Most of use our telephones to take pics when we are travelling, and why not, they take good snaps, are easy to share and generally do the job in hand pretty well.
I have been a keen photographer and traveller for many years, right back to when I was travelling around the Middle East in the 80s with a Pentax film camera.
More recently I have used a range of cameras, including a Nikon D800, Fuji X100, various Leica cameras and several compacts.
I still use my phone for the odd snap, but I am very aware of the limitations, one being that it will never compete with a decent camera.
So, I have finally narrowed down my choice of travel camera to two
one which I absolutely love – the second best is in the picture – a Leica D-Lux Type 109.
But why do I love this camera for travelling?
Well, I won’t get into a lot of technical talk, but I will look at what makes a camera good for travelling.
The camera is light and compact and very robustly built, so it can withstand some rough handling, wighing in at a whisker over 400g and a mini-size that can be stashed in the smallest backpack.
The resolution is good, at just over 17 million pixels, so the photos you can take are pretty mind-blowing for detail and colour.
Framing a picture can be done through-the-lens, so you take what you see, or by the large clear screen on the back of the camera.
The camera has built in filters, so you can choose to take your photos ‘normal’ or in a range of different filters, such as dynamic black and white, star filter etc. without carrying any of these filters in your bag, they are built into the camera – all 22 of them.
The camera takes very good 4K video too, and it has a WiFi facility to transfer images to a tablet or computer.
It has a small zoom (24-75mm in 35mm terms) and an electronic zoom, although pictures using the upper end of the electronic zoom are not really that great.
I use my camera for street photography, landmarks, temples etc. and landscapes and it really does the job well, due to the very bright lens that opens at f1.7 to f16, which means that you hardly need to use the flash unit (supplied with the camera).
For the techies amongst us here are some of the key features :
- Multi-aspect ratio 12.8mp Micro Four Thirds Sensor (16mp total pixels), 1.33inch
- 24-75mm equivalent f/1.7-2.8 Leica lens, 9 blades
- Optical image stabilisation
- 3inch screen, 921k dot
- EVF, 2.7m dot, near AdobeRGB colour reproduction, eye-detection
- Aperture / Shutter control dials
- Exposure compensation dial (+/-3)
- Manual Focus Assist / Focus peaking
- 4K video recording, 4K photo priority mode (30fps)
- Wi-Fi / NFC / QR Code connectivity / Geotagging
- 11fps continuous shooting
- 22 filters
- 3cm macro focus
Battery life is rated at 300 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results, or 350 shots without flash, which is excellent, although I always carry two spare batteries, they are very small and charge really fast.
The camera menus are clear and easy to use, but what I really like about this camera, apart from the compactness, lightness and fabulous picture quality, is the external buttons that enable you to change the aperture, shutter speed, focus and exposure compensation physically. This allows complete control of the pictuures taken, but you can also put everything into automatic mode and let the camera take care of everything for you.
There are cheaper cameras that do almost the same job, and some that do the job better perhaps, but I love this camera and take it everywhere with me – I feel almost undressed without it – it’s a great camera for travellers – especially with that fabulouus red shoulder strap, automatic lens cover, which pops open when the camera is turned on and the half case that protects the camera from bumps and scratches, whilst always being ready for thos spontaneous pics.
For those that don’t want to, or can’t justify the budget for a Leica badge, then the Panasonic DMC-LX100 is virtually the same product, although the Leica feels a lot more solid and robust.