There are SO many cameras on the market. Different brands and models, some for videos, photos, action, and even drones! We’ve made this post to help you pick the best travel cameras for your trip, whether you’re an absolute beginner, someone who is experienced or looking for that perfect action camera, we have you all covered in our ultimate guide!
For us, and I’m sure for many of you reading this post, one of the best things about travelling are the memories you create along the way. Capturing photos during your trip is the perfect way to saviour these memories that will last a lifetime.
Capturing awesome and high quality photos from our travel adventures is something all of us want, and we know that when we first started our lives of full-time travellers, deciding what sort of camera we wanted to take with us was a huge decision. With the ongoing advancements and the ever changing world of digital technology, it is so easy to get confused and frustrated when looking at all of the options there currently is.
You’ve most likely done some research into the best travel cameras, and noticed there are hundreds of different TYPES of cameras out there. When choosing what is the best travel camera for you, make sure to consider the type, size, portability, versatility, durability, resolution, zoom and price range. That’s a lot to consider right?! Never fear, we’ve spent endless hours researching on the internet for the latest and greatest travel camera’s, we’ve also personally tried many of them and have asked friends for their personal opinion. After gathering all of this information we now have a solid foundation for you! So grab some popcorn, a drink and let’s begin!
Choosing The Best Travel Cameras
If all cameras were the same price, of course everyone would buy the most professional and high performance camera available. Sadly the reality is, you get what you pay for. Do also remember, when you purchase a camera, sometimes it does not come with a lens or memory card so take this into consideration when budgeting. Other important accessories you made need to buy on top are spare batteries, a tripod and a camera bag. This can all add up fast, so make sure to keep this in mind when choosing.
What Do You Want To Achieve?
If you’re an absolutely beginner photographer, it wouldn’t be a smart idea to choose the most advanced and expensive camera on the market, unless you’re willing to put in some serious work and learning. Think about what you personally want to use the camera for. Do you just want to get some great photos to look back on and possibly upload them to social media to show your friends and family? Are you more focused on capturing videos? Or are you wanting to upgrade to something more professional with the goal of selling your photos one day?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself before buying a camera.
One tip which we do suggest is, if you truly believe that one day you want to take your photography to the next level, either by blogging, photography or even selling your photos it is a great idea to buy a camera that slightly more advanced than you currently know, so that you can grow into it. Instead of, buying a new camera every few years when you’ve out grown your current one.
How Much Gear Do You Want To Carry?
Camera gear varies greatly depending on what you are willing to carry, your budget and the type of travelling you are doing. Some are purely a compact camera that will fit in your pocket, others are bulky heavy and require multiple lenses.
If you’re backpacking, staying in hostels and living on a budget then carrying expensive camera equipment with you might not be the best decision, unless you’re carrying it with you at all times or keeping it locked in a locker (still be careful though). Instead, you might be better off with a lightweight, compact camera that still performs to your every need.
Now that we’ve carried out a few basic questions that you should ask yourself, here are the different types of cameras and the best in each category:
Best Smart Phone Camera
You’ll be surprised by how well smart phones take photos these days, many bloggers and photographers use smart phones for their incredible shots. Almost every traveller has a smart phone, whether it’s a Samsung, Apple or LG, and it’s a great all in one no frills solution for your technological needs whilst travelling around the globe.
The great thing about using your smart phone as a camera is that it’ll most likely be on you at all times, and sometimes the best photos are taken when you’re least expecting it. If you are wanting a smart phone that will perform to it’s maximum capabilities when it comes to photography and videography, then our recommendation is the latest iPhone 7 and 8 series. They truly are the perfect travel accessory and definitely worth spending a little extra money on.
However, at the end of the day smart phones are phones. They won’t be able to zoom in on faraway objects with great detail or have amazing low-light capabilities, but at least you’ll always have the camera on you, which is the most important thing in photography.
Recommendation: iPhone 8 Series
The Apple iPhone 8 is your best bet if you plan on using your phone as your camera. Smartphones are not just a way to contact friends and family, but are also becoming the best cameras for travelling or backpacking due to the compact, lightweight and easy to use functions. Apples new iPhone 8 model captures stunning pictures with its dual camera system and 12 mega pixel lens, whilst also shooting mesmerising 4K video footage.
If you’re wanting something a little more advanced, then the iPhone 8 Plus is the optimum choice. With optical zoom and digital zoom at up to 10×, it’s an incredible piece of engineering.
Best Action/Adventure Camera
If you want a camera that will happily go everywhere you go, we’d suggest investing in a good action camera. If you’re an adrenaline junkie or a traveller who just loves adventure sports, an action camera is a must, especially if you want to capture awesome videos. Whether it’s skiing, scuba diving, skydiving, surfing, etc. action cameras will not let you down.
Action cameras are durable, compact in size and can go places that large cameras cannot.
There is a whole range of action cameras in the market, the best ones shoot with 4K, are waterproof and have wifi.
Even if you’re not interested in adrenaline activities, having a good action camera is still a smart choice when travelling. They are especially great if you’re looking for the best cameras for adventure travel.
Recommendation: GoPro Hero 6
Launched only a few weeks ago, the GoPro Hero 6 is the latest model to be released. It is undoubtedly the best action travel camera on the market and a personal favourite of ours. We currently own the GoPro Hero 5, and love it. We know a few people who recently bought the 6 and say the extra capabilities is worth the extra price. The Hero 5 Black tops out at 4K resolution at 30fps, whereas the Hero 6 Black can now shoot 4K at a slick 60fps. In addition, the Hero 5 Black can only shoot 240fps slow-motion video at a reduced 720p frame rate. Whereas the Hero 6 Black, you can now shoot 240fps at a much sharper 1080p resolution.
Both these upgrades are pretty significant, and if you’re an adventure traveller it’s a great choice!
All GoPros capture insanely high quality images that aren’t blurry, even when you’re skiing down a snowy mountain, thanks to its electronic image stabilisation system. This travel camera shoots insane ultra HD videos and has a huge range of accessories that can mount your GoPro to pretty much anything.
There are so many accessories for the GoPro it can also be hard to choose which are the best. Read our blog post on the Best GoPro Accessories For Travelling.
Performance: All-new GP1 chip, HERO6 Black delivers 2x the performance of HERO5.
Slow Mo Pro: 4k60 and 1080p240 video enables stunning slow-motion playback of your highlights
What we like: Waterproof to 10m, voice control, advanced image stabilisation, low light performance.
What we don’t: Touch screen is hard to use when wet.
Best Travel Camera For Beginners
If you’re brand new to photography and you’re yet to buy a camera, your best bet is buying an affordable camera that is easy to use but still captures great quality photos.
The best type for beginners are point and shoot cameras. They are lightweight, durable and you can carry them around with ease. Many point and shoot cameras these day are waterproof and shock proof, and the ability to use manual settings will come in handy if you ever want to play around and learn a bit more about how photography works.
Recommendation: Panasonic Lumix DMC -ZS100
This little pocket rocket of a camera is a part of Panasonic’s “travel zoom” and it’s made to be a direct competitor to the RX100. It combines exhilarating speed and performance with a smart, compact design. The Panasonic ZS100 has a solid offering of quality, zoom, and size that are sure to wow any traveler. The camera uses the same 1″ sensor that feels pretty standard and found in other point and shoot cameras. With a 25 – 250mm zoom lens it offers the longest zoom in this class. This amazingly long zoom lens does have one drawback with the wide area of coverage – a slow autofocus. However, it gives you everything you need to capture inspiring images and video and share them with ease.
Weight: 9.5 oz.
Sensor size: 1″
What we like: Long zoom, WiFi, 4k, electronic viewfinder, and touch screen.
What we don’t: Slow autofocus.
Best Bridge Travel Camera
Bridge cameras are quite literally a ‘bridge’ between a point and shoot and DSLR/Mirrorless cameras, and are there to fill the gap in-between. A bridge camera has a fixed lens with an optical and digital zoom. It offers the simplicity of a point and shoot with higher superior image quality. For the price point, it’s a hard camera to compete with!
These cameras are great if you still want the portability and benefits of having a point and shoot, but you want to take incredible photos that are slightly more advanced. You’re also interested in learning about the fundamentals of photography, and perhaps want to one day print your photos or even sell them online.
This is the category that most travellers will be in. So if you’re asking yourself what is the best compact digital camera for travelling, read on…
Recommendation: Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
The SX60 HS is a very affordable bridge camera that’s hugely popular amongst photographers. This is, in our opinion, the best bridge camera for travel on the market. It does everything you’ll ever need it to do and has incredible image quality. It uses a smaller sensor than we’ve seen in the previous cameras, but it has a lower price tag. The camera offers full manual control, an articulated screen, electronic viewfinder, and it shoots RAW images. The camera build is small and does not feel as bulky and heavy as many other options. Combined with the lens and digital zoom this camera go up to a whopping 1365mm lens equivalent.
Weight: 22.8 oz.
Sensor size: 1/2.3″
What we like: Super long zoom, small body, price, tilt screen, and RAW images
What we don’t: Low light conditions, and no sensor on EVF.
Best Travel Camera For Vlogging
Vlogging is still fairly new, and has become popular with travel bloggers and photographers to show off destinations around the world.
If making videos is more your style, then your primary goal for purchasing a good camera is going to need a range of specific features. Most importantly is the ability to shoot videos in 4K.
Once you’ve got this down, another handy feature is an articulated LCD screen that can face you while you’re talking in the lens. This allows you to frame your shot instead of cutting off half your head. Lastly you’ll want a microphone jack to catch better audio.
Purchase the best travel camera for vlogging, start filming and put some great videos up on YouTube and other social media channels! Sounds easy, right? However, what is the best travel camera for vlogging…
Recommendation: DJI Osmo 4K Handheld Camera
This is the latest craze, the DJI Osmo. You may have heard of DJI due to their amazing drones (which we will go into a bit later), and the Osmo does not disappoint. The camera is great, you can attach a range of accessories to it, you use your smartphone for an LCD screen (and can flip it around to face any angle), and most importantly it has a mechanical gimbal for capturing steady footage!
The gimbal might not seem that important at first, but have you ever tried to watch a video where the person is walking quickly or in strong winds? It’s not that great, and the quality is reduced. The DJI Osmo works as a steady cam, meaning all your shots are going to be fluid.
It also allows you to shoot great hyperlapse and timelapse footage, so it really is leading the way as the best camera for vlogging.
Audio: DJI FM-15 Flexi Microphone
Features: Automatic 360° Panorama mode
What we like: smooth video quality, lightweight, price, 4K videos
What we don’t: Only issue is the battery life isn’t great, so make sure you pick up a couple of extra batteries.
Best Mirrorless Travel Camera – Our Favourite Overall
Mirrorless cameras are the hot cameras on the market and it’s likely you’ll see a lot of recommendations for them in regards to travel. They can deliver excellent image quality in a more compact size. With mirrorless cameras there are no moving parts inside. The image comes through the lens and directly onto the sensor. The viewfinder is electronic, meaning you are seeing a digital copy of what your pointing the camera at, rather than a live view. So without a mirror constantly flipping, the camera can be made a lot smaller. That’s why mirrorless cameras can be half the size of a DSLR.
Whilst DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D or 6D series are used by many professional photographers due to their huge variety of lenses and their sigma as being ‘the best’ in the industry, mirrorless lenses are the ‘in’ thing currently, and for good reason. Full frame DSLRs are big and heavy, whereas their mirrorless are a fraction of the size.
This is perfect for travellers who want professional grade images with the ability to interchange lenses. A feature we love about the mirrorless camera is the electronic viewfinders that allow for you to view your final image in real time, unlike a DSLR. To get to the point these cameras are perfect for someone looking to get into travel photography.
If you have decided to take the leap into a full frame sensor and want to be rocking the best mirrorless camera for travel, then you have two options.
Recommendations: Sony A7 ii or Sony A7R ii
Before we even go into talking about the specs and why these two cameras are the best in the market, we are full on in love with the Sony Alpha Series. We currently own a Sony SLT A77, however we will be upgrading very shortly to the A7R ii.
The Sony A7 series are almost flawless. Fantastic image quality, 4K video capabilities (on the A7R), articulating LCD screens, wifi, light, compact and a whole range of native lenses available for it make them the absolute best cameras for travelling.
The difference is quite substantial between the A7 and A7R (24MP vs 42MP and superior low-light performance on the A7R ii just to name a few points), so it will be up to you to decide whether you want to fork out the extra cash for it.
The Sony A7R ii takes mirrorless travel cameras to the next level. The travel camera body is surprisingly light, compact and has a ton of new features, like sophisticated autofocus, video mode and improved low light performance. It takes impeccable pictures no matter what your lighting conditions are, with its 42.40 sensor and ISO range of ISO 100-25,600. I mean not only is the camera silent when shooting photos, but it captures those images in 42 megapixels! Forty – Two – Megapixels. The new 5-axis image stabilisation ensures you won’t get a blurry photo, thanks to the 4.5 vibration reduction stops. The Sony a7R II allows interchangeable lenses, helping you capture the picture perfect shot you’re after, no matter the environment. Alternatively, you can opt for Sony a7 II if you want to save some money or just can’t afford the expensive a7R II.
Weight: 22.1 oz.
Sensor size: Full Frame
Megapixels: 42.4 (24 for the A7 ii)
What we like: Leading class image quality! You can not buy a better mirrorless for photographs.
What we don’t: Poor video (A7 ii), lack of lenses, not weatherproof, and high price tag (A7R ii).
Best Aerial Drone Travel Camera
Drones have become increasingly popular over the years, thanks to futuristic technology and the incredible aerial photos and videos that the brands such as DJI have produced. This unique winged beast enables you to record professional-quality footage from a new perspective, unlike other hand held travel cameras.
High quality drones up until now have always been fairly prohibitive when it comes to travel due to their bulky size and flying restrictions in certain countries. However, the introduction of the DJI Mavic Pro has made it more accessible for many travellers to produce photography from a whole new perspective, in the sky!
Recommendation: DJI Mavic Pro
Having only been on sale for just under a year, the DJI Mavic Pro is a step up from it’s competitors. Compact so you can travel with it, an amazing battery life of 27 minutes, a 12 mega pixel camera and a 4K video camera it takes breathtaking videos and images from up above. Be in total command with intuitive flight controls, from either the drone remote or your smartphone via their app.
We bought this drone roughly 6 months ago, and it’s changed the way we capture photos. However we do highly recommend you buy extra batteries if you want to use your drone on the go a lot.
Performance: 4K Videos and 12 Mega Pixels Photos
Max Speed: 40mph (65kph)
Max Flight Time: 27 minutes
Max Height: 16404 feet!
What we like: 4K videos, incredible footage from a new perspective, compact and portable.
What we don’t: Battery life isn’t great, so make sure you pick up a couple of extra batteries, fairly expensive, some countries have banned drones.
So that concludes our list of the best travel cameras of 2017!
Do you have any other recommendations for the best travel cameras, or do you use any of these cameras whilst travelling the world?
Cover Image by Scott Symonds on Flickr
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What a great comprehensive guide! I’m so tempted to put one of these on my birthday/Christmas list! Right now I use my Google Pixel phone, which is pretty great (and a massive improvement on my old Samsung Galaxy 5). But I think it might be time for an upgrade.
Glad this guide has helped 🙂 Picking a camera is so important, great idea to ask for it as a birthday/christmas present 😉
Great post! I love my camera I personally use a Nikon D7200 and I have multiple size lens for it and it’s like my child, I love that camera! I do also really love my phone camera, I have the Samsung S8 and the camera is brilliant on it! Really great list, Thankyou for sharing!
I actually used to be a Nikon girl until I tried Sony, and was blown away! Thanks for sharing!
I’m currently in the beginning stages of finding a camera. I’d like something that is great for travel photos, as I want to improve my Instagram game. However, I’m such a newb when it comes to cameras and all of the different specs. It’s really intimidating.
Don’t worry, everyone starts somewhere! If you’re new to photography then I would suggest buying a point and shoot camera like the ones listed above. If you’re willing to learn and really take your photography to the next level you may want to take the plunge and buy a mirrorless or full format camera. Good luck 🙂
Great basic list of travel cameras to consider! I’ve actually traveled with all of them, sometimes at the same time and sometimes just one at a time. All great gear to have!
Oh wow that’s very impressive! Would love to know your favourite out of this list!
I’m still stuck with my old iPhone 5 for now, but I so notice the difference between mine and my friends’ photos! I should really, really, REALLY upgrade, so thanks for these tips!
Yes we noticed a huge difference in the quality of photos too. Another great thing is that you can shoot in Raw meaning you can edit your photos from pretty much a clean canvas which we love! So glad we could help!
Great information here! I want to start travel vlogging in addition to blogging, and I wasn’t sure which cameras to recommend, so this helped a lot.
Also, I completely agree about the mirrorless cameras – my Canon 5D Mark III is my baby, but sometimes I don’t want to be carrying something so bulky and prominent all the time; if I’m out at night, or in sketchier neighborhoods, or am going on a long hike, just to name a few examples.
Glad to have helped! If you’re into vlogging another great camera to consider is the SonyA7Sii!
Yes, we also considered the Canon 5D Mark IV and the weight of it whilst travelling was a deal breaker for us so we chose the Sony A77 instead. Soon upgrading to the A7Rii fingers crossed!
Thank you for this list. I have been looking around for a good camera. And this list definitely helps! 🙂
So glad this helped you in choosing! Would love to know which one you choose 🙂
I keep looking for a great guide about cameras. This is perfect and might actually help me to find one for myself. Thanks 🙂
Glad to have helped! Do you have an idea of which camera you might get?
We’re loyal to our Nikon Camera and when it came time to get a new lens, we decided to go with a Sigma, which is cheaper but still very good. I’m with you on GoPro and also with iPhone, thanks to the latter’s neverending update capabilities. Great guide! Thanks for sharing.
Sigma is indeed really good value for money, we love ours too with our current Sony 🙂
We’ve always owned Nikon, but after buying the Nikon 1 AW1 mirrorless waterproof camera, we were so disappointed we’re switching to Sony. We’re trying to decide between the A7R II and the A7 II, but the price difference will likely be the deal breaker. I’m not surprised to see it on your list here! I’d add too that the Sony DSC-TX series are pretty fantastic for an inexpensive, slim P&S that takes stellar underwater photos. Good info here. 🙂
Oh really? Yes I used to own a Nikon and was fairly disappointed with it too! Funny you say that as I literally just bought the A7R II (I’m sorry bank account!) We decided to get the A7R II due to it’s 4K Video capabilities, the 42MPs and the better autofocus, but yes I can definitely see why you’re urging towards the A7 II as we’ve heard they’re both fantastic cameras!
Let us know which one you get!
Great tips Emma! I own a Canon DSLR and I hope to switch to mirrorless soon. Sony a7rii is my dream camera (they now have the new a7riii!!) but since it’s so pricey I’ve been looking at Fujifilm and Olympus as well and I’m having the toughest time deciding on which one I want! I also need to buy a GoPro 😀 I’m going to Melbourne and Brisbane in two weeks so I hope to make my purchase then (since it’s absurdly expensive to buy cameras here in Fiji). Can’t wait! Thanks for this guide <3
Thanks! We literally just purchased the Sony a7rii and it’s honestly the best camera we have owned, worth every penny! In terms of GoPros the Hero 5 is a great option! Do let us know which camera you end up buying! Just a tip: the Sony A7rii has a great discounted price on Digitalrev.com 🙂
Enjoy Melbourne and Brisbane!