April 26, 2011

There are many things to consider when packing your bags for Thailand. Passports, visas, clothing and medications are an obvious choice. With the popularity of Facebook and Flickr many people purchase a new camera so that they can share their experiences with friends and family back home. Cameras are usually more expensive in Thailand than most western countries. If you’re in the market for a new camera, we’ve compiled a list of choices, from high-end to budget, that you won’t be disappointed with.

Nikon D7000 – DSLR

The D7000 (body: US $1199.99, kit: US $1499.00) is one of the latest offerings from Nikon and they have included many features found in cameras costing twice as much. Billed as an enthusiast camera, the D7000 excels in low-light conditions without a flash. The included 18-105mm kit lens is versatile, well-balanced match to the body. An even better (and costlier) option would be to buy the body and the 18-200mm lens which is generally clearer and has a broader zoom range than the kit lens. With the ability to continuously shoot 6 frames per second this powerhouse boasts a 16.2 megapixel resolution, cutting-edge CMOS sensor capable of ISO 25,600. Also on-board is a customizable 39 point AF system that seems to be able to read the shooter’s mind. Want to record video? The D7000 is your answer with the ability to record full HD (1920×1080 resolution) at 24fps. Without looking at the numbers, this camera’s ability to focus quickly, meter accurately and get “the shot” in low light situations make it the number one choice for the photography enthusiast.

Costing around half as much as the D7000. The Nikon D3100 (kit: US $699.95) is an excellent choice for those wishing to get into the world of DSLR photography. This camera kit is packaged with the 18-55mm VR lens that continually gets rave reviews. There’s even a “learn as you grow guide” built into the UI to introduce new users to the features of this DSLR without opening the manual.

Canon S95 IS – compact point-and-shoot

When I’m packing my bags before I go on a trip, I’m always trying to decide whether to take my monstrous DSLR or to pack the Canon S95 IS (US $399.00) instead. Canon makes some of the best compact point-and-shoot cameras around, and the S95 is their flagship model. In a world where manufacturers try to entice consumers with more megapixels and higher ISO settings no one really talks about image quality, metering or usability. The Canon S95 IS takes some of the best pictures out of any compact camera around. Not to mention, you’ll be able to capture sharp video of tuk-tuks in Bangkok in true stereo sound. Masterful metering and automatic exposure compensation will ensure beautiful sunset pictures at Promthep Cape and great snaps of you and your buddies at the local pub. The best-of-class built-in flash will automatically popup when required. Just set it to auto mode, and let the camera do all the work.

Canon SD1300 IS – budget compact point-and-shoot

You can’t go wrong with this budget point-and-shoot from Canon. This camera retails for US $179, but it can often be found at less than US $120. What you’ll get is a quality compact camera perfect for capturing all of your new experiences in Phuket, Thailand without breaking the bank. The 4x zoom lens with image stabilization will help you to get the perfect shot every time. It even comes in a variety of colors for the fashion conscious.

iPhone 4

We’re all familiar with Apple products these days. Usually, we think of camera phones as somewhat of a novelty, often sorting through grainy pictures of nights out or jagged low reslution video. I’m continually impressed with the capability of the iPhone4. Somehow, Apple managed to package a camera which outshoots many of the compact offerings from many of the leading manufacturers. Out of the box, it takes great pictures and video, but turn on the HDR function and a whole new world will open up. HDR, or high dynamic range, takes three exposures are taken in rapid succession – one autoexposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed. Then the software combines the separates exposures into one image. The result? Darker darks and the highest lights are all captured, displaying a much broader range of tones. No more washed out clouds during the day, and more defined shadows in low light. It will give you better pictures at the swipe of a switch.

Just make sure that your iPhone supports GSM bands and is unlocked before you come to Thailand. Sim cards are inexpensive and Patong is one of the two areas where 3G is supported!

Canon D10 – underwater (or in the rain) camera

Thailand is a tropical country where meters of rain can fall any month of the year. Electronics and water do not mix, but this is not so for the Canon D10 (US 299.00). Most underwater cameras require expensive, cumbersome cases or bags that often equal the price of the camera. Canon has made an excellent point and shoot camera capable of underwater shots up to 10m below the surface. This shock-resistant, dust proof compact zoom is one of the only waterproof cameras to feature optical image stabilization. The well-balanced flash unit is impressive and produces great skin tones, human or otherwise. The 3x optical zoom helps to capture underwater creatures before they zoom away.

Although it is a little bulky when compared to its competitors, its distinct rounded styling will make an easy conversation starter, and its waterproof design will allow you to shoot freely when you get stuck in the rain, or kayak through the caves in Phang-Nga.

There are so many uses for this camera in Phuket. From local beaches and snorkeling trips on Phi-Phi island to the rolling hills around the Big Buddha and late nights out on the town, this camera can do it all.

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