New and Innovative Cameras for Adventurous Travelers

If you’re anything like me you love gadgets, especially cameras.  I’ve done a lot with digital cameras and video cameras over the years and the innovations that are constantly being released never cease to amaze me.  If you’re an independent traveler, you better have a camera with you.  And, chances are, you find yourself in some interesting places and environments so let’s take a look at some of the coolest cameras for these various uses.

Note: How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for Traveling has been discussed here before.  The truth is, just about any camera will work for most jobs.  But if you’re picky, a gadget freak, or find yourself in some adventurous and unique shooting environments, you might want to consider these innovative cameras.

Olympus Stylus Waterproof Cameras

olympus-stylus-1050sw-rugged-cameraOlympus really is the leader in consumer waterproof digital cameras.  They come out with more models than anybody else and really, they’re all pretty good.  Definitely do your research and find the one that fits your needs the best, but I personally like the slightly outdated Olympus Stylus 1050SW since it is considerably cheaper than some of the newer models and still a very capable camera.  They’re pocketable and work just as well in standard weather as they do underwater

Olympus PEN E-P1

olympus10e-p1I have nothing against Olympus, but I never thought I would write about their cameras twice in the same post.  Then again, it wasn’t until earlier today that I learned about the Olympus PEN E-P1.  This camera looks SLICK.  Every camera aficionado loves classic rangefinders and the PEN is certainly stylish.

But it’s not impressive just because of its looks.  The small size packed body is equipped with a micro four-thirds sensor that offers both the quality and features of a standard DSLR.  It is nothing to ignore, especially for travelers.  I’ve found it too difficult to travel with a DSLR camera lately and usually opt to leave it home.  The Olympus PEN E-P1 just might be what photography enthusiasts need for traveling.

The PEN E-P1 starts at $749 and is available for pre-order.  It’s set to ship in July.

Nikon D5000

d5000view_01Sure, I just finished telling you how I don’t like to travel with a DSLR anymore but that’s just me.  Many still do and let’s face it, they are the ultimate in quality.  If you are serious about photography, you’re either currently using, or planning to start using, a Digital SLR camera.

There are higher end cameras available, but the Nikon D5000 is a great mid-range model.  Lots of features, great quality, and best of all, the first articulating LCD screen on a DSLR.  This can come in very handy in many awkward shooting angles.

The Nikon D5000 is available with an 18-55mm kit lens for $799 or less (sale prices have been common lately)

VholdR ContourHD Helmet Video Camera

contourhd-wearable-camcorderThe ContourHD helmetcam is part of the new wave of affordable helmet cameras available for extreme sports.  Of course these can be used for plenty activities like hiking or rock climbing.  I’m considering one for a motorcycle trip to Peru this fall.

What sets the ContourHD apart from the rest of the pack is, if you couldn’t tell by its name, the ability to shoot in HD.  It records about 8 hours of 720p H.264 encoded video to a microSD in a very compact unit.  The best part? They list for only $299.

The VholdR ContourHD is currently on sale for $279 at Amazon and if you purchase before June 27th, you’ll receive a $50 gift card, bringing the price down to only $229 with free shipping.  Hard to beat that!

Canon VIXIA High Definition Camcorders

VIXIA_HF200_1_LCanon keeps updating their VIXIA line of HD camcorders faster than I can memorize them.  They’re sold to consumers, but don’t let the sub-$600 prices and soccer mom followings fool you.  These are very capable devices!  If you’re pretty serious about producing travel video, these are a great start.

A standard camcorder will rarely make professional quality video right out of the box, but the VIXIA line of camcorders are darn close.  Add on a decent microphone and wide-angle lens, then learn how to shoot, and you can be making 1080p HD footage that rivals most Travel Channel shows.

Canon VIXIA camcorders come in several different models with built in hard drives, flash memory, or HDV tape recording and start at $599.

Flip MinoHD Pocket HD Camcorder

flip-minohdThe 3.3oz Flip MinoHD pocket camcorder is the ultimate in portability.  If you are shooting memories, you’d be hard pressed not to justify owning one of these to slip in your pocket or bag and be able to shoot decent quality HD video wherever you are.

They are extremely easy and convenient to use, but the video quality is nowhere near as good as the above mentioned Canon camcorders.  Nor should you expect it to be for less than $200.  But if you want to capture memories and share them online, you can’t beat it.

The Flip MinoHD costs less than $200 and also comes in various flashy colorings as well.

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Comments

  1. Dan says:

    The Pentax W60 would be another good addition to this list. Its very similar to the Olympus SW range.

  2. Todd says:

    I’ve always had good experience with Olympus optics – taken some great pics with them. My only beef with them is their proprietary and generally more expensive memory cards (xD)…hopefully we’ll get convergence or standards someday (or pictures will just be stored in the cloud instead of on hard media).

    I’ve got a flip and I love its light weight, makes it much easier to justify adding to my pack. We’ll have to see how Flip (Cisco) decides to innovate, since the iPhone can record video and is likely to do so in HD as well.

    • Todd, you point out my major complaint with Olympus cameras over the year. Several people in my family have purchased Olympus of Fuji, consumer-level digital cameras and have found themselves searching for affordable XD media. We all know that’s impossible.

      I can’t say for sure about all of the waterproof designs, but I noticed that the PEN E-P1 accepts XD OR Micro-SD media. While I would prefer standard SD sized cards, Micro-SD is still pretty cheap. Glad they are moving in the right direction.

  3. jessiev says:

    great info. i am LOVING these new waterproof cameras. much better than buying the housing and hoping, hoping, hoping you clicked it all right.

  4. Dave and Deb says:

    That Olympus Stylus cameras are excellent. I don’t have one, but I have seen my friend whip his against the wall just to prove how indestructible it was. the wall didn’t fare very well, but the camera still worked. (not recommended at home kids.) Another friend showed me his great underwater pictures. We have used Canon point and shoots and had bad luck. But our Canon SLR is fantastic.

  5. Ren says:

    Gadget lust! I really wanna take up diving or snorkeling just so I have an excuse to get a waterproof camera. The Olympus Tough series is very tempting, though as a Canon fan, the new waterproof one is also quite tempting.

  6. Alex says:

    The best travel camera purchase I’ve made is the Panasonic LX3. You’d be hard pressed to see a difference in quality between it and an SLR, but importantly, especially for more rugged travel, it fits in your pocket. The only downside is the limited focal range (24-60), but besides that, it’s been a wonderful travel companion. You can check out some pictures I’ve taken with it by visiting http://www.thebudak.com

  7. Scott says:

    I have very good experience with Sony Cybershot.Stunning features!!

  8. From my experience the best one is canon D10. Works great in all conditions.Best value for money.

  9. Rob says:

    Although this post is a bit old, a lot of these cameras are still around, having evolved and changed over the years. However. I find that a GoPro is a very awesome camera having many many uses.

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  1. [...] gear & gadgets.Jeff Patch at “Have Pack, Will Travel” has just blogged about “New and Innovative Cameras for Adventurous Travelers“. He takes a look at the Flip UltraHD Camcorder that we reviewed last week. His conlusion? [...]

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