Today it makes a lot of sense to travel light. Think of the baggage fees that the airline companies charge you for an extra bag. Or consider the weight of everything you carry. If you are not a professional photographer (or even a very passionate one) carrying a backpack with your photo gear could spoil your vacation. This is the main reason the compact travel cameras are so popular. On the other hand, think of the multitude of situations where one single camera, despite of its technological advances, cannot produce the best images you would like. In the end it is all about reasonable compromise.
I must admit that I carry with me more than other travelers because photography is my hobby. Before I leave for a trip, I try to read about and to imagine the places I’m going to visit. This makes me think of the photographic goals for that trip and helps me to select my photographic gear accordingly. I would probably leave behind some non-essential clothing items rather than the equipment I decide it’s necessary to enjoy a good photographic experience.
This year I managed to pack my trustworthy DSLR (Canon EOS 40D) with a great general purpose lens (EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 IS USM) and some accessories together with this small travel compact camera (Canon PoweShot SX260 HS) that I used to illustrate most of my recent posts. The goal was to use the compact camera as much as possible but keep the DSLR handy for difficult situations where a compact wouldn’t have managed to produce the quality I wanted. As you will see, if large prints or serious cropping/editing of the captures are not on the list, the SX260 is perfectly adequate in 90% of the cases. And if your goal is to illustrate a blog or to share photos on the Web, I dare to say that a good compact camera is probably enough in almost all circumstances.
When traveling with your DSLR a carrying bag is inevitable – there is no way to avoid it if you care about your gear. The traveler has several options: backpack, shoulder bag, sling bag, toploader or beltpack (for more examples visit Lowepro or B&H Photo). In any case, count the bag as your hand baggage when you fly. My personal preference is the sling bag (Lowepro SlingShot in the photo) but this year I decided to switch to a backpack with additional room for a travel guide, few maps, accessories and for a small netbook.
Fortunately, the occasional photographer carrying just a small compact camera doesn’t need a large bag – a simple pouch will suffice. For example, Canon PSC-3200 Deluxe Leather Case is designed to carry most of the SX200 series compact cameras (SX260 included); this case is made from hard leather, has a belt loop or can be carried by the original strap that comes with the camera. Lowepro makes a variety of pouches for compact cameras (see Rezo 50 for example) that are versatile and sometimes offer additional space for a spare battery and few memory cards.
As a traveler, I would definitely recommend a carrying case (pouch) with a belt loop for your travel camera: it is comfortable, safe and difficult to forget in some place.