Travel photography is big business these days and an affordable travel camera really doesn’t cost the world anymore. With more and more people sharing their most extravagant, daring and outrageous travel pictures on Instagram, the question “which are the best cameras for travel photography?” can be a difficult one to answer. Enough people ask us “which camera did you use to take that?” that we decided to write a post about our camera kit and show you our top-rated travel cameras.
Neither of us TripGourmets are professional photographers or videographers so we don’t own the best professional travel camera. When we first started this blog, we had nothing more than our iPhones, and an old Nikon Coolpix, a lightweight travel camera, that I had bought on holiday a few years ago in an attempt to do justice to the gorgeous Calabrian coastline.
With a bit more blogging experience, we have learned that taking the best travel photos and videos we can, makes our blog posts look better, and gives our readers a better feel for the place than a few dodgy snaps. Even for the non-blogger, showing off fancy holiday snaps is much more attractive for your friends and family at home than looking at blurry, badly lit images.
Are these really the best cameras for travel photography?
As experienced amateurs rather than professional photographers, we do not have any top-of-the-range DSLR cameras. Let alone any of those zoom lenses that look like telescopes.
What we do have is a reasonable amount of decent enough kit. This means we can take attractive photos and videos that generally get us a lot of nice comments and love from our readers. So when we say our “best cameras for travel photography” we will provide a list of our travel camera kit that covers a wide range of different photo and video types for us as travel bloggers. We will also include some of our favourite examples of photos and videos we have done with our various devices, so you can see the results for yourselves.
This post about the best cameras for travel photography contains affiliate links. If you buy anything using these links, we will receive a commission from the seller, at no additional cost to you. All opinions and demo photos are our own.
So, here goes with the list! You can use the links below if you want to jump to a specific section to find a good camera for travel:
Our best cameras for travel photography – the list!
This great travel camera is hands down Tom’s favourite possession in the world. It goes everywhere with him and easily tops his best camera for travel photography list. Hence it is the first one we feature as a recommended camera for travelling.
The X100T is the third in the X100 series and offers a number of upgrades from previous versions. It has a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, both optical and digital viewfinders plus a 3″ LCD. This perfect camera for travel also has customisable function buttons that allow the user a great degree of control over the different settings. It also allows up to 3 pre-sets for the auto-ISO settings. This means you can pre-set the camera for different behaviours in different light conditions.
It does lack a zoom lens, which is not something that bothers us as we use it predominantly for street and landscape photography, although occasionally Tom gets brave enough to ask someone other than me for a portrait shot. For him, not having a zoom is actually a good thing. Before we got the X100T, he used to use an old Samsung hand-held camcorder that had a 10x zoom. He was so zoom-happy with it that watching his wildlife videos was akin to trying to bird-watch whilst on a fairground ride. Since getting the X100T, he has spent a lot of time learning about the finer aspects of photography and his pictures are about a thousand times better as a result. Even though it has already quite some years on its back (2014), it is still viewed as the best compact camera for travel in a lot of travel camera reviews.
Aesthetically, it is a beautiful piece of kit, that looks like an old-school Minox. It also has a WiFi connection so that you can activate the shutter remotely, and easily upload the photos to your phone or iPad without cables using the Fujifilm app. For Tom, it is the best camera for travel blogging.
See the results:
Some of Toms favourite pictures taken with the X100T are below.
Tom has an open leather case for the Fujifilm Finepix X100T together with a neck strap that is more cushioned than the one that came with the camera. It’s part of his trusted travel photography gear.
If you want a full technical review of the Fujifilm X100T, click here.
This is one of the newer additions to our best cameras for travel photography kit. I bought it after we decided we were really going to do long-term travel as I wanted a camera I could also use whilst travelling but that had some features not offered by the Fujifilm Finepix X100T. I also wanted something that can shoot good HD videos, as we started thinking more about how we could do some decent vlog footage of our travels. Because of this, I was looking for the best travel video camera.
After some proper research, I decided on the Canon G7X Mark II. This camera seems to be the best travel video camera among vloggers because it has a flip-up screen, meaning you can watch from the front as you are filming. The screen is also a touch-screen which I really like, as it is easy to focus when shooting either stills or videos. The image quality remains stable when shooting even with video. It also has a time-lapse video function, which I really like as it adds a lot to videos in post-production.
The G7X Mark II also allows you to control the settings manually if you are more of a technical photographer. Like the Fujifilm Finepix X100T, it also has WiFi connectivity so you can download the photos to your device remotely.
It is not as sexy-looking as the X100T, and whilst it is also not a pocket camera, it is smaller and lighter than the X100T. For me, it is the best camera for blogging and vlogging.
See the results:
I recently took the G7X out on a day trip to the Alsace Wine Route and got some great stills of beautiful medieval villages. I’m really happy with this canon travel camera.
Later in this post, we’ll present you our favourite camera for underwater photography. We would still like to mention, that with underwater housing, the Canon G7X also is a great camera for sealife photography. A perfect example of such a housing is, for example, the Canon WP-DC53, which keeps your camera waterproof up to 39 meters (130 feet).
I got the GoPro Hero4 back in 2015, as a gift to myself for having quit smoking (don’t start, kids – nicotine is evil!), and because we were planning a big adventure trip to Panama and Costa Rica. It is still pretty much my favourite best small digital camera for travel, even since I got the Canon G7X Mark II. I love it because it is super-tough and with the solid backdoor. With this waterproof travel camera, you can even dive 40 meters deep without destroying it. It can shoot in 4k, meaning excellent video quality even when on the move. It also has a range of other photo and video shooting options, including time-lapse. All of these features plus its teeny-tiny size means it makes a great addition to our top travel cameras.
The accessory options are endless. GoPro has hundreds of its own branded accessories. Or, if you search on Amazon you can find a bewildering array of third-party accessories. After a couple of years of using it, I tend to default to a head strap, wrist strap, small Joby tripod and a selfie stick. I find that between these three, I can manage to film in most circumstances I need. The tripod and selfie stick can also be doubled up for use with a smartphone if you have a mount. Multi-use accessories reduce pack weight and are therefore great for travelling with a camera.
Hero 4 or Hero 7?
GoPro have since released the Hero7 model. This offers a few upgrades such waterproof case without the need for additional housing, and a touchscreen as standard. The touchscreen is a fairly valuable addition, as for the Hero4 you do need the additional backpac. This adds to the cost of the bundle, plus it means carrying around additional housing accessories to accommodate the backpac. Nevertheless, the Hero4 is still a good compact camera for travel and given the range of the other kit we have, we are not feeling any need to upgrade just yet. In case it ever breaks, we would immediately replace it with the newest GoPro Model (which is the GoPro Hero7 at the moment).
We totally recommend the Hero 4 as a perfect budget action cam. If you want to go more budget, check out the Akaso Brave 4. The Family Voyage wrote a great review about this budget action cam.
See the results:
Our Central America trip was a great opportunity to test the GoPro Hero4 on a number of adventure tours and traveling with camera gear. Click through below for some footage of zip lines and canyoning. If you have a chance to visit Panama or Costa Rica, we definitely recommend checking out some of the amazing adventure day tours you can do there!
This is a brand-new addition to our camera for travel photography kit and I cannot begin to tell you how excited Tom was that we have our first proper drone. We had played around with the idea for a while, as we like to travel as light as we can, and a drone does not help this. But on the other hand, drone photography and flying a drone is just an epic level of cool, right? As we are preparing for full-time travel, we had sold a bunch of stuff at a flea market, and banked all of the spare change we have been collecting for years in bottles. The resulting profit more than balanced out the cost of procuring a DJI Spark to add to our collection of the best cameras for travel photography.
Best drone for noob pilots
Classed as an entry-level drone, the Spark is smaller, easier to fly, and less costly than most of drones available on the market today. It is quick and easy to set up and start flying which makes it a good camera for travel photography. However, you must register the product with DJI in order to access all of the features and functionality.
We plumped for the bundle including the additional remote controller which makes flying easier and allows you to use the drone in “sport mode”, ie you can go at racing speeds of up to 50kph (30mph). The 12mp camera shoots in 1080p, which is unsatisfactory for professional photographers but absolutely fine for us as noob drone pilots and travellers. The gimbal keeps the footage very smooth when it is in the air, with little to no shaking or blurring.
Perhaps one of the coolest features about the DJI Spark is the gesture controls. You can control the drone by waving your hands around. Again, this is easy to activate and to use. Plus, y’know, it makes you feel like a frickin’ Jedi knight!
Drone use can be heavily restricted in some countries and regions within specific countries. For example, you are not allowed to fly them in any of the Canadian National Parks. The DJI software can help with understanding the regulations in some cases. However, it is important to check the rules before you take it out flying anywhere.
During our travels through Asia, Europe and Northern America, we were able to catch some amazing aerial shots and see our surroundings like never before. Because the Spark is very compact, it was always easy to just carry it around in our hand luggage. We also never had any problems while entering a new country. Although we heard stories of customs stuff in certain airports who sometimes confiscate drones.
See the results:
If you’re interested to find out more about the DJI Spark or some of the other best drones on the market, then check out our post about the best drones for travelling. Casey Neistat also does a great comparison of the DJI Mavic vs DJI Spark drones on his YouTube channel.
Since we discovered the joy of discovering the underwater world with snorkelling and scuba diving, we soon realised that we have to get ourselves an underwater camera. After some thorough research and testing an underwater camera of a friend of ours, we decided that the Olympus TG-5 is the underwater camera with the best value for us.
The Olympus is, without a special underwater case, waterproof up to 15 meters (50 feet). With an additional underwater housing like for example theSeaFrogs Housing, you can take the camera even down to a depth of 45 meters (147 feet). This is even deeper than you’re allowed to dive on a recreational dive! The TG-5 shoots videos in a 4K/30fps resolution and shoots pictures in 12 megapixels. Some of the best features though are the superfast autofocus speed and the still unsurpassed macro shot mode.
There is a saying that goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. Even if we have left all our other photography gear at home, we always have our phones with us, which makes the phone camera the best camera to take travelling. Smartphones these days all have perfectly good cameras. There are even a number of travel bloggers and Instagram accounts with many followers who only use their smartphones for all photography.
Before we got much of our travel kit as just described, most of our travel photos were shot on our phones. You can see below a selection of photos that we took only using our smartphones.
There are a few other photo accessories that we consider are essential to our best cameras for travel photography kit.
A tripod is not necessarily essential for all shots, but for those in bad light conditions when you want to avoid using the flash, it is necessary to increase the exposure time. This means you have to keep the camera stable for longer, which is when the tripod comes in useful. Particularly for capturing outstanding shots at sunrise and sunset, a tripod is really an essential piece of kit.
As we travel and try to pack light, we use an ultra-lightweight and budget-friendly tripod from Hama. This will not work in high winds or with a big, heavy camera but it is perfect for our needs.
If you are shopping outside the US, use this link to browse the Hama tripod in your local Amazon store.
We don’t take a huge number of selfies, and there is nothing I hate more than having sticks flying all over the place in touristy spots. However, the stick is really handy for filming footage on the move. As mentioned previously, ours can mount any of our camera equipment and we have a special mount for the iPhone as well, meaning it’s really versatile.
We carry a number of memory cards, plus a 2TB external hard drive each. This means we can back up all images and video footage from the memory cards to the external hard disk, and re-use the memory cards again and again. We also don’t have to worry about our laptops getting full.
We do also use Google Drive for sharing some of our photos between us so we can both access them easily. You could also use iCloud for this, or DropBox.
Of course, it’s always very important to keep your cameras protected from the elements, and Erin at Large presents some pretty stylish camera bags on her blog. Maybe you’ll even find your personal best camera bag for travel. Check it out here!
Anything that can be charged via USB can generally be charged using a Powerbank. We carry a couple each that pack a high amount of power. They are a bit heavier than the small “one phone charge” versions. However, we can use them for our camera batteries and phones, as well as iPads whenever we don’t have access to a power outlet. Charging cables are also a must. Native Union do a great range in keyring cables that are unobtrusive and can be easily carried around.
This list is a fully comprehensive guide to all the camera kit we use for our travel photography. It may not meet the requirements of every traveller, blogger or photographer. A lot of people have their own best travel camera. But after multiple trips and tests, we think we have found a perfect mix of kit that works really well for our needs as travellers and bloggers. What do you think?
Of course, you don’t want your awesome travel photos just sitting on your SD card. Read about some creative things to do with your travel photos on Travelweekli.
If you liked this post and are looking for more tips and lists of things we use during our travels, then you can also check out our post about the best travel first aid kit packing tips.
Do you have any favourite kit or equipment you love to use whilst travelling? What’s in your opinion the best camera to travel with? Share your tips with everyone in the comments below!