The best camera is the one that’s with you.
– Chase Jarvis

 

One of the most common questions from those reading our blog is, “What camera do you use?”  Sure, almost all analog or digital photos go through some sort  of post-processing, but you always have to start with a good image.  Getting that good, or sometimes great image is up to you and your camera.

Now that you’ve clicked the link to this blog post looking for the best camera to buy for your overland trip I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is that I don’t have a specific model number for the best overlanding camera.   There isn’t going to be one right camera to make the best of every situation. The good news is that the best camera is the one you have with you. In reality most people don’t care what camera you used to take a picture of a baby sloth cuddling a kitten.  It doesn’t matter whether you used a 8000 megapixel DSLR camera or an outdated smartphone. The fact that you took a picture of a sloth cuddling with a kitten is plenty good enough.

Chase Jarvis does a great job of explaining that the best camera is the one that’s with you… this video and his app are 4 years old, but his description in the first minute is definitely worth a watch.

BUT SERIOUSLY… WHAT DO YOU USE?  

We travel with three different types of cameras for three different situations:

 

1. SMARTPHONE

We’re rocking the a couple of beat up Apple iPhone 4 8GB.  It seems like everyone in the world has a cellphone, and the majority of those people have smartphones. We love being able to pull the phone out and snap a photo in a busy street, market, etc without attracting any attention whatsoever.

To go along with our smartphone I have been using VSCO Cam to edit them and then Instagram to share with the world (or at least with a few hundred people…)

If all you can afford is to bring your cellphone, then do so.  It is all you really need to share your experience with others.  Don’t forget that all of the basic photography rules apply.  Take a chance with an interesting point of view, get up early for a wicked sunrise, and don’t hesitate to ask a street vendor on the street for a side-by-side double selfie.

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2. GOPRO

The self-proclaimed “worlds most versatile camera” lives up to it’s claims.  That’s why we like it.

Our GoPro Hero2 is small, lightweight, waterproof and can take a beating.  Heading out for a hike in the rain?  Going surfing, but want to take some photos?  Need some cool video of the trophy trucks during the Baja 1000?  For all of those situations, the GoPro is great.  The wide angle lens looks awesome combined with the interesting points of view you can afford to try with a camera that only costs a few hundred dollars.

When we want to protect our other cameras from the elements, but still want to document whatever shenanigans we’re up to, we pack the GoPro.

 

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3.  DSLR

I use a Canon 5D MIII because that’s the camera I have for photographing weddings.  I usually have a Canon 35mm f1.4 lens on, but also shoot with a Sigma 85mm f1.8, and a Canon 17-40mm f4.  I’m a sucker for prime lenses, but also for the look of a photo shot with awide angle lens.

Nowadays a decent DSLR is in the budget for most people.  The image quality, interchangeable lenses, video capability, and ability to control all of your settings make this a must have for me.  The only downside is when you pull out thousands of dollars of camera to photograph a busy market in the rain or the desert in a sandy wind storm.  Unfortunately it can draw unwanted attention and is relatively sensitive to water, dirt, and dust.  I wouldn’t ever leave for a trip without it, but I also wouldn’t leave home without a camera that can do the job when I don’t want to pull the DSLR out of the bag.

If you’re getting a DSLR, stick with Canon or Nikon.   They’ve got the best selection of lenses and are the only two DSLR cameras I have seen professional photographers use.  There are pros and cons to each camera from each company so do some research, rent a couple from your local camera shop, and pull the trigger on what one feels best.

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So there you go, that’s what we use and why.  What’s in your bag?

If you’re buying a camera online, click on our Amazon affiliate link below and we’ll get a small percentage of the whatever you buy!  The cost is the same for you, the only difference is that Amazon coughs up a bit of cash for us little guys. 🙂

6 comments

  • Daniel

    I’m rocking an old Nikon D90, just with the 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5g kit lens and a 50mm 1.8d Prime. Really want something like a 10-24 f/2.8g lens for landscape shots as I find myself back at 18 a lot of the time. The prime is great especially for mucking around with dof and low light work but I wish I got the 35mm.

    Still take the old Sony Hx10v p&s around with me, still takes good shot and makes up for my lack of zoom lenses. Might sell it soon to partially fund a GoPro though.

    Reply
  • Brian

    When I’m travelling my cameras of choice is a Nokia Lumia 1020 in combination with a Ricoh GR. The performance to weight/size ratio is outstanding and they do not draw unwanted attention at all.

    Reply
  • mike'loops

    We pack an old(2002!) D70s with a 50 everywhere- it lives in the truck.. but we find our iphones work great for the impulse shots..

    Reply
  • Emma

    Sounds pretty similar to our set up, except the 5D was a little outside the budget. I did manage to convince Ben we needed to upgrade to a 6D though, so I consider that to be a win! I have the Tamron f2.8 24–70 and love it dearly. Although the 50mm 1.8 is a good lightweight option. Also drag around my telephoto for the wildlife shots, but that certainly takes up some more room!

    Reply
    • Richard

      I have heard lots of good things about the 6D! The 24-70mm is an awesome walkabout lens!

      Reply
  • Alex

    Surprised to see you running a DLSR for travel, you should embrace the mirrorless revolution!

    Reply

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