I am really conflicted in my camera needs. Currently I am sporting a tiny RX100 and even that is rarely used as smartphones have become our main cameras.

We're going travelling for 3 months, the photos will be priceless, so I am willing to spend whatever it takes (within reason) to get the best possible photos from that trip.

Ideally I'd just travel with a single lens.

Looking at different options, I have a good choice of superzoom cameras with 1" sensor, stepping up from that is A6000+18-200 lens - a big sensor, but a dark lens and finally some full frame options, which are big, pricey and still not ideal (only up to 70mm).

So the sweet spot seems to be sony 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens, which is unlikely to give me many shallow DoF photos.

Question is do I need them?

I mean for travel I'd expect I normally need both the subject and the background in focus, so we know where the photo was taken. Most of the photos will also be taken in broad sunlight. I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against a smaller sensor/camera?

  • 1
    If you are travelling for 3 months, you should really be thinking about how you are going to back up your photographs to keep them safe. Just keeping them on a single memory card in your camera would be very unwise, but plenty of people do it. I would also look for a camera that uses AA batteries -- available everywhere. – Mick Apr 9 '17 at 15:45
  • That should be fine - Sd + daily backups s to laptop and then onto cloud. And we're travelling across USA so it should be fine. – Lech Rzedzicki Apr 10 '17 at 19:25

Regarding the shallow DoF.

I am really conflicted in my camera needs... Question is do I need them?

Question is... do you need them?

If you have not develped an artistic style, or if you are not doing Portrait photography most likely you do not need shallow DoF.

Interesting cytiscapes

Street photography


(But I must say this examples are most likely taken arround f/1.8 or a long lens)

I do not think you will be happy taking a picture of an historical building all blurryed on the background and only one mailbox on focus. Probably you do, but again. I think travel photos will be travel photos if you have not a photographic style.

A recomendation is that you take the gear you currently have and go arround your own city or town and take photos there to define your needs.

Mpx? Portability? Low light, wide angle? Telephoto? You will be probably using a lot your cellphone for selfies to prove that you were there.

So go out and find out what you really want and expect.

This comes to my mind: https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=travel+photography+expectation+vs+reality

Reading your question a bit in deepth:

So the sweet spot seems to be sony 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens, which is unlikely to give me many shallow DoF photos.


You need for example a 50mm 1.8 lens.

A 18mm 3.5 will keep a lot in focus.

The 200mm 6.3 side, yes... if the subject is pretty far (portrait) but I am afraid the landmark you are trying to photograph most likely will not be in the frame.

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  • Could you link to some travel photos with shallow DoF that 'make sense' ? – Lech Rzedzicki Apr 10 '17 at 19:24
  • I edited my answer. – Rafael Apr 10 '17 at 19:44

Whether or not you want a shallow DoF is an artistic choice which is entirely up to you. Since you say you will shoot in daylight, and thus will probably not need high ISO, the main advantage I see to a large sensor is if you want to make large prints. If not, I don't see that you will have a problem with a small sensor such as that on your current RX100, especially if you are already satisfied with it (the sensor, I mean).

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  • how about any composition that needs any kind of zoom? I am happy to stick to my trusty RX100, but I am worried about the lack of range on it... – Lech Rzedzicki Apr 8 '17 at 23:40
  • Yes, certainly if you want more zoom reach you need something new, no question about that. Actually, I recently purchased a RX10 precisely for this reason: same sensor as the RX100, which I am perfectly satisfied with, but more zoom. Not saying you should necessarily do the same though, it does have its drawbacks of course. – user29608 Apr 8 '17 at 23:58
  • Oh yes, reading your question again I see you did mention the need for zoom, I must have missed it the first time. – user29608 Apr 8 '17 at 23:59

We're going travelling for 3 months, the photos will be priceless, so I am willing to spend whatever it takes (within reason) to get the best possible photos from that trip.

It's not the money you spend on gear that makes the best possible photos. It's your skill as a photographer and the amount of thinking, time, and dedication (say, for lugging the gear) you're willing to put towards your photography and how you balance it against 1) experiencing your travel destination and 2) sharing that with your companions.

For those of us who have our brains eaten by photography, shooting is a serious contender with those other two things on the list. If you aren't one of us, then it probably isn't. If you just want postcard shots and us-in-front-of-famous-site snapshots in the daytime, and that's it, then you're probably right in that you don't need thin DoF/big-sensor gear. Most compact cameras are designed for snapshotting and perfectly capable of handling the in-daytime, all-in-focus needs of most travelers. This is also the thinking behind the design of most smartphone cameras.

It all depends.

But if you're, say, David Hobby (who has an entire series on travel photography on Lynda.com), then you make a pact with your family to schedule that dad's away for the blue/golden hours to shoot solo, but with the family the rest of the day. You take time to pre-plan where the best shooting locations are by using Google Earth. You deliberately make an effort to shoot your family candidly in the location, intimately and as good portraits for keepsakes. Not just snapshots. But capturing their delight in some new discovery as it unfolds. You shoot in the dark. You shoot inside. You "vacuum" shoot the street as you go.

If you're Zack Arias, you capture someone else's special experience at dusk, print it out, and hand it to them on the spot. :)

With that kind of shooting? Yes, a faster lens and a bigger sensor make a difference.

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I travel with a Panasonic DMC-ZS40. This is an advanced point-and-shoot. I like it because it has GPS. When I review the pictures, the GPS tells me where the picture was taken and identifies nearby landmarks. I like it because, it has a super zoom. I like it because it has a plethora of modes. I like it because the pictures it takes are awesome. I like it because it has both an LCD, on the back view and eye-level view. The eye-level works in bright sun. Now discontinued but still available. Model that supersedes, lacks GPS. I think its the ideal travel camera.

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  • Thanks, that's a very useful comment but doesn't mention Depth of Field issue on larger sensors, I think that's why you were downvoted. Personally I plan to spend a bit more on a bigger camera, but I still appreciate your comment and point of view. – Lech Rzedzicki Apr 10 '17 at 19:27

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