Raise Your Travel Photo Game - Asia travel and leisure guides for hotels, food and drink, shopping, nightlife, and spas | Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia

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Whether you obsessively instagram off-the-cuff smartphone images or produce mini photo shoots with a DRLR and tripod, your goal is the same: to take the best pictures you possibly can to commemorate your experiences. While all the gear in our guide will serve you well in a variety of circumstances, when choosing your ideal equipment, it helps to consider what subjects typically catch your eye. Here, we present our picks for four key categories of travel photography, plus tips from pro photographers and social media stars who stoke our wanderlust. By ELOISE BASUKI, SARAH BRUNING, DAVID KUKIN, MARY ROBNETT and MARIAH TYLER.

 

People + Wildlife
It's tough to predict when the opportunity for an evocative candid or portrait might arise during your travels, but you'll be ready for a range of circumstances with gear that excels in low light, has a fast shutter speed, and focuses with precision in both auto and manual modes.

Entry-Level
 CANON POWERSHOT SX730 

Ideal for casual photographers, this sleek point-and-shoot has an adjustable screen that pivots up to 180 degrees, making it easier to take close- ups. But a powerful optical 40x zoom framing assist means it's just as easy to nab faraway shots. Self-portrait and smooth-skin modes adjust hues and brightness levels to save you editing time. canon.com; from $399.



Courtesy of Canon.
     
Mid-tier
 FUJIFILM X-T2 

The update to this mirrorless option includes face-detection technology, ensuring that any humans or animals in your image are automatically in focus, properly exposed, and white-balanced—and that you don't miss textural details like fur and eyelashes. a max ISO of 51,200 improves your chances of obtaining a great shot in low-light situations. a bonus: the design is dust- and water-resistant and can withstand temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees, making it a good bet for a once- in-a-lifetime polar expedition or a more low-key ski trip close to home. fujifilm.com; body from $1,099.

  Investment 
NIKON D500 DX-FORMAT DIGITAL SLR WITH  16-80 MM LENS 

A go-to model for many travel photographers, this lightweight and long-lasting investment works seamlessly with the types of telephoto lenses you'll need to snap wildlife from a safari vehicle. Having an impressive 153 points of focus is useful for moments when your subject occupies a tiny area within the frame (think: a pride of lions amid a vast savanna), as well as when your subject is on the move and you're shooting multiple frames at once to get the shot. nikon.com; from $2,096.

     
Smartphone
  APPLE IPHONE XS 

It's received a fair amount of flak for its eye-watering price, but the newest model from this smartphone giant is built with selfies in mind. Behind the 5.8-inch all-screen design is a powerful A12 Bionic chip and 12mp dual camera with Smart HDR and advanced depth segmentation. This means even beginners can achieve sophisticated-level portraits with that creamy bokeh that professionals aim for. Larger pixels and a faster sensor improve low-light shots and video stabilization. apple.com; from $1,200.

Morocco
 

TIP

USE A PROP
"If you're taking a self-portrait, it can be nice to have an object, like a teacup or tea bag, to hold. it gives your hands something to do and makes the shot look more natural."

Jessica Sample,
SELF-PORTRAIT, EL FENN, MARRAKESH MOROCCO

 
Jessica Sample.      

 

Action + Adventure
If you're documenting cars whipping past you at the Singapore Grand Prix or the view while scaling a glacier in New Zealand, you'll want a rugged, compact camera with a broad field of view and high- resolution video capabilities, plus sturdy accessories that help you capture your chosen activity from interesting angles.

Phone accessory
 EVO SP-PRO GEN2 

A handheld stabilizing tool that can pivot, this gimbal works with both android devices and iphones and can go up to 14 hours without being recharged. its handle has a scroll wheel and menu buttons that offer controlled zoom and focus— useful for taking scenic shots mid-hike on lantau peak. evogimbals.com; $249.

     
Entry-level
 
OLYMPUS TOUGH TG-5 

Water-, ice- and dustproof, this sturdy model lets you focus on enjoying dune bashing in Dubai without worrying about errant dust particles that might scratch the lens. its new 4K movie capabilities record vivid details in ultra-high-definition video, even while you're navigating rapids or snorkeling with schools of fish. getolympus.com; from $520.

  360-degree
 
RICOH THETA V 

The four-channel microphone in the latest iteration of this three-dimensional camera picks up omni-directional audio, which comes in handy for recording the sights and sounds of a jungle trek. Wireless remote playback allows for rapid, effortless sharing, and recently released plug-ins for the android operating system give travelers the ability to customize software to suit their specific hobbies. amazon.com; $397.

     
Drone
 
DJI MAVIC PRO PLATINUM 

Upgraded propellers and motors allow this Wi-Fi– enabled, 700-gram quadcopter to fly quieter and longer (30 minutes straight!) than other models. it's a game changer for capturing scenes from above—say, whale-shark watching in the Philippines or sailing aboard a yacht on the Andaman. store.dji.com; from $1,099.



Courtesy of DJI.
     

 

TIP

DO YOUR RESEARCH
"Try to find reference images before setting off, look at the sun's path, and allow sufficient time to reach your location to get the shot you want."

Martin Morrell, VIA FERRATA, CHAMONIX, FRANCE

 
Martin Morrell.      

 

Food + Drink
To highlight the hues and textures of your favorite dish, or grapes hanging from vineyard vines, your camera should be equipped with a wide aperture that can handle the challenge of low light. a full-frame sensor—a component that means none of your image gets cropped automatically—allows for better resolution and ensures you get what you see.

Entry-Level
 NIKON COOLPIX A900 

Blurry, nondescript images—is that tomato soup? Panna cotta?—often stem from shaky hands and dim lighting. This compact choice combats both problems with vibration-reduction technology. Built-in Wi-Fi also makes the affordable model a solid pick for social media power users: they can send pics straight to their smartphones without a cord. nikon.com; from $509.

     
Mid-tier
 CANON EOS REBEL T7I 

This next-level interchangeable-lens DSLR camera has a nine-point autofocus system—great for creating sharp, vivid photos of a heaping twirl of chilli oil-laced noodles or the shining scales of a slippery black marlin caught during a fishing trip in the Maldives. canon.com; body from $749, EF-S 18–55 mm from lens kit $899.

  Investment
 CANON EOS 5D MARK IV 

The pro-level pick offers superb image quality with 30.4mp, guaranteeing that your photos accurately reflect the cacophony of colors inside istanbul's spice bazaar or the colorful layers of a towering Korean bingsu dessert. its GPS geo-tags images, so you can easily identify all the different bowls of ramen you ate in Japan. canon.com; body from $3,499, with 24–70 mm lens kit from $4,399.

     
Smartphone
 
SAMSUNG GALAXY S9+ 

An impressive dual-aperture lens intuitively switches between bright or dark lighting conditions, making it far easier to snap great pictures as you wander through places like Bangkok's indoor-outdoor Chatuchak market. Another standout feature: an augmented-reality setting that enables real-time text translation, especially useful for understanding menus in foreign languages. samsung.com; from $1,023.



Courtesy of Samsung.
     
 

TIP

GET CENTERED
"You generally want to keep your main subject in the middle of the frame, but adding cutlery, glasses and condiments at the edges can create a more dynamic composition."

Jason Varney, BRISKET RAMEN, CHEU FISHTOWN, PHILADELPHIA

 
      Jason Varney.

 

 

Landscape + Architecture
When you're shooting scenic country vistas or towering skyscrapers, scale and detail can make the difference between decent photos and the truly memorable ones. devices with wide apertures and wide-angle capabilities will increase your chances of getting the best shots.

Entry-Level
 NIKON COOLPIX W300 

If you've ever been mesmerized by one of those vibrant 24-hours-in-30-seconds landscape videos, you'll quickly latch on to this durable pocket-size camera's 4K ultra-HD capabilities and intuitive time- lapse setting. its GPS includes a mapping feature called points of interest that suggests landmark photo ops, including scenic lookouts near you, and can tag even remote locations with precision. nikon.com; from $504.

  Mid-tier
 SONY RX100 III 

The key feature of this ultra-compact point-and-shoot: a pop-up electronic viewfinder that provides a bright, clear platform for eye-level monitoring. Working in tandem with the camera's Bionz X processor and Carl Zeiss versatile lens, it helps users compose richly detailed images, especially in bright conditions, whether it's a beach scene in Thailand or the Hong Kong skyline on a sunny day. sony.com; from $648.

Investment
 
LEICA TL2 

Renowned for its craftsmanship, this German manufacturer merges long-lasting hardware with essential modern features. In this mirrorless pick, Wi-Fi connectivity enables sharing of those boastworthy #nofilter sunsets via e-mail and social media on your preferred device, and those same smartphones and tablets can also control the TL2 and serve as remote electronic viewfinders—helpful on superbright days when the camera screen is hard to see or when the camera placement puts its viewfinder out of reach. leica-camera.com; from $2,195.



Courtesy of Leica.
     
Investment
 
GOOGLE PIXEL 2 

The internet giant's pixel revamp arrived with great fanfare thanks to its camera, which many critics deemed the new best-in-class. If you're trying to nail exceptional details in dark situations—such as the stained-glass windows of a gothic chapel—the phone's widened f/1.8 aperture and HDR+ algorithm will give you an advantage. store.google.com; from $649.

 

 

TIP

GET SOME HEIGHT
"One of the most critical factors when taking a landscape photograph is having some form of elevation from which to capture the image. With this particular frame, I positioned myself on an adjacent bridge and stood on the roof of my motor home."

Simon Roberts,
THE OLD BRIDGE AT SLIGACHAN, ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND

 
      Simon Roberts.

 

Sharing Your Work
Now that you've got the gear, how do you get the likes? Some of our favorite Instagram travel photographers reveal their keys to a captivating vacation post.

 1. BE MOBILE 

Singapore-based photographer Scott A. Woodward (@scottawoodward) has won awards for his iPhone shots and says there are times it’s a more dexterous choice than his DSLR. "A smartphone is lighter and more compact; use this to your advantage and be on the lookout for dynamic and creative angles. Hold it high to shoot or put it on the ground and tilt it up. Get close to your subjects. And when you think you're close, get even closer."

   2. TELL A STORY 

A static image can be pretty, but if your image tells a story it will engage more with your followers. From his base in Bangkok, photographer Leigh Griffiths (@leighgriffithslens) chooses his photos to share on Instagram based on their ability to involve the viewer: "I like to choose photos with subjects or action—I want people to feel like they are experiencing the same moment that I have."

     

 3. TALK TO LOCALS 

To avoid taking the same clichéd image as everyone else, California dweller Elisabeth Brentano (@elisabethontheroad) chats up people who live in the area to get their insights on angles and scenic spots other travelers might miss, such as an under-the-radar hiking path or the best watering hole for finally encountering the elusive hippos you’ve been searching for on your safari.

 

 4. EDIT BEFORE YOU POST 

A little fine-tuning goes a long way. Woodward uses the adobe Lightroom CC app (Android, iOS; free) to both shoot and edit his iPhone photos: "I am able to manually adjust my camera settings—just like on a DSLR— such as ISO, shutter speed, exposure and white balance." He then uses the editing features to process the photo as he would on a computer, focusing on balancing contrast, highlights and shadows.


CLOCKWise from TOP LEFT: Scott A. Woodward's winning iPhone shot of a Moken elder, on Koh Surin, Thailand; Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan by Woodward; morning alms in Luang Prabang, and Yunnan rice noodles, both by Leigh Griffiths.

 

 

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