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

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

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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

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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

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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

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!

  • 4K Video
  • 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.

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.

  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Built-In Flash
  • Decent Microphone
  • 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.

  • Flip-screen for Vlogging
  • Fast low-light lens
  • Touchscreen
  • 4K Video
  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

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!

  • Very Portable
  • Flip Screen for Vlogging!
  • Internal stabilization
  • 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.

  • Compact M43 Body
  • Interchangeable Lenses
  • IBIS Stabilization System
  • 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!

  • 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.

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).

  • 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.

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.

  • Cheaper than GoPro
  • Similar Quality
  • 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.

  • Large APS-C sensor
  • Weatherized
  • Many Lenses Available
  • 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.

  • Huge lens selection
  • Large APS-C sensor
  • Weatherization
  • 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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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!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 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. I have both the Sony Rx 100v and the GoPro Hero5. I think the combination of those two cameras are the best on the market at the moment for the lightweight traveler. Don’t forget the fluffy stick on ‘deadcat’ material if shooting video to block the wind noise. Would love a mirrorless, maybe in a couple of years. Cheers, Brad

    • I agree! And yes, all my cameras have those wind muffs on them. Everyone makes fun of them, because it looks like the camera has “ears”. Ha!

  2. Great article! As an active traveler I’ve found out that the best camera is the one that’s with you. A bit of a cliche, but true. And since you usually carry a mobile phone with you, I have chosen Google Pixel 2 as my main device. As a side note, with Pixel 2 you also get an unlimited Google Photos storage space, which might be valuable for photographers.

    • I still haven’t used a Pixel 2 yet, but I’ve heard good things! Glad to hear you like using it as a travel camera.

  3. Thank you so much for the valuable tips. It’s good to know the break down of camera types, specifications and the feature of each camera.

    Highly useful for me as a new & growing food and travel photographer! I’m a learning a lot from your posts. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for sharing your personal opinion about cameras. For the time I just started running my blog and I’m stick to the nikon d3200 that I have been using for the last 4 years! Too bad im running late for the competition but congrats on giving the opportunity to your readers!

    • That’s called a Lume Cube. It’s a small, very powerful wide-angle LED light that I use sometimes. Great as a video light in dark places. Or to light up a tent, cave, etc. for a long-exposure photo. It’s waterproof too.

  5. Great way to learn all about cameras. Perfect for the beginner in discerning and deciding what camera to buy for customizing to a particular travel itinerary.

  6. I will be taking a trip to Ireland in March with my sister. I keep saying how I want a good camera to capture all of my memories but was feeling overwhelmed by the hundreds of cameras there are to use. This post was definitely helpful on where to start. Thanks!

  7. I love how well You’ve explained all these camera’s, My next travel camera will definitely be one from your list ! Thanks ! Right now we mainly use the GoPro4, which is allright but I’m looking forward to using GoPro6 😊

  8. I enjoyed reading this post. I’ve been reading about the Sony a7 but it’s pricey. I have a Canon Rebel but find it big and heavy when I travel so I am using my Iphone 7 plus. It’s easy to carry and takes good photos. Thanks for all your camera tips and suggestions.

    • Hi Bonnie, I totally identify with your comment. I used to carry my Nikon D5300 with a couple of lenses for a while, then I’d travel only with one prime lens, and now I just take my iPhone with me.
      Anything other than the iPhone feels bulky and heavy and, on day six or seven of travel, it starts to weigh like a kettlebell!

  9. To take photos for my blog, currently I’m using an android cellphone xD So Im excited to upgrade eventually to a good camera. The photos on this blog inspired me to take better wilderness photos for my own site- I realized it is a big contributing factor to why people read the blog! This article will be useful when I am ready to upgrade :)

  10. Thanks for the great tips Matt. I am currently using a Canon EOS650D. I really like the camera, but it is quite heavy. I am from Australia, but currently living in Switzerland. I want to explore this country as I only just arrived here. I have done some research and there are some great places here for some good photo opportunities.

    • Nice Daniel, I hear Switzerland is beautiful! Good luck exploring it with your camera… I bet you’ll get some great shots.

  11. Thanks for your great help! Your article was a guidance for my future camera choose. I am a beginner in the photo art and it is quite hard to understand who’s who especially if you search it for a particular use as travel for example.

  12. Great post! Thanks for sharing this valuable information. I was just looking for something like this, but I have to confess that your post exceeded my expectations! I am in the process of setting up my blog in which I will be sharing my knowledge and travel experiences. Now I have your unique experience to decide what camera will substitute my current Sony Alpha Next-3. Thanks!

  13. My travel camera is a Canon 7D, I love taking photos of my travels, but definitely need a compact camera that is lighter and still takes amazing shots!

  14. I have been checking out these mirrorless cameras lately, as well. So I appreciate the recommendations – they seem like an incredible asset to a camera arsenal!

  15. Great post! I do have one follow-up question – what about photo storage? Do you use something on the go and back up later?

  16. i do not have a good camera to take nice pictures, i only use my iphone camera. I am trying to save up for a nice camera but all of them are so expensive!! I really would also like a drone because they can catch some really cool footage!

  17. Thanks Matt for the great article! We need a new camera for our food quest and we’ve been hesitating to go for a DSLR. It seems that they are plenty of other reasonably-priced options and good quality cameras for our travels. Any preference for close up shots? Thanks!

    • Close up portraits of people, or like “macro” photography of insects and other small things? You can’t go wrong with any of these cameras, but for portraits, a lens that can do something between 35mm – 85mm with a large aperture (small number) like F2.8-ish will work well.

  18. You are always helpfull with your article and i do always follow ur advice and experience. I use canon 760d that even helps me to capture some good inages.

  19. Your article is really helpful. I just want to recommend my Sony A5100 mirorless camera for a relatively low-budget but great-return travel camera.

  20. I love capturing moments. My favorite camera is the point and shoot although I love iphone photographs more. Which is the most budget friendly camera you wpuld suggest for a student.

  21. Thanks for the great article! Any recommendations on some photography classes? When I get home from a deployment to Kuwait I am wanting to travel to Iceland!

  22. Favorite travel camera at the moment is definitely my GoPro 5 Silver (it means I’m actually doing something fun when I’m using it). Going to Japan in the morning but trying to make it back to South America here soon.

  23. The only camera I have to use is on my phone:( I would love to get a go pro one day because it always for such a wide variety of picture taking!! Right now I would really like to go to Afghanistan; after reading your post about it I want to see for myself how beautiful the country is and how, contrary to popular belief, not everyone there is bad and terrorists

  24. Great article! Do you have any tips how to shoot night sky in the Sahara desert? I have mirrorless camera Panasonic DMC-GF6 + 14-42 f/3.5-5.6 + 45-150 f/4-5.6.

  25. Thanks for the tips! I use a mirrorless from Panasonic. I went once on a photo tour in Bali where I learned to use it. I’m contemplating for my next travel to buy lenses for my iPhone, would love to read an article on those!

  26. I’ve found RX100 M2 to perfectly suit for my travels. Small enough to put into the pocket and great enough to shoot high quality photos.
    The next upgrade will be probably some drone for the better angles…

  27. Very informative and detailed article. Love the shots!
    I am not very comfy using the big/bulky cameras (especially on treks) and you have listed all the alternatives with their pros and cons – that really helps. Thanks much, Matthew!

  28. Excellent post. Comprehensive yet succinct. I’ve been eyeing the Sony A6500 for a while (I like street photography, small cameras with pancake wide angle lens are best suited for this)!
    Travel style has become a factor that affects my choice of cameras when I travel. If I’m with impatient friends, I only bring my iPhone and a GoPro. Sometimes travel buddies don’t want to wait for one to change lenses or set up the tripod to capture that awe provoking sunset!
    The one point in favor of DSLRs, IMHO, is that they can be great for learning the fundamentals of photography because DSLRs typically have all the controls as physical levers, wheels, buttons, etc. and this makes it easier for a student to develop the intuition to adjust ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and all the good stuff.
    Also, physical controls are much faster to adjust and capture that elusive shot!

  29. Im just now getting into photography so I don’t really have a great camera I love for travel. I really want to get to new zealand next though.

  30. Hi Matt! I’ve always been using a Canon Powershot (but another version) – until it got stolen. I loved that thing :)

  31. Thanks for all the helpful info. I’m just now trying to get more into the photography side of things (after about a decade hiatus, and now as a professional travel writer). Do you ever find it hard to juggle the photography and the writing aspects? Some have told me they end up having to step back on writing if they focus on photos and vice versa.

  32. I love my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 But I have some great old Canon FD lenses which I would love to use again with an adapter on a Sony Alpha…
    Wouldn’t mind trying out the GoPro either, but I’m not rich and traveling is my priority.

  33. A friend of mine shared the article with me as I am preparing myself for a trip next year to Russia for the World Cup. I travel often, about twice a year, and have been wanting to become a travel blogger for a while and your article really helped enlightening me on which camera might be best for what I want and need. I will check with local retailers for the availability of the cameras you mentioned and prices. Thank you lots! :)

  34. Great post – I’m soooo wanting to take a Mavic Pro to Finish Lapland this Christmas, but I hae no idea how it will hold up in the cold.
    In the photo, what do you have your macbook inside to make it weatherproof?

  35. I really need to upgrade on my camera. Right now I shoot with a full frame Canon Mark II + a zoom lense 22 – 70. The entire thing weights 1.8kg (3,9 pounds).
    I totally agree with your point on composition, shooting in manual mode and postproduction. Cannot help it, think how much of a difference there could be between the sony a7rii and Canon Mark II, tho.

  36. This blog post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m in the middle of researching which camera I should get. Can’t afford both a new camera and a GoPro, that would’ve been so cool though. Crossing my fingers for that competition, haha. Glad I signed up for your mail updates, it’s so inspiring. Thank you!

  37. This article is great! Thanks! If you are going hiking, backpacking, camping, or just exploring — how do you decide when to bring a larger professional camera verses when to bring a smaller simpler digital camera?

    • Great question Alyssa! Just experience I guess. If the hike is going to be multi-day, and I have to pack a lot of water, I usually choose the smaller RX100. But if I can easily re-fill a water bottle along the trail, and don’t need to carry as much, I’ll bring the larger A7R (and just minimize the number of lenses/accessories).

  38. This was really helpful since I’m heading overseas next summer to film for my school. Do you recommend Gorilla tripods for DSLR cameras? Are they worth caring them around?

  39. Great tips! What do you think about the Olympus Pen series? I was thinking of getting one of them for Christmas… But you helped me be convinced about the Mavic! Thanks

  40. Thanks for all the great tips! The camera I currently have is a Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless camera. I’ve been doing photography for almost a year now just using my iPhone but now I’m learning how to properly take pictures using my Sony. I hope to become an awesome photographer like you one day :)

    My next trip is Lisbon,London and Norway in February – March. Hope to capture some amazing photos!

  41. We have just upgraded to the Sony Alpha 6000 and we are looking forward to taking lots of photos when we visit Switzerland in December. Just a question, what lens would you recommend purchasing for evening/night photography?

    • Well, the larger the aperture (large aperture = smaller number) the more light the lens will let in. So anything F2.8 or smaller (F2, F1.8) will be great in low-light.

  42. This is an amazing post. I have been taking pictures with my Samsung galaxy phone. I was confused about which camera to get, thanks for the help! Also, having a GoPro on road trips will be awesome. Love your blog. Thanks!

  43. I have recently discovered your website as I am trying to create a blog / photography website for my cycling and travel photo’s.

    So far I am loving it. I have a Nikon D5500 which I use as well as my Sony Xperia X mobile phone with 23m pixel camera, however I am missing an action camera. With my upcoming travel to Vietnam in April 2018, where I will be cycling cross country (covering 303 miles) for Charity, I am keen to get an action camera so this was really useful!

  44. Hi, Matt! I have been trying decide on a new camera to purchase for my upcoming adventures and this post was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!

  45. Great suggestions! i’ve been looking to get a compact camera and i think I’ve found the one thanks to you! I currently use my DSLR Canon 6D, and although i absolutly love my baby, but i do a lot of adventurous hiking and I do not want to damage it. Thank you for your tips! i love your blog!

  46. Very interesting! My Canon 70D is heavy and requires my attention when I go around cities (thieves paranoia mode ON), but I love it. I tried a mirrorless, but couldn’t get used to it. Next on the wish list is definitely a GoPro!! :)

  47. I know nothing about cameras and am in desperate need of one for my travels and for my newly launched Brazilian travel blog. This post is a great starting point, so thank you!

  48. Hi thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us! I bought few months ago a new camera canon eos 80d! And all the picture are just amazing but is true that is not easy to carry around and and I’m thinking to buy a mirrorless, smaller and manageable. Your link is clear and easy and it is a good help for choose my next first mirrorless.,!

  49. learned a lot!! thanks for sharing your knowledge!! I’m going to apply it in my next travel adventure. A GoPro is a must to any travels.

  50. My best friend Canon 600D got so wet after catching the whales in the Atlantic Ocean near the Azores, that it left me only with my old friend Canon 450D, now just without HD video option. As a photography lover I can’t even imagine to go on a trip without a camera in my bag.

  51. Great advice. I am a writer living in Beijing and currently starting to publish travel articles, and I am really in the market for a travel camera! I really think the advice and descriptions are amazing! Def going to pick up one of these cameras for my upcoming trip to Cambodia with my mom. What do you do to protect your camera while out in high-theft countries? Thanks for the advice and the chance to win!

  52. Great article! Choosing the right camera for travelling is an important matter. I have always used my DSLR camera (Canon EOS 50D), but the weight and space it needs along with lenses is always a problem. A GoPro can be a great alternative for saving space.

  53. Check out this one, it’s versatile but almost unknown: RICOH WG-4
    (originally a PENTAX, but RICOH swallowed PENTAX)

    They call it “adventure camera” and say it’s “adventure proof” (crushproof, shockproof, coldproof -10°C, waterproof 14m)
    Rugged, has some weight, lens is protected
    Full HD Video, 16MP photography
    Many different modes, among them HDR, …
    Many smart extras: time, altitude, GPS, compass
    ca. 300 EUR: good price/performance ratio

    My no. 1 gadget and the reason why I decided to buy it: it’s a p&s camera that makes amazing macro pictures (1cm; built in macro LED light), don’t know one with a better resolution and close up!! A huge plus, great for those who love tiny bugs… The remaining quality characteristics all fulfill my expectations.

    I use my WG-4 for more than 2 years now; I am still happy with it. I took it on a Pamir trip in 2015 and take it with me for everyday professional purposes.
    As a backup camera I have my mobile phone Samsung S6 edge camera: more than sufficient!

    BTW: Quite a lot of disillusioning reviews on GoPro 6 out there…

  54. Thanks for putting up this extremely helpful post! I think I am looking for a camera which is more into weatherproofing and ruggedness. We own a Canon DSLR but soon we realized it was a bad choice for ‘our kind of travel’. We are more into hiking in wet weather, crossing rivers and stretches of water. Our camera is too sensitive for all these rough ways of travelling!

  55. Hey, i think I’ll get me a mirror less camera. Photographer friends advise me to get one. They are easy to use and good entry point. Also im taking a basic photography course.

  56. Hello, I read your article and just said in one breath because all these questions were collected in one and by the way as you described everything simply and all very very competently and understandably thank you very much for such an article I will follow your advice and I think in years 2:3 I will have a similar set as you do)

  57. Great advice, thank you! I’ve been looking at getting a better camera for travel, so far I’ve just been using my Smartphone.

  58. Great article! My wife and I are looking to buy a new camera for Christmas and will almost certainly get one from this list! Thanks for all the help!

  59. I love the Sony cams. I typically travel with my Sony A6000 when I need to go super light. I pull the A7rii out when I want to shoot video.

  60. Like always, enjoyed your post and always learn something. I’m into nature photography and hope to go to Africa. Am using Nikon 3300 and Tamron 300and 600 lenses. Could I get close enough pics with the point and shoot or lighter cameras?

  61. I️ just bought a canon rebel sl2 for my travels around the world next summer! Looking forward to learning how to use it and getting awesome shots!

  62. Hey Matt, I usually travel with my Canon G1X Mark II and next time with my new GoPro Hero6 too! :D

    I wish I could make a living with travel photography. Do you have an article or tips on how to begin selling travel pictures?