Camera Kit for Solo Female Travelers
Are you a “digital nomad,” someone who travels a lot and a content creator?
Are you looking for something light and powerful to build out your creative studio on-the go?
A bit of a backstory, first: I’m a digital nomad who stays in a location for 2-3 months at a time. I travel carry-on only, so all of my tech and gadgets need to fit within my backpack and my carry-on suitcase, with the exception of a smallish camera bag that I have literally shoved to the brim with two cameras: one smaller Canon Rebel T3 DSLR camera and one Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless camera
While I’m definitely a creative type who loves experimenting with different media…To make a point, I’m a graphic designer by trade but also have a podcast on mentoring high school students that I host together with my Biz Bestie.
I was perfectly comfortable with using just a nice mic set up for my podcasting needs, but a friend had mentioned that I should record video for my podcast sessions so that I can use those footage down the line if I choose to, this idea planted a seed in my head. But it grew into something of a project when Gary Vee, mentioned that podcasts with videos are gold for content creators that really pushed me into gear to start to do research. If I could also learn to do highlight reels for my travels, it would be an added bonus.
I’ve done a shit-ton of research for what kinds of cameras are the best to carry for different purposes.
Below is a quick guide from what I’ve gathered along with some of my thoughts.
First for photography, I would prefer to use DSLR cameras because of one major reason: Battery life
Battery Life: My DSLR can be used for several days, left ON in the idle mode, it still lasts a day or two. I can only get a full day’s worth of work out of my mirrorless camera, that’s if I’m lucky. This is all because of the way mirrorless cameras are set up, they use battery power at a faster rate. Without getting too technical, a mirrorless camera uses a computer sensor to show you what it can see through the lens on a power-sucking screen, while a DSLR uses a mirror to allow you to see what the camera sees through the lens, so everything is happening in real time in the viewfinder. Even if you use the viewfinder on the mirrorless, what you see is a digital rendition of what the camera sees. There is a lag between what happens outside in the real world versus what is happening on your digital mirrorless camera’s screen, the technology is getting better at making this gap smaller and smaller, but it’s good to know that there’s still this slight gap.
I currently shoot on a Canon Rebel T3, and am looking to upgrade to a Canon 6D. This camera is full-frame but affordable. Also, I’m more likely to bring an intermediate level camera on adventures with me if it’s not a large and expensive $5,000 camera.
If you’re new and want to get your feet wet, I highly recommend getting a beginner level dslr camera. Canon’s are great models to start with for ease of use.. if this is the case you can start with a Canon Rebel Series T7, or similar, and invest money in getting higher quality lens….but more on this later.
I’m keeping an eye on the Canon 80D DSLR camera because it is said to be the perfect camera for cinematography-eque videos and pictures, and perfect for vlogging or recording my podcast sessions. The only thing holding me back from that is that the Canon 80D has not been updated yet by Canon, though my favorite saying is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ya’know?
I’ll report back once I get my hand on an upgraded DSLR camera!
Now to Mirrorless Cameras:
Next for vlogging, and also now my go to travel camera for nice travel photography, I have a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens, the kit lens that came with the camera is a wide angle lens, super important for getting your face, shoulder, and background into view. The Canon M50 is only slightly smaller than my dslr and can really go anywhere with me. Another side note: it’s actually heavier than the Canon Rebel T3 DSLR camera. But is still smaller in form factor.
Another note I wanted to add here is that I debated between this camera and getting a point-and-shoot like a Sony RX 100 or a Canon G7x, which are powerful and small cameras that you can literally fit into your pocket, but I wanted the flexibility of being able to change my lens up for more creative freedom. So I ended up getting a camera with interchangeable lens, commonly abbreviated as an ILC.
I chose this camera for a few specific reasons:
- It had an audio jack, something you don’t find on a lot of the smaller Sony and Canon point-and-shoot models, you know those vlogging cameras every other Youtuber swears by?
- It has a flip screen, which my DSLR did not have. If you’re vlogging, you’ll definitely want to see yourself to check whether or not you are in the frame. But don’t keep looking at it because you’re eye will look weird in the video. (Don’t say I didn’t tell you…haha…this is because the screen flips to the side on this particular camera, the Canon M50, so if you look at yourself constantly and not at the lens, then it will just look like you’re giving everyone the side eye. Don’t do that unless it’s part of your brand to have the side-eye attitude.
What I don’t like about the Canon M50:
- Battery life, I already mentioned how draining a mirrorless camera can be on its battery, so the only way to combat this is a: buy more back up batteries, and b: turn the screen brightness down to save on power.
- The audio port is on the same side where the screen hinge is, so it can get awkward for attaching a mic. This image illustrates that design flaw perfectly
Tripod is essential!
Regardless of any camera you end up going with, I highly recommend buying a tripod for vlogging if you haven’t bought one yet. I have the smaller manfrotto tripod that I can use on a table or as a hand held device. I opted for this one rather than the gorilla pod because I wanted to use something that was easier to carry in my hand and also put away in my camera bag. There are situations where I wish I had the gorilla pod through, so I might look into getting one later on.
So is Audio!! Actually audio is mucho essential!
This calls for a completely separate post, but I’ll just say you can get a decent microphone that can seriously up your game.
Extras to make your life a lot easier:
Some things I would highly recommend you get if you get a mirrorless camera or any camera at that but specifically mirrorless cameras….
- Buy a few extra batteries
- Buy a few extra SD cards, some pros like to buy one for everyday they are on the trip so they start fresh. There are also pro-level cameras that have two SD card slots for backups if things go wrong. Either way, it doesn’t matter what level you are at, buy some SD cards, if you’re looking to do video, aim to buy cards with higher storage.
- When you have the funds, invest in lenses that will help you uplevel your photography game.
If you already have a fairly recent DSLR camera and you’re looking to video record yourself with it, you may opt to order an external monitor for your camera and mount it to the top of the camera with the monitor screen facing the front so you can see yourself.
There ya go, hope this little guide, or rather mind-dump, has helped answer some of your questions about cameras, travel photography, beginning photography, video cameras, mirrorless cameras, etc.