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 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 Definitely do your research and find the one that fits your needs the best, but I personally like the slightly outdated Olympus Stylus 1050SW since it is considerably cheaper than some of the newer models and still a very capable camera.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
I 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.
Sure, 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
The 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
Canon 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
The 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.