You’ve got to carry that weight

You've got to carry that weight

4 Jan 2017

In my previous post, I recommended buying a mirrorless camera for travel. Two reasons:

• Quality. A mirrorless camera will produce images that are as good as a professional DSLR several times the size, weight, and often cost. If you enlarge the image until it fills a TV screen, maybe you’ll see a difference.

• Size and weight. These cameras aren’t going to weigh you down. You can carry one all day over rough terrain without strain. They won’t attract as much attention from thieves as a bigger, more expensive camera. And most importantly for the traveller, they can fit into your carry-on luggage. When airlines enforce their 7 kilogram limit, a big DSLR and a few lenses won’t leave much for anything else. Believe me, you don’t want to check your camera gear. There is more chance of theft when your bags are being handled out of sight, and the way those bags get slung around, things can get broken.

The interchangeable lens format means you can change lenses. Here I’ve shown a Canon Eos M3* with three lenses. The one on the camera is the smallest, a 22mm ƒ2.0 prime lens. This is small (and unobtrusive), perfect for landscapes, street photography, and low-light work. The lens on the left, being ridden by my little Lego cameraman to show the size, is the standard 18-55mm zoom. A handy walking-around lens, with a range of focal lengths good for landscapes, portraits, and a modest telephoto. The lens on the right is a 55-200mm zoom, which will give you enough “reach” to capture distant objects such as wildlife.

The equivalent DSLR camera and lenses will cost a fortune, be much larger, take up your entire carry-on weight limit, and strain your shoulder after a day hiking. As well as sending a clear message to thieves that you are a prime target.

Next time you shop for a good travel camera, go mirrorless!


*Great little camera. I’ve shown the rear touchscreen flipped up in selfie mode. You can buy an adaptor to mount any Canon DSLR lenses if you have an existing collection.


  1. When traveling I don’t like changing lenses too much. Especially in environments like the beach where I don’t want salt spray, sand, etc. to get into the body. So something to consider too is one of the superzoom lenses, like a 18-270 or 18-200 for DSLRs, or I think there’s a 14-140 for micro fourthirds, etc. Or pick a single prime and stick with it, such as a 35mm or 50mm. Unless you’re trying to do wildlife photography you can often zoom with your feet or crop and get by. And for spontaneous shots, you may not have enough time to swap out lenses so going from wide to tele with a twist has advantages. The downside is the lens isn’t going to be as good as a fast prime.

    1. I’ll often have two or even three bodies, each with a different lens. I don’t like changing lenses in the heat of the moment, either. Too much chance of stuff getting into the body and harming the delicate sensor, or losing bits such as caps in the grass. At the moment I’ve got three bodies with me: my main camera with a 12-40mm ƒ2.8 lens, the Canon M3 with a 55-200mm zoom (not fast, and not good on autofocus, but a great reach), and my Pen F with a 35mm equivalent for street or inside.

      I’ll usually take all three bodies with me, plus a couple of spare lenses, and select one or two to go out walking with. Always with a belt pouch or backpack so I can tuck the gear away. With mirrorless, that’s still not a great deal of weight.

      When I had my 70D, the 18-135mm zoom was pretty good for everything, but pretty big and chunky.

  2. Luggage allowance, weight and fitting all my equipment into my cabin bag is always a problem for me. I’m currently use a standard dSLR but definitely considering switching to a mirrorless down the line for the exact reasons you mentioned.

    1. Changing to a different system usually involves a significant changeover cost. Swings and roundabouts, really.

      I loved my Canon 70D, but I could see the downside once I began buying a suite of lenses.

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