Best Camera for Travel

Those who have followed my blog know that I’m seeking to find the best travel camera while also reducing the weight of my bags.  I have had no trouble keeping the weight of my carry-on bag to around 18 pounds, but am always seeking to lower that more.  My problem is that doesn’t include my cameras.  On my recent trip to Hawaii I took an additional bag that weighed 10.5 pounds.  That was mostly camera gear but did include a light rain jacket and a few medicines.  My preference would be to get down to one or two carry-on bags whose combined weight is no more than 20 pounds … I know, I’m probably dreaming but it makes a nice goal to strive for.

My indecision on which camera to travel with is similar to the above picture.  In the above picture I couldn’t decide whether to place the emphasis on the sky or the foreground.  At the moment I have split the view.  This might go against most recommendations about composition, but it works for now.

Deciding on a camera isn’t that easy; i.e. deciding on whether to place the emphasis on weight reduction or image quality at high ISOs.  When I went to Tunisia and Ireland I used Olympus Pen cameras.  In Tunisia I mostly used a small zoom and in Ireland I mostly used a couple of prime lenses.  For the trip to Hawaii I took my Pentax K-5 DSLR and the short zoom.  The advantage of this system was that it was weather resistant and had good high ISO image quality.  The irony is that I needed that capability more in Ireland than in Hawaii.  I could also have used the weather resistant capability in Tunisia due to the blowing sand which got into everything.

If weight were not a factor, the decision would be easy … take the Pentax K-5 with the weather resistant 18 – 55 mm zoom.  It is more rugged, has very good battery life, and has excellent high ISO image quality.  Keeping in mind that I don’t have any immediate plans for trips by air at the moment, I will travel to environmentally challenging locations with my K-5, while I keep waiting for someone to manufacture an equally capable camera that weighs less.  If I were to travel anywhere before I find a better camera and need to travel lighter, I will compromise on image quality and travel with my Olympus E-PL2.  In the meantime, I’m hoping that someone will build a camera as capable as the K-5 that is smaller and weighs less.  I’ll keep looking.

In addition, I’m looking to reduce my collection of cameras down to one camera.  At the moment I’m focusing my “camera dreaming” on finding a small, easy to carry camera suitable for always having with me … my just-in-case I see something camera.  It would be nice if it filled the above travel needs, but in the meanwhile since I don’t see any such camera on the horizon, I’ll continue to keep the K-5 and look for another camera to replace my Canon S95, and the Olympus E-P1, and the Olympus E-PL2.  Like in the picture above, I’m splitting my views.