Whenever I pack for travel these days, I find myself wondering if I should take my camera with me. More accurately, the context is more along the lines of, “Is my phone’s camera enough for the trip, or do I need to carry my point-and-shoot camera as a backup?”
I usually end up taking the digital camera, for this reason:
You’d think that a 16GB phone should be enough storage, but resources on the phone (OS, apps, music and pictures) all take a slice out of the available storage. Add in a few videos into the mix, and you will run out of space even faster.
Granted, there are options. You could back up your data into an external hard drive, which is what I tend to do before a big trip. You can also store files to services like Dropbox or iCloud. However, that option is not always feasible when you are traveling abroad with limited Internet options. Since I don’t want to spend time in the middle of a trip dealing with storage issues, I usually end up bringing my digital camera with me, along with a few 16GB SD cards in tow.
FOUR THINGS I LOOK FOR IN A CAMERA
I am fortunate to have a go-to camera now, but I still remembered being overwhelmed by all the options when I first started looking for one. What is ISO? Do I care about shutter speeds? How does aperture affect the quality of the photo? If you are interested, this post does a great job of explaining the differences. While I am not a camera aficionado nor purport to be one, I do know what I want in a camera:
1. CAMERA SIZE AND TYPE
I like to travel light, and that goes for the camera too. No extra lens. No bulky camera body. No tripods. Despite all the advances in the camera space, I just want a decent-quality compact point-and-shoot camera with recording capability. The camera should have a rechargeable battery and an SD card slot.
2. MINIMUM RESOLUTION
The camera must be at least 8 MegaPixels or higher. Most iPhones already comes with an 8MP iSight camera and some of the newer models are already sporting the 12MP cameras. I can’t justify getting a camera with specs that are worse than the built-in phone camera.
Cameras can go up to thousands of dollars. I know it doesn’t sound logical, but I specifically don’t want an expensive camera. I don’t want to worry about breaking or losing my camera. You can pick up a decent point-and-shoot camera in the $100-300 USD range.
4. VIDEO RECORDING
I also want a camera with video recording capability, and luckily, many cameras come with recording features. I want a 720p HD (1028p preferred). Since my focus is on taking great photos, I still favor a camera with recording capability over a camcorder.
WHAT CAMERA DID I PICK?
My search was quickly led me to the Canon PowerShot ELPH line of cameras, which are known for their compact size. I ended up buying a few used models (ELPH 310/320/330) so I can compare them. While most people considered ELPH 330 to be the best out of the 300 series, the difference is barely perceptible. I sold back the rest of the cameras and got my winner:
Canon PowerShot ELPH 310!
Post-use: ELPH 310 is a still a solid camera, though the video sound capture can sometimes be less than optimal when recording outdoors or when the speaker is not in close proximity to the camera.
MY CURRENT SETUP
I use my phone’s camera for my everyday needs and rely on my ELPH 310 as my go-to travel camera. This setup seems to be working out as I like having a simple and compact camera. I like being able to replace SD cards and not worry about picture or video storage capacity. I like that pictures from my camera still come out in a higher quality than the ones I take on my phone.
Until I own a phone that comes with a camera better than my digital camera (eventual), and until there is a way to handle the storage issues, I am going to turn to my little handy Canon ELPH 310 for all my big travel needs.