National Geographic's photo engineers will select the best camera to record your journey in the coming year.
The pandemic may have changed the time, place and way we travel, but it has not eliminated our motivation to see the world.
Returning to travel means that wanderlust now has an exit. "Traveling and taking photos again is like seeing the North Star on an ocean voyage," said National Geographic explorer Keely Yuyan. "It feels like I have been granted a pass to enter the hidden story of the universe, and I'd better make the most of every minute of it."
Taking photos is one of the best ways to enjoy the current adventure-and long after you get home. As a photography engineer at National Geographic, I design and manufacture custom equipment for professional photographers. I also tested consumer products for this annual guide to pocket cameras for travelers.
Although this year's camera manufacturing did not bring revolutionary changes, there are still some outstanding new models and useful updates waiting to be discovered. This is our list of the best cameras to take with us on our journeys in the coming year.
GR III may not be the most beautiful or shiny, but it has an impact. The 24 megapixel (MP) APS-C sensor has in-vivo image stabilization (IBIS) and dual-type autofocus functions. The touch screen is very sensitive and the menu system is easy to navigate. This is a camera I would consider buying as my own travel companion.
(See Kilii Yüyan's amazing photo of the least-visited national park in the United States.)
GR IIIx was released in 2021 and is identical to GR III in all aspects except for the lens, which is a slightly compact 40mm f/2.8 equivalent lens. I often recommend this camera to professionals as a convenient backup. More: Ricoh
Tip: The battery life of the camera is not long, but it has a built-in USB-C connector. During shooting, use a mobile phone charger to easily charge.
The seventh-generation RX100 series has practical functions, but each model is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. This version is equipped with the real-time autofocus function of Sony's professional series, which provides photographers with highly reliable eye/face autofocus, and can now focus on animals and people. No other camera of this size has an autofocus or shooting speed close to this little miracle. In addition, it is photographed electronically with almost no distortion to moving subjects.
In practice, this means silent shooting and high shutter speeds are required when working under strong light. The RX100VII is equipped with a 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens. Although it is not as bright as I want, it provides a wide range for travelers. I often describe this camera series as my "desert island" choice. Is the price of such a small camera high? Yes, but it provides excellent performance. More: Sony
Although other cameras try to imitate or usurp the X-T4 technically, it seems that no camera can match the design, technology and performance of the camera. This camera is comparable to professional full-frame mirrorless models and digital SLR in terms of performance, autofocus, image quality and handling. It shares the same sensor and image processor as X-Pro 3, but uses an SLR-style body with all the controls within reach.
(These photos from the National Geographic Archive capture extraordinary moments in time.)
One of the most impressive things about the X-T4 is that it retains its retro charm (retro dial) while providing professional-level controls (modern, wheeled), weatherproof sealing, and ports for video or still photography. This provides a pleasant shooting experience for enthusiasts and professionals. The X-T4 is not only an excellent travel camera, but also one of the best mirrorless APS-C cameras on the market. In my opinion, this makes it the defending champion of travel cameras in 2022. More: Fujifilm
Fujifilm was once famous for one thing: film. But the original X100 changed the rules of the game in the digital camera industry. This camera revives the brand and brings retro style back to the forefront of camera design. Now, the fifth X100V in the X100 series has brought some major changes. The lens has the same value (equivalent to 35mm f/2), but the new design significantly improves corner-to-corner sharpness, whether it is full-open or close-up images.
The camera's body design adds near-all-weather airtightness, a flip screen and slightly changed grips, as well as improvements to the control layout (including the joystick). Fujifilm cameras produce the best JPEGs in the industry with amazing film simulation; cameras in the X100 series are usually a backup choice for photojournalists. This has a leaf shutter, which can be synchronized to high speed with a flash and a built-in Neutral Density (ND) filter to combat bright sunlight. More: Fujifilm
Tip: When shooting with Fujifilm X100, be sure to bring three things: hot shoe thumb rest, lens hood and wrist strap. With these, you can easily discard the camera bag and lens cap.
Although the prestigious Q series cameras are expensive, they are great to use. If you can overcome this price, these cameras will be rewarded. The Q series includes a full-frame fixed-lens camera with a 28mm f/1.7 lens that provides built-in stabilization. Q and QP are the first generation products equipped with 24.2 MP sensors; Q2 and Q2 Monochrom have 47.5 MP sensors, larger batteries and all-weather sealing.
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I used to prefer QP to Q2, but Q2 Monochrom is a completely different animal with a defining characteristic you might have guessed: it can only take black and white photos. Q2 Monochrom is almost the same as Q2, except that its sensor lacks a color filter stack (or Bayer array) and it has a smooth black paint job.
Remove the color filter to get stunning black and white images; it also increases sharpness and high ISO performance because more light reaches the pixels. If you are only satisfied with black and white, then you will love Monochrom. If you like colors more, Q2 or old QP will be more suitable for you. You can't go wrong with any of these models. More: Leica
This model uses almost all the features of our favorite Fujifilm X-T4 and is offered at a favorable price, with better ergonomic design and minimal compromise. The only major degradation from X-T4 to X-S10 is a smaller battery, only a memory card slot, no official weatherproof seal, a smaller viewfinder, and other features such as a lower maximum shutter speed ( Only serious photographers will miss it). Other than that, this option has the same internal electronic components as the X-T4, thus making it the most affordable new model of the APS-C mirrorless camera with IBIS. All in all, this is probably the best deal on the entire list. More: Fujifilm
Tip: Thanks to its ergonomic grip, this camera can be perfectly matched with all-round zoom lenses (such as Fujifilm XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR), making it a perfect single-lens travel kit.
Although I have never chosen a full-frame interchangeable lens camera for this annual list, there are now some compact full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market and some matching small lenses. This year I tested the Canon RP and the smaller Sony a7c. Although a7c is technically superior in every category, Canon RP beats a7c in several ways.
First of all, RP is much more comfortable to use on hands and face. The RP is an affordable full-frame camera and one of the cheapest cameras on this list. Considering what the camera brings, this is amazing. It packs all the basic knowledge of photography into one package, which is suitable for both beginners and enthusiasts. More: Canon
Tip: Purchase a Canon EF-RF mount adapter so that you can take advantage of countless affordable second-hand EF DSLR lenses on the market.
The backbone of this article is the Olympus E-M1 series. I was deeply impressed by the many features of this camera series. Yes, you have a smaller 4/3-inch sensor, but this allows the use of ultra-compact long lenses. The E-M1 Mark III brings a variety of superlatives to the list: the best ergonomics, the best all-weather sealing, the smallest super telephoto lens, and the best stabilization system in the still camera industry.
These highlights are combined with outstanding new special features, such as handheld high-resolution shooting (you can shoot 50 MP images from 16-frame continuous shooting) and Live-ND filters that simulate neutral density filters. In addition, handheld computational photography simulates some tripod-based long-exposure shooting (for example, the blurred water of a waterfall). The slightly updated 20 MP sensor of the previous generation E-M1 camera resulted in a slight improvement in sharpness and clarity. Pro series lenses have high-quality construction and motion functions, such as an integrated lens hood, smooth zoom and focus rings, and circular bokeh visualization (background blur).
Excellent ergonomic design, excellent image stabilization, all-weather durability, high-speed performance and easy-to-use small lens, these constitute a powerful wildlife photography suite, which will not burden you. Note: The company that acquired the imaging division of Olympus seems to have kept its promise to continue developing lenses and cameras, so I can confidently recommend the brand. More: Olympus
Tips: The best lenses include Olympus 12-100mm F/4 IS PRO (24-200mm kit lens), 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO (80-300mm professional zoom), 7-14mm PRO (wide-angle zoom) , And 300mm F/4 IS PRO (equivalent to 600mm F4).
Tom O'Brien is a mechanical engineer and a photographic engineer for National Geographic magazine. He designs and manufactures customized equipment for magazine photographers in his own studio every day. You can follow him on Instagram.
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