Best cameras for Travel Photography 7 Reasons Why Micro 4/3 Kicks Ass

I have access to and use a lot of cameras yet I choose to travel with an Olympus OM-D E-M5II. Here are just 7 reasons why Micro 4/3 offers the best cameras for travel photography.

1. Size and weight

Cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, Pen F and Panasonic GX-8 are small, light and well-built cameras. When you are looking for a camera for travel photography you have to consider just how much you want to carry with you. Yes the Sony A series are in some cases equally as small but then add in a decent zoom lens and a couple of primes and the difference in weight grows substantially. I carry with me an Olympus EM5II, Olympus HLD 8 battery grip, Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, Olympus 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8. My Olympus system feels modular in nature. I can choose to go from really small and light using just the EM5II and the 25mm 1.8 or I can add the grip and use the 12-40mm Pro lens on the fully gripped body for extra battery life when I am on extended shoots.

2. Image Quality

Cameras from Olympus and Panasonic offer me a lightweight system without compromising on image quality. Some people will say you need a full frame camera and you may, if you specifically want the most shallow depth of field possible and the best high ISO noise performance. However if most of your photography is not shot in pitch black conditions at night and you don’t just want one eye in focus for portraits then Micro 4/3 is more than capable.

The differences between Micro 4/3 and APS-C in anything below 3200 ISO are negligible. In fact in a blind test I would be willing to bet 95% of people could not tell what sized sensor was used between the two. It more than meets the standards needed to submit your photos to stock photography sites and earn some cash to pay for all those trips. Add in the incredible in-body image stabilisation and you can shoot at much lower ISO’s than using other cameras without IS. So not only can you shoot at lower ISO’s to give the best possible image quality but you may not need to drag your tripod with you everywhere. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II allows you to get sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds of 1 second and longer. I have printed 30×20″ prints from Micro 4/3 and hung them and most importantly sold them in galleries. They stand up well when proper technique is used.

Image quality is great on Micro 4/3. Prints up to 30×20″ at gallery quality, more than good enough to sell for stock. What more do you need?

3. Lens Choice

Micro 4/3 offers a huge range of lenses so that whatever your shooting style there is bound to be a lens that fits. The system has lenses from the tiny Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 up to Pro grade zooms like the Olympus 300mm f/4. In general the lenses are very sharp. I love the results from my Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. I’d go as far as to say it is my favourite zoom lens of any system (and I have used a lot of Canon L glass and the Nikon 2.8 zooms). Want the best value portrait lens in the World? Pick up the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 for around £200 and you got it. That little lens is sharp and incredible value. It also takes up virtually no weight in your bag.

My Olympus prime lenses. From left to right the 25mm 1.8, 45mm 1.8 and 75mm 1.8.
I find that these complement my 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens perfectly.

Take a look at the huge range of Micro 4/3 lenses available here 

4.Electronic Viewfinder.

When you are considering which camera is best for travel photography you have to remember that often you don’t have a lot of time to get the shot. You may be working on a deadline or maybe your family are waiting for you and asking you to hurry up because they want dinner. If you are using a standard DSLR with an optical viewfinder it is quite likely that you will take the shot and then have to check it on your rear LCD screen to see if the exposure is correct, is it in focus, how are the colours etc. I remember shooting with a Canon 5D MK II for years and as good as that camera was, there was a process required to get the shot that I wanted. It involved checking my image on the rear LCD screen, then correcting the exposure, re-shooting and so on. It might often take 5 shots to get everything perfect. All the time your family are giving you that look that says, we are bored now, hurry up. With an electronic viewfinder what you see in the viewfinder is what you get in your final image. No more chimping on the rear screen afterwards. Select your settings and take the picture. You already know that you got the shot. Now it’s time to go and enjoy dinner with a happy family.

5. Image Stabilisation

I cannot overstate how useful it is to have image stabilisation built-in to the camera body. There are so many benefits. It increases your keeper rate. No more blurry photos because you had too much coffee that morning and your hands were shaking. No more worrying about getting sharp food shots when you are in poor light in that restaurant. Simply select the ISO, aperture and shutter speed you want and the IS system will do the rest. Tack sharp food shots and great IQ because you could use a lower ISO setting. Don’t want to lug a tripod around with you. No problem as the latest in body IS has you covered for shutter speeds as low as a few seconds. Not only does this allow you to keep your ISO low but it gives you creative flexibility to use slower shutter speeds in order to blur water or show movement without having to carry tripods. Your travel photography will become more creative and your back will thank you later.

In-body IS means that you can leave your tripod at home more often.


6. Discretion

I have traveled to every continent except the Antarctic. I have lived in many countries and one thing that I have always found is that with a smaller camera you can take photos without gaining too much attention. If you are carrying around a hulking great DSLR with Pro f/2.8 lens attached then you stand out like a sore thumb in many countries. It also feels a little awkward when you are carrying around gear that costs more than the average annual salary of a worker in some countries. Being discreet allows you to blend in (or at least not stand out as much) and get photos that just wouldn’t be possible with a DSLR and huge white lens attached. When people see DSLR’s they get a little camera shy, their expressions often change and they may even wish to avoid being photographed altogether. Pull out your cute looking Olympus Pen F and it is a totally different story. You will look like a tourist, an amatuer but that’s great, Just what you want because you know that inside your ‘cute’ ‘inexpensive’ looking camera the image that you just captured is just as good as your DSLR could have done.



If you’re a striving creative who wants to add to their skill set and portfolio then you will probably want to get in to video. It is a great way to bring your audience with you and show them the beauty of the places that you visit. Micro 4/3 offers all of the above benefits while giving impressive video quality. My OM-D E-M5II offers full HD video at up to 60 frames per second. That allows for some slow motion capture . It even has the ability to create slow motion in camera. Combine the decent video quality with in built image stabilisation and it is no longer a chore to set up and create travel videos to go along side your photos. The Olympus OM-D Em1 II offers 4k video with excellent quality. If you are really serious about video then Micro 4/3 offers the best video camera below a full blown pro rig in the form of the Panasonic GH5. It gives you Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2, 4K/59.94p and 50p shooting with 10-bit 4:2:2 external output or 8-bit, 4:2:0 internal at 150Mbps IPB, 1080 video at up to 180p, Pre-config rack focus mode, Waveform and vectorscope monitors, Paid upgrade for V-Log video capture with preview display using luts. This will be my next investment as I get more and more in to video work.

So there you have 7 reasons why Micro 4/3 make the best cameras for travel photography. I didn’t even mention that they offer some of the best built and most weather sealed cameras, the benefits of the 2x crop factor for wildlife shots or that manufacturers such as Olympus often upgrade the cameras throughout their life cycle to add improvements and new features. That is the sort of customer service and product support that gives me confidence to buy their cameras.

If you want to look in more detail at how Micro 4/3 compares against APS-C sensors then I did a comparison here

Want to make sure you get the sharpest photos possible then check out my article here

If you want to buy any of the cameras mentioned in this article then you can do so at no extra cost by purchasing through my Amazon links. Thank you if you make any purchases as it really does help me to keep this site going.

What camera do you use for your travel photography? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

How to Travel Safely In the Philippines

Is it safe to travel in the Philippines?


As many of you will know I have been living in the Philippines for about 3 years now. I first visited these beautiful islands in 2006, attracted by the natural beauty and friendly reputation of the people here.

With the fairly recent election of President Duterte and his infamous ‘war on drugs’ many people ask me if it is still safe to travel to the Philippines.

The simple answer to that is yes but as with anywhere in the World you should keep your whits about you and follow some basic rules so that you know how to travel safely in the Philippines.

The Philippines is made up of over 7000 exotic islands and almost all are what I would consider safe to travel to.


The only exception to this is the south western side of the island of Mindanao in the south around the area of Zamboanga where there is a heightened threat of kidnapping of foreign nationals by Muslim groups such as Abu Saayef.

Latest Travel Advice map from the British Emabssy

Make sure to check out your countries Foreign office website to keep up with the latest travel warnings.

I find the British and American websites to offer the latest and most up to date travel advice within the Philippines. You can find links to their page below:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office 

United States Embassy travel warnings 


What is the situation on the ground?


I live in Cebu province and as you can see from the map above even the southern end of this island is subject to a travel warning. I regularly travel in the south of Cebu province and get the ferry over to Dumaguete on the next island of Negros oriental. Sometimes there are armed guards around the port and sometimes there aren’t. When travelling int he Philippines don’t be alarmed at the sight of armed security guards, armed police and even seeing soldiers at various ports and places as this is quite normal. These people are here for your protection and as you become used to the way of life here it becomes something that you simply accept and don’t notice in every day life.

I can honestly say (coming from a fairly normal UK city) that I feel safer in the Philippines than I do on a Friday night in the city centre of most UK cities. I have never once got in to trouble with a local and by and large the people here are incredibly friendly, respectful and hospitable.

I was living here before Duterte came in to power and nothing has changed on the ground in terms of everyday life.

If you do as you would do in your own country and stay away from drugs, avoid drinking heavily and act respectfully towards people then unless you are very unlucky you should not have any trouble when travelling in the Philippines.

The few problems I have seen are in my mind usually avoidable. ie guys get into fights when they are drunk at 3am in the morning and wander in to the wrong part of town. Well that could be true of any country that I have ever visited.

How to stay safe in the Philippines

Here are a few basic tips to minimise the risk of getting in to any trouble when you are here.


  1. When you arrive (presumably at Manila) be aware that as a foreign tourist you will be targeted by taxi drivers as you exit the airport. Some of these guys are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are new here and don’t know the cost of getting to your hotel or destination. They will try and charge you 1000 pesos for a journey that when metered is only a couple of hundred pesos. The easiest way to avoid these guys is to simply say no thank you I will get a metered taxi. Once they realise that you know this is an option they will usually move on to someone else. The metered taxis all line up outside the airport and you will know where they are because all the Filipinos get them. If you are unsure just ask one of the many guards and they will show you.
  2. The nicest areas of Manila are BGC (Bonifacio Global City) with lots of expats , restaurants and a very safe atmosphere. In particular Mckinley Hill is lovely. Makati which is the business district, offers lots of high end accommodation and again is pretty safe.
  3. Don’t look like a victim and you are unlikely to be one. Be confident when in the Philippines because most people will be happy to help you to find your way around.
  4. Don’t show off your expensive camera, watch, jewellry etc. This goes without saying when you are visiting any country in my opinion and is just common sense. If you don’t show your wealth then you will not attract the attention of thieves and pickpockets.
  5. Use some of the local language and you will immediately find that Filipinos open up and are happy that you made the effort to learn a little bit of their native tongue. Smile and throw in a few words of Tagalog (in Manila) or Bisaya (if in the Visayas) and you are already seen in a more favourable light compared to English only speakers. Whenever I jump in a taxi I always greet the taxi driver with muxta po (in Tagalog) or muxta Kuya (Bisaya) (both pronounced Musta) meaning how are you brother or friend. This has two benefits. It shows that you make the effort to know a little of the language and it also makes the taxi driver aware that you perhaps know a little of the language and culture. In turn this makes them less likely to try and rip you off.
  6. In the Philippines as a foreigner you will often be offered an alcoholic drink by locals wanting you to join their group. Smile have fun but don’t drink what they offer you unless you know these people or are with a local friend who knows them. In general it is most likely harmless and simply a kind offer of hospitality. However there are 2 reasons why I don’t like to do this. First is that you don’t know what is in that drink you are being offered. It may be drugged (highly unlikely but still). Secondly if you get drunk with a bunch of guys that you don’t know then it may just be tempting for them to relieve you of your money, wallet, valuables. In Cebu smile and say dli ko, salamat (I dont want it, thank you). Just be pleasant and make light of it and you will always get a smile back.
  7. Don’t overpay for things in the Philippines. Yes everything can seem cheap when you come here but remember that you will be much more respected by Filipinos if you pay the going rate for something than if you keep getting ripped off. See what the locals pay and if you are feeling generous add a small tip. For example if someone helps you to carry your bags from the taxi to a bus etc a Filipino might give a 5-10 pesos tip. If you pay over the top for everything then you put the price up for local people.
  8. Don’t give money to beggars. They are often part of a gang working the streets. They will carry babies, make hand gestures as if to say I need to feed my baby and basically do anything to make you feel guilty. I never give money to beggars because once you do (and this has happened to me) a whole load more will suddenly appear as they tell their friends that foreigner just gave me x amount of money. If i like the person and they seem genuine I will buy them something to eat.
  9. Just use your common sense and don’t do something or go somewhere that you wouldn’t when in your own country. That is easily the number one piece of advice here. Use your instincts as they are normally right. If you wouldn’t walk down a dimly lit street at night in your home town then don’t do it here.
  10. Don’t get scammed on a dating website. If you meet a girl and within hours she is telling you that she loves you, her mum is sick, she is a student but can’t afford to finish the course or she would love to talk more to you but she needs load for her cellphone, let those alarm bells go off in your head loud and clear. She IS intending to scam you for as much money as possible. Do not send money online to people that you don’t know. Or if you are going to then send it to me instead 😀


Most of all when planning your trip to the Philippines if you stick to the above advice and use your common sense then I am sure that you will have a fantastic, safe trip. It really is a beautiful country and the people rightly have a reputation as among the most friendly and hospitable in the World.

As I live and work here this post is the first in a series of blogs that I will be writing about the Philippines. Upcoming articles will include some of the best places to visit along with blogs about my families travels here.


I would love to hear any tips from you about travelling safely in the Philippines or anywhere else. Have you already visited the Philippines or maybe you live here and have some great tips for other readers. Please add them to the comments below.




Exit mobile version