When I’m not traveling, I’m a children’s portrait and wedding photographer and I use Canon Mark III cameras and top of the line lenses. I hauled my gear along on my first travel adventure. It sat in my camera bag a lot being heavy. Really heavy. I dragged it around with me, but I didn’t take any of it out at the beach because of the sand. I didn’t even take it out of the hotel the day we went all over town because I didn’t want to haul the very heavy bag with me. Nope. I grabbed my first generation Olympus mirrorless 4/3 camera – the Olympus Pen – and used it the entire time. A camera is a tool and the most expensive, fancy tool is worthless if you aren’t using it. So, I don’t even pack my Canon gear when I take off on a new adventure now. Here’s what’s currently in my travel camera bag:
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera – An awesome little camera. I actually also take it along to weddings to get video clips to use in my wedding story DVD’s. It is that good. I take the majority of my travel photos with this camera. It has a lot of fun things I don’t bother with, like art filters, a setting that lets you take three photos and combine them as one image in camera, HDR settings, etc. I like to play around with photos and add filters, effects, and whatnot, but only if I have the original correctly exposed image, too. This camera has a wireless feature, so I can use it with an app on my iPhone.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – This is my backup camera. It doesn’t have quite as many gizmos, but still does a fantastic job. I feel like the E-M1 does a little better with noise in low light.
Sigma 19mm f/2.8 EX DN Art Lens – This lens pretty much lives on one of the camera bodies. It is fantastic for video and for quick portraits.
Olympus M. 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R – Super cheap zoom lens. I am not at all worried about it getting sand in it, condensation, whatever. At this price, you can easily replace it every few trips. I haven’t had to, but I easily could.
Olympus MSC ED-M 75 to 300mm II f4.8-6.7 Zoom Lens – This lens is the only one I’d replace. And not because it is necessarily a bad lens. I’ve just missed too many shots of birds in flight because it is terrible with focusing on them. Birds in trees, birds on fences, birds on a wire, no problem. Spectacular shots. Lighthouses at a distance. Again, no problem. My nephew playing T-ball. Slow enough even when he was swinging that it focused just fine. So, if you are looking for a budget zoom for general use, it is definitely a good choice. Just be aware that you are going to have to really work to get the motion shots and you will miss some. For birds in flight, look for a different lens.
Fotasy AMEF Canon EOS EF Lens to M43 Micro Four Thirds System Camera Adapter – I use this adapter with my Lensbaby lenses for fun shots. I have it paired with the Scout and fisheye most of the time. Some day, I will probably end up buying a good micro 4/3 fisheye, but I don’t use this look that often and I don’t mind manually focusing to get the three or four shots I want in a trip.
JOBY GorillaPod Hybrid Tripod for Mirrorless Cameras – With this, my camera and my iPhone with the Olympus app, I am able to get shots I never could get otherwise. I can set up my camera on a balcony, for example, go back inside and then photograph wild birds that were scared away from the feeder when I was outside with the camera. I could also take selfies, but I’m not a selfie kind of person.
There are pro lenses for micro 4/3 gear. But these cheaper lenses mean I’m more likely to take chances with my gear to get fun or interesting shots I’d be hesitant to take with the pro lenses. And, frankly, if I was worried about using the best, I’d bring my heavy Canon gear me. Travel photography, for me, is about having fun and seeing the world, not enlarging a photo to 100% and then agonizing about whether the pixels could be crisper! In fact, I just purchased a Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 Camera to play around with on my next trip. I plan to get the images I need with my 4/3 gear, grab a few shots for the travel journal with the Instax camera and then put everything away and soak up the view!
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