Ted Beatie - Travel Photogapher/Writer

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So You Want to Buy a Camera?

You're about to head off to travel around Southeast Asia for six months, and you want to bring along a camera to record the experience. You've been using the same cheap point-and-shoot for years. Is that going to meet your needs? You decide that it might be a great excuse to get a new camera, but what to get? There are so many options! Fully automatic, or manual? Able to take different lenses, or just the lens that is included? Compact flash or SD? AA or proprietary batteries? Resolution? Pixels? Zoom?

Obviously, choosing a camera is a very subjective thing. Various factors matter differently to different people. Some long-term backpackers just care about size and weight. Others want more features or the ability to change lenses. It pays to do some research into the options available. Gliffy (gliffy.com) has an interesting flowchart for recommending several camera options. For digital SLR cameras specifically, Bob Atkins at photo.net has a great breakdown of the factors to consider when choosing a DSLR.

Once you have an idea of what you might be looking for in terms of features, it's time to compare models against each other. Hands down, the best site for camera research is Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com). Their Buying Guide has both a features search and a side-by-side comparison, both of which allow you to look at multiple models to evaluate them against each other in terms of features, price, and owner opinions.

As a semi-professional photographer, I tend to take my beloved Canon 20D along with a couple of additional lenses, but I always carry my smaller, compact, Canon A610, which offers zoom, manual mode, a flip screen, and runs on AA batteries.