Traveling is always a great opportunity to release your inner photographer, and of course it helps to have the right camera with you. Today I’m going to help you choose a camera that you’ll be excited to use to shoot exotic landscapes, busy street scenes or whatever catches your eye.
Ideal features of a travel camera
You won’t often find a camera that ticks all of your boxes, but it’s good to have wish-list of features before you start shopping. Here are some of the top features that I look for in a travel camera.
Charging batteries is always a concern when traveling because of the different electrical standards that exist around the world. A camera you can charge via USB is a major plus. You can always find a USB wall socket adapter no matter where you travel.
Nowadays we bring our smartphones with us everywhere, including on vacation, because even if you don’t use the local cell phone network, you can often find a Wi-Fi connection. Most of the latest cameras allow you to connect to your smartphone and transfer photos and videos directly, which means you can easily share them on social media or via email. So I’m certainly looking for a camera with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth built in.
Rugged and reliable
I definitely want a camera that can deal with the inevitable bumps and dings that happen on the road, but I would have to say that the build quality of today’s camera is generally at a very high standard and most can deal with a little bit of sand, spray or the occasional knock. However, when comparing DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, I find that DSLRs are on the whole a little more robust.
Let’s look at some of the best travel cameras on the market right now.
Best Overall Travel Camera
The Sony A7III is pound-for-pound one of the top cameras on the market right now. Carrying a full-frame sensor that provides big files and wonderful low-light performance, this is a surprisingly compact design that is perfect for traveling. As well as shooting fantastic images, this camera is also capable of shooting very high-quality video with lots of customization options for even the most demanding shooters. It is USB chargeable and Wi-Fi enabled. Although the build quality is excellent, I would be reluctant to expose it to particularly unfavorable conditions. I should point out that this is not the best camera for inexperienced photographers or those who value intuitive design. While the A7III has a plethora of fantastic features, it’s not necessarily the easiest camera to use and it takes a lot of time to adapt to in my experience.
Best Lightweight Mirrorless Camera
Mirrorless cameras generally have the most up to date features, so you can expect to find most of my ‘must-have’ travel features listed above included. This makes them a great choice to travel with.
The Fujifilm X-T30 is an outstanding camera that deserves to be mentioned in any serious discussion of travel camera options. It has a smaller, APS-C sensor, but is in every other respect a full-featured beast. The X-T30 is also a beautiful piece of design, and let’s face it—who doesn’t want to look good when they’re traveling? The X-T30 also takes amazing images, which you can even post-process right there on the camera if you want to. It is also USB chargeable and Wi-Fi enabled.
The Sony a7 II is still a great mirrorless option that you can pick up at an affordable price.
This might just be a bias of mine, but I consider DSLRs more robust than they’re mirrorless cousins, which is why I would prefer to carry a DSLR with me if I’m, say, backpacking or traveling in more challenging conditions. DSLRs are generally a little heftier and a little larger, which is I like because they fit my hands better. You definitely need to consider what battery charging solution you are going to use on the road because most DSLRs are not USB rechargeable.
My ideal travel DSLR is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, not because it has the best feature set (particularly in terms of video), nor because it’s easy to carry, but because it’s is one of the toughest cameras I’ve ever used. This is a camera I would confidently carry into a war zone, such is the build quality. I have to say that if you have ever owned a Canon 5D before you will be very impressed with what Canon have managed to do with this latest 5D. At a time when DSLRs look to be going the way of the dinosaur, the 5D Mark IV is proving there’s life in the old format yet.
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly DSLR, check out the Canon EOS Rebel SL3.
Affordable mirrorless camera
When it comes to an affordable mirrorless camera, it’s hard to beat the Canon EOS M100. It might look like a point and shoot, but don’t be fooled. This camera has the same size sensor as the X-T30, and you can upgrade the lens if you want to. Unfortunately there aren’t a tonne of EF-M lens options for Canon’s mirrorless cameras right now, but you can get a lens adapter which lets you use any of Canon’s EF lenses. The M100 is Wi-fi enabled, but unfortunately it’s not USB chargeable. It does have a touchscreen though, which is a really handy feature, and that screen rotates all the way to the forward facing position—perfect for travel selfies!
Also worth considering is the Sony A6000 mirrorless camera with 16-50mm kit lens.
High quality point-and-shoot
The Sony RX100 is an amazing little camera that fits easily in your pocket and has features that are far beyond what you would expect from a compact camera. The RX100 VI is charged by USB, and connects to your phone (or tablet) to allow you to share images or shoot remotely. It also has an 8x optical zoom giving you effectively a 28-200mm focal range, which makes it a very versatile camera. It also has a tilt-able LCD screen and shoots silently which are two awesome features for street photography. One of the most impressive features of the RX100 VI however is the video options. It can shoot 4k Ultra HD, and Full 1080p HD at up 120 frames per second. This is pretty impressive for any camera, so to see them on a compact camera really is noteworthy.
There are a lot of people traveling and making content for a living nowadays, and if this is something you are doing, or thinking about doing, I can highly recommend the Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera. It has some great features like a dedicated video record button, a forward face LCD screen, enhanced microphone, skin-softening effect and background blur mode.
Another great option for the content creator is the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III All-in-One Video Creator Kit, which includes a fantastic hand grip that doubles as a tripod. I also want to draw your attention to the Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III which is another great vlogging option.
The Sony DSCHX350/B was blessed with a rather forgettable name for some reason known only to the good people at Sony, but is nonetheless a noteworthy camera. It has a staggering 50x optical zoom which means it’s a wonderful camera to travel with, particularly if you’re going on safari. It also has image stabilization, which is a great feature to have when you’re shooting at very long focal lengths. It also has a really nice ergonomic design and feels quite like a DSLR in your hand, although I should point out that it has quite a small sensor which limits the size of the enlargements you can make.
Action-oriented video camera
I’m sure you’re familiar with the name GoPro which has become synonymous with action cameras. The Hero8 is the latest version of the camera that put GoPro on the map, and it is still one of the best action cameras around. With built in stabilization you can be sure you’ll get the smoothest 4K footage possible. A tough camera that is USB chargeable and Wi-Fi is perfect for traveling with but bear in mind that you are limited to very wide angle views which is somewhat limiting for your creativity.
If you really want to make some epic aerial shots, it’s hard to beat the Mavic Mini Quadcopter Drone which will fit easily in your luggage and allow you to capture some breathtaking photos and videos. The Mavic Mini Fly More Combo comes with a beautiful carry case and all the spare parts you need to keep you in the air.
Best instant film camera
The Fujifilm Instax LiPlay Elegant Black is one of the coolest instant cameras you’ll ever get your hands. Combining the best of digital and instant photography this is a camera perfectly made to capture fun travel memories. One of the downsides of shooting instant photos has always been the unpredictability—you never know how they are going to turn out. With the LiPlay however, you can connect it to your phone and preview your photos first! Gamechanger.
Don’t forget the classic that kickstarted the instant camera comeback—the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera. Fun to use and super affordable. If you really want to enhance your retro credentials check out the Polaroid Now Instant Camera.
Best waterproof/shockproof camera
If you’re off on a serious outdoor adventure and need a rugged camera that can handle some rough treatment, then look no further than the Olympus Tough TG-6. This camera is waterproof to a depth of 15 meters, able to withstand a fall from 2.1 meters, and can comfortably cope with temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius. So no matter where your travels take you, you’ll always get the shot. The TG-6 has a 4x optical zoom, equivalent to 25-100mm, and carries a GPS, compass, temperature sensor and a manometer for altitude and depth, so you’ll always know where the shot was taken and what the conditions were. It also has Wi-Fi to allow remote shooting and wireless sharing.
So there you have it, some of the best travel cameras on the market today. Do you have a favorite camera you bring with you everywhere? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Be sure to visit the camera section at BestBuy.ca to see all the latest deals.