Travel camera notes (2016 updated)

UPDATE: Fall 2015 to now added

Examples of travel camera solutions I have attempted to shoot with.

For my article on travel cameras or cameras in general, go here and here

For more images, please visit my flickr sets.

Main: rx100 series (power compact camera) 
Support: NEX-6 (mirrorless interchangeable)
Duration: from August 2013 to June 2014

I used that solution for a trip to New York, Cuba, Korea and China. The rx100 provided me at the time with superb raw files that made me shoot with confidence, especially for street photographs and photographs in general. The lens from the v1 is superb compared to the v3-4 ones. I have load of regrets getting rid of it. The NEX-6 was behind as support with adapted nikon lenses for my trip to Asia. While the manual focus photography experience was pretty straightforward and very enjoyable, I found myself not using it much as not many subject needed the background blurring benefits of a bigger sensor. I can understand why there are Sony diehard users out there still thinking it’s a revolutionary “kind” of camera. I didn’t have an interesting lens library to choose from or budget to splurge lenses at the time.


Main: Olympus em10 (mirrorless interchangeable)
Support: none
Duration: June 2014 to Spring 2015

From the Sony failure I experienced in early spring, I decided to fully invest in an Olympus system to follow my wanderlust throughout the summer of 2014 to spring 2015. The solution was quite successful as you can read the review here. I brought that camera pretty much everywhere I went in life as it captured images that even my fullframe dSLR would dream of grabbing. The Wifi Feature was superbly well implemented and it helped me enrich my Instagram account as well as take some meaningful self-portraits. I’ve just recently discovered its limits in backlit situations and have therefore began seeking a support solution for such situations. If you want to know more about the EM10, I suggest you read my short review of it.


Main: Olympus em10 (mirrorless interchangeable)
Support: Nikon D750 (high dynamic range dslr)
Duration: Spring 2015 to Summer 2015

In New York City

The idea of such a combo came from my renewed faith in Nikon since they made the d750 and that went on to become my work camera pumping gorgeous files of unlimited dynamic range flexibility regardless of exposure. The d5x00 series seemed to have reached a state of maturity with a filterless 24mp sensor, a refined small lightweight grippy body (with hints of d750 ergonomics there and there) and a touchscreen that I found smartly implemented. I have then purchased a well researched zoom lens (the 16-85VR) that covers mostly the same focal primes I have on the Oly while offering the 3d pop that’s exclusive to Nikon. I am currently trying it on the D750. So far, the Olympus is still taking most of the images and performed valiantly in the NYC bars where I took it. I used the Nikon on a morning where there was a strong need of high-dynamic-range captures, it stayed most of the time asleep at home.

In Asia (Korea + Hong Kong)

When the combination was used on the following Asia trip, the tables mostly turned on days when I was left to wander the locations alone in search of great images. Sunny days where mostly part of my journey in which the Nikon’s zoom solution outshined the Olympus’s quality prime solution. The sensor superiority was clear as well as the rendering of colors. Despite the Olympus’ fast aperture of primes vs the slow aperture of the 16-85 zoom, they weren’t able to combat the versatility of the Nikkor lens on such a high-sensitivity platform. The em10 then go retracted to “casual-friend-hangout” camera instead of main travel camera (using the 15 and the 45 only), only useful when photography is less important.

Main: Nikon D750 (high dynamic range dslr) with some manual primes
Support: Ricoh GR (high dynamic range pocketable point and shoot) + autofocus nikkor primes
Duration: Summer 2015 to now
Images are currently processing

I eventually sold off my entire EM10 kit as it was getting less and less use because of its inferior output to the Nikon. I used some of that money to acquire compact AF-D prime lenses for the D750 and a Ricoh GR which was perfectly pocketable, has a decent sensor and a low element count prime lens. This kit has proven to be very enjoyable and followed me through many major travels over a year now.

Climbing Mt. Lafayette (Summer 2015)

Climbing a mountain with dSLR + Ricoh was the maiden test for the combination to work. I did the climb with the D750 + 18-35G + 35 2D + 135 ais + 24-85VR to leave space for food and water to keep me going. I realized I didn't need the 24-85VR as much as I thought I would. The Ricoh GR was perfect for moments when the Nikon was taking too much space and to photograph lifestyle moments like chilling out with friends.

In Asia I (Korea)

I was deeply into superior optics at the time and decided to travel with the D750 and a set of primes + 1 super wide zoom (Nikkor 18-35G, 35 2D, 50 1.4D, 85 1.8D, 135 2.8 ais and Voigtlander 58 1.4 nokton) as well as a pocket friendly Ricoh GR. According to my physical condition at the time, the D750 was light enough to carry. I started separating day lenses with night lenses, manual focus lenses (main lenses) would be stellar to use during the day but lose their accuracy during the night compared to autofocus lenses (support lenses). The Ricoh GR (support camera) was very useful for grab shots as well as blending into lifestyle moments. I used it to document my personal experience at my wedding as well as my honeymoon. 

In Asia II (Korea + Japan) - currently processing

I took that combination again to Japan to photograph cherry blossoms with my wife. While the D750 shot the main images (once again as main camera), the Ricoh completed the coverage of once again the lifestyle portion of the trip (dining, casual, anything requiring fast deployment, etc...). The travel combination lives on.

Yannick KhongComment