We are the most-photographed people in history and that’s thanks to technology. As it progresses at a growing rate, there are just more ways to document a moment or simply take that selfie. But unlike generations past, most people use their smartphones (even when they’re on vacation — instead of using one of the best travel cameras for shots your friends will drool over). After taking a picture with your phone, you will usually edit and filter it with photography apps like Instagram and VSCO.
However, there’s something about using a digital or film camera that can make it more fun. And don’t forget about the fact that Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) or Mirrorless cameras have been known to produce amazing travel photos.
While still photography is great, there are also many people who lean more towards video than photos. With the power of digital photography, there are lots of cameras that not only take great pictures but also record some sick high-definition video. So if you have your eyes set on being a digital nomad or a creative on the go, there are definitely devices that are perfect for you.
Now that we have made the case for not using your mobile phone, we’ve put together a list of the best travel cameras around. Whether you’re new to the whole setup or a seasoned photographer, there are a variety of cameras that will help you capture all the best images on your next trip.
For the Hobbyist
Although cameras are more accessible and affordable than in the past, people tend to use the camera in their phones instead of a stand-alone device. Some will say it’s more convenient but there are others who are just intimidated by the camera itself. It’s actually simpler than most people think. And we’ve got the cameras that will range from compact point-and-shoots to mirrorless cameras that make you look like a professional. And since you’re new to the photo game, these cameras won’t break the bank too much, which will give you more cash to add more activities to your vacation.
The Panisonic Lumix ZS50 may look like a tiny camera but it’s pretty powerful. It shoots 12.1 megapixel photos and can take 1080 HD-quality video. With the highest ISO at 6400, you can bring it into a low-lit area and still be able to take a sweet shot. But what we love most about this model is the Leica lens that’s built in. Not only does is the lens top of the line but it also has a long range zoom capability.
Although the Ricoh GR II looks like a basic point-and-shoot, this compact camera packs a sweet punch. And don’t let it’s small size fool you. First, you will be taking 16.2 megapixel photos and the 18.3mm f/2.8 lens is perfect for every lighting situation. You can take video in 1080p. Photos can be shot in JPEG or DNG RAW — the best kind of file if you want to get as much detail as possible even in a lowlight situation.
If you want a vintage-looking camera that’s meant for the 21st century, then the FujiFilm X-T10 is the right model for you. At first glance, it looks like one of Fuji’s older camera styles. However, once you look at the back you will see the 3.0″ 1.04m-dot LCD touchscreen and mechanisms for a more techy cam. The X-Processor Pro will let you take low-light photos because the ISO can go up to 51200.
If you’re looking for something that has a dual purpose but is still small, then the Sony RX100 V could be the camera for you. An alternative to the Sony mirrorless or DSLRs, this one will also save you some cash as it’s under $1000. While $900+ can still be a bit pricey, the camera does serve two purposes. It is exceptional when it comes to the video aspect. First, there’s the high frame rate (HFR) mode can get video at 960 frames per second, which is great for slowing things down when you edit.
And there’s a screen that you can flip up so you can make sure you’re in focus for that vlog you’re about to create or selfie you’re about to take. And the photos are pretty sweet, as it takes 20.1 megapixel photos with its one-inch sensor. So if you’re looking for something you can drop in a small bag and then go, this could be the one for you.
Although the Olympus TG 5 could have easily gone into our adventurer list, the size of the compact camera makes it perfect for theone who wants to take stellar images without all the technical skills. Yes, it’s definitely not the camera you bring out at a fancy restaurant. But this digital camera is perfect for a morning rafting trip or climbing the side of a mountain. It’s waterproof up to 15 feet of water and its lens doesn’t fog even in super humid environments. It also has a built in manometer, which you can link to your iPhone or Android, that includes GPS, eCompass, temperature sensor and manometer. It can also withstand 220 pounds. So it can be at the bottom of your backpack and stay in one piece. And of course, you can take some great pictures, even in lowlight situations.
For the Adventurer
When we think best travel cameras, it only makes sense to dedicate a section of this list to the cams that are perfect for the wild and crazy adventure. These devices will document every part of your trip. And sure, they might not be there to freeze a frame, but atleast you’ll get some cool footage of your kayak through some crazy rapids. See the best travel cameras for adventurers.
When people think action camera, GoPro is usually the brand that comes to mind. And while the Hero5 was the popular go-to, the Hero6 seems to be taking its place. It has many of the features that the older model had but just improved — to a point. One of the best features on this model is the touch-to-zoom function, which will let you take more closeup photos. The quality of the stills and videos have also improved a bit. But since this camera has become more powerful, it has also made it heavier on battery usage. So be sure to bring extras.
If you don’t want to hop on the GoPro train, the Nikon KeyMission 360 is a great alternative. The small box shape will make it easy to take on nature hikes and will also be able to take wide views as the lens can capture 170º of whatever it’s pointed at. You can also take it underwater up to 10 meters without needing it to be in a protective covering. And Nikon offers a variety of mounts for whatever need you have.
Looking at the 360fly, it looks like a toy. But it’s actually a powerful camera that will make you look at the world in a different way. It not only takes 4K video, but it also will do it in 360º. Yes, that can sounds a little dizzying. However, if you’re looking to do some off-roading or even taking it on the track, you’ll be able to give viewers that first-hand experience. And to top it all off, the device’s wifi capability makes for easy sharing on social networks.
If you don’t want to drop the cash for the Nikon or GoPro, then maybe the Vivitar 914 will be the one for you. Prices for this one start at $50, making it one of the most affordable action cameras on the market. While it takes good video, you’ll need to make sure it’s in an underwater case if you want to go diving.
We couldn’t have this adventure list without a drone. And the DJI Mavic Pro is one of the big ones on the market. The sleek design is great because it folds up nicely into a small thing that can even fit into your pocket (kind of). You can use the small controller or even hook it up to your smartphone to drive it through the air. The five cameras on the device all take 4K video so your travel videos will look great.
For the Pro
Professional photographers already have their arsenal of cameras. They just know what they like. However if you’re trying to jump into the big leagues, you may be interested in learning about the models below. But we’llwarn you, these cameras are no joke when it comes to size, weight and price. So be ready for the heavy lifting.
The FujiFilm X-T2 looks a lot the X-T10, but it’s just little bit bigger and has more weight to it. But even though it looks similar to its cheaper cousin, the X-T2 is much more powerful. It has a 24.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS III image sensor and is perfect for low-light situations with its 51200 ISO. And with its dual SD card slots, you can take as many photos and 4K videos as you want.
If there’s a professional camera that photographers and videographers both tend to agree on, it’s the Canon 5D Mark IV. While it looks like your average DSLR, both the photo and video quality are way better. And with an ISO range from 100 to 32000 and 30.4 megapixels, you’ll be able to take tons of high-quality photos that look crisp no matter what lighting situation you’re in. And with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF, you’ll easily keep your frame in focus while filming your next outdoor excursion.
While we’ve picked out specific models throughout the list, we couldn’t with the Sony RX100 Series. It’s safe to say that the newer ones will have better features. But there are some people who favor stability over new techie things. So why are these so great? Well, first of all, they are the size of a point-and-shoot, which means more space in your carry-on. They’re great for taking photos. But if you’re more of the vlogging type, then this is a great option for you. The prices do range from $450 to $1200. So you may want to check out each one and see what model fits best in your life.
The Nikon D850 may have been compared to the Canon 5D Mark IV many times. However, the 45.7 megapixel capability is no joke for this beast of a camera. And when we say beast, we mean it. Out of all the cameras in this section, this is probably heaviest at 32.3. ounces (without the lens). But if you’re already bringing that 70-200mm F/2.8 lens and a tripod, then this won’t be an issue. And if you’re the person who likes to shoot in continuous mode, this one will be able to keep up and write the images on your card at a faster rate than other DSLRs (just make sure your SD cards can keep up).
Pentax has been a longtime player in the film camera world. And their K-1 model is their first full-frame DSLR. What makes this one pretty great is the fact that you can use any Pentax lens on this digital body, even though Pentax doesn’t does have too many to begin with. Prices for this model start at $1650. But between the 36.2 megapixel quality and full-frame capability, you’re getting more for your money.
For the Gear Head
Although you do start to acquire more equipment once you get more and more into photography, there are people out there who not only like the best but will pay anything for it. So the best travel cameras in this section highlight some of the most expensive gear out there.
If there’s a camera that we can call sexy, it’s definitely the Leica CL. The minimalist yet sleek design just goes with any outfit you could wear and it fits into a small handbag. But don’t let the simple design fool you; Leica is known for state of the art cameras. And that is what you’re getting with this one. The brand has stripped away all the major keys and dials off the top and made them more manageable on the back. And the “super pancake” lens is lightweight but still gets great crisp photos. While this is such a great piece of equipment, it will also cost you $3,795 with the 18mm lens and $3,995 withthe 56mm lens.
If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha a76R III is a great piece of work. It looks like a DSLR, but it’s much smaller and lighter. While this one takes great images, the best use for it is video. As you can see from the clip above and its 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor, the films you can make on here are undeniable. Obviously as great as this is, it comes with a price — $3,198 for just the body and $5,396 for the camera with a 24-70mm lens.
If you’re a big YouTube watcher, then you’ll see just how far these vloggers have come as far as video quality. And although we know they probably have a particular setup when they’re at home, what do they use on the go? Enter the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II. The G7X series of point-and-shoot cameras have been a favorite tool for vloggers around the world. Not only can they take hi-res photos, but the filming is just so simple and leave you with full HD 1080p60 video. However, unlike other point-and-shoots, this one retails for $699.
If you want to look like as cool on the street as photographer Kai W looks above, then you may want to invest in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for your next trip. It’s a very light weight camera and mirrorless so there’s no need to worry about that ever-present shutter noise. Unlike the previously mentioned Sony model, this one probably takes better stills than actual video. The video still looks great, but the focus tends to lag a bit when you’re moving. But overall, it’s a solid choice. However, before you run to the store, you should know that prices start at $2000.
If you want a vlogging camera but prefer something other than Canon, then the Panasonic Lumix GX8 might be a great option for you. Just like the G7, this one is also a compact camera and is great for filming your adventures. And since it’s so small, it’ll be easy to pack. But unlike the Canon, this one has interchangeable lenses. So depending on what you’re shooting, you can switch things up fairly easily. And aside from 4K videos, you also have 4K photo capabilities, which mean higher-quality images. You can get the camera body at B&H for $1,197.99.
For the Experimenter
We wanted to end the list on a fun note. Although we mainly highlighted digital cameras, there are photographers out there who like to play around with different styles and mediums. So below is a mix of the best instant and quirky models out there.
Now after reading all of these options still leaves you want to stick to your phone, don’t worry. The Insta360 Nano is perfect for you. The device is fairly small and attaches to your smartphone. Not only will you be able to capture all the colorful landscapes or cities around you with the 360-degree camera, but you’ll be able to share your adventures with family and friends in real time with the 360-degree video chatting or live streaming features.
If you want an instant camera that doesn’t have the same bulkiness as the Polaroid 600 or even Fuji’s own Instax 9 cameras, then the Instax 90 New Classic is the best option. And youcan’t deny the body’s design is pretty stellar. Not only can you take great photos and print them in seconds, you can also do double exposures, which will definitely test your artistic side.
While there are people who enjoy the big SLR or DSLR camreas, others are leaning toward the sleeker and smaller models. But a startup company called Light wants to revolutionize the way we think of cameras. Their L16 looks like an iPhone Plus but contains 16 lenses that simultaneously work together to produce 52-megapixel photos. Pretty much you can take a photo of the Great Wall of China with it and then print it out to fill the empty wall space above your couch. As cool and compact as this camera is, it will set you back $1950.
Lomography has been known for bringing quirky plastic film cameras to the masses, and is doing it again with its funky new line of cameras. And although you may have played with the manual ones, this one takes instant picture-taking to another level. First of all, it uses the Fujifilm instax wide film, which is available at most stores. Then you can also control exposure and light settings as well; so you’ll be able to get creative in more ways with this camera. There are also lens attachments that you can play with so you’re able to change the depth of field for different looks. And finally, there’s a small built-in mirror, which helps with taking selfies!
We couldn’t finish this list without bringing on a Polaroid camera. With all the instant cameras out there on the market, this brand has been at the forefront for a while with these types of cameras. And they definitely changed the game with their Polaroid Snap. It’s part digital point-and-shoot and part traditional instant camera. And for about $82, it’s not a bad deal.
Where will you take your digital camera on vacation this year? Let us know in the comments!