Choosing the best travel camera: how I upgraded to a Sony a7RII

Considering a camera upgrade for your travel photography? Here’s my thought process and shopping list for upgrading from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII full-frame mirrorless camera, possibly the best travel camera out there! I can’t recommend it enough.

 

In case y’all haven’t noticed from our Instagram and our recent posts, we recently kicked up our camera game a notch. We said goodbye to our dear Nikon, and hello to a Sony a7RII, our new full-frame mirrorless camera. *Foam*

To be clear, this was not a spur of the moment purchase. It took me months to decide which camera I wanted, and even longer to convince myself I was comfortable spending that much money on anything but travel (a side-effect of budget backpacking).*

It’s a step up that many amateur photographers are interested in taking, so I figured I’d explain my logic and shopping list, in case any of you readers/photographers are interested in taking the next step yourselves.

In case you’re wondering how I could afford to drop fat stacks on a new camera, the short story is: I received a generous donation from a dear family friend. My thanks to BJF. Now stop being nosy.

 

We recently upgraded from a DSLR to a full-frame mirrorless camera... and we haven't looked back! Read on to see what camera we chose, why we think it's the best travel camera, and see our suggestions on what you need to buy when upgrading. A must for amateur travel photographers looking to up their photography game!

 

How I went about upgrading from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera

Why did I need to upgrade from my Nikon?

Previously, I was shooting with a Nikon D7100 DSLR, my trusty steed. It did everything I needed (at the time), produced decent quality photos, and could take a serious beating without complaint. It survived everything from the dust of Burning Man to thunderstorms in Pakistan to the inescapable colors of Holi in India.

But I wanted more. I traded in the Nikon D7100 for the Sony a7RII for several reasons:

  • Better low-light performance. I was missing out on low-light and night shots because the Nikon D7100 simply didn’t produce good enough photos past ISO 800. Carrying a tripod didn’t always solve the problem.
  • Better photo quality. The difference in quality might seem negligible to some, but I notice a world of difference between the Nikon D7100 and Sony a7RII shots. (And it’s soooo satisfying…)
  • Larger photos. Because the A7RII is a full-frame camera, that means a bigger sensor, which means bigger photo files. But why is that necessary? Well, I’m on a hunt for more ways to make money on the road, photography being one of them. We’re starting to sell prints, I’m becoming more active on stock photo sites, and we offer photography services to companies and organizations. Pro photographers need pro gear, right?
  • Mirrorless is amazing. Mirrorless cameras have come incredibly far since their advent several years ago. I gush about them plenty when giving advice to beginner travel photographers, but TL;DR they’re light and small and awesome. The Sony a7RII is top of the line for mirrorless cameras, and a competitive option for full-frame cameras in general. Win-win.
Upgrading a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII, the best travel camera - Insane detail at the Mullick Ghat flower market in Kolkata, West Bengal, India - Lost With Purpose

Seriously, just look at the detail in this photo of the Mullick ghat flower market in Kolkata. Be still, my heart.

What to buy when upgrading to a Sony a7RII

So you’re going for it, eh? Excellent! Deciding what lenses and accessories to buy can be a daunting task, though. Here’s exactly what I purchased (and thus recommend, obviously).

Body

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7rii, the best travel camera - Sony a7RII camera body

First, start out with the body: Sony Alpha a7RII camera body

Don’t hesitate to look into used options. I got mine “used” for $2,300—a previous customer had taken the camera out of the box, but didn’t buy it. $500 discount, heyo!

 

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera, the best travel camera - Sony FE lenses for the Sony a7RII

Lenses

Lenses are a costly matter no matter what camera you have, and full-frame lenses are even harder on the wallet. I started out with two lenses:

  • Sony 28mm f/2 prime lens ($450 with 64GB SD card): This lens is godly. I’ve hardly taken it off of the camera since I got it. It focuses incredibly fast, takes extremely crisp photos, the bokeh is delicious, and it’s wide enough to work with buildings and street scenes as well as closer shots of people and objects. Because it’s a prime lens, it forces me to move around to compose better shots, rather than relying on zoom—something I’ve been struggling to overcome for months! I can’t recommend this lens enough, especially for this price.
  • Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 ($995 with 64GB SD card): It’s become my backup lens for the 28mm, and will be my go-to when we head out to natural areas where I can take photos of wildlife. Its versatile range makes it a handy one-stop shop as far as lenses go. I used to use a similar lens on my Nikon D7100 all day errday, and it served me well (and saved me from having to switch lenses, like, ever).
How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII camera, the best travel camera - Delicious bokeh on a kathi roll in Kolkata, India with the Sony FE 28mm F2 prime lens - Lost With Purpose

Delicious bokeh on a delicious kathi roll in Kolkata with the 28mm f/2

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera, the best travel camera - Filter options for Sony FE camera lenses

Filters 

Take it from a destroyer of things: you want filters for your lenses. They protect them from scratches and other forces of camera evil.

 

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera, the best travel camera - External hard drive and memory cards for Sony a7RII camera photos

Memory cards and storage 

Bigger photos = bigger files. Your file game is about to get far heavier than you’d like, and it pays to be prepared. A large, fast memory card is essential, or else you’re going to be sitting and waiting for files to write for ages. I’ve missed out on hundreds of perfect shots while waiting for previous photo files to write—don’t make the same mistake!

 

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII, the best travel camera - Crisp detail in a shot of New Market bazaar in Kolkata, West Bengal, India - Lost With Purpose

No more missing out on details in low light! Keeping things crisp and clear in New Market, Kolkata.

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera - Sony battery spares and charger

Batteries

Trust me, you’ll want extra batteries. If you’re used to shooting with a DSLR, the Sony batteries are going to come as a bit of a shock.

I used to be able to get away with charging my Nikon’s batteries every 2-3 days (ish), but those days are gone. In one day of active shooting with the A7RII, I can go through two fully charged batteries. Always carry a spare battery or two in your bag!

 

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera, the best travel camera - Tenba camera messenger bag

Camera bag

The downside of the Sony A7RII is that it’s far more susceptible to dust and water damage than DSLRs.

I’m making an effort to be a more responsible adult and protect my camera from the elements (and myself). I actually put it away in a camera bag during transit, unlike my Nikon, which was unceremoniously dumped into whatever space was available in my smaller backpack. I suggest you do the same.

 

How to upgrade from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7RII mirrorless full-frame camera, the best travel camera out there - Alex with a Sony a7RII in a market in Assam, India - Lost With Purpose

Over and out

So ends my advice and shopping list for the camera upgrade. If you have any questions beyond what I’ve explained here, you can always contact me or ask in the comments below.

If not, peace out, and happy shooting!

 

We recently upgraded from a DSLR to a full-frame mirrorless camera... and we haven't looked back! Read on to see what camera we chose, why we think it's the best travel camera, and see our suggestions on what you need to buy when upgrading. A must for amateur travel photographers looking to up their photography game!

 

Not yet ready to spend this much on a camera? I understand! Here’s my (cheaper) advice for beginner travel photographers.

Alex

American by birth, citizen of nowhere in particular by nature. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

3 thoughts on “Choosing the best travel camera: how I upgraded to a Sony a7RII

    This is a very nice review of one of the best cameras there are till today! I had the Sony α58 till last summer when I upgraded to a Nikon D700, full-frame but an oldie one. I am super happy so far with my purchase, but reading your review I think that mirroless is the future. The low light performance of your camera is outstanding! Happy takes! I have some really cool posts about photography on my blog, have a look if you feel like
    http://www.traveldefinition.com/category/photography

    I’m sure DSLRs will still be around for a long while, but I do think mirrorless will gradually overtake them! There’s just no beating the size and weight. If only lenses could be downsized in the same way!

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