Most travel bloggers I read seem to haul along a DSLR with multiple lenses and accessories on their travels. Having never had anything bigger than a point and shoot, carrying a heavy DSLR kit around wherever I go does not appeal to me.

Last year I took both a compact camera and a Samsung S4 smartphone, but mostly just used the S4 as the picture quality was about the same (it was a cheap camera). It allowed for wider shots than the compact and it was one less thing to carry around in my purse. However, I was disappointed with the quality of my pictures when I got home. I’d love to be able to take really vibrant shots and be able to capture great night shots.

When I first heard about mirrorless cameras, I thought they sounded perfect. The functionality of a DSLR in a more compact form. I spend months researching the best mirrorless cameras in my price range and narrowed it down to the A6000 or the older NEX line of cameras. What appealed to me was the design of the camera (the grip looked substantial compared to a lot of other mirrorless cameras), the large APS-C sensor and the autofocus speed.

Yesterday I saw that a great clearance deal on the NEX-5R with 16-50mm power zoom lens and 55-210mm lens. After ringing around, I found only one store had it in stock. I rushed down there only to be told they couldn’t find it (so why did you tell me on the phone you had it?!) and could I come back tomorrow? OK. So I head back down there this morning and pick up a brand spanking new Sony NEX-5R…

Sony NEX-5R and 16-55mm PZ Lens

Sony NEX-5R and 16-55mm PZ Lens

… except that upon arriving home and opening it up I find it has pieces missing (the AC adapter, the power cord and the USB cable) and the LCD screen is scratched up. Disappointed (and pretty pissed off) I took it back to the store for a refund. That’s 3 trips into town and no camera. Bummer.

After handling the camera though, I found it to be much heavier than I had anticipated. According to the specs, it’s a little under 500g with the lens and external flash. That’s not a huge weight, but it’s certainly noticeable and more than I’d like hanging from my neck all day. I was also disappointed in the autofocus which seemed extremely slow (though perhaps I just got a dud?). I also wonder if having to carry multiple lenses and swap them around all the time will grate on me after a while.

So if 500g is too heavy, what are the alternatives? Back to a compact camera or smartphone? I wonder if a high-end point and shoot may be the answer. Something like the Sony RX-100 – the third generation has an electronic viewfinder which I find appealing. But it’s currently over $1000 which is out of my price range. Back to the drawing board.

What do you take travelling? DSLR, Mirrorless, Compact, Smartphone or only your two eyes?