Narrowing down where to go on vacation might be the most important part of travel planning, but selecting the right travel camera to capture the memories can feel just as challenging. Let’s get this out of the way, the perfect travel camera does not exist. There are pros and cons to each piece of equipment. What type of vacation you’re likely to be going on and what type of photos you hope to take will start to lead you in the right direction. This list includes different styles of cameras at very different price points. Keep in mind, you can get incredible shots no matter what camera you have
*Tribe tip: check out this article for advice on taking better travel photos!
Best Phone Cameras
It’s been said time and time again that the best travel camera is the one you have on you. Luckily phone cameras are always readily available and better than ever.
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Undoubtedly the most powerful camera available for Apple enthusiasts. When the iPhone 11 Pro Max hit the market, it was the addition of telephoto and wide-angle lens consumers were most excited about. In comparison to the size and weight of carrying multiple camera lenses to achieve similar results — this is an incredible upgrade. In my opinion, the biggest impact can be found when shooting in the dark. The fuzzy look you got with previous versions seems to be all but gone. The video capabilities are also phenomenal, shooting 4k at 30 frames per second. It’s worth noting the iPhone 11 Pro also has many of the same features with just slightly less battery life.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
The Samsung Galaxy S20 is top to bottom the best phone camera available. If camera quality is at the top of your priority list, this is simply your best option. One of the things I love the most is the 40MP front-facing camera. You can snap a selfie with enough quality to edit or share on social media. The list of unprecedented features gets long pretty quick for the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G. The 108MP main lens and 8k video capabilities are seriously head and shoulders above the competition. As to be expected the price point is higher, but if you’re not also buying a camera it balances itself out.
Best Point and Shoot Camera
Point and shoot cameras are small and lightweight making them great for travel. While they are often in direct competition with your phone’s camera, they do have some distinct benefits. You’ll find they have more optical zoom and often perform better in low light. It is also cheaper to pick up a new point and shoot than a new cell phone. In some travel situations, I like that a point and shoot attracts much less attention than a larger camera.
Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm | Megapixels: 20.2 | Zoom: 28-84mm| Weight: 7.3 oz.
Besides your phone, you won’t find a camera more compact than the Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II. Canon’s user-friendly menu makes it a great option for beginners. Plus, the full one-inch sensor allows for better low light performance than many of its competitors. This is the perfect option for casual photographers — but the truth is, if you have a newer model cell phone, there might not be many advantages for you.
Sony RX 100 VII
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm | Megapixels: 20.1| Zoom: 24-200mm | Weight: 10.7 oz.
In the world of point and shoot cameras, the Sony RX 100 VII reigns king. The 24-200mm lens provides incredible versatility in one tiny package. For anyone looking to shoot video, the 4K option is enticing, especially because you can easily slip it into your pocket or purse and take it anywhere. All that aside, the sharp autofocus is probably what sets this camera so far apart from the crowd. The downside here is the price point. For a similar price, you could get yourself a mid-level mirrorless, but that of course comes with added size/weight.
Mirrorless cameras — they’re smaller than the DSLR but more capable than a point and shoot. It’s no surprise that even professional photographers are making the switch to mirrorless in recent years. The only downfall here is that because they are relatively new, there are fewer lens options. There are a few workarounds and quite frankly the pros just out the way the cons when it comes to mirrorless.
Canon EOS M50
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm | Weight: 13.6 oz | Megapixels: 24.1
The Canon EOS M50 is a fantastic entry-level mirrorless camera. Canon jumped into the mirrorless game a bit late, but they’ve been steadily gaining momentum. For anyone already comfortable with the Canon interface, this is a great step up. Great features like the touchscreen LCD, fast autofocus, and 4K video make it a well-rounded option. Being able to connect directly to a smart device is extremely convenient for editing and sharing on the fly. It is also becoming a favorite for vloggers because of its weight and flip screen.
Sony A7 III
Sensor Size: Full Frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm)| Megapixels: 24| Weight: 22.93 oz
Right now, the Sony A7III is the most complete travel camera money can buy. With the focus speeds, dynamic range, and size — it has become a favorite with professional travel photographers. I’ve been shooting on this camera for well over a year and honestly can’t imagine ever-changing. It has been perfect for every situation. The full-frame sensor brings with it a bit of weight but remains significantly lighter than a professional level DSLR. Sony also offers the A7R III with 42.4 megapixels perfect for landscape photographers looking to capture as much detail as possible. This is a high-end travel camera and the price is reflective of that.
The most classic and quality camera is the DSLR. Many trained photographers can’t imagine shooting on anything else. I believe when you’re specifically looking for a travel camera, the size and weight of a mirrorless just make them a better fit. However, you can’t go wrong with a quality DSLR.
Sensor: APS-C |Megapixels 24.3 | Weight: 12.9 ounces
A tried a true beginner DSLR, the Nikon D3500 is excellent for anyone wanting to learn travel photography. The DX-format makes it smaller and lighter than FX-format DSLR’s, which also means the purchasing lenses are significantly cheaper. The versatility has made this one of the most convenient travel cameras for years. If you buy the bundle that includes the camera body and two kit lenses (18-55mm and 70-300mm), you’ll be ready to shoot in almost any setting.
Canon 5D Mark IV
The full-frame Canon 5D Mark IV is an absolute beast of a camera. It is a professional level DSLR that takes incredible crisp, clear photos even in low light. If you want a workhorse of a camera, this is probably perfect for you. Canon has an incredibly extensive collection of the lens, so you can customize your bag to fit your style. I love that it has two memory card slots so if one fails you know you have a backup and those memories won’t be lost. The sharpness you achieve with this camera is truly remarkable. If you’re looking to invest in travel photography as a hobby or even a profession, you’ll be happy with the 5D.