I’ve been in the fortunate position this year to take what two what I like to call “big holidays”. For me a “big holiday” is usually that something that involves a long-haul flight, lasts longer than seven days, and is something I’m unlikely to do again in a hurry.
Back in March, my friend and I took a 12 day road trip across Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. We’d managed to win the flights for our trip in a competition (I told you I was fortunate), but were restricted to certain areas that we could redeem our flights – having never visited any of the Southern States before, it felt like a bit of an obvious choice. Then, in June / July, I visited Canada (Toronto, Niagara and Montreal) with my boyfriend, which was mostly paid for by selling some of our unwanted junk on eBay.
On both occasions, I took the Panasonic Lumix GX9 with me to document our adventures. For me, it’s one of the best choices for travelling – and here’s a few reasons why. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you’ll be able to see some of the images I took on both trips. They have been edited, so are not necessarily representative of straight out of camera shots, but show what it’s possible to achieve.
1. The GX9’s small, light and discreet
I’m lucky enough to get to use lots of different cameras as part of my job as a camera reviewer, but for travelling, a good compromise between high image quality and portability is essential.
The GX9 fulfils this criteria, having a Four Thirds sensor, while still being small enough to fit into a small bag. Being able to hide the camera away when walking through new areas which may or may not be a bit dodgy is important to me, especially at times I find myself walking alone.
Lightness also means that I’m happy to carry my camera around all day without being being (literally) weighed down by its bulk and weight. Finally, a big bonus for my own personal shooting style – I tend to find that smaller cameras attract less attention for street and discreet situations.
2. The range of lenses is great
Although I’m a huge fan of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras (and I’m excited to see what Nikon has up its sleeve), one of the problems for me is that while the camera bodies themselves are on the small side, lenses aren’t so much.
By contrast, I was able to fit a GX9 and 2-3 extra lenses in my handbag, while leaving room for my purse, phone, suncream and other bits and bobs. Most of the time I packed the following lenses: Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4 (this is not the standard GX9 kit lens, which is in fact much smaller, but I find the higher quality of the Leica lens is worth the space sacrifice); Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4; Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 lens and the Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f/4-5.6.
Bear in mind that with Four Thirds, each lens focal length is effectively doubled. This setup gives me a standard walkaround lens (the 12-60mm – 24-120mm equivalent), a wide-angle for landscape and architecture shots (the 8-18mm 16-36mm equivalent), a telephoto zoom (90-300mm equivalent) which I didn’t use all that often but was handy in some scenarios, and a prime lens with a wide aperture (the 17mm – 34mm equivalent).
I also had a 45mm f/1.8 and a 25mm f/1.4 with me on the trip, but I didn’t always carry them with me. The diverse range of lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds mount means pretty much any scenario is covered, while not adding a huge amount of bulk to have to carry around.
3. A tilting screen comes in really handy
Lots of people prefer fully articulating screens, but I usually find that for quick grab and discreet shots, a simple tilting action is actually preferable. I can tilt the screen, grab the shot and move on to the next thing. Fully articulating screens, while more useful for portrait format shots, can often be a little more awkward when used horizontally (and certainly attract more attention).
Also being touch-sensitive meant that I could quickly adjust focus point, or swipe through images in playback, zooming in to check critical focus and so on. The GX9’s viewfinder also tilts upwards, but personally I haven’t found too much use for that.
4. I can transfer shots to my phone for social sharing
Of course, this being 2018, I feel the need to share my holidays with all and sundry. While it’s easy to share phone pictures, to really show off a destination, I prefer to utilise my “proper camera”.
Although having inbuilt Wi-Fi is not an uncommon feature for cameras in 2018, I find that the Lumix app is one of the easiest to use (read: least frustrating), and very rarely failed to connect. That meant that I could send my shots over to my phone ready for uploading straight to Instagram to show everyone what I’d been up to.
By the way, if you feel like following me on Instagram, you can find me on https://www.instagram.com/amydavies/.
5. I can quickly change settings
Maybe it strikes you odd that this comes bottom of my list of important features. However, when I’m travelling, I tend to set the camera up with a group of base settings (Auto ISO is my friend) and use aperture priority for speed and convenience. On the whole I’m not changing too many settings with every shot – my main concern being framing, focus point and selecting the aperture.
That said, when I do need to make changes, I find that the GX9 has just the right amount of dials and buttons to make that task easy, with the touchscreen also providing a shortcut to some adjustments.
So there we have it – which cameras do you like to use when travelling? Let us know in the comments box below!