When you plan to travel the world, capturing photos of your journey and all the interesting sites from your destination is a key part of the experience. At least, if you’re a travel photographer! And even if you’re not, you may still have an interest in this. To get the best pictures, you’re going to want the best travel camera.
In this article, we’ll share our top choices of the best travel cameras you can get in 2021. We’ll explore budget options, as well as ones oriented to more serious photographers. Whether it’s a DSLR, mirrorless, or compact camera you have in mind, we’ve got you covered!
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Travel Camera
There are many factors that go into choosing the best travel camera and some of these factors may weigh more heavily for some photographers than others. Common things you might want to consider include the size, resolution, gear compatibility, and the video functionality of the device.
We’ll explore the features that make the best travel cameras in more detail below.
Size and Portability
If you’re going on a flight, you don’t want all your hand luggage allowance to be taken up by a ton of hefty camera gear. With this in mind, the best travel cameras are those that are small. If you’re not looking to do anything too major in terms of your travel photography, we strongly recommend opting for a compact camera. These are small and can easily fit in a pocket in your clothing or on a bag. This gives you plenty of space to pack other necessities.
That being said, if you’re looking for something other than a compact camera, weight has a significant part to play. You don’t want to be hauling around a heavy camera with heavy lenses.
So, to put it simply, the best travel cameras are small and lightweight.
Resolution and Aperture Range
For crisp, clean shots, you’re going to want a camera that has a decent resolution. When it comes to determining what sort of image quality you’re going to get, the sensor design and overall megapixel count are the two most important factors.
For photographers who want more control and creative freedom in their photographic techniques, the aperture range is also worth considering. For photographers opting for a mirrorless or DSLR camera, this is something you need to consider when purchasing lenses rather than the camera itself.
Availability of Equipment
If you have a compact camera, there’s little to consider in the way of gear. You don’t need lenses, which also eliminates lens filters. For DSLR’s and Mirrorless cameras, you’re going to need to choose some lenses to go in your gear bag. Lenses typically cost a lot, so if your budget is tight, make sure you check the availability of lower-cost third-party lenses if you do go down that route.
Related Post: Best Travel Photography Lenses
Other gear you might want to buy includes memory cards and batteries. I’d recommend checking out the gear on the market before you commit to a certain camera model.
Video Recording Capabilities
If you want to capture some video footage whilst on your travels, this is an essential factor to consider. Nowadays, most cameras offer high-quality video recording however, it is still worth checking if this is something you are interested in. The ideal recording standard is 4K, you’ll probably want a built-in microphone, and some good subject tracking and fast autofocus.
Best Travel Cameras for 2021
Now we’ve gone through the basics of what makes the best travel cameras, we can look at our options!
The Best Travel Cameras: Mirrorless Options
Mirrorless cameras are dominating the camera market, and with good reason. These cameras are typically light, just a fraction bigger than compact cameras but offer all the versatility and high performance you’d get from a DSLR camera. You can pick your lenses to suit your photography style and even get some decent zoom options.
1. Canon EOS RP
For a while, Canon’s mirrorless line up consisted of M series cameras – a line up that didn’t quite cut it for the more serious photographers out there. When the EOS R was announced, this was a groundbreaking moment for Canon. The RP was soon to follow. This camera is cheaper than the EOS R and features some design improvements based on user experience with the EOS R camera.
Related Post: Canon EOS R Review
The EOS RP is a perfect option for people looking for a small, yet powerful camera, ideal for professional travel photographers. Not only that, if you’re a Canon DSLR user, a simple adapter will allow you to mount your DSLR lenses onto the RF-mount of the Canon EOS RP body.
Canon’s most recent full-frame mirrorless camera is small yet powerful. It packs Canon’s famous dual-pixel AF for lightning fast focusing all in the perfect travel camera body.
2. Nikon Z6
Nikon's Z6 camera is one for those who are considering travel photography (or photography as a whole) as a serious pursuit. It costs a lot of money. More than the Canon EOS RP we discussed. This camera offers stunning visual performance and is perfect for travel photographers. Like Canon’s mirrorless line up, if you’re a Nikon DSLR user, you can buy an adapter and use your DSLR lenses with the mirrorless body.
The CMOS 35mm x 23mm sensor, combined with the 24.5MP effective pixel count provides fantastic image quality. Furthermore, the Z6 benefits from a dust-reduction system to protect the lens and sensor. In addition to this, the camera has a superb design and a range of useful shooting modes and settings. Finally, the Z6 has an ISO range of 100 to 51200 and a 273 point autofocus system.
Nikon’s top-of-the-line Z6 is perfect for your travel photography needs. The Z6 is a relatively compact option but the big selling point is it’s 24MP full-frame sensor, which guarantees good image quality at high ISOs.
Canon’s EOS M range is designed with size in mind. These models are much smaller than standard DSLR cameras and are therefore suited to travel photography. As with all mirrorless cameras, you get a dedicated set of lenses you can pick from.
The camera itself features a sizeable LCD screen that rotates 180-degrees and can be used whilst recording video. The design of the camera is ergonomic – it has a thumb-grip and is made from a material that is easy to hold. At 24.1 megapixel, the EOS M50 offers high image quality, especially for its price point. The camera is also capable of shooting full RAW images, perfect for if you want to do post-processing in lightroom or any other photo editing software.
The M50 isn’t a stand-out camera in any one area. But the low price, combined with the small size, fast shooting speeds, and a decent 24MP sensor make this a good travel camera.
Fujifilm produces some excellent cameras for mostly reasonable prices. The X-T series has a range of well-rounded cameras that are perfect for travel photographers. If you’re looking for a camera that is sleek, the X-T30 is definitely at the top of the list. With a silver body and black textured grip section, this is a beautiful design that is also highly functional. The buttons on the camera are also incredibly easy to locate and use.
In terms of capabilities, the X-T30 utilizes the Fujifilm X mount for lenses – this means you can connect lots of different quality lenses. The effective resolution of this travel camera is 26.1MP and it is combined with the CMOS 4 sensor. This sensor design makes for astonishing image quality. To build upon that, the camera has an excellent auto-focus system meaning you should get crisp shots with little difficulty.
This is a small, fast, and sports a retro aesthetic that any ex-film photographer would appreciate. This camera also offers one of the best APS-C sensors on the market.
If you’re looking for a low-cost mirrorless that still packs a punch the Sony Alpha a6000 is the right camera for you. You get all the flexibility of using an interchangeable lens camera but the size of the body is almost on par with a compact camera. This is perfect for just slipping in a small bag and pulling out whenever necessary.
Thanks to the lightweight nature of this camera, as long as you don’t load it with a hefty lens, you should have no problems hand holding this camera, eliminating the need for carrying a travel tripod around with you, as well.
Despite its age, this camera still meets today’s high-standards. The a6000 is perfect for anyone looking for a small, mirrorless camera.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a stylish and functional mirrorless camera. It offers the versatility of a DSLR, but the size and portability is on par with a compact camera.
Despite having a relatively low-resolution of 16.1MP, the camera has a high-quality micro four-thirds sensor meaning your images should still come out pretty good. Not only that, but you can also purchase some of the superb Olympus lenses to suit your different needs. As with most modern displays, the rear LCD display screen has touch functionality and you can focus your shots via a simple tap. This is a high-quality camera with a retro design that looks fantastic and works wonders as a travel companion.
A perfect camera that offers excellent low light performance and ergonomics, incorporating a low-resolution sensor. This is a great low-cost option for travel photographers.
The Best Travel Cameras: DSLR Options
DSLRs might be losing their reputation as the best cameras on the market now mirrorless cameras are making a statement but that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth considering as travel cameras. In fact, you can get some really good deals on some quite small DSLRs which are perfect for travel and a step up from the world of compact cameras.
Canon has pushed boundaries producing the EOS Rebel SL3, making the smallest DSLR on the market. Sure, the specs aren’t as top-of-the-line as some of the larger DSLR’s or mirrorless options on the market, but they’re not half bad either. Not only that, you get the freedom to choose which lenses you want to use meaning you can customize your gear to suit your needs, as you would with any DSLR.
For those not wanting to shell out too much and who are new to photography, or want to move up from a compact camera, the EOS Rebel SL3 might be the way to go.
This is the smallest DSLR you can buy, making it a perfect traveling companion. If you want to move up to an interchangeable lens system, this is a perfect starting point.
8. Nikon D5600
If you’re looking for a slightly more advanced DSLR camera option for travel, the Nikon D5600 might be just what you’re looking for. It’s small and versatile with slightly stronger specs than the entry-level low-budget counterparts. You get a nice rotating touch screen which is perfect for taking shots in live-view when shooting at awkward angles.
Sure, this camera isn’t as small as the Canon Rebel SL3 but it certainly isn’t too big, either! An added bonus that Nikon offers is that its standard kit lens is specially designed to collapse into a smaller size when not in use.
This camera is a perfect balance of size and quality. Its a high-performing camera that’s small in size. The camera also has an articulating touchscreen which is perfect for live-view shooting.
9. Nikon D3500
The D3500 is similar to Canon’s EOS Rebel SL3, it’s small and it’s made for beginners. But when it comes to the best camera for travel photos, don’t let a beginner label put you off. These cameras are still high-quality but are designed to be easier to use and handle. They’re also typically on the smaller side, perfect for travel pursuits.
You’ll also have the collapsing kit lens we mentioned when we talked about the D5600. You can get crisp photos in good light with this camera as it has a 24.7MP sensor. If you’re on a budget but want to keep your options open when it comes to updating your kit, this is a perfect choice as a travel camera.
If you want versatility but don’t want to shell out a fortune on a camera, the D3500 is a perfect starting point in the world of interchangeable lens cameras. This camera is also small, making it perfect for your travel bag.
The Best Travel Cameras: Compact Options
For photographers who are really after the smallest cameras they can find, compact cameras are the best cameras for travel photography you can get. These cameras require no additional lenses and in most cases, their lenses collapse into the camera body when it is not in use. The great thing about these cameras is how small they actually are. Feel free to slip these cameras into your bag without them taking up lots of room!
The Canon PowerShot range offers some of the best travel cameras available. The SX740 is a compact model that is perfect for beginners. If you just want a high-quality camera with a no-nonsense approach to photography, this device is perfect. The photo quality is fantastic due to the DIGIC 8 processor and the 21.1MP resolution. Furthermore, 1” CMOS sensor allows for excellent image quality.
This type of camera also excels at video recording. Moreover, it can record at 4K UHD and has a smooth autofocus system that makes tracking objects and people simple. In addition to this, the SX740 HS has a high-quality zoom system that utilizes both optical and digital zooms with a maximum capability of 80x. Finally, the aperture range of f/3.3 to f/6.9 allows for excellent control over depth of field.
If you’re less confident using a camera but still want to capture your travels, the Canon PowerShot provides a simple user-interface anyone could get the hang of! It’s also a high performer in terms of optics.
The Sony CyberShot RX100 VII is one of the smallest travel cameras on our list. The Exmor RS CMOS sensor and 20.1MP resolution provide fantastic image quality. Furthermore, this camera has ultra-fast auto-focus with an amazing 357 detection points. This means it performs well when taking action shots and sports photos. Furthermore, the camera has 4K video recording and a shutter that has anti-distortion features.
Aside from the basic functionality and design, the RX100 VII is capable of shooting slow-motion footage. Furthermore, it has a myriad of shooting features and useful camera modes. The design isn’t particularly stylish, but it is simplistic and functional.
This super-small camera packs a lot of punch! If you’re interested in taking photos on the go, the fast autofocus system is perfect for capturing subjects while on the move.
The Lumix range of cameras is often considered in lists of the best travel cameras. The Lumix ZS200 is no exception – it is lightweight and easy to handle – it can effectively fit in your pocket. In terms of image quality, the ZS200 has a 1” CMOS sensor, and an effective resolution of 20.1MP. In addition to this, it has a decent aperture range of f/3.0 to f/6.4. The only downside we found was the smaller optical zoom compared to other models – it tops out at 16x.
The camera does have some excellent features such as the 3cm macro lens. This means that you can get close to objects and take extremely detailed shots. Additionally, users can create 4K video, and use the 4K photo feature to select individual frames from the video to create quality images.
This compact camera is perfect for any travel photographer. The camera is capable of taking high-resolution images and is highly versatile.
Improve Your Photography Today and purchase the best travel camera
You should now have greater confidence to go out and choose the best travel camera. If you are embarking on an epic adventure, why not treat yourself and purchase a compact camera? Speaking from experience, photography enhances any traveling experience. Using your camera, you can create a fantastic set of visual memories. Furthermore, you can have fun trying out different photographic techniques and experimenting with your camera.
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