Buying your first camera for travelling is not an easy job. You want to get your hands on the best travel camera that will be suitable for your travel needs. If this is your first travel camera, it can feel a little intimidating knowing what to look for in a travel camera as a beginner.
You’ll want to get the best camera, but your budget is limited, or you can’t understand all the jargons the pros are using. Well, I’ve created this guide to help you with everything you’ll need to know to buy the best travel camera for beginners.
When I was buying my camera, I had so many questions like:
- Should I get a full frame DSLR or a mirrorless camera?
- What’s the best mirrorless camera for travel?
- How much should my budget be for a travel camera be, as a beginner photographer?
- How many megapixels should my camera have?
- Should I get the kit lens, zoom lens or prime with my travel camera?
- Do I need a camera with 4K video?
- What type of travel photography do I like?
- What is the best camera for travel blogging?
- What camera accessories should I get for my new camera?
So many questions!
But most of the information I found, was targeted at experience travel photographers. Who had big budgets for even bigger full-frame DSLRs (these guys where dropping £3000 on a camera and even more on lenses).
I was just starting out, so I didn’t want to spend that much on my first camera.
Plus, I had friends who had these big DSLRs, and I was not a fan of lugging, two tons of brick around my neck all day while travelling.
After months of research on the best camera to buy for travel and many many visits to the camera store. I brought what is still one of the best cameras for travelling, that is compact and produces professional level image quality. I also now own a few camera bodies, a selection of lenses and camera accessories.
I know it can be daunting buying a travel camera, so I wanted to put together a guide about the best travel cameras for beginners. This guide basically covers all the questions that I asked when I was buying my camera and that I now get asked by people every day.
I have broken everything down in an easily understandable format starting from the basic point and shoot travel cameras to the bigger full frame DSLRs.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Travel Camera Guide 2018
- 2 The Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel Photography
- 3 Best DSLR Cameras for Travel Photography
How to choose the best travel camera for you
Size: Starting off I looked at the numerous dimensions and weight of the travel cameras on the market. The last thing you want to get is a big camera that you will lug around all day while travelling. The camera you pick should be lightweight and compact, easy to throw into a backpack and take on your travels without adding extra bulk to your existing travel gear.
However, the bigger the camera, the larger the sensor. A larger sensor means more light can be captured, resulting in better low light performance and excellent image quality.
So, if image quality and low-light performance are more important to you than weight. Then you’ll likely be looking for a mirrorless or DSLR camera.
Megapixels – The size of the resolution of a camera is known as megapixels. The higher the number of megapixels, the higher the image quality. You don’t need a camera with super high megapixel, any camera with a megapixel of 20 and up, will be good at taking travel photography.
4K Video – When I was looking for my first camera everyone told me that I had to have a camera that could do 4k video, because that would give me the best video quality. Now, I realised that most people don’t watch videos in 4K, and unless you are planning on doing some Discovery Channel level travel videography. It’s not necessary, and a camera that can shot 1080p will do you just fine.
4K video capacity is a nice to have for a travel camera, but it’s not essential.
WIFI/Bluetooth – For me, my travel camera had to have its own WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities. This was a deal breaker for me.
It was imperative that the travel camera I got have these functions. Especially as I like to share my photos on social media when I am travelling, as I don’t usually have my computer with my editing software (Lightroom) to edit my travel photos on the go.
As a traveller, you are always on the go and will not always have your laptop to upload your photos. Having a travel camera with inbuilt WIFI means that you can shoot, send your pictures via WIFI to your smartphone and edit them on the go.
With my camera, I have the option to shoot in jpegs (sacrilege! for people that shoot in RAW) and edit my photos on my phone using VSCO and snapseed. You can read my reviews on these mobile editing apps in this post.
Camera Lens – To keep cost down, when buying your first camera to travel with I recommend buying your camera body with a kit lens. This could save you hundreds of ££.
Most cameras now come with a basic kit lens that varies in range, for example, the Fujifilm X-T2 comes with a kit lens (18 -55 mm, f/2.8 to f/4) and Canon EOS M5 kit lens is (18 – 45mm f/3.5 to f/4).
Kit lens like these covers a variety of focal length and aperture range that you will need while travelling.
I knew that I wanted a camera with interchangeable lens. So, that as I got better at travel photography and had more cash, I could invest more in better or prime lenses.
Weather-sealing – I looked at travel cameras that could withstand various weather conditions, so at the top of my list was to look at the best waterproof/weather sealed cameras for travel
Types of travel photography – What you will be taking photos of while you are travelling will determine the best travel photography camera for you. Your travel photography style may even influence the lenses that you choose to get.
Do you like taking travel photos of mostly landscape then you'll want to stick with a wide angle lens.
Are you going on a safari – then you might need a zoom lens as you will be some distance away from the animals.
Are you mostly interested in street photography while you travel – them a 35mm or 50mm might be the lens for you.
If you are mainly travelling for pleasure and posting your travel photos on social media for family and friends, then a kit lens is all you really need.
Looks/Aesthetic – Now I know a lot of people might not think that the way a camera looks matters but do!
I am a bit vain, but I don’t care.
I looked at all the cameras that had everything I wanted in a travel camera, and then I thought to myself. Does this camera look good in my hands and around my neck?
When I see this camera does it make me excited to go out and shoot travel photos or just photography in general?
If the answer were no, I would not get that camera.
There is no point getting the most expensive camera on the market, if it’s bulky, takes up space and doesn’t get you excited to go out and shoot or feel right to carry around. You just wouldn’t use it and that will be money wasted.
The aesthetics of the camera does matter if it will help you shot more, meaning you will get better at travel photography faster.
These were some of the things I investigated when I was buying my first travel camera as a beginner travel photographer. If you're looking to improve you're photography then you might like to read this post.
Best Travel Camera Guide 2018
Below are the best travel cameras in various categories from point and shoot to DSLRs.
Best Compact Camera for Travel Photography
Compact travel cameras (known as point and shot) are a great starting point for choosing your first camera as they offer a few advantages. They are small but still have a larger sensor than most smartphones, ensuring that you’ll be getting better image quality and performance, then you would with just your smartphone.
They are usually targeted at everyday consumers and are easier to set up, more user-friendly than DSLRs and tend to be less expensive than their bigger mirrorless and DSLR counterparts.
Compact digital cameras are great if you just want a lightweight, easy to use and reasonably priced travel camera that you can stick in your pocket while travelling.
When looking for the best travel point and shoot camera to get I would pick one with optical zoom and image stabilisation. That way you can still catch the action even if you are far away from your subject and your shots won’t be blurry if your hands shake a little.
The downside of a point and shoot camera for travel is that you won’t have the bells and whistles of a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Like a large sensor size and interchangeable lenses.
However, not all compact cameras are created equal. Therefore I have created a list of some of the best compact travel camera for every budget.
Canon G7 X Mark II - Best travel camera for travel vlogging
The Canon G7 x mARK II is a popular option among bloggers and vloggers. It’s a great travel camera to shoot travel vlogs and videos on. This camera is a point and shoot, which makes it a great to grab and go. However, until like most point and shoot cameras, with the G7 X you get manual control, RAW functionality, WIFI capability, 180° flip screen which makes it perfect for selfies and shoots up to 1080p HD at 60fps (frames per second).
I have watched vlogs done by big YouTubers using this camera, and the quality is pretty good even in low light.
Panasonic Lumix TZ100
The Panasonic TZ100 has it all. A 1in sensor for better image quality than the average compact camera, 10x optical zoom, so you never miss a shot from far away, built-in viewfinder and touchscreen LCD that is visible even in strong sunlight.
The TZ100 has been updated to the TZ200, but I think the TZ100 is better value for money.
Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II
This camera is for you if you want a well-rounded, compact point and shoot camera that allows you to share on the go.
The Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II – has a larger sensor than its previous models, which allows for better image quality in low light. A touchscreen interface, faster-shooting speeds, manual controls, and allows RAW shooting with an aperture of f/2. Plus, with built-in WIFI, for transferring your travel photos and videos. Con – the optical zoom is not too impressive at 3x.
Sony RX100 VI
The Sony RX100 VI is a step-up from the RX100 III, with a 24-200mm zoom lens, featuring an impressively fast variable aperture. The RX100 VI also features a stunning autofocus system, the ability to shoot at 24fps, a tilting screen, and an electronic viewfinder. This is a small travel camera for those that want to go unnoticed.
The Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel Photography
Since Panasonic launched the first mirrorless camera in 2008, the genre has grown massively, with models to suit every budget and ability. Mirrorless cameras allow you to swap and change lenses like a DSLR but without the bulkiness. Because the mirror inside the camera has been removed (hence the name), with mirrors used to bounce light from the path of the lens up into the optical viewfinder of a DSLR, it has allowed companies to make mirrorless cameras much more compact than DSLRs.
If you’re looking for a camera that is lightweight with excellent image quality and interchangeable lenses, then a mirrorless camera is what you should be looking at. Below is a list of some of the best mirrorless travel cameras.
Fujifilm is known to have one of the best range of mirrorless cameras on the market. They are loved by armatures and professional photographers alike, and I currently own the Fujifilm X-T2 camera.
The Fujifilm X-T20 combines the specification from its older sibling X-T2 with a smaller and lighter body. Creating the perfect travel companion.
The X-T20 features an APS-C sized sensor, electronic viewfinder (EVF), 4K video resolution, WIFI and tilting LCD screen. This nifty little camera takes impressive travel photos too.
The thing I love about Fujifilm is that whether you have their higher end camera models like the Fujifilm X-T2 or recent X-T3 or even their more newer models like Fujifilm T-X20 and X-T100. You can use the same Fuji lens on all the different models, cutting the cost down when you are just starting out with photography.
This can’t be said for brands like Sony and Canon – who have different lens ranges for their mirrorless (very limited) cameras and their DSLRs.
I have the Fujifilm X-T2 and love it to death. It’s every you could need in a camera. To me, it’s the perfect all-rounder camera. I’ve even vlogged using the XT-2. Yes, I’ve learnt to vlog without a flip out screen using this camera, and I am always in frame.
With Fuji, the X-T2 is the maker's compact system camera (CSC) which act as a flagship for its APS-C line. The X-T2 features a fantastic AF system, 4K video recording, 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor, film simulation modes, shoots at 30, 25 or 24fps and with the recent firmware update you can also shot in f-log. This camera has a body that oozes old-school class.
It also offers superb image quality and is suitable for sports, action, wildlife and travel photographer. The design of the X-T2 alone means it’s one for the stylish shooter, hipster or discreet street photographer.
The Sony A6000 is in my honest opinion, one of the best portable and budget-friendly travel cameras out there. This camera performances well in low light conditions shoot fast at 11fps while autofocusing, has a digital viewfinder for manual adjustments in real time and produces exceptional image quality.
The only downside is the battery life is not great on this camera. Shooting a video for 30 minutes is more, and Sony A600 will overheat and automatically shuts itself off. The range of lens available is also limited from Sony.
Canon EOS M5
The Canon EOS M5 is an excellent alternative to the Sony mirrorless range. The image quality is what you’d expect from Canon. This little camera has fast auto-focused, touch and drag AF function. I owned the EOS M5 and loved, it was easy to set up and use. This is one of the best travel vlog cameras on the market.
If you have friends or family that already own a Canon DSLR, you can purchase an adaptor that allows you to use their existing Canon lenses on your Canon mirrorless camera.
Sony Alpha a7 II
Sony Alpha A7 II series was the original full-frame mirrorless cameras, breaking new grounds. The update to the Mark I has been dramatically improved with better build quality, five-axis image stabilisation, better low light performance although slightly more cumbersome and lacks 4K video recording capabilities compared to its A7R II and A7S II brothers.
It’s also half the price of those two models, offering better value for money for those mainly concerned with photography and not video production.
Panasonic Lumix GX9
If interchangeable lenses and a large sensor are your aspirations while travelling, but you don’t want to lug around a bulky DSLR, then the Lumix GX9 is an excellent choice.
With its 20.3-megapixel four-thirds sensor performs well in most conditions, in-body image stabilisation, a touch screen, electronic viewfinder, and 4K video capabilities. But that’s not all with this camera you can shoot at 30fps and extract stills from your travel video.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
Olympus is one of the biggest travel cameras amongst the beauty bloggers and vloggers. Olympus has tweaked one of their bestselling mirrorless cameras to make it even more tempting to inexperienced users and enthusiasts.
This camera features a micro four-thirds sensor format sensor (roughly half the area of APS-C), this means the image quality will not match that of its APS-C rivals above. But this effect on the image quality is minor.
The E-M10 Mark III sports a 5-axis image stabilisation system, electronic viewfinder, an impressive 8.6fps burst shooting speed and 4K video. This camera has it all and pair with the correct lenses, you can’t go wrong with this travel camera.
Best DSLR Cameras for Travel Photography
For decades, the DSLR (digital SLR) has been the top choice for experienced photographers. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, a DSLR offers three tempting ingredients: manual controls, excellent picture quality, and interchangeable lenses.
Below I've listed some of the best DSLR travel camera options on the market.
Canon EOS 80D
Canon’s high-end APS-C camera is an upgrade from its entry-level Rebel line. The Canon EOS 80D features a 24.2MP sensor, a quick autofocus system, weather-sealing, WIFI, and touchscreen. An excellent upgrade for any Canon user.
If you like the EOS 80D, you might want to investigate the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D which is a similar entry-level DSLR in the EOS series.
Canon Rebel SL2/EOS 200D
The Canon EOS 200D is great for photographers on the move. The body is a little larger than those of many mirrorless models but is still smaller than most DSLR. The flip-out screen is bright and touches sensitive, dual pixel CMOS AF and the camera focuses well whether using live view or shooting videos.
This camera also comes with WIFI and NFC, and you can do in-camera RAW processing, which means that you can make multiple edits of your images without needing to lug around a laptop.
This camera doesn’t come with 4K video capabilities.
CANON EOS 5D MARK IV
For those first timer’s photographers that have the bank balance of a rapper then this bad boy is for you.
The EOS 5D line is one of the most popular full-frame DSLR series to date, appealing to the needs of a professional user while being compact and affordable enough to appeal to a broader demographic.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has a 30.4MP full-frame sensor, shoots 4K video and a robust magnesium alloy body. Making it the choice for everyone from landscapes photographers, weddings photographers and travel photographers. Everyone loves this camera.
Best action camera for travel
Action cameras like the GoPro are great for travelling if you are mostly into adventure activities and want to keep your travel gear as light as possible. Their designs are small and compact with good waterproof quality. Their size makes them a likely option in the best travel cameras for beginners.