Are you a passionate travel photographer searching for the best travel camera for your budget and needs?
Traveling is something most people love, yet everybody has a different way of traveling. Personal preferences also come into play when capturing in images travel experiences. From adventure activities to landscapes and architecture, without forgetting the exciting street photography, travel photography entails many genres.
Hence, it’s important to evaluate carefully, not only your budget but also your needs before purchasing a new camera.
In this article, our aim is to introduce 7 best travel cameras in the market right now.
1. Nikon D750
For serious photographers who needs a full frame sensor and plenty of lens options, the Nikon D750 is one of the best options. With an excellent autofocus system and great video capabilities, even in low light, you’ll be able to capture any subject under any conditions. Nikon D750 is ideal for the ambitious photographer that requires top quality images for large format printing or commercial use.
Offering time-lapse shooting, exposure smoothing, and Wi-Fi connectivity, combine the Nikon D750 with a couple of zoom lenses like the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm to shot anything from wildlife to landscapes. This combo doesn’t come cheap, nor it’s the lightest of options, but in terms of image quality, it’ll be difficult to beat.
2. Canon 6D Mark II
Canon 6D Mark II is Canon’s match to the Nikon D750. Its autofocus system features 45 phase-detection points ensuring fast and accurate focusing. The camera has been upgraded from the previous model with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC connectivity, as well as a new GPS system that allows continuing position tracking.
With a full frame of 26.2 megapixels, great ISO capabilities for shooting in low light conditions, and a great video resolution, the 6D Mark II is a great full frame camera ideal for demanding travel photographers. It is ideal for those who want to invest in a great full-frame body without going broke.
3. Sony Alpha a7 II
Sony’s Alpha a7 has become one of the most successful mirrorless cameras available recently. The a7 II offers superb image quality thanks to its full-frame 24.3-megapixel sensor. And yet, it does so with a small body weighing only one pound. It’s not the cheapest option as both the camera and the lenses might seem pricey to many. But for those travelers seeking great quality and a small-sized camera, the Alpha a7 II delivers on all fronts.
Its video capabilities are also outstanding. It features Wif-Fi and NFC connectivity, making it incredibly easy to share images and videos to tablets and smartphones. As with most mirrorless cameras, battery life is much shorter than the standard DSLR. You might need to carry extra batteries, particularly if you shoot in video mode.
4. Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9
This is a fast camera capable of capturing fast-action sports and wildlife with a burst speed of 9 fps. Its stabilization system is pretty good too, allowing you to shoot video handheld with no trouble. Its ergonomics are also very well thought out, allowing handling the different options at ease. The viewfinder is fantastic, and to top it up the camera comes with a top LCD screen.
It might be a bit bigger than the smallest mirrorless cameras, but the GX9 is about delivering great quality images and shooting options. Overall, a fantastic camera for the photographer who doesn’t want to compromise in image quality to travel lightly.
5. Nikon D5600
The D5600 from Nikon is a DSLR capable of producing vivid images and video. It features a touch LCD screen that can be flipped so you can take photos at nearly any angle. Swipe, pinch, zoom and even set focus with your fingerprints, just like a smartphone does.
The 24.2 megapixels sensor, EXPEED 4 processor and the 39-point phase-detection autofocus system deliver great performance in any situation. Add a Nikkor lens to it and you’ll be able to capture anything during your travels, from landscapes to people.
6. Canon Rebel SL2/200D
Canon´s Rebel SL2 (200D in Europe) is an excellent camera for the beginner photographer. It is slightly bigger than the typical mirrorless camera. Offering full video, 24.2 megapixels, and a burst speed of 5 fps, this is a great DSLR for a decent price. If you prefer DSLRs to mirrorless cameras because of their lens options and better battery life, this is a great entry-point camera. The most economical option is to buy it with the kit lenses.
7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II
This Olympus is a great option for those looking for a small camera capable of shooting good quality images. Despite its small size, this mirrorless camera comes with an image stabilization system and full video capabilities. Olympus and Panasonic lenses provide plenty of options for different shooting needs at great prices.
Its autofocus system might struggle a bit with moving subjects so it might not be the best option for actions shots. Also, if you have big hands, its small size might pose you some problems when handling this well-designed little camera. Overall, the M10 is a great versatile camera for tight-budgeted and size-conscious travelers.
How to choose the best travel camera?
Size, weight, and budget are the most obvious aspects to consider when selecting a travel camera. But your way of traveling and your photography interest are as important, if not more when making your decision.
Let’s start then by defining what the main use of your camera will be. In other words, what kind of images do you want to produce? Landscape photography has very little to do with street photography.
A full frame DSLR with a wide-angle lens is by far the best options for the greatest results, particularly if you are thinking of printing your images in large format. A decent tripod is a great accessory to travel with. Get the sturdiest and lightest you can afford.
Here, fast autofocus might be one of the top considerations, particularly if you are not very fast at manual focusing your subjects on the move. If your street photography style is based on wide shots with plenty of depth of field, fast autofocus can be ignored. In both cases, a good DSLR or a Mirrorless body combined with a fast lens would mean you’ll be able to capture anything even under low light conditions.
For wildlife photography, a good DSLR with a faster burst mode (frames per second) would be essential. If you are likely to encounter wildlife during the day time, ISO performance shouldn’t matter much. A crop-sensor DSLR increase the effective focal length (due to crop-factor) of your lens. Which means more zoom factor to reach animals from a far.
A Bit of Everything
Many travelers are looking for a versatile camera that can capture a bit everything, from temples to landscapes, from portraits to street life. Point & Shoot, Mirrorless, and DSLR cameras are all capable of decent results. If this is you, base the decision on the size and weight you are prepared to carry with you daily and the budget at your disposal.
These days most cameras offer very decent video capability. Unless you are seeking top-notch images for professional purposes, you shouldn’t base your decision on the video specs of your camera.
Photography in Low Light
If you love night photography, or if you think you’ll be taking plenty of images in low light conditions, then fast lenses are as important as the quality of your sensor. In this case, you’ll have to figure out your budget because fast glass is expensive. One option is to get a couple of prime lenses. The combo might be cheaper, and even lighter, that a top-quality zoom lens.
Things to Consider When Buying a Travel Camera
Full frame sensors are the best but they are expensive. Unless you want to print your images in large format sizes or sell your images commercially, it’s not necessary to get a camera with a full frame sensor for your travel photography. Yes, if you do so, your images quality will generally be better in all aspects, but for digital usage and social sharing, the difference won’t be that noticeable. Hence, like with most technical gear, it all comes to your requirements and budget.
There has been a commercial race to offer cameras with the highest number of megapixels possible as if the greater the number the better the images it produces. But this is not true because the quality of the sensor will affect how those millions of pixels are packed together. It’s then important to read reviews of cameras so as to ascertain the quality of the images in terms of noise, contrast, color accuracy, etc. Don’t be just fooled by the number and investigate the quality of the images the camera renders.
ISO performance refers to the amount of grains that your camera produce at high ISO levels. If you’ll be taking pictures at dusk, at night, or indoors under low light, ISO performance is an important aspect to consider. On full-frame cameras such as Canon 6D, you can generally up your ISO 3200 or even 6400 and still get decent images without any visible grains at small print sizes.
Continuous shooting is available in all the cameras listed in this article and all produce good results. If you’ll be shooting fast action, consider a camera with at least burst speed of 6 fps.
Once you have a clear view of the kind of images you’ll be taking, size and budget will define your final decision. Traveling is a very personal experience. Some prefer to go as light as possible, so getting on planes, buses or rickshaws is easy and comfortable, while others don’t mind carrying the extra weight.
If traveling light is your way of getting around, the size and weight of the camera and lens combo would be of great importance. A good mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens might be all you need to shoot landscapes, architecture and street images.
The common-sense approach is to set up a budget range taking into account not only the camera body but also lenses and other accessories needed for your needs (tripod, memory cards, batteries, bag…), and then research the options available. If you can try any of the cameras from people you might know, do so. Also, if the investment is substantial, it might be worth considering renting the camera for a day or two to try it out. This way you’ll make sure it would satisfy your needs.
Traveling is not only exciting but also incredibly rewarding. Experiences are what makes a life worth living. And capturing the best of your travels with a camera is totally worth it. Do not feel overwhelmed by the choices available. Get the best camera you can afford to cater to your needs, book your next trip, and make the most of it.
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