I had a turning point in my willingness to start using a DSLR camera during my travels as I wanted to take my photography skills to the next level. When I left to volunteer to Siem Reap for 3 months, this is when my actual needs for having a suitable camera emerged since I was travelling alone. As a result, I wanted to find a lightweight travel efficient mirrorless camera that would have the following options: be equipped with a timer to be able to take myself pictures using a tripod and have instant access to pictures I have taken. The Nikon D3500 is exactly what I was looking for.
This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I will get a small commission to provide a free content on this blog.
Best travel camera?
Nikon 3500 is perfectly suitable for beginners but especially to bring it with you when you travel. Here are some of the advantages:
- It is very lightweight and compact.
- It is an entry-level easily manipulable camera that offers a great quality/price value.
- It allows you to instantly transfer pictures to your smartphone throught Bluetooth with SnapBridge app: a perfect on-the-go solution.
- You can set the timer to shoot X images per X seconds so that you will have time to change poses while the camera is automatically shooting.
- The battery is very efficient.
What about the lens?
As for the lens, the 35mm length is the one I use the most. It is a fixed focal lense that allows to create a nice bokeh blurry effect thanks to its 1.8 aperture. The AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G is a versatile lens that is a must-have for any traveller regardless of skill level. It is very light (only 200g) and compact. You can play around with the aperture (f) depending on the effect you want to get. The smaller the aperture the blurrier the background will be (you can go down to 1.8). To make things easier with the rest of the settings, I recommend setting the camera on A mode (aperture priority) so that it will automatically adjust the speed and the ISO.
The Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8/S lens is a pricy addition to the camera gear. It allows to take wide landscape pictures as well as portraits thanks to its zoom with different focal length. It is a versatile lens with large possibilities for landscape photography but also high-quality close-ups. The sharpness and details are exeptional with this lens. Nevertheless, it is quite heavy and much bigger than the 35mm one. This is why we mostly use it for shootings in Paris. What is more, it is only compatible with Nikon Z6 or Z7.
Additional photography tips
In addition to photography gear, I suggest shooting in RAW format as opposed to JPEG. Although the size of the file is much bigger, the quality will be better after post-processing these RAW files. With this format, you edit pictures with much more possibilities than with a JPEG picture format. I edit my photos in Lightroom and even if it is relatively easy, it took me some time to actually figure it out and edit my pictures with the final effect that would satisfy me. So I advise you to go very gentle with the tools. Play around with Blacks/Whites and Shadows rather than with Exposure. With Nikon D3500 you can also choose to save JPEG and RAW simultaneously so that you can use a JPEG file immediately with little editing on your phone.
My smartphone of the moment
Having a good smartphone also helps and it is sometimes way more practical. I have a Samsung Galaxy S10. It takes great photos and I especially appreciate it for its wide angle lens that is perfect for landscape photos and when I want to capture a larger perspective.
Camera gear essentials: accessories
Some additional camera gear essentials include
- Battery: trust me you may want to avoid the situations when you make an effort to arrive to a certain place to only find out that your battery is dead and you cannot document your journey. Carrying a spare battery always comes in hand and it does not take you too much additional space.
- External charger: if you mostly take pictures with your phone, the battery goes low really fast. Play it safe and equip yourself with a portable battery charger.
- Memory card: having a spare SanDisk memory card is always a good idea. Mine is 64GB and I try to empty it regularly by saving pictures on my desktop. In this way, you backup your files and you empty your memory card which is not always possible on a long trip.
- Camera bag: choose a compact camera bag with compartments to organize and stabilize your gear and/or
- Camera case: I use the MegaGear camera case that fits my Nikon D3500 with 35mm lens (it is suitable for several Nikon D models with 18-55mm lens). It prevents the camera from shocks and scratches and it is very handy if you only take one camera and do not need a full camera bag.
- Tripod and gorillapod: lightweight carbon and compact tripod is any travellers companion. The so called gorillapod is a super flexible octopus mini tripod that you can fix on uneven surfaces or wrap it around a tree branch or a grid. These tripods are compatible with any DSLR, smartphone and Gopro.
- Wireless shutter release timer remote control for delay shooting and timer planning shooting modes.
- Lens cleaning kit. If you do not want to carry the full kit with you, then just bring some cloth and wipes from the kit when you are travelling and do the proper cleaning of your lens whenever you are back home.
With all this travel efficient camera gear you are good to go. It is a rather basic and essential gear that you can later top up with additional equipment depending on your needs and style of travel.
For more packing tips, you can relate to my travel essentials list for a carry-on bag.
SAVE THIS LIST ON PINTEREST OR SCREENSHOT ON YOUR PHONE TO MAKE FULL USE OF IT!