The Best Travel Photographers and the Cameras They Use

Most people, when they go travelling, want to take lots of photos. These not only preserve your precious memories, but can also be shared online with family and friends. A good smartphone camera can take some impressively high-resolution images, but falls short when it comes to producing professional shots.

If you want to take impressive photos, a proper camera is vital. However, there are a bewildering array of cameras, lenses and equipment on the market – so knowing which to choose can be difficult.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the world’s best travel photographers, and the cameras they use to take fantastic snaps.

Top travel photographers and their cameras

Amy Toensing – the Canon 5D Mark III

Amy Toensing is best known for her intimate, heartfelt photographs, capturing everyday life (and people) in unfamiliar locations. Her photos for The New Face of Hunger, featured in the National Geographic, use sharp focus to draw the eye to her human subjects.

Her camera of choice is the Canon 5D Mark III. It’s relatively small and lightweight, which she states “fits very well” in her hands when she’s doing intimate shots with strangers. “Even though it’s not the fastest camera,” she continues, “the files are gorgeous. What good is having the biggest, fastest, highest megapixel camera if you’re not able to gain the trust of your subjects?”

If you’re interested in creating photographic portraits of the people you meet while travelling, this is a good option for you.

Eugene Smith – the Minolta SRT-101

These days, the Minolta SRT-101 is considered a bit of a basic camera. However, Eugene Smith used his to take some astonishingly honest photos in Minamata, Japan (a community that had been poisoned by mercury).

The real genius behind his work was the use of the Minolta 16mm f/2.8 fisheye lens. This gave the photos an eerie, distorted ambiance, which perfectly mirrored the disturbing and moving subject-matter.

A lens like this adds a strange dimension to your images, which may be ideal for capturing the personality of a city at night, for example. In short, it’s a great option for those who like to get artistic with their shots.

Thomas Pechak – the Nikon D3S

A lot of Thomas Pechak’s work focuses on difficult-to-photograph terrains, such as under the sea. As such, he relies on a camera that’s custom-made for obtaining top-quality underwater images. Naturally, he also uses underwater housing, which is an absolute must for keeping the camera dry.

The Nikon D35 has high ISO settings, which makes it easier to take photos in darker locations, and it has a fast frame rate; perfect for snapping speedy sea creatures like sharks.

In short, if you’re going on a scuba-diving trip (or exploring a rugged terrain), look for a camera that is robust and straightforward to use, like this one.

Alfred Eisenstaedt – the Leica III

Alfred Eisenstaedt is best-known for his work with Life Magazine. During his travels, he took many candid images of people around the world, and most impressively of all, he did it using a 35mm Leica camera, and used only natural lighting.

His most famous image, V-J Day in Times Square, shows a sailor kissing a dental assistant in the V-J day celebrations. This iconic photo was taken with the Leica IIIa, proving that sometimes, simple-to-use cameras are the best option for capturing fun moments with friends.

Jim Richardson – the Nikon D800E

The Nikon D800E marks the brand’s first real foray into major megapixels. It produces ultra-sharp, high-quality images, even in difficult conditions, such as bright sunlight.

Jim Richardson, who is a photographer for the National Geographic, is a big fan. He praises the rich tonality that the camera gives his landscape images, plus the great bokeh effects, which add real atmosphere. For a recent assignment (taking photos of farmers around the world) he took his Nikon D800E with him, and commented: “I wanted the images to honour the beauty of the farmers I was photographing, and the D800E’s quick response, combined with lush imaging, did the trick.”

Things to consider for your holiday photographs

When searching for a camera to take with you on holiday, think about the following:

  • What sort of holiday is it? Different landscapes require different cameras. For example, if you’re going on safari, you’ll want a long-range zoom lens, so you can get shots of animals far away. Alternatively, if you’re going somewhere that has vast, sweeping landscapes, a camera with a wide-angle zoom is your best option.
  • What lighting conditions? If you’re planning to take snaps after-dark, you’ll need a camera that delivers high ISO. Be aware that some cameras cope with bright light better than others.
  • What weight? If you’re travelling light, you won’t want to be hefting around heavy cameras and equipment. Test out the weight before you buy.