Why buy a stand alone camera for traveling and what type is the best? Canon EOS M10 overview.
A camera is an important tool for sharing your memories and experiences with others or to create mementos for your future self. Remembering that trip to Paris, your child's birthday, or that day you and your friends said fuck it and drove halfway across the country. A camera helps us capture that narrative. A memory frozen in time only to defrost with the warmth of emotions.
I have come to a point that I felt I was reaching the limits of my current and beloved camera, the iphone 7. I felt with the knowledge and skill I have obtained that I could make great use of a standalone camera that could supposedly take pictures and would surpass the iphone in quality. I knew that my decision would come at a price.
Taken on iphone 7
The iphone7 is a great quality, image stabilized, always connected camera with built in editing software. A quote that has become more true to me as i dive into photography is "The best camera to use is the one you have with you." It doesn't matter what camera you have but that you have a camera. Modern day smartphones have amazing image quality. If you have an iphone 7 or equivalent then you have a very capable camera.
My decision to upgrade from my iphone to a standalone camera was simple. I wanted the potential to do more. More pixels so that i could crop, raw files that can be pushed harder in post, larger sensor for better low light and bokeh, and the ability to change lenses. In return i knew this would come at a cost. I go from carrying a simple iphone in my pocket to an iphone plus a big camera around my neck. I lose the convenience of snapping a pic, editing, and then sharing from one device. Not only do I need to carry an extra battery but to make sure the battery in the camera has a charge and that the memory card I am using is not full. A dedicated camera wont make one a better photographer but it will add inconvenience.
Taken on Iphone 5s
I am not a pro photographer. I am just someone who started out as a beginner hobbyist like many others and now has a better yet ever growing understanding of photography. Iv heard that gear doesn't make you a better photographer. There is so much more to photography such as composition and editing. As someone who a year ago told themselves "I want to take better pictures." and slowly worked there way to learning how to use a camera and taught themselves about composition, framing, narrative, editing, ect I can bestow the wisdom of do not rush into buying a camera if you are still on your smartphone camera. Learn how to use that camera and the essentials of photography before you move on.
If you are traveling a camera will be extra weight to carry so you have to ask yourself if that weight worth it. Do you need extra pixels, raw files, or better low light capability? I will not cover composition in this article but the essentials of photography are more important then the camera you use. On the contrary a camera that has better low light performance and superior portrait capabilities can be a benefit when traveling. These are the questions you need to ask yourself. As for me let me explain, my criteria for a camera, why you may need a dedicated camera for traveling, and why i chose the Canon EOS M10 (amazon affiliate links) as that camera.
Why I chose the Canon EOS M10?
I had 3 requirements for a camera. Sensor size to be as big as possible, mirrorless , and the ability to change interchangeable lenses. To not go to much into sensor size (see chart here for sensor size comparisons) how i saw it there was only 2 options for me; aps-c and full frame sensor size. The full frame sensor cameras were expensive. My plan as its always has been is to take better photos while spending as little money into it as possible. The next option was to go one size down to aps-c size sensor. In the past if you did not go full frame the next option was micro four thirds but in recent aps-c has been pushing out micro four thirds since cameras have been getting smaller while still retaining same size sensors. At aps-c size the cameras were very affordable, plentiful, and with large array of lenses.
A large sensor will provide better low light performance. Unfortunately full frame cameras are usually expensive. Aps-c sensor size has been around for a while so lenses are plentiful. This size sensor has always been more of a hobbyist size sensor and not professional so lenses are also inexpensive. Aps-c is a good starting point as the sensor is large, aps-c sized cameras have very good performance, and the lenses and cameras are inexpensive.
My second criteria was I wanted a mirrorless camera because of the size and weight. Again not to get to much in the technicalities of cameras (ill leave the technical for the review) a mirrorless camera does not have the mirror, motor, hinge mechanism, and the empty space for the mirror that a dslr has. This mirror would typically be used to reflect what the camera is seeing to a view finder. With all that complexity and space removed mirrorless cameras are much smaller then DSLR's. Mirrorless cameras have surpassed dslr in many ways. Digital view finders are now fast and sharp while also allowing a live view of what your picture will be if you were to snap it at that second. Also autofocus has surpassed dslr cameras in the regard of having much more auto focus points and the points are spread across more of the image sensor creating a better focusing system. As the emerging technology of mirrorless cameras grows they seem to be pushing out dslr technology. This is all great but like I said before the main reason i wanted a mirrorless camera was because of the size and weight.
The space and weight saved by buying a mirrorless instead of a big bulky DSLR is quite significant. A traveler should be conscious of the weight they are lugging around. I always try to push my self to travel lighter and smarter and i can tell you that my back thanks me for it. In the photography world it is understood that mirrorless is the future of cameras as the technology is out passing DSLR in many ways. These technologies are going to be important for a traveler such as better autofocus system, live view and digital view finder, and of course the reduction in size and weight.
Another option would be to buy a point-and-shoot camera as they are small, but they do not posses my third requirement; the ability to change lenses. With different lenses one can change characteristics of a shot such as focal length, zoom, field of view, depth of field, and aperture. By investing in lenses one can significantly change the way one uses their camera. I will get this out of the way now and admit that I am of the school of thought that one should buy a camera that meets there needs (not the best) and then spend the money saved on quality lenses. Lenses can be very expensive but they last a long time, retain their value very well, and can be used on other cameras (using an adapter [amazon affiliate links] if needed). Quality lenses will produce sharper images and allow one to be able to take different types of pictures.
When traveling I had found that my iphone would only give me one field of view that may not have always been the best for the shot. If in a tight space i needed to back up significantly reducing the quality of the picture. If to far away I had no exception but to take the picture as the digital zoom significantly reduces quality. Being able to change the focal length and field of view or being able to zoom in optically without lose of quality is a godsent.
With these three features there were only 2 options in my budget range; the Canon EOS M10 (white and black) and the Sony a5000. The Sony a5000 is discontinued and the more expensive a5100 has taken its place. If you can find the a5000 its usually for less then the M10 and also a great camera. At the time I bought the EOS m10 it was on sale but even at its current retail price I think its well worth it. The Canon EOS M10 might not beat the Sony in specs but it surpasses it in other areas and is a great upgrade from a smartphone. Stay tuned for my review of the M10 where I talk about why its better then my iphone and the a5100. The Canon has dropped in price due to its upgrade hitting the market this month. The Canon M100 seems to improve on the M10 in a few ways but at an increase in cost. This has caused the M10 to reduce in price which increases the return on investment of the M10. With that money saved one can start to build their repertoire of lenses.
The Canon EOS M10 is a well balanced camera. For the money the Canon is an inexpensive mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that will give you an improvement in quality over your smartphone and more versatility to your shots while still being compact and light. I have been pleased with my purchase and if this is an option for you I am sure you will be pleased as well.
Here is a side note that helped me influence my descision on choosing the EOS M10. Canon does not make the camera with the highest specs on the market nor cameras with the highest return on investment. What Canon does do is make well rounded cameras with amazing image quality. They are a reliable brand that professional photographers hold near and dear to their hearts.
Out of the box Canon cameras have a vivid color profile that is true to life. This makes it easy for amateur photographers to go out and start taking pictures and professionals to fuss less with color profiles. The canon cameras may not have the highest dynamic range or the cheapest price but they are solid cameras non the less.
Canon also makes some of the best lenses on the market. Canons weather proof l series lenses have some of the best image quality (IQ) on the market but at an obvious cost. Some of their more affordable options are still very good. When you invest into a camera you are also investing into an ecosystem of lenses. Sure you can buy adapters to use off brand lenses but best results are found on native lenses. The Canon lenses and lenses made for Canon cameras will not disappoint at all.
The Canon is a good affordable camera that has much more potential then a smartphone camera. With the Canon name I can say that it is backed by years of great camera hardware and software experience as well as a terrific line of lenses. I will be posting a review of the camera soon so stay tuned. In the mean time check out my Instagram!