The Best Travel Cameras For 2019 (And How To Choose)

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Best Travel Camera Guide

The Best Travel Cameras of 2019

Travel Photography Gear [UPDATED: January 2019]

As a professional travel photographer, everyone keeps asking my opinion on the best travel cameras this year. There are so many to choose from! Here’s what camera I would pick, and why.

If you’re into photography, traveling the world with a good camera can help you bring back images that will stand the test of time — memories to share with family and friends for years to come.

Amazing travel photos are some of my most treasured souvenirs!

But what’s the best travel camera for capturing these special moments on your journey? There’s no easy answer to this question. Different people will have different requirements and budgets.

My goal with this digital camera buyers guide is to help you narrow down the overwhelming choices that are out there — and pick the perfect travel camera for your next trip.

Here’s everything we’re going to cover (you can click to go to a specific section if you want to skip around):

We’ll get to the juicy stuff in a second (I promise!), but before that, it’s important to understand a few high-level concepts about what makes a camera good for travel.

Budget Friendly Cameras for Travel Photography

What Features are Important for a Travel Camera?

Important Travel Camera Features

SIZE & WEIGHT – Gone are the days when a bigger camera means a better camera. If you want to travel with your camera, you’ll want something small & lightweight.

MANUAL SETTINGS – Photography professionals want the ability to fully control the settings of their camera so they can dial in the perfect shot in all kinds of different situations.

MEGAPIXELS – Many people assume that more megapixels is better. This isn’t always true if the pixels themselves are small. However more megapixels on a large sensor will give you higher detail, and allow you to “crop” your image without reducing quality.

FAST LENS – Lens aperture is measured in f/numbers, like f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, etc. The lower the number, the better it will perform in low-light situations.

ZOOM RANGE – A zoom lens lets you get closer to the action, especially for wildlife or people. But the bigger the zoom the bulkier a camera gets. How much zoom you want is a personal preference.

HD/4K VIDEO – Most quality travel cameras will shoot video in HD 1080p. Some even have 4K capabilities — which honestly most people won’t need unless you’re doing professional work.

WIFI/BLUETOOTH: – Some cameras have their own wifi network, allowing you to upload your photos instantly to your computer or smartphone.

INTERCHANGEABLE LENSES – High-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, allowing you to pick the perfect lens for different situations.

WEATHERPROOFING – Will your travel camera hold up against the elements? Some cameras are better protected from moisture and dust than others.

Travel Camera Sensor Size

Understanding Camera Sensors

Understanding Camera Sensors

When choosing the perfect camera for traveling, you need to understand different camera sensors, and how they affect image quality and camera size.

In general, a camera with a large sensor is going to perform better in low light because that large sensor can capture more of it.

With a large sensor, you’ll also get more detail, allowing you to print your images large, or crop them smaller, and not lose any quality.

However, a large camera sensor means the camera itself will be larger as well.

Get the perfect camera for traveling to Hawaii

Hiking for Sunset Photography in Hawaii

What Kind Of Travel Photography?

When choosing the best travel camera for your needs, you must define what those needs are. Different cameras have strengths and weaknesses depending on what you’re using them for.

Are you looking for portability? Weatherproofing & ruggedness? Professional high-end image quality? Something reasonably priced? Are you going to be shooting more landscapes, wildlife, adventure activities, or people?

You often can’t have it all when it comes to travel cameras.

Keep reading below to learn the pros & cons for each type of camera, and which types of travel photography they work best for.

Travel Camera Comparisons

Sony RX100Point & Shoot1"10.6 oz Check Price
Canon G7 XPoint & Shoot1"11.2 oz Check Price
GoPro SessionAction Camera1/3.2"2.6 oz Check Price
GoPro Hero 7Action Camera1/2.3"4.1 oz Check Price
Fujifilm XT2MirrorlessAPS-C17.8 oz Check Price
Sony A6500MirrorlessAPS-C15.9 oz Check Price
Sony A7 IIIMirrorlessFull Frame22.9 oz Check Price

Best Compact Camera For Travel

Point & shoot cameras have come a long way. As technology has improved, companies have managed to pack these pocket-sized cameras with tons of features. Some shoot 4k video and have manual settings, just like the more expensive ones in this list.

The big difference is the camera sensor is a bit smaller, and they don’t have interchangeable lenses.

In my opinion, a mid-range to high-end point & shoot is the best option for 75% of amateur travel photographers. They combine the perfect mix of being compact, powerful, and budget-friendly.

Sony RX100 V – Compact Travel Camera

Weight: 10.6 oz.
Zoom: 24-70mm
Sensor Size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Megapixels: 20
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Sony RX100 Travel Camera

The Sony RX100 V is my favorite small travel camera. It’s what I’d call a “professional” point & shoot. While it is compact enough to fit in my pocket, it has many of the same features as my larger primary mirrorless camera.

It’s not the cheapest travel camera, but you can also pick up older models like the RX100 IV for a bit less. They also make reasonably priced underwater dive-housings for this line.

  • 4K Video
  • Ultra-Fast Focusing
  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Built-In Flash
  • Small Sensor
  • Fixed Lens
  • Weak Microphone
This is usually the travel camera I recommend for most people. If you want something nicer than a smartphone, but are intimidated by the size & weight of larger cameras, you’ll love the small Sony RX100.

Canon G7X – Travel Vlogging Camera

Weight: 11.25 oz
Zoom: 24-100mm
Sensor Size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Megapixels: 20
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Canon G7X Travel Camera

The Canon G7 X II is another fantastic compact point & shoot camera that’s great for travel photography. A bit less expensive than the Sony, it has fewer high-end features but shoots great video with better onboard audio than the Sony. It’s a favorite for many traveling YouTubers and Vloggers.

  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Built-In Flash
  • Decent Microphone
  • Small Sensor
  • Fixed Lens
  • Slow Focusing
  • 1080p Video
You’ll save a bit more money with the Canon over the Sony RX100, but it doesn’t have as many high-end features (like 4K video). However the better microphone is a plus.
Travel Photos from a GoPro

Best Action Travel Cameras

Best Action Cameras For Travel

Action cameras have really transformed the travel photography & video world over the years. These tiny, waterproof, indestructible cameras can travel anywhere & record anything!

If you plan on hiking, mountain biking, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, or even swimming under waterfalls during your trips, an action camera can create epic video & photos of the experience.

GoPro Hero 7 – Adventure Travel Camera

Weight: 4.1 oz
Zoom: 15-30mm
Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.63 mm)
Megapixels: 12
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
GoPro Hero 7 Travel Camera

The GoPro Hero 7 is GoPro’s best camera yet, with improved video stabilization, color, and 60p slow-motion 4k footage. It’s waterproof case and touch-screen will handle any adventures you dream up. A must-have for adventure addicts like me!

One cool feature of the newer GoPros is voice activated control. This means if the camera is mounted on a helmet, or to a surfboard, you can just say “GoPro start recording” and other voice commands without actually touching it.

  • 4K Video
  • Ultra Small
  • Touch Screen
  • Waterproof
  • Small Sensor
  • Limited Zoom
  • Needs Accessories
Perfect compact travel camera for those of us who love adventure sports, especially if you need something small & waterproof, or are worried about breaking big cameras.

GoPro Session – Smallest Travel Camera

Weight: 2.6 oz
Zoom: 15-30mm
Sensor Size: 1/3.2″ (4.54 x 3.42 mm)
Megapixels: 10
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
GoPro Session Travel Camera

The GoPro Session is GoPro’s smaller & cheaper model. Without a screen, this tiny cube can fit just about anywhere — you’ll barely notice it while traveling. If you aren’t a complete action sports junkie, and just want a small waterproof camera for things like snorkeling or skiing, this will do for most people.

One issue with the Session is that it doesn’t have a screen. However, you can connect it to the GoPro App on your smartphone in order to frame your shots if needed (plus a wide angle lens means you really just point it at the subject).

  • Ultra Small
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Small Sensor
  • Limited Zoom
  • No Screen
The smallest travel camera on this list. It has a slightly smaller sensor than the GoPro 7, you can’t change batteries and no touchscreen. But better for regular people who aren’t jumping out of airplanes all the time.
Travel Photos from Hawaii

Best Mirrorless Travel Cameras

Best Mirrorless Travel Cameras

Larger than a point & shoot, but smaller than a DSLR, mirrorless digital cameras are all the rage right now. Even professional photographers are starting to switch over due to their small size and ability to produce high-quality images.

I use a mirrorless camera as my main travel camera. They offer more features than a point & shoot, like the ability to use interchangeable lenses, and a larger sensor with better low-light capability and detail.

Sony A7 III – Best Mirrorless Travel Camera

Weight: 22.93 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: Full Frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm)
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Sony A7 Travel Camera

The Sony A7 III is the best travel camera money can buy at the moment. Sony has been on the cutting edge the past few years, and other brands are having trouble keeping up. Its sensor technology, focusing speeds, and dynamic range are incredible — while also being cheaper than competitors.

Sony has specialty models too. Sony A7S II is geared towards videographers, with extremely good low-light capabilities. The Sony A7R III (what I use) is for landscape photographers with a whopping 42.4 megapixels.

  • Full Frame Sensor
  • Internal Stabilization
  • 4K Video
  • High Dynamic Range
  • Weather-sealed Body
  • Lacks swivel screen
  • No built-in flash
  • Expensive
The Sony A7 is a very high-end travel camera. It’s something I’d recommend for “professional amateurs”. Meaning, you already know how to shoot in manual mode, understand concepts like depth of field, and are a competent photographer looking to take your craft to the next level.

Fujifilm X‑T2 – Classic Travel Style

Weight: 17.88 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Fujifilm X‑T2 Travel Camera

The Fuji X-T2 is a popular competitor to the Sony A7 mirrorless camera. I’ve used it while traveling before, and the Fuji is very well-made! My favorite part about it is the rugged all-metal dials that control this camera’s settings.

One downside is the smaller APS-C crop sensor rather than being Full Frame like the Sony A7. Another is less power in low-light situations. The Fuji also has fewer focus points, half the battery capacity, and no internal stabilization.

  • APS-C Sensor
  • 4K Video
  • Weather-sealed Body
    • Lacks swivel screen
    • No built-in flash
    • Limited Battery
    • No internal stabilization
The Fuji is a favorite for travelers because of its small size, good lens options, and classic film camera design cues. It’s a nice option for those who don’t want to spend the extra money on a top-of-the-line Sony A7.

Sony A6500 – Best Value For Travel

Weight: 15.98 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Sony A6500 Travel Camera

The Sony A6500 is an even smaller version of Sony’s awesome A7 mirrorless camera. The big difference is a slightly smaller APS-C cropped sensor, and less weatherproofing to protect against rain.

The A6500 is also wonderful for travel video with 4K resolution and has a touch-screen, but a smaller battery and less low-light capability. For a more budget-friendly version, the older Sony A6000 is almost just as good, for about $700 hundred dollars less!

  • Very Portable
  • Affordable
  • Built In Flash
  • Internal stabilization
  • Lacks Swivel Screen
  • Limited Battery
  • Button Layout
I really love the Sony A6500. It’s cheaper and smaller than the Fuji, but includes many features of the higher-end Sony A7 (like internal camera stabilization). This is the camera my wife uses.

Best DSLR Cameras For Travel

Digital SLR Cameras (DSLR) wouldn’t be my first choice for a travel camera. Because these cameras use a physical mirror instead of an electronic viewfinder, the body is larger than on a mirrorless camera.

Personally, I think most people would be better off with a mirrorless camera system these days. Especially if you’re trying to minimize the weight and size of your travel gear. However here are some options below:

Popular DSLR Cameras For Travel

Smartphone Travel Cameras

Smartphone Travel Photography?

Traveling With Your Smartphone Camera

Can you use your smartphone as a travel camera? Of course, you can! You’ll sacrifice a bit of quality due to the super small camera sensor in phones, but if you’re only publishing to the web, most people won’t notice.

Another downside is the lack of a physical zoom feature (digital zooming doesn’t produce great results).

Some smartphones can even shoot in RAW format these days though. I travel with an iPhone 7+, but the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel 2 also take amazing photos & video. Smartphones are also great backup cameras too.

What About Camera Lenses?

You honestly don’t need a million different camera lenses. When I first started traveling, I only used a single general-purpose lens while I was learning.

If you have money to burn, then get two: a wide-angle zoom and a telephoto zoom.

These two lenses will allow you to capture a mix of landscapes, portraits, and wildlife from a distance. However, lugging around multiple lenses and changing them back & forth can be annoying if you’re new to travel photography.

To keep things easy, I’d recommend only one lens at first. Something with a decent focal range, around 18mm – 55mm or 28mm – 70mm.

When looking at a lens aperture, the lower the number, the better it will be in low light. F2.8 or F4 should cover you for most situations. If you want to shoot star photography, go with F2.8 or lower.

Hawaii from the Air

Flying my DJI Mavic Over Hawaii

Drones For Travel Photography

Drones are incredible tools for capturing images & video from a totally different perspective. But this probably isn’t the most important travel camera for the average person.

Many places have restrictions on flying personal drones, for example, US National Parks, and even entire countries. So you need to do your research to avoid heavy fines or confiscation.

If you REALLY want to travel with a drone, I’d recommend the DJI Spark for beginners. It’s tiny, pretty affordable, and very easy to use.

If you eventually want to make money from your drone photography, and have a larger budget, than you’ll completely fall in love with the small DJI Mavic Air or more professional DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

Check Out My Full DJI Mavic 2 Pro Review!

Travel Photography Camera Gear

All My Travel Camera Gear

Which Travel Cameras Do I Use?

I actually travel with 4 different cameras on my adventures around the world. This is a bit overkill for most people.

However travel photography is how I make my living, so I invest in gear to help me accomplish my job. When I first started 7 years ago, all I used was a Canon 7D and a GoPro Hero.

The camera backpack I use is called a LowePro Whistler 350. It has room for a 15″ laptop, jacket, and incredibly fits all 4 travel cameras, lenses & some accessories if I need it to — perfect as an airplane carry-on.

Travel Photography Tips

I want to let you in on a little travel photography secret. Even if you have a top-of-the-line $10,000 camera, your photos aren’t going to be spectacular if you don’t know how to use it.

And I don’t mean pressing the shutter — I mean things like:

  • Learning how to shoot in manual mode
  • How to expose images properly
  • Adjusting your white balance
  • Framing shots for maximum impact
  • Paying attention to light
  • Post-processing your images with software

You don’t become a good photographer because you have a nice camera, your photography improves over time through practice, patience, and skills you learn from others.

So sure, invest in a new travel camera if you think you need it, but remember to invest money & time into learning new photography skills if you really want to create those jealousy-inducing images for your Instagram feed!

Here are some of my favorite beginner travel photography tips.

Well, I hope you learned a little bit more about the different kind of travel cameras available, and are able to choose one that fits your budget and needs. Happy travels! ★

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How To Choose The Best Travel Camera. More at
How To Choose The Best Travel Camera. More at

Have any questions about travel cameras? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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  1. Any reason for why you do not recommend or list any cameras with a Micro Four Thirds sensor? I would guess that it would maybe be a good compromise for in between a 1” and APS-C so that it offers most of the quality benefits of an APS-C but provides some more zooming capability? Or is it simply just an awkward option that is not worth considering?

  2. Hello:) I would like to ask you a suggestion, I’m looking for a travel camera, for landscape pictures and wildlife captures. I have a t5 canon at the moment and I’m linking forward to make some photography lesson before I start.
    I will be around for a wile, or I hope so, and the most important thing is the weight and the quality. Budget around 1000$. Last time I took pictures for a year around Central America and I’m not willing to ti the same mistake twice ^^ thanks

  3. This advice is just what I needed! I am struggling with grainy pictures and I have been shooting with 800 ISO. I’m going to bring it down and see how that makes my pictures better. Thanks for sharing all the resources also!

  4. Hi Matthew, firstly great read on your travel Photograhy gear used. I am planning a few weeks travelling to Sweden, Norway etc in 2019 with my wife doing the tourist thing, but as I am an avid landscape photographer, I was wondering what you think about the following gear I plan to take. Sony a7riii with laowa 15mm f2 (Landscapes) & Sony A7rii with 24-105 f4 (travel shots) and do you recommend taking filters or add it in post processing.

  5. I still love using my GoPro Hero 4 for food photos, especially when walking through local markets. That with a Samsung S7 and lots of tasty food photos.

  6. I stumbled upon your post and had to laugh.. we just finished posting one of our – best travel camera – post ourselves and we have the same conclusions in it. Although we wish we had invested a bit more in the A7rii but it will come .. maybe even the A9.., who knows?

    Cheers from St. Maarten!

    Seb & Michelle

    We’ll be coming back for more of your stuff.. your blog is invaluable – enjoy your travels and keep it up.

  7. Your blog was an eye opener for me . It helped me decide to go for DJI MavicPro which I was hesitant to purchase for along time after getting mixed reviews .
    Thanks for publishing such wonderful site . I had invested in lot of cameras and expensive lenses during the past 10 years from Canon EOS 60D , to GoPro and I was using them properly .
    Your web site was an eye opener for me .Thanks for sharing the details and tutorial on good photography .

  8. I have always used the Sony A6000 since it was released, until I had to replace it for the 3rd time because of a shutter mainboard problem, it would just not turn on anymore and needs to be repaired by Sony.

    My guess is that I shoot too many Panoramas in a short amount of time, because I use different zoom angles for each Panorama.

    Wonder if I am the only person with that problem or anyone else had the same?


    1. Sony’s are the best bang for your buck right now .. they have made some incredible leaps in that field. We just switched three months ago and are loving it.

      Seb & Michelle

  9. Oh man it’s a tough choice. I had a big DSLR for years and have just recently changed over to a mirrorless system. I found myself not going out with my DSLR on hikes because it was simply too heavy for me to use. Simply put, it became a burden. Especially on 30km+ days. Although the battery life is considerably worse on mirrorless systems, I’m certainly happier now. Anyway, the most important aspect of photography is being in the right place at the right time, not the tool you use to take the photo.

    1. Hi samantha, i really need to know more about the goodness of samsung camera so far cos many have recommend me to by Nikon.

  10. Without a good camera, a trip or a tour is useless.We went on to travel to enjoy and observe different places.The camera helps us to relive the memories later on.And this blog recommends the best camera according to me.

  11. Ah Matt! I wish i had an molecule of creativity with a camera as you do! Thanks for a great article, i appreciate your recommendations because you’re so good with a camera!

    1. Yes. In addition to other kinds of travel marketing work, I’m hired to shoot photos and video for brands and destinations. In fact I just returned from a project in Canada with a watch company. I also sell images to magazines and online publications.