The Best Travel Cameras (And How To Choose One)

Best Travel Camera Guide
The Best Travel Cameras of 2019
Travel Photography Gear

As a professional travel photographer, I get a lot of questions about what’s the best travel camera. There are so many to choose from! Here’s what I would pick, and why.

If you’re into travel photography, exploring the world with a good travel camera can help you bring back vacation images that will stand the test of time.

Epic travel memories & experiences to share with family and friends for years to come. Travel photos are some of my most treasured souvenirs!

But what’s the best travel camera for capturing these special moments?

There’s no easy answer to this question. Different people will have different requirements and budgets for choosing a travel camera.

My goal with this digital camera buyers guide is to help you narrow down the overwhelming choices — and pick the perfect camera for travel so you’re prepared for your next trip.

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

Ultimate Travel Camera Buyers Guide

Why Listen To Me?

Experience! I’ve been traveling the world for the past 9 years working as a professional travel photographer & blogger, licensing images to brands like National Geographic. This guide is also completely independent.

Winter Scene from Norway
Some of My Travel Photography from Norway

Quick Answer: Best Travel Cameras Of 2020

  1. Sony RX100 VA – Best Compact Travel Camera

  2. Panasonic Lumix ZS70 – Best Budget Travel Camera

  3. Sony A7 III – Best Mirrorless Travel Camera

  4. Sony A6600 – Best Value Travel Camera

CAMERADESCRIPTIONPRICE
Sony RX100Best Compact Travel Camera
Sony RX100 VA

  • FEATURES: Small point & shoot camera, 1" sensor, professional settings, 4K video, lightweight, beginner friendly.

  • WEIGHT: 10.6 oz

  • MEGAPIXELS: 20
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Lumix ZS70Best Budget Travel Camera
Panasonic Lumix ZS70

  • FEATURES: Small point & shoot camera, 1" sensor, lightweight, and under $400.

  • WEIGHT: 11.7 oz

  • MEGAPIXELS: 20
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Sony A7IIIBest Mirrorless Travel Camera
Sony A7 III

  • FEATURES: Professional settings, full frame sensor, great low light ability, 4K video, interchangeable lenses, and weather sealed.

  • WEIGHT: 22.9 oz

  • MEGAPIXELS: 24
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Sony A6500Best Value Travel Camera
Sony A6600

  • FEATURES: Professional settings, large APS-C sensor, 4K video, interchangeable lenses, and flip screen.

  • WEIGHT: 17.7 oz

  • MEGAPIXELS: 24
Check Amazon

Important Travel Camera Features

We’ll get to the juicy stuff in a second (I promise!), but first, it’s important to understand what makes a camera good for travel.

When picking a travel camera, you must define what your needs are.

Are you looking for lightweight portability? Something weatherproof? Professional image quality? Reasonably priced? A well-rounded model for landscapes, portraits, but can also handle vlogging?

Here are some key camera features you should be aware of moving forward.

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. Luckily technology has improved a lot.

MANUAL SETTINGS – Professional photographers want the ability to manually control all camera settings to dial in the perfect shot in different situations. Pick a travel camera with full manual control if you want to improve your skills.

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.

APERTURE – 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 (and more expensive). Lower numbers also create a nice “bokeh” effect in portraits.

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. The amount of zoom is a personal preference. For travel, having the option to zoom in without changing lenses is nice.

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

WIFI/BLUETOOTH – Some cameras have their own wifi network, allowing you to upload your photos instantly to your computer or smartphone. This can be handy if you want to share travel photos to social media without a computer.

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

WEATHERPROOFING – Will your travel camera hold up against the elements? Some cameras are better protected from moisture and dust than others. If you plan on shooting in very dusty or wet environments, it helps to have strong weatherproofing.

RAW – Not all cameras shoot in RAW format. Camera RAW basically saves the image without any internal modifications, as opposed to JPG. It’s preferred by advanced users for more leeway when editing their images with software later.

STABILIZATION – Some cameras or lenses offer Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). This feature compensates for “handshake” on slower shutter speeds, to help keep images sharp in low-light situations. Some cameras also have internal sensor stabilization, for even better results.

Understanding Camera Sensors

Camera Sensor Size Chart

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.

Best Compact Cameras For Travel Photography

Best Compact Cameras for Travel
What’s the Best Compact Camera for Traveling?

Compact cameras have come a long way. Improved technology means companies can pack these portable travel cameras with a ton of features.

Many shoot 4K video and have manual settings, just like the more expensive cameras on this list.

In my opinion, a decent compact camera is the best option for 75% of amateur travel photographers.

They combine the perfect mix of being portable, powerful, and pretty budget-friendly too.

Here are my current top 5 picks for compact travel cameras that are perfect for shooting travel photography on your next vacation.


1. Sony RX100 VA – Best 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 Camera

The Sony RX100 VA 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. It’s a great one for travel blogging!

PROS
  • 4K Video
  • Fast Focusing
  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Built-In Flash
CONS
  • 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.

Check Price Here →


2. 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 Compact 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.

PROS
  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Built-In Flash
  • Decent Microphone
CONS
  • Fixed Lens
  • Slow Focusing
  • No 4K
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.

Check Price Here →


3. Panasonic Lumix LX10 – Portable Camera

Weight: 10.9 oz
Zoom: 24-72mm
Sensor Size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
Megapixels: 20
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Compact Panasonic LX10

The Panasonic LX10 is another nice portable point & shoot camera that’s good for traveling. It’s very similar to the Sony & Canon in specs. The big differences are no viewfinder (just the LCD), a slightly larger aperture, and less battery power.

PROS
  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Fast low-light lens
  • Touchscreen
  • 4K Video
CONS
  • No viewfinder
  • Small battery
When it comes to these three compact travel cameras, the differences are negligible. Panasonic has a strong video fan-base, so it’s basically like the others but with the Panasonic brand name. I still think Sony has the better technology.

Check Price Here →


Best Mirrorless Travel Cameras

Mirrorless Travel Camera Options
Picking a Good Mirrorless Travel Camera

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.


1. 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 III Mirrorless 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.

PROS
  • Full Frame Sensor
  • Internal Stabilization
  • 4K Video
  • High Dynamic Range
  • Weather-sealed Body
CONS
  • 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.

Check Price Here →


2. Fujifilm X‑T3 – Classic Travel Style

Weight: 17.2 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
Megapixels: 26.1
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Fuji XT3 Camera Body

The Fuji X-T3 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.

PROS
  • APS-C Sensor
  • 4K Video
  • Weather-sealed Body
CONS
    • 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.

Check Price Here →


3. Sony A6600 – Best Value For Travel

Weight: 17.7 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Sony A6600 Travel Camera

The Sony A6600 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 A6600 is also wonderful for travel video with 4K resolution and has a touch-screen, but with less low-light capability. For a more budget-friendly version, the older Sony A6400 is almost just as good, for about $400 hundred dollars less!

PROS
  • Very Portable
  • Flip Screen for Vlogging!
  • Internal stabilization
CONS
  • No Built-In Flash
  • Cramped Button Layout
I really love the Sony A6600. It includes many features of the higher-end Sony A7 (like internal camera stabilization), but it also has a flip screen so you can see yourself while vlogging. I use it as a backup camera.

Check Price Here →


4. Olympus E-M10 Mark III – Micro 4/3rds Camera

Weight: 14.4 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: Micro 4/3
Megapixels: 16
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Olympus E-M10: Micro 4/3rds Travel Camera

The EM-10 Mark III is Olympus’ latest excellent Micro 4/3rds model. Improving on the older Mark II by including 4K video, touchscreen control, and an enhanced sensor stabilization system, the Mark III provides a lot for a camera under $500 (body only).

In-body image stabilization (IBIS) is incredibly handy for travel and street photography because it makes traveling with tripods less necessary. By stabilizing the sensor you can use slower shutter speeds to create extra exposure to make up for the smaller Micro 4/3rds sensor and keep your handheld shots razor sharp.

PROS
  • Compact M43 Body
  • Interchangeable Lenses
  • IBIS Stabilization System
CONS
  • Poor Low-light Performance
  • Lower Resolution Sensor
  • No Weather Sealing
Micro 4/3rds cameras are a good middle-ground option for a travel camera. The smallish sensors allow the body to remain compact yet still create photos that rival larger DSLR and full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Check Price Here →


Best Action Cameras For Travel

Best Action Cameras for Travel
Whitewater Kayaking with My GoPro Camera

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.


1. GoPro Hero 8 – 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 Travel Camera

The GoPro Hero 8 is GoPro’s best camera yet, with improved video stabilization, color, and 60p slow-motion 4K footage. It’s waterproof case & touch-screen will handle any activity you dream up. A must-have for adventure addicts like me!

One cool feature of the GoPro 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. There are many great GoPro accessories for attaching your camera to anything!

PROS
  • 4K Video
  • Ultra Small
  • Touch Screen
  • Waterproof
CONS
  • 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.

Check Price Here →


2. 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).

PROS
  • Ultra Small
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
CONS
  • 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.

Check Price Here →


3. YI 4K+ – Budget Action Camera

Weight: 3.38 oz
Zoom: 15 – 30mm
Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.63 mm)
Megapixels: 12
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
YI 4K+ Action Camera for Travel

While GoPro generally controls the adventure travel camera market the Chinese made YI 4K Plus is a solid alternative that’s significantly cheaper as well. The features are nearly identical, including 4K video at 60 fps and touchscreen or voice control as needed.

The YI also has digitally stabilized video, much like the GoPro, but offers little beyond basic 4K recording and a 12 MP photography experience. If you don’t need the additional features of the GoPro line the YI 4K+ is a decent budget alternative.

PROS
  • Cheaper than GoPro
  • Similar Quality
CONS
  • Basic Recording Experience
  • Tech Support Unreliable
This GoPro alternative is cheaper because it lacks more advanced features like HDR photography, tone mapping, and timewarp video. If you don’t need those, this will get the job done.

Check Price Here →


Best DSLR Cameras For Travel Photography

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.


1. Nikon D7200

Weight: 23.9 oz.
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Nikon D7200 Travel Camera

If you don’t mind a somewhat large camera experience the Nikon D7200 is one of the best entry-level APS-C cameras on the market. The 24.2 MP CMOS sensor is an oldie but goodie with hundreds of lenses to choose from.

The standard optical viewfinder and SLR mirror design mean it’s not as discrete as the Fuji X or even the Sony A7 series. While great for all types of photography it’s not the sort of camera that fits easily into a back pocket or a crowded event without notice.

PROS
  • Large APS-C sensor
  • Weatherized
  • Many Lenses Available
CONS
  • No Exciting Features
  • Slow Focus
  • Heavy DSLR Body

Check Price Here →


2. Canon 80D

Weight: 25.75 oz
Zoom: Various Lenses
Sensor Size: APS-C
Megapixels: 24
Price: Click Here For Latest Price
Canon 80D for Traveling

As a rugged upgrade for the many Canon Rebel users out there, the Canon 80D offers weatherization, a great feature to have on a travel camera. Dust and light moisture is prevented from ruining the electronics, as long as the lens is sealed.

The moderate-sized 24 MP APS-C sensor is a great compromise between size and exposure but the heavy DSLR body makes this less attractive for event and street photography compared to the likes of the smaller Olympus OM-D E-M10.

PROS
  • Huge lens selection
  • Large APS-C sensor
  • Weatherization
CONS
  • Average Full-HD video
  • Standard features
  • Large DSLR body

Check Price Here →


Top Budget Travel Cameras (Under $500)

Trying to save money on a travel camera? Here are some of the best budget travel cameras for under $500 with a lens included. They have fewer bells & whistles but are much more affordable.

And if these are still too expensive for you, try looking at the “used” versions of these cameras. They can cost a few hundred less, and work just as good.

1. Panasonic Lumix ZS70 – Best Budget Travel Camera

Panasonic Lumix ZS70 Budget Camera

If you’re looking for the smallest, most affordable travel camera that will fit in your pocket but can also take quality photos, look no further. It’s a great value at under $400 USD.

A large 20MP sensor, optical image stabilization, and a good zoom make this an excellent choice for beginners. But with the ability to shoot in RAW format, as well as full manual control — this camera will allow you to grow as a photographer too.


2. Nikon D3500 – Low Cost Travel Camera

Nikon D3500 Camera

The somewhat venerable Nikon D3500 was one of the most popular DSLR cameras ever created, and for good reason. It has a slightly lighter body compared to the likes of the Canon 80D and a significantly lighter one compared to the Nikon D7200.

The light body trades the weatherization that the other two DSLRs provide, but includes nearly every other features of the D7200 save wireless camera control. One standout feature of the D3500 is the insane battery life at 1200 shots per charge.


3. Canon Rebel T7 – Popular Beginner Camera

Canon Rebel Camera

Canon’s Rebel line is where many photographers begin their journey into the world of travel photography. Fortunately, the Canon T7 offers plenty to get you started. The large 24 MP APS-C sensor provides plenty of resolution for sharp images or cropping as needed and the controls are easy to use.

With many lenses to choose from, you’ll find an aperture and focal length combination to suit any sort of photography style. While not a particularly discrete camera the T6 is affordable and provides great photo and Full HD video quality on a budget.


4. Olympus E-M10 Mark II – Older 4/3rds Model

Olympus Budget Camera

The Olympus EM10 II is just a slightly older model which has seen a price reduction after the Mark III was released. Now you can pick up this highly-capable compact micro 4/3rds camera with the kit lens for under $500.

The big differences are that this model doesn’t include 4K video recording, and it doesn’t have a touch-screen display. But if you can live with that to save some money, this is a great option!

Best Smartphones For Photography

Best Smartphones for Travel
Top Smartphone Cameras For Traveling

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 images online, most people won’t notice.

Some other downsides to smartphone cameras are the lack of a physical zoom (digital zoom looks bad), not many lens options, few manual controls, and of course the battery drain on your phone if you’re using it all the time.

Here are some of the best smartphone cameras for traveling…

1. iPhone 11 Pro

Smartphone cameras are continuing to eat into the camera market share and the iPhone 11 Pro is one of the best on the market. With THREE dedicated lenses built-in: ultra-wide 13mm f/2.4, wide 26mm f/1.8, and telephoto 52mm f/2.0 — you have a variety of viewing angles to choose from.

The out-of-focus areas are surprisingly well rendered as well; while not as good as what you’ll get with a larger sensor and fast aperture, still amazing given how small smartphone sensors are. You can even adjust the background post-shoot using Depth Control to enhance background bokeh and make your subject stand out.


2. Honor 20

The Honor 20 Pro is another competitive smartphone camera that packs a surprising punch for a hybrid device. This smartphone packs 4 different cameras on the back! The main one has an impressive f/1.4 aperture — making it amazing in low-light.

There’s also an 80mm telephoto lens, a 16mm ultra-wide lens, and a macro lens for shooting small things at very close range. Pro Mode gives you as much control as you would using Manual on a dedicated camera, with ISO, shutter speed, color temperature, and more to control at your fingertips.


3. Google Pixel 4

Google’s new Pixel 4 has one of the best portrait modes you can find and intelligently sharpens the borders around your subject while allowing for micro-adjustment of the background blur. The low light photography experience is also very good.

Night Sight allows for exposure stacking using multiple images taken in tandem and even non-stacked images properly preserve dark areas and bright highlights without excessive noise. With three total lenses available the Google Pixel 4 is one of the best smartphone cameras on the market right now.

Best Camera Lenses For Traveling

Camera Lenses for Traveling
My Travel Camera Lenses for the Sony A7

You honestly don’t need a million different camera lenses for travel. When I first started traveling, I used a single general-purpose zoom lens that was perfect for most things.

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

Two travel lenses will allow you to capture a mix of landscapes, portraits, and wildlife from a distance.

However, lugging around multiple lenses and changing them can be annoying if you’re new to travel photography.

To keep things easy, I’d recommend just one lens at first. Something with a decent focal range, like 18-55mm or 28-70mm. Because I’m a Sony guy, I’d pick up the 24-70mm F4 or the 24-70mm F2.8.

When looking at the camera lens apertures, the lower the number, the better it is in low light. F2.8 or F4 should cover you for most situations. If you want to shoot star photography while traveling, go with F2.8.

Best Drones For Travel Photography

Sunrise Photo Over Matera, Italy
Flying my DJI Mavic Over Italy

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.

Which Travel Cameras Do I Use?

Camera gear packed for a trip
What’s in My Camera Bag?

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 9 years ago, all I used was a Canon 7D and a GoPro Hero.

My Camera Collection

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.

How To Improve Your Travel Photography

Travel Photography from Afghanistan
Portrait from my Trip to Afghanistan

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
  • Framing shots for maximum impact
  • Paying attention to light & timing
  • Location scouting & seeking photogenic situations
  • Post-processing your images with software

You don’t become a good travel photographer because you have a nice camera. Your photography improves with practice, patience, and learning new skills.

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

FAQ: Top Travel Camera Questions

What Cameras Do Travel Bloggers & Instagrammers Use?

While travel bloggers & Instagrammers use all kinds of different cameras, some of the most popular models are the Sony RX100 and the Sony A6500. Both are small yet super powerful with many great features.

How Do You Travel With A Nice Camera?

Great question! If you’re traveling with a nice camera, I always recommend buying insurance. Just keep in mind that popular travel insurance often only covers cameras up to $500. So if you have expensive gear, it’s worth it to pick up some professional photographer insurance, which costs about $500 a year.

What’s The Best Small Camera For Travel?

Again, this is going to come down to personal preference. If you want a high-end travel camera that’s small, I recommend the Sony RX100. For a great budget option, check out the Panasonic ZS70.

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, and let me know which camera you decide to go with! ★

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READ MORE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best travel cameras of 2019! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more photography articles that I recommend you read next:

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

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (272)

  1. Hey Matt, what are your thoughts on a Nikon Coolpix P7100 for a starter travel camera? I’ve used it for several trips in automatic mode and been fairly happy with the results, but I’d like to move forward in my photography skills.

  2. This is very helpful! I’m thinking about shooting more video for my trips rather than just take photos and this blog really helps me out!

  3. Hi, I’m a new reader of your blog. I found it by chance but I started reading it with pleasure. I love traveling and I’d like to do it and remember everything and take photos is the best way (along with notes). I started only a few years ago (so 2/3 travels) but every year I make a “new step” like a new camera, a well-written journal. I will read your articles trying to take all tips you give, to make my travels better.
    (I apologize if I wrote something wrong, including grammatical errors)

  4. Matt,
    I love all of your posts so much. I’m a sixteen-year-old aspiring world wayfarer, but I’ve never really got into photography, but this post makes me feel like I should to get better quality pictures for my travels! I have considered getting a Go Pro, but are there other action cameras that you’d recommend for a more affordable price? I have a big trip to Germany coming up this summer and I’d really love to capture every moment, and I feel like the Go Pro or another action camera would be the way to go!

  5. Great article! Really helpful thanks. I will like yo visit Cuba. I’ve always wanted to and I don’t mind a little info on how to budget for it. Also hoping to join your kamchatka adventure next year😊

  6. The next place I would love to travel to is New Zealand to explore the Hobbit House! Traveling is when you have to pack light, what is the best camera you use for overall photos?

  7. Wow! Thanks for all that info that’s great! So many choices! I really love taking photos, but am fairly new to it all because I only just started blogging. . . . this, combined with the fact that I don’t yet earn much and need to constantly sustain my travels, puts most of these out of my price range. If I’m just a beginner and don’t yet want to invest much time in editing and such, would a simple smartphone camera be best for me? I’ve been using my Samsung but something’s wrong with it and the camera is absolutely terrible. Anyway great post! Thanks! Definitely keep these in mind . . . .

  8. Really informative piece. This was really helpful and answered every question that one could have about the tedious aspects of photography.

  9. Hi Matt!

    I’m so excited to have found this blog! I love international travel and often wonder how I can do it more affordably – your blog has definitely opened my eyes and I have been telling all my friends about it. Thanks for pursuing and sharing your passion!!

  10. Thanks Matt. Looking into investing in the new mirror less camera sometime soon.

    Also praying I win the contest, hehe!

    Cheers,
    Hassan The Travel Guru

  11. Love your input. You’re totally right… can’t get the best out of your camera if you don’t take the time to use it. My go-to is my Canon 5D, which is awesome since I’m a filmmaker and can shoot both video and photos.

  12. This is some great info, especially for the beginner, in sorting out the endless variety of camera equipment. I’m going to pass it on.

  13. Loved the article! How do you feel about 3rd party lenses for smart phones? I was recently in Iceland with a group of creatives and everyone was always doing a combinations of shots – first with their DSLR, but then with their smart phone – for 2 reasons – to mark the geographical location, but also to have something more immediate to share on social media. We all discussed smart phone lenses, but none of us had one. Thanks!

  14. I have recently brought the Olympus Tough camera for our Iceland trip so that our camera doesn’t freeze or stop working. It’s a good point and shoot camera.

  15. Thanks for the info. I have a Canon DSLR but am starting to look for my next one. I’ve had this one quite a while and it’s been great. But, it is heavy!

  16. Hi Matt, Great article! Am surprised to hear you travel with so many cameras! I have a Canon 5D MKIV and am absolutely loving it at the moment. In due course, I’m hoping to upgrade to the mirror-less system. Your article has some good pointers and will help with the decision. Thank you :)

  17. Hi,
    What do you think about Tamron’s 18-400 lens? I’m not a huge photographer but I figured that this is super versatile as it has the huge range….

    Secondly, assuming that tripods weigh around 1kg, are they worth it when backpacking?

    Thanks.

  18. Hi Matt! I just bought the Sony A7ii, and am curious, do you ever take prime lenses when travelling? I’ve seen some amazing travel pictures taken with Sony primes. Amazing blog, keep up the great work!

  19. Great article! I’d also consider MFT – micro four-thirds is a very compact size factor and the quality is pretty high. If I didn’t already have a D800, I’d get a GH5 or G85 myself. Keep up the good work.

  20. I currently have a DSLR (Nikon D3300), but I find it cumbersome to travel with. I tend to use my iPhone for many shots out of convienience. I’ll definitely be considering some of these options. I recently moved to Colorado, so I’m hoping to get a GoPro in order to capture my adventures around the state (hiking, kayaking etc)! Great post, it was super informative!

  21. Great giveaway Matt! Thanks for sharing! Fingers crossed! Have you seen or used the Nikon coolpix P900 83x before? It has a zoom world record. I bet that one is pretty cool. Cheers, wherever you are my friend!

  22. Wow. Thanks for sharing these with us. I have just now started travelling as a part of my study and was looking forward to buy lenses and was already confused amongst all the options.

  23. Hey Matt,

    This was wonderful article as usual. I have been following your blogs since long. I have a Canon 800d. I would never recommend anyone to use for travelling and making youtube videos as I find it bulky. Unfortunately this was the only option when I checked quality and budget. I am seriously thinking of replacing it with other camera which can be useful for regular travelling backpacking. Your article explained in detail thanks again. Keep travelling and exploring. Hope to meet you some day once I start my abroad expedition.

  24. I’m heading off by bicycle from London to Beijing in 2018 and am thinking of changing my camera so this post comes at a good time for me! I currently have a Sony HX200V, which is a fixed lens DSLR.

  25. I think Fujifilm X-T2 is my favorite camera. It take excellent quality pictures and it has a good price as well. Weather sealed too… to a certain extent :)

  26. Great article! I love how many cameras and options you discuss. What would you recommend for the Northern Lights? I’ve got a Nikon and am considering a wide angle lens with fast aperture; any recommendations of tips?
    Good luck!

  27. I spent a few years traveling and taking lots of pictures. One of the most important camera features for travel photography (to me) that you didn’t mention is the ability to use the Wifi to shoot remotely from a smartphone. This way you can frame yourself in the shot a lot easier. Paired with a tripod and you can take some excellent pictures of yourself with less trial and error. I’ve mostly used Sony’s PlayMemories version on my A6000, but have also used Canon’s version on their SX700 HS. Both are excellent.

    If I could do it all over again I would hands down opt for a versatile point and shoot (or two) over an interchangeable lens camera.

    I was also a fan of wifi for transferring photos. When traveling around Europe for 3 months I traveled with only my camera and iPad mini 3. I could easily transfer the images over the wifi and edit them on Lightroom Mobile then post them to wherever, cutting out my hefty MacBook Pro and its power cord from my backpack.

  28. Great comparison article especially as travel use cameras. I tend to immediately go to my smart phone camera and forget that I have a Sony a6000 sitting at home. My wife or I should take a class on it so we are comfortable with it. I am sure we will enjoy photography much more.

  29. Wow this was quite informative, if I dont win the gopro Ill try to save up and buy one because it looks and sounds like a must have!

  30. I just entered and my browser led me somewhere else while I was trying to share with Facebook. I had to log back in and I mistakenly resigned up and I do’t want to make it look like I signed up twice. Anyways I love your blog, and I hope I win your package.

  31. We used my iPhone 7+ with the dual lens on our trip to the Alaskan interior earlier this year and it was great for what it was, but you have me thinking about what I want to capture in the future! Great info!

  32. Thanks for sharing all of this info. It is good to know there are different affordable options for newbies and photography pros. Also good to know that you consider the iphone 7 a good option! I thought I was the only one!

  33. I am your one of the biggest fan. I always check your posts which inspire me all the time. Hope to be a great traveller like you one day!

    I had Canon but this time I am thinking about buying a Sony. Here this article helped me about it. Thank you!

  34. Hey my name is Sachin, I was a chemical engineer before but I love travel and Photography. So I have quit my job recently. Right now I have a cannon 1300 d , kit lens , should I continue my journey with this much only, and I am very inspired by your blogs. My Instagram I’d is saclorine.

  35. Thanks for these tips! I’ve been using a Canon 70D for a couple of years and it gets the job done, but is heavy. I do a lot of mountain climbing and adventure travel so something more lightweight seems appropriate. Perhaps the GoPro is the way to go!

  36. Have you tried any of the other action camera’s on the market? I’ve seen YouTube comparisons with the quality to be similar of a GoPro for under $100.

  37. Thank you for the advice!!! I would like to buy a new camera for when I will get back to Colombia. The Canon PowerShot G7 X seems a great option!

  38. Thanks for all of these great gear recommendations! Do you have any recommendations for online photography classes or vlog classes?

  39. Hey Matt!

    Great Social Media Event & nice post, thanx for sharing.

    Sony A6000 can be alternative to A6500 (for just photography ofc.)

    See you on road!

  40. I use my Nikon D3200 but have been looking for an additional option that is easier to take everywhere with me. A GoPro would be perfect!
    Thanks for the article, it is a great source of information! I keep hearing more and more good things about the mirrorless cameras available now.

  41. This has been so helpful, I’ve been struggling to find a camera that is good for the job, lightweight and good for me. I love the way you write and are passionate about photography. Thank you!

  42. Been following you for sometime and always trust your gear reocommendations, thank you! I’m getting ready to embark on my first hiking/backpacking/extended travel trip and a new camera was on my list of things to get. Thank you for sharing your expert opinion! I’m leaning towards the Sony A7 II :) happy travels!

  43. Hi, I am travelling with my kids and have the blog decanaplanina.com (kidsonmauntain). In the past I was using my Nikon 70D for taking pictures, but with the time I realized that making adventure trips with kids is something where you can’t afford to spend time on picture settings (if you want the kids to survive :-)
    No I am using my Samsung Galaxy S8+ for 90% of the cases outside. It makes great pictures during the day and excellent videos. My Nikon I am taking when more adults are with me to take care of the kids.

  44. Thanks for the helpful atricle! I will Go Go Thailand soon and was looking for a good travel Cam. I think i have found it now :)

  45. Very useful article 😊 thanks! I’m still looking for the best camera for myself and opting for the Sony a6000 as it’s in my budget. I see that you are using Sony too. Would Sony be your first pick if you would have to choose only one camera to use?

  46. Great article! I personally use Nikon D90 as my travel camera. Together with my Sigma F2.8 wide zoom lens and Nikkor F1.8 portrait lens its a perfect combination. Would love to have an action sports camera and a drone one day!

  47. Should I get a Telephoto? I have Wide angle and Kit lens? I am not pro along with My day job I do travel and love taking photos.
    I own Nikon D5200 and have been using it for 4 years now.

  48. Thanks for all this explications I will leave for a world tour and since a week I was hesitating between my camera. Now I know what I will take with me.

  49. We’ve been using our phones for travel pics and as you say they are great backups, but of course battery life is always an issue. Thanks for the reviews. If I don’t win the giveaway, I know what to ask for from Santa. By the way, when will the contest be held?

  50. Great post! I use the RX100 V as well and love it! I also just bought the a6500 with two lenses and I’m super excited! I have yet to get a drone but that will come later.

  51. Super cool giveaway Matt! I use an Olympus mirrorless for our travel photos. I drooled over the Sony’s but I was in Sydney on a trip during Dec. and there was a huge 40% discount on the Olympus+Zoomlens combo that swayed me that direction. ;) Anyways, would love to add a GoPro session to my kit…so crossing my fingers! It was a Happy Thanksgiving this year, hoping it’s an even happier Christmas! ;)

  52. Thanks for this article. I have been reading up on a variety of cameras to use while traveling. I have a Nikon DSL, but it weighs too much for me when I go out traveling around. I have a Nikon CoolPix which I take with me due to it being rugged and I can upload pictures to my site easily and it is lightweight and small. But I want something more. I feel the urge to expand. I have looked into buying GoPro, but I hold back due to the cost of the accessories even though I like the small size, waterproof, and video.
    I also use an iPad to shoot with as I travel.
    So many choices, but cannot find the perfect one to meet all of my needs. Reminds me of when I was shopping for strollers- I ended up with several different ones in order to meet the multitude of travel needs!

  53. Great advice! I’m thinking about making the switch to Mirrorless thanks for the info! Also I was wondering what your advice would be for stabilization for filming?
    *also congratulations on your marriage!

    • It’s possible! They are getting pretty close. But as smartphone cameras improve, so do the point & shoots.

      The big difference is the image sensor size. A larger sensor will always produce more detailed images, and have better low-light capability. The sensor in a phone can only get so big…

    • Great post, is the GoPro really useful when you already have a DSLR? I would love one, mostly for action sports or time lapses, which get hard unless you have professional DSLR equipment and should be easy with a GoPro. But I’m still trying to picture myself when exactly I would need it the most…