As a photography enthusiast I get asked from a lot people which camera they should buy. Often they are buying a new camera because they are traveling and want to document the trip. Is there such a thing as the perfect travel camera for everyone? No I don’t really think so. Everyones needs and budgets are different. I’m going to write a few of these posts to give you some options. For the first post though I’m going to tell you what I use and what I recommend for someone who has a larger budget and is really dedicated to taking more than just snapshots on their trip.
Since I was a teen traveling with my parents until recently I’ve always used the same general type of camera system. That is a Nikon SLR of some kind and a few lenses. Now of course over the years I made the move from film to digital but the setup was mostly always the same. Mostly recently this was a Nikon D600 Always an SLR with a wide angle zoom as well as a 50mm and a longer lens, often my 105mm if I felt the need to bring it for whatever reason. Of course this was never a light system to carry but the image quality it provided always seemed worth the trouble.
This past year I made a jump of sorts. I was tired of carrying around so much gear. I found that my neck was hurting more often. Add to that the fact that airlines were getting more strict with carry on bags and I had some motivation to make a change. So I made a move finally and purchased the start of a mirrorless system. I of course researched all the options to death. Long story short though, in the end I ended up going with the Fujifilm X-T1.
So after all that my current travel system is a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-55 F2.8-4 and 23mm F1.4 lenses. I think it’s the best travel camera for the photography enthusiast and here’s why.
If you want a whole ton of detail about the ins and outs of the X-T1 I suggest you visit my friends over at Fuji Vs Fuji here. However here are the features I’d like to highlight and matter to me.
Compact Size / Built Quality
The Fuji X-T1 is by no means the smallest mirrorless camera on the market. That wasn’t my goal with this system. I wanted something that I felt was compact compared to a SLR. It also had to be well built at the same time and the X-T1 delivers in both those departments. The body of the X-T1 is made of magnesium which means it's strong but light. It doesn't feel plasticly or flimsy at all. It is also weather and dust sealed. That is really only good if your lens is weather sealed as well. None of my lenses are but there are more coming on the market slowly that are.
Like I said the camera feels good in the hands. Sold with a nice grip, solid but not too heavy. Even with a larger lens like the 23mm F1.4 it’s well balanced without the vertical grip.
Wi-fi on a camera is one of those things I never thought I’d use that much. In reality I don’t use it a lot but it’s a ton of fun. I personally use it for sharing out images on the road. I’m able to shoot and then transfer the image right away to my phone or iPad. From there I can post them to twitter, instagram or anyplace else really. I’ve also used images straight out of camera for blog post I write while away from home. The software on the iphone is by no means perfect but it’s simple and tends to work without too many hiccups. There is also a remote release app for the iphone if you’re into that kind of thing. So far I used it once to test it.
All of what I’ve written about so far wouldn’t matter if the image quality was a let down. Fortunately the camera and lenses deliver. The camera uses an APS-C Fuji’s X-Trans II 16mp sensor. It works a bit different than most CMOS sensors but I’m not going to get into the technical details here. It is not full frame of course like I was used to on my SLR but I’ve gotten over that now. Suffice to say that with good glass the camera produces sharp images with awesome colour right of out the camera. The jpeg processing on the camera is great if that’s something you’re going to use. Personally I don’t use them except for sharing on the road but I do shoot raw+JPG most often.
I have not had the opportunity to shoot with every Fujifilm lens yet though I’ve used several. For your first travel lens I’d say go with the ‘kit’ zoom. The 18-55 F2.8 to F4 is what I used on my trip to New York. It is a good all around lens. It’s not the fastest or sharpest lens fuji makes of course but if you want to take only one lens with you it’s a solid choice. At the time of writing this fuji has announced a new 16-55mm F2.8 zoom lens. It’s not going to be cheap, and it won’t be as light as the 18-55mm but the image quality will be better and it is going to be weather sealed. The 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 seems a decent option too. Though I have not used it and that aperture range is too slow for my liking.
Conclusion and Samples
So there are my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1. Not the perfect travel camera for everyone. Some will want something cheaper or smaller. However it's a great pick for most people who are willing to spend more on a good camera that will give them lots of room to grow. It’s reasonably compact, built well and has outstanding image quality. It’s got retro looks too of course if that’s your thing.
Feel free to ask your questions in the comments. I will do my best to address them. Below are a few more sample images taken with the X-T1
Like a lot of my Toronto Fuji friends I purchase my gear at Aden camera. You should too if you’re able. They are friendly and have great prices. Speak to Matthew and let them know I sent you, thanks.
If you’re unable to get to Aden and wish to help the site out please use one of the Amazon links below. Or better yet visit your local independent camera store of choice.
Though I have friends who work for Fuji, they in no way pay me or provide me with free equipment.