The best camera to overland travel the world: Ql19 vs Nikon Df vs X-Pro2
The best camera to travel around the world in Jeep
On today’s post, we’ll see which one of these camera is the best to travel the world: The Canon QL19 (I wrote about it here and here), the Fuji X-Pro2 (my all time favourite camera) and the Nikon Df (I wrote about here and here). But first let’s get this out of the way: the best camera is the one that 1) makes you shoot 2) the one that is always with you 3) the most reliable one.
That’s why I haven’t included the Pen-F by Olympus: It is not a reliable camera and the image quality falls short of its competitor (and I mean by that, it’s more like 2000s then 2020s image quality).
Some might argue that the Canon Ql19 isn’t in the same class and… I will agree: It’s a film camera with a fixed 45mm f/1.9. But the point here is to find a solid round-the-world-camera-companion and the Canon might just be it.
The Nikon F5 was always with me and the Jeep in the Americas, but I rarely touched it because of its weight, its expensive appearance (where a small XE1 by Fuji will appear as inoffensive, the massive F5 might turn you into a target in Brazil or Mexico or any big cities in the americas).
#1 place: Fuji X-Pro2
Much has been written about the Fuji X-Pro2 and not without a reason. It is one of the best cameras that I had the chance of using. The upgrade with the X-Pro1 is night and day: It is like comparing an iBook G3 Clamshell to a iMac Pro 2019.
I have taken over 20 000 shots so far with it, across the Yukon Territory, South Africa, Southeast-Asia and South America. It is actually SO MUCH better than the Olympus Pen-F: I ended-up selling my Pen-F for pennies in Singapore, I couldn’t carry something that makes me hate the result. Sure, I had taken great souvenir shots with the Pen-F, but in truth, none of those shots were amazing or breathtaking. I blame the old micro four third sensor for that. The pictures just fall flat. Maybe I should write an article about why the Pen-F is actually not the best camera to travel around the world. Update: I did, here.
One of the most important factor in the decision of selecting a camera to go around the world backpacking is…the battery life. Yes.
Cause sometimes you won’t have the chance to find a power outlet in an airport or in a hostel or in a coffee shop. Or take this: I have been in some part of Thailand where coffee-shop owners were charging the electricity outlet to coffee shop clients. So not only you spent $5 for a latte, but you got to spend $2 an hour for the electricity. Anyway. That’s beside the point.
I carry three original Fujifilm batteries with my camera. That’s all you need for a month worth of pictures. Wherever the battery life of the XE1 or X-Pro1 sucked to the point of being a complete turn-off, the battery life of the X-Pro2 is AMAZING (for a mirrorless anyway). I have been able to shoot over 2000 pictures per battery with the use of the 3” monitor: Far above the quoted 400 shots per battery by many shooters. It makes me wonder if the poor battery life reported by some photographer doesn’t come from using some cheap third party, chinese-made battery. Never get cheap non-genuine battery: I tried them for my Fuji, Olympus and Nikon: I can report on average only 20% of the usual number of shots I get.
I tried a non-genuine EN-EL3 for my D300: Instead of taking over 1500 shots per battery, I got on average 250. Same with an EN-EL4 for my D800E: 1/5 of the normal count. Same on the D7500: mediocre battery life with non-genuine Nikon Battery. I can go on and on and on: Point is, if you can afford a $1500 camera, you should be able to give her the attention and care she needs and part of that care is getting a genuine Fuji battery.
I shot an entire wedding in Singapore on two Fuji batteries: over 5000 shots in 12 hours. I had still plenty of juice left in battery #2.
While the battery life is the most important decision, I think that portability should also be considered…Heck, I shot once 4000 photos on my Nikon D3 in Vietnam, but that thing was a brick to carry. I used one battery a month and half. That’s how good those huge Nikon D-something are on battery life. But then, who wants to carry a Nikon D3 or 1dX?
#2 position: Canon Ql19
This is the poor man’s Leica: this camera is everything anyone would ever need, and then some.
I picked it up for $200CAD in Singapore just for the heck of it, and got pleasantly surprised: This is one heck of an underrated camera! There are limitations, such as the shutter speed being limited to 1/500 and a very hard to focus viewfinder, but when it comes to making memories and having a bulletproof, all steel body, this is it. The Ql17 is even better, as the 45mm lens goes down to f/1.7, which is useful when shooting on film in some low light situation.
You will want to carry neutral density filters for the QL19, if you want to use it at its widest aperture. I found myself often shooting at f/16 on ISO 200 during bright days. But that’s actually okay. Small aperture is awesome and underrated nowadays, as everyone is chasing f/1.2 and f/1.4. Some of the best pictures that I have taken over the years were between f/2.4 and f/8, and yes, I had a 56mm f/1.2 Fuji in my bag.
The QL19 has a very simple light-meter. It locks the shutter in case of major-under-exposure or over-exposure. I wish I had this camera at the start of my Jeep trip.
If you get the chance to find one on Kijiji, ebay on Craiglist, go for it! It’s an awesome back-up!