The best cameras and gear to take on your Hawaii vacation – our picks for stunning photos and videos

I probably have one of the most envied jobs in the world. I get to follow Sheila to Hawaii with the task of making sure everything we see and do is captured to photo or video.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. 😉

Actually, it’s not quite as tough as it used to be. Since our first visit to Hawaii in 2003, camera technology has come along way. We started with a humble 2mpx compact camera and upgraded all the way up to a high-end DSLR. Recently, cameras have gotten so advanced (and so small), I’m back down to a mirrorless camera as my main camera, supplemented by a GoPro and Mavic drone.

We are often asked what kind of cameras we recommend. I thought you might like to get an idea of what accompanies me on most trips, so you can decide if you too wish to get the most out of your vacation photos and videos.

Panasonic Lumix G85

The Panasonic Lumix G85 is my current camera of choice. I picked this up late last year when an unfortunate tripod accident on Kauai left my previous camera worse for wear. The Lumix G85 has been an awesome choice of camera. It’s so amazingly compact–as this photo next to a tin of Altoids clearly demonstrates:

Despite its portable size–perfect for travel–it’s compatible with a wide range of lenses and shoots stunning 4K video too! Pair it with a tripod and you’re all set! Here’s just one example of a photo taken with the Panasonic Lumix G85.

Budget Option: The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS60 is a great compact camera that doesn’t require additional lenses and shoots 4k video!

GoPro Hero5

I absolutely love GoPro cameras!

I bought my first one in 2013 and have upgraded twice since. They not only allow you to take action shots on land, but let you capture some amazing underwater video footage too! The Hero5 is my current GoPro and it’s one of the smallest ones yet. It too captures stunning 4K resolution video as well as amazing wide angle photos. It has a tiny preview screen on the back, so there’s no guessing what’s in frame, and you can also stream it directly to your smartphone!

I like to pair the Hero5 with the GoPro Karma grip. This amazing device gets mistaken for a “selfie-stick” but it’s something even more incredible. It’s a micro gimbal that lets you record video without any shakes or abrupt movements in your footage. No matter what you do, the Karma grip keeps your GoPro completely steady. It’s amazing!

However, it’s not waterproof, so for those stunning underwater videos, I like to use this underwater telescopic pole:

Not only does it help you to get your GoPro closer to the reef, but it also floats–so you don’t have to worry about losing your GoPro to the ocean bed. 😉

GoPros are awesome for snorkeling!

Budget Option: If you don’t want to invest in a GoPro Hero5, then I would check out the AKASO EK7000 as a cheaper option.

DJI Mavic Pro

OK, this was a total splurge, but has been a fantastic investment. The DJI Mavic Pro is a drone that practically flies itself. It can take off on its own, it can hover in place, it can avoid obstacles on its own, and it can use GPS to return back to the take-off spot–within inches! Did I mention it can fly up to 40mph with a range of 4 miles!

It gets even better! It folds down to the size of a milk carton! How about that for a space-saver, when you’re packing for Hawaii?

The Mavic Pro takes gorgeous 4K resolution video and thanks to its onboard gimbal, the movies are rock steady! It also takes some amazing photos too!

Budget Option: Honestly, don’t go too cheap when it comes to drones. You get what you pay for. With that said, I would stick with a DJI drone. This one is half the price of the Mavic.

Samsung S7 Edge

Let’s not forgot that tiny device that is likely with you, everywhere you go. Most smartphones can take 1080p HD video and many new ones even shoot 4K. The Samsung S7 Edge is one of the best camera phones I have ever owned. Not only does it shoot amazing photos and video with the automatic settings, it has a manual mode so I can take amazing photos like this sunset:

Budget Option: Whatever camera phone you already own. Try it, you’ll be surprised at how well it does!

When I get home, I transfer everything to my iMac and then use the built-in iMovie software to create stunning videos like this one:

So, that’s the camera gear of Go Visit Hawaii’s official photographer, videographer, and most envied husband on the planet.

What gear do you like to take? What questions can we answer for you?

On a somewhat related note – we gathered all the entries from the camera gear giveaway and randomly selected two winners. Congratulations to Reb and Karl!

About Andy Beal

Andy Beal provides the photos, videos and technical support for Go Visit Hawaii--as well as the occasional post or two. He's also a keen ukulele player. Connect on Google+

2 comments

  1. I’d come to rely exclusively on my iPhone for photos until late last year when I decided it was time to splurge on a Nikon D7200. I missed all the creative options and flexibility a SLR could provide and today’s digital SLRs are amazing. I have to admit the compact options you talk about here are very impressive.

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