best tools a traveler could have is a great camera. Photo, video or both it’s up to you, but if you aren’t a pro, or a seasoned professional then naturally you will ask the question “What camera should I buy?”

Candice from www.candicedoestheworld.com recently posed this question (RE: D-SLR cameras)

to her facebook page and received 33 responses and created a Nikon VS Canon war and a “to buy new or used” discussion. This was on December 6th and there is yet to be a decision on what to do. There are just so many options out there, it is easy to get confused and become lost wandering around the electronics section, holiday music blasting in your ear, with over opinionated sales associates just trying to make their commission… (whoa sorry, got on a bit of a tangent there.)

The tools I use are my good old trusty Nikon D50 for photos (which Nikon no longer makes) and as many of you know for video I use the Kodak Playsport camera. However I also use my Panasonic Lumix FS15 point and shoot camera, it’s smaller than the Nikon and I can take it everywhere with me. You might think I’m crazy for traveling with 3 different cameras, but it’s actually 4 as I often find myself taking photos as I travel with my iPhone. I am a strong believer of “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” You could buy the top of the line $5,000.00 + camera and still not know what the heck you are doing. The best camera for you is the one you choose and the one you like, and the one you have on you at that exact moment when you see a picture you want to take or action you want to film. One of my favorite photographers Chase Jarvis says it best in this video:

You should also watch this video too.

But I won’t cop out with just that answer, I also have a few cameras that I will recommend.

Video: (also take still photos)

The Kodak Playsport – Its a small, fits in your pocket, adventure sturdy waterproof video camera that also takes still photos. Reasonably priced currently around $130.00 CAN I’ve shot many of the Travel Yourself videos with it.
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 a small compact camera which has a port for an external mic used by the travel great Mr. Robert Reid.

Point and shoot cameras: (also take videos)

The Lumix LX-3 – Recommended by Spud Hilton of the San Francisco Chronicle he says “The Lumix LX-3 is the best point-and-shoot you can get with a 24mm wide angle lens. It shoots great HD video and stills in RAW. The newest model, LX-5, has slightly better zoom (up to 90mm equivalent). For video, the wide angle makes for less shake and looks more like pro vid.”

I agree, you can’t go wrong with anything that has the word Lumix attached to it. Also Leica lenses are brilliant.

The Pentax Optio W90 is a camera that Corbin Fraser of ibackpackCanada.com loves saying this about it “I’m a big fan of my Pentax W90 – she’s drop/crush/water/freeze/drunk proof. Takes 720p video and is pretty compact. No DSLR, but great for the outdoorsy adventurous types.”

Waterproof like the Kodak Playsport I recommend always having something waterproof with you on your travels, you won’t catch me snorkeling on the Great Barrier reef without one again. I regret that so much!

The Sony HX5v seems like a great little point and shoot too with an awesome Panorama feature that Liz Brood Wright talks about on her site.

**For the more serious/professional photographer that doesn’t want the bulk of a D-SLR Jodi from “Legal Nomads” says the Canon S95 is the best tiny camera she has ever owned. Great HD video and performed well for her in low-light conditions.

D-SLR Cameras

The Canon EOS xs Rebel and the Nikon D90 are said to be good for beginners. It’s a confusing world to get into the D-SLRs with questions like which lens to have, should you get more than one lens? and all the different specs from LCD screen size to mega pixels. If you are just starting out go for the standard 18-55mm lens and as you learn more about your camera and how to use it, you might be interested in different lenses.

But what to choose Canon? Nikon? or any of the many others out there? I think Daniel from Canvas of Light says it best (not the canon part but the rest of it… 😉 haha) “There’s not much difference anyway between Nikon and Canon. Both deliver excellent cameras. It’s just a difference in handling, shape, size, how it feels in the hands. Nikon tends to be slightly smaller. If you can’t choose between Nikon or Canon, just go and see how they feel in your hands. Once you chose a brand, it’s an investment, you’ll probably have to stick to it. I chose Canon.”

For the new or used discussion, I always say new, that way you have a warranty, you know you have all the bits that go with it and know that it should be in prime condition. If your budget is tight or you know someone you trust selling their camera because they possibly want to upgrade then I say go used. It’s really a personal opinion, what you feel comfortable with and your budget that should help you decide.

I’m sure your mind is spinning by now, but I hope this post helps in some small way. Please leave me comments on your thoughts of the best cameras and let me know if you have any questions! Happy shopping ~ Cailin