Product Reviews

The 11 Best Cameras for Travel, According to Professional Photographers

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Travel + Leisure / Marcus Millan

Cameras let us snap scenes that inspire, places that take our breath away, and simple moments that make up the fabric of a destination through our eyes. Hefty camera bodies with giant lenses might seem like the obvious choice for top-notch photos, but for travel, they can be a bulky hindrance taking up too much packing space. Instead, consider your specific needs as a jumping off point when you’re ready to shop for a new camera. Are you a hardcore adventurer? Are most of your travels long-haul trips? Are you a beginner or advanced photographer? These are all questions you should ask yourself to help narrow it down.

Whether you purchase a budget-friendly camera or something pricier, it’ll be an investment — not only financially, but also in trusting your pick to properly capture once-in-a-lifetime experiences that don’t come with do-overs. To help with your travel camera search, we researched dozens of options and spoke to professional photographers Jonathan Pozniak and Viktoria North, as well as Nikon senior product manager Mark Cruz.

Sony Alpha 7R V

Sony

Why We Love It: It has superior auto-focus with 61 megapixels and 8K video capabilities.

What to Consider: The large number of customization options can take a while to set up.

The freshly released full-frame, interchangeable lens Sony Alpha V is our top pick for a plethora of reasons, but what it really boils down to is crisp, high-quality imagery, intelligent features, and stellar 8K video. Mirrorless cameras are a fantastic choice for travelers due to a lightweight, portable design that doesn’t lack in the features department; this one ticks all of those boxes and more. The tilting live-view screen gives photographers flexibility and shows real-time settings in action, so you can easily adjust when shooting in manual or shift to video.

Battery life is fantastic as well, which is great when you’re exploring a new travel destination. Although the price point is on the higher end, the quality certainly matches it. Another fantastic feature is that this camera can be completely tailored to your preferences with the various settings, though it takes a while to get things configured to your liking. Dual SD card slots are ideal for professionals shooting in the field for longer amounts of time, days spent walking around a new city, or hiking to remote spots. We also love the fast Wi-Fi, real-time auto tracking in video, and impressive subject recognition, from humans to animals, birds, and insects, as well as even vehicles and airplanes.

“Mirrorless cameras are equipped with the latest technology and are smaller than traditional DSLR cameras,” Cruz says. “They’re great for those shooting handheld and carrying their camera around for street and travel photography. They are also easier to use and have superior video capabilities thanks to more robust focusing.”

Price at time of publish: $3,898

Sensor Size: 35mm full frame, Exmor R CMOS sensor | Megapixels: 61 | Shutter Speed: 1/8000 to 30 s, Bulb, Movies (NTSC mode): 1/8000 to 1/4 (1/3 steps) ​​| Video Shooting: 8K 24p/25p4 and 4K 60p/50p5 | Weight: 1.6 pounds

GoPro Hero11 Black

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s adventure ready with protection against water, dust, and drops.

What to Consider: It’s only waterproof up to 33 feet underwater, so it’s not ideal for scuba diving.

For a tiny little cube, the GoPro camera series does a stand-up job of capturing photo and video on almost any endeavor, making it a fantastic travel companion. We love the GoPro Hero 11 Black for its new, larger sensor that makes capturing high-quality stills from your videos a possibility. Incredibly lightweight and portable, it’s easy to throw in your pocket or backpack, or attach to your body for wherever your travels take you, whether it’s snorkeling in crystal clear water or zipping down the mountain bike trails. We also like the RAW burst mode, stabilization, and 5.3K video for crisp quality with rich details and coloring. Choose from Easy and Pro modes, where you can either use it as it’s shipped (which is great for most) or fine-tune certain settings to your liking. For a rugged travel camera that fits almost anywhere, the GoPro Hero 11 Black delivers protection for your ventures as well as quality for your photos and videos.

Price at time of publish: $495

Maximum depth: 33 feet | Battery life: 1 hour and 13 minutes | Megapixels: 27 | Sensor: 1/1.9-inch CMOS | Weight: 5.4 ounces

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s super affordable and user-friendly.

What to Consider: It’s best suited for entry-level photographers.

With the Canon EOS Rebel T7, you can save your dollars without skimping on image quality, and there’s not much more you can ask for in the DSLR world. Although there is a newer version of this camera (EOS Rebel T8i), the T7 is still the most budget-friendly device with features perfect for someone ready to branch out and learn the ins-and-outs of DSLRs. That being said, it’s more suited for a beginner photographer who wants to amp up their game past smartphone photography. It’s a fantastic camera to practice manual mode and learn how to adjust ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings. Eventually, it’s likely that you’ll be ready to graduate to a more complex camera — but we all have to start somewhere, right?

Canon is notorious for having a straightforward, easy-to-use system, which is a huge bonus for beginners. The LCD screen is helpful for navigating the menu and setting up images, though it does lack the luxury of touchscreen capabilities. Built-in Wi-Fi allows for quick sharing between devices, so your amazing shots can be posted to social media platforms in a jiff.

Price at time of publish: $380

Sensor Size: Cropped CMOS sensor | Megapixels: 24 | Shutter Speed: 1/4000 to 30 seconds, bulb ​​| Video Shooting: Full HD Video at 60 frames per second | Weight: 15.06 ounces (body only)

Canon EOS R50

B&H Photo

Why We Love It: It’s compact and lightweight, offering great value for its features.

What to Consider: It’s currently only available for pre-order, so it won’t ship right away.

The brand new Canon EOS R50 snags the spot for best budget mirrorless and doesn’t only promise great photo quality, but its video capabilities are fantastic as well. With 4K uncropped video and stellar subject detection and tracking at a friendly price point, this mirrorless model is a great everyday camera that’s ideal for everything from social media video captures to portrait and landscape shooting. Interchangeable lenses give you flexibility, and the compact design won’t weigh you down. Excellent auto-focus that can be tailored to detect humans, animals, and even vehicles is a major highlight, as is the 12fps (frames per second) burst mode. The touchscreen and creative assist mode make this a beginner-friendly camera as well as one that won’t break the bank.

Price at time of publish: $679

Sensor Size: Cropped CMOS (APS-C ) | Megapixels: 24.2 | Shutter Speed: 1/4000th sec – 30 seconds, in 1/3-step increments ​​| Video Shooting: 4K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 11.52 ounces

Fujifilm X-T5

Amazon

Why We Love It: It has a timeless look but totally modern capabilities.

What to Consider: The dials and switches can sometimes change easily with a bump of your finger, shifting your settings accidentally.

We love the vintage design of the Fujifilm X-T5 and the fact that it’s not just pretty to look at, but is also a high-performing mirrorless camera. Its lightweight profile is ideal for travel, and this model offers stunning image quality and up to 6.2K video. Two SD card slots mean that you can shoot as much as you want while discovering a travel destination. We really like the two-way tilting screen, raw shooting capabilities, body image stabilization to reduce shake, and tracking of moving subjects. Solid battery life and weather protection add to the allure, particularly for travelers who should be prepared for anything and everything. If you’re in the market for a new camera with a timeless look, this one fits the bill.

Price at time of publish: $1,699

Sensor Size: 23.5 x 15.6 mm (APS-C) CMOS | Megapixels: 40.2 | Shutter Speed: 1/8000 to 30 Seconds ​​| Video Shooting: 4K at 60 frames per second, 6.2K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 16.8 ounces

Nikon Z50

Best Buy

Why We Love It: The user-friendly design makes learning photography with this model much easier.

What to Consider: The flip screen tends to get in the way of a tripod attachment if you’re using one.

We love how the Nikon Z50 is small enough to fit in your pocket, but don’t be fooled by its size: it produces big-time quality images. “For those new to photography and video, this camera provides an exciting entry point. It’s small enough to carry with you, but offers higher-quality images than your phone. This model is great to learn with as it incorporates many easy-to-use features, plus offers an automatic mode that senses different shooting scenarios and automatically adjusts the camera’s settings (e.g., ISO range, exposure compensation) to deliver stunning results,” Nikon’s Cruz says.

The flip-down LCD screen is ideal for travel photographers and creators that want to take selfies, vlog, or include themselves for scale. The Z50 is also designed to save settings for both photo and video separately, so you don’t have to worry about changing everything when you switch modes. With low-light capabilities, an easy-to-navigate menu, a sleek design, and 11 frames per second at full resolution, a beginner travel photographer will be hard pressed to find a better mirrorless camera.

Price at time of publish: $997

Sensor Size: Cropped APS-C CMOS sensor | Megapixels: 20.9 | Shutter Speed: 1/4000 to 30 seconds, bulb, time ​​| Video Shooting: 4K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 14 ounces (body only)

Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70S

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s a small but fierce camera that fits in a shirt pocket.

What to Consider: The viewfinder is on the smaller side.

The features that this point-and-shoot camera packs in are quite impressive given its small size and affordability. For those interested in boosting their photography up from smartphone imagery, the Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70S is an excellent travel companion. It’s capable of capturing both JPEG and RAW format images, and with the whopping 24-720-millimeter zoom range on the Leica lens, you can hone in on fine details from a distance. The vari-angle touchscreen, built in Wi-Fi, and continuous autofocus are all welcome details jammed into this pint-sized wonder as well. Charging the battery via the micro-USB port without even having to remove the battery from the camera body is a breeze.

Have fun shooting with the wide array of scenery modes, such as “vivid sunset glow,” “clear sports shot,” and “backlight softness.” Or just keep it in “intelligent auto” mode and let the camera do what it does best. This pocket-sized point-and-shoot is a trustworthy camera for capturing travel memories.

Price at time of publish: $398

Sensor Size: Cropped 1/ 2.3 MOS sensor | Megapixels: 20.3 | Shutter Speed: Mechanical shutter: 1/2000 to 4 seconds, electronic shutter: 1/16000 to 1 second​​ | Video Shooting: 4K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 11.36 ounces

Sony RX100 III

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s a versatile compact camera that produces high-quality imagery for almost any situation.

What to Consider: Image quality diminishes with the use of the optical zoom feature.

The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100M3 is our favorite splurge point-and-shoot for many reasons, but the low light capabilities and fast processing are a solid start. The F1.8-2.8 24-70 millimeter Zeiss lens not only performs well in lower light situations but also provides a versatile focal length appropriate for all types of photography. Whether you want portraits with beautiful bokeh blurring, macro of flora and fauna, or wider landscape photos, this camera can seemingly do it all — and fast, with the Bionz X processor.

Another exciting highlight of this Sony model is the revolutionary pop-up electronic viewfinder, something not found in compact cameras until now. Battery life is approximately 320 shots, which is likely sufficient for most shooting opportunities before a recharge is needed. Another major highlight is the built-in 3-stop neutral density filter, which helps in harsh light conditions to avoid overexposing and a shallow depth of field. The tilting LCD screen is great for selfies or video taking, and afterward, you can easily transfer to your phone via the built-in Wi-Fi with the use of an app. This travel-friendly compact camera packs a punch with features and quality while staying small and lightweight and won’t completely drain your funds either.

Price at time of publish: $750

Megapixels: 20.1 | Sensor: 1.0 inch Exmor R® CMOS sensor, aspect ratio 3:2 | Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 2.9 x 24-70 millimeter F1.8-2.8 lens | LCD: 180-degree tiltable LCD | Max video resolution: HD / 60p | Weight: 10.2 ounces with battery and memory card | Dimensions: 4 x 2.4 × 1.7 inches

Olympus Tough TG-6

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s tough and effective.

What to Consider: Divers should be aware that the waterproofing level only goes to 15 meters.

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is exactly what it claims to be: tough, rugged, and capable of taking superb underwater photos and videos. The solid handgrip does a great job giving you that extra security as you swim around and shoot the underwater world. With a unique internal zoom mechanism, the 25-100-millimeter lens doesn’t stick out from the camera body, keeping it watertight while you capture macro details of marine life from a safe distance. RAW shooting and 4K video make this not just any old underwater camera, but one with impressive capabilities. The super slow-motion mode is another favorite. It’s rated as waterproof to 50 feet, making it the perfect companion for your snorkeling or free diving adventures. It’s not just waterproof either; the shockproof design makes this camera perfect for ventures outside of the water as well. Bring it hiking, mountain biking, or just for a day at the beach without having to worry.

The camera is also easy to use, which is exactly what you want when you’re shooting underwater. “I had fun with the Olympus TG-6 on assignment in Bora Bora. I’m a terrible swimmer so all I could do was click away and hope for the best. Thankfully it worked!” Jonathan Pozniak shares.

Price at time of publish: $500

Sensor Size: Cropped 1/2.3″ CMOS | Megapixels: 12 | Shutter Speed: 1/2000 to 4 seconds in auto mode​​ | Video Shooting: 4K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 9 ounces

Moment Tele Lens

B&H Photo

Why We Love It: It gives you 2x and 4x zoom capabilities when attached to single and multi-lens smartphones.

What to Consider: Using this lens mount requires a special Moment’s M-series case.

With ever-evolving, advanced capabilities for photo and video, a smartphone lens can be a solid all-around tool for capturing your vacation memories. Though they don’t produce high-quality imagery for large-scale prints, what they can do is enough for most travelers. We love the Moment line of smartphone lenses for the ability to elevate your photography game a bit without having to purchase an actual separate camera. The tele lens 58mm is a versatile option to slap on your phone and get that extra boost in zoom. This is great for travelers hoping to extend their range some, especially with wildlife and landscape photography. Since it’s compatible with most Apple, Google, OnePlus, and Samsung devices, it’s a logical option for almost anyone with a smartphone.

“For most people, a smartphone is all you need, but that may vary for each trip. If I’m out hiking for the day, my iPhone 12 Pro in my pocket is all I need, and the fact that it shoots RAW and video is a huge plus.” Pozniak explains.

Price at time of publish: $120

Focal Length: 58 millimeter | Resolution: 300 line pairs per millimeter (axis), 200 line pairs per millimeter (edge) | Lens Diameter: 39.5 millimeter | Weight: 2.6 ounces

Sony Alpha ZV-E10

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s compact, sleek, and has tons of features to let your creativity shine.

What to Consider: For live-streaming video, it supports 720p, not 4K.

We love Sony’s compact camera that was designed specifically for vlogging and travel videos. Things like wind and background crowd noise will be less of a problem when recording videos with the Sony ZV-E10, and with your pick of E-mount lenses, you can capture versatile content. If you’re a vlogger, the real-time autofocus will be a game-changer, allowing you to comfortably move around in frame while staying in focus.

Low light isn’t a problem for the ZV-E10, and it has multiple picture effect modes that allow you to make unique, one-of-a-kind videos. The one-button blurred background control is simple to use for a cinematic effect while filming or taking photos, and stabilization technology keeps things steady too. Using built-in metadata, videos can be shot vertically without any rotation necessary, making social media sharing a breeze.

Price at time of publish: $798

Sensor Size: Cropped APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and fast BIONZ X processor | Megapixels: 24.2 | Shutter Speed: 1/4000 to 30 seconds, 1/4000 to 1/4 second in movie mode​​ | Video Shooting: 4K at 30 frames per second | Weight: 12.1 ounces (body with battery and memory card)

Tips For Buying a Travel Camera

Understand the specs

“When you’re thinking about buying a camera, it’s important to understand what features and specifications complement your shooting style as well as the content you are looking to capture, whether it be still images, video content, or both,” says Nikon’s Mark Cruz. These are some of the specs you should consider before making a purchase.

Sensor size: Your camera’s sensor is the rectangle that reads the image from your lens and dictates how much light and detail you’re able to capture. The main sensor sizes to decide upon are cropped or full-frame, with full-frame cameras having larger sensors and the ability to produce higher image quality. Cropped frame sensors will get you a tighter frame, with magnification cropping the actual lens focal length by anywhere between 1.5x and 2x. This means that a 70-millimeter lens would be magnified to a 105-millimeter focal length with a crop factor of 1.5x. Common crop sensor sizes are APS-C and micro four thirds (1.6x and 1.5x).

There are advantages to purchasing a full-frame (35 millimeter) camera, though it will come with a heftier price tag. You’ll experience sharper images with more crisp details, as well as less noise. Additionally, a full-frame sensor has excellent low-light capabilities, making it the ideal aspect for astrophotography. For landscape photography, the wider field of view is a major advantage of the full-frame sensor as well. If you’re interested in professional photography, selling prints, or working with your images in most other ways, the full-frame sensor will be a good fit since it produces the highest possible quality images.

Megapixels: This is a measurement of the number of pixels the camera sensor has, with “mega” meaning “millions.” Usually anything over 12 megapixels will get the job done. However, if you’re planning on printing large-scale versions of your images for personal or professional use, the higher the megapixel count, the better. Most cropped sensor cameras have somewhere around 20-24 megapixels while full-frame cameras tend to have between 40 and 50 megapixels.

Shutter speed: This dictates the amount of time that your camera’s sensor will be exposed to the light coming in. Faster shutter speeds such as fractions of a second are usually used for quickly moving subjects in order to freeze the motion in the photograph, while slower shutter speeds are typically used to capture things like the flow of a waterfall or the stars in the night sky by having it open and exposed for a longer period of time. When buying a camera, it’s a good idea to purchase one with a wider range of shutter speeds to give you the most versatility. Typically, the range is between 1/4000 to 30 seconds. “Bulb” is available on some models and offers more than 30 seconds of exposure to light, usually for photographing the night sky.

Video shooting: The highest quality video on most cameras is 4K, which will give you superb quality. However, many still have full HD video at 1080p or 720p. If video is high on your priority list, 4K is certainly the way to go.

Weight: For travel cameras, this is one of the most important factors to consider. Most travelers want a camera that is lightweight for packing purposes and easy to carry around for the day. Think about if you are willing to lug a bigger DSLR or even a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses in order to have the option for high-quality images that can be printed at a larger scale. If that’s more than you need, then a compact, point-and-shoot, or your own smartphone with extra lenses might be the best fit for you.

Buy for your skill level and purpose

While browsing for a travel camera, first assessing your skill level and main purpose for shooting will help narrow down your search considerably. If you’re a professional photographer doing brand work with a hotel in a far-flung destination that will be used in marketing campaigns or billboards, your purchase will most likely look a lot different than if your goal is to get images for your travel-focused Instagram page. As a beginner, you should purchase a camera aimed at that level of photography with some room to grow, so you can learn effectively without being overwhelmed.

Choose a camera that fits your life and travel style

Are you into the outdoors and spend a lot of time doing water-based activities, or are you mostly interested in food photography when you travel? All of these aspects will help you determine the right fit for you. As photographer Jonathan Pozniak shares, it’s also about comfort. “All cameras are good nowadays, and all have fantastic features. So here’s my rule of thumb: go to a camera store, and hold each one in your hand. Listen to the sound it makes, feel what the clicking of the shutter is like,” he says. “How do your fingers glide across the buttons? It should feel like an extension of your arm. Be intuitive with it!”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should I pack a camera for traveling?

    The art of packing a camera involves cushioning and protection against the elements (rain, dust, dirt, etc.). A backpack designed for camera use with a rain cover is always a good idea, particularly if you’re someone who will be exploring the outdoors. Camera cubes are also an affordable way to turn a bag you already have into a camera bag.

    “When I’m not bringing a lot of gear/cameras, I love the camera cubes by Mountainsmith for the airport and plane. I usually keep the cube in my room with extra lenses and if I am doing a lot of walking, just pick one lens to use for the day (usually a 50 millimeter),” says North.

    “While today’s mirrorless cameras are rugged, it is best to pack them in a camera bag to ensure as much safety as possible and avoid any potential damage. You should also make sure to put the body cap on the camera to protect the sensor from getting dirty, scratched, or damaged while traveling,” she adds.

  • What are some must-have travel photography accessories?

    “Circular Polarizer and a UV filter, a comfortable strap like the Peak Design SL-BK-3 Slide, a backpack clip like Peak Design Capture Camera Clip V3, and if you’re heading somewhere with rain or snow in the forecast, Peak Design’s shell,” says North.

    You’ll also definitely want something to backup all the incredible footage you’ll be getting. “A portable hard drive for backups is essential! My heart crumbles when I hear stories of cameras and laptops getting stolen on the road. I’ve certainly experienced that myself. I make multiple backups each day and put each portable drive or thumb drive in a different bag just in case one gets lost or stolen,” Pozniak shares.

    Our experts also recommend making sure your batteries are fully charged before stepping out each day and bringing along a couple extras just in case.

  • What matters more for quality photos, the camera or the lenses?

    Our experts had a lot to say when it came to the camera versus lens debate.”The camera and lenses are equally important, but it depends on what a person wants to capture,” says Nikon senior product manager Mark Cruz. “The lens is what creates a gorgeous blurred background or lets you get close to the action from far away, but the camera provides the autofocus performance and speed to get there. The most important factor for the quality of photos is how you, as the photographer, make the most of your equipment. Combining photography knowledge with a powerful, capable camera and sharp, versatile lenses will allow you to get the best content.”

    Meanwhile, professional photographer Jonathan Pozniak argues that they’re equally important, and emphasizes keeping your lenses clean: “Both! But what’s even more important is how you use it, how it feels in your hand, and I’ve gotta say it, how clean your lens is!”

    Fellow photographer Viktoria North was adamant that lenses are her highest priority, and she has very good reasons for putting them at the top of her must list. “With even the most basic of digital cameras now having impressive MP counts and full size sensors becoming more common, good quality glass is most important for me,” she says. “This is because I can achieve a specific feel to my images dependent on the lens. For example, a fixed 50 millimeter is going to allow me to capture my urban travels as my own eyes see things. If I also go fast on it, say F1.8, that means the background is going to be nice and blurred and keep the focus on my subjects. But if I’m traveling in some beautiful vast landscapes, I’d grab a zoom lens. This will allow me to compress the different levels of the landscape and or subject and create a lot of depth. You don’t always have to go with a big lens like a 70-200mm. I hike and backpack with a 24-105mm F4 most often and when it’s at 105mm, I can achieve some really great compression with it.”

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

A travel photographer herself, Lauren Breedlove used her personal experience with finding the right cameras and shooting in various conditions around the world. She also scoured the internet, researching and selecting the best cameras for travel, and interviewed professional photographers Viktoria North and Jonathan Pozniak, as well as Nikon senior product manager Mark Cruz, to gather expert insights. Using all of these factors, she curated this list of the best travel cameras.

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Jonathan Pozniak

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/photography/best-travel-cameras

Read More Travel Accessories Product Reviews

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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