It’s now that time of year when – with any luck – you are planning to take a break and go on your summer holidays. Whether that be going abroad or simply enjoying the best that the UK has to offer, you’ll no doubt want to photograph some of the many sights and scenes you encounter on your travels.
Travel photography has its own distinct style, requirements, and often limitations, so in this article we look at some of the best travel camera equipment currently available that will help you perfectly capture your holiday highlights.
THE BEST CAMERAS FOR TRAVELLING
By its very nature, travel photography demands that the photographic equipment used is portable, robust, and quick to deploy. For these reasons, most of the best travel cameras tend not to be digital SLRs. Instead, good cameras for travelling usually fall into either the mirrorless, bridge, compact, or action camera categories.
Mirrorless cameras – also known as compact system cameras (CSCs) – are the closest type of cameras to digital SLRs in terms of optical performance and functionality. Like DSLRs, they offer outstanding image quality, but do so in a much more compact and lightweight package. So without delay, let’s take a look at some of the best mirrorless cameras for travelling.
Canon EOS M10
The Canon EOS M10 offers fantastic value for money and is one of the best small cameras for travel photography for those on a budget. It features an 18MP APS-C sized sensor, 49-point autofocus system, and a generous 3 inch 180°-tiltable LCD touchscreen, housed in an attractive and compact casing. It incorporates built-in Wi-Fi and Dynamic NFC for easy image transfer and sharing, and is also compatible with Canon EF-M lenses.
Canon EOS M3
As the bigger brother of the Canon M10, the Canon EOS M3 is another good travel camera option that features a larger 24.2MP sensor than the M10, and also offers the ability to use an electronic viewfinder and external flash with it. Its screen can point up like the M10, but also tilts downwards. Other differences include the fact that the M3 offers AE bracketing, and also features a microphone port.
Jumping up in price and features from the Canon EOS M series, the Sony a6300 boasts a number of record-breaking attributes. Namely, it has the world’s fastest autofocus of just 0.05 seconds using Sony’s 4D FOCUS system, and has the highest number of autofocus points with 425 phase detection AF points (amongst interchangeable lens cameras with an APS-C sized sensor – in this case, a 24.2MP one). It can capture 4K video in Super 35mm format, and offers continuous shooting at up to 11 frames per second with continuous autofocus and exposure tracking. As such, the a6300 is perfect for holidays like safaris, where focusing on fast-moving wildlife is paramount.
The focusing accuracy, enhanced tracking, and phase detection autofocus points are all available when using Sony A-mount lenses, when combined with a mount adapter such as the Sony LA-EA3. This is a first for Sony E-mount interchangeable lens cameras with an APS-C sensor, and was previously only found on the Sony a7 II and Sony a7R II full frame cameras, making the a6300 one of the best cameras for travel photography.
The Olympus PEN-F shares the same price point as the Sony A6300, but doesn’t aim to compete with it directly. Instead, its strengths are that it is extremely stylish, easy to use, and very quick to take a perfect shot – in fact it has the shortest release time lag among interchangeable lens cameras, including SLRs. It utilises a 20.3MP Live MOS sensor with the optical low pass filter removed for enhanced clarity, and features a Supersonic Wave Filter which automatically cleans the sensor by shaking off any dust that settles on the lens during lens changes.
It also offers 50MP high resolution shot capability, as well as an excellent 5-axis image stabilisation system which is worth 5 EV stops when shooting at low ISO. The innovative ‘Creative Dial’ on its front provides direct access to a wide range of onboard filter options, including Art Filters, Colour Creator, and two new options – namely Monochrome Profile Control, and Colour Profile Control.
Bridge cameras as so called because they bridge the gap between DSLRs and compact cameras and as such are fairly similar to mirrorless cameras. The main difference between the two types is that bridge cameras usually have a built-in lens with a wider zoom range, whereas mirrorless cameras most often have interchangeable lenses and a more narrow zoom range; which you choose really depends on your own personal requirements. Deciding on the best bridge camera for travel photography is a challenge as the price varies quite significantly, so let’s take a look at three that span a fairly wide price bracket.
The highly affordable Panasonic FZ72 bridge camera delivers super wide-angle performance at a focal length of 20mm, but has an extremely powerful 60x optical zoom, resulting in a 35mm equivalent of a 20-1200mm lens. This can be extended even further with use of the optional Panasonic DMW-LT55E Tele Conversion Lens and combined with Power O.I.S., offers very solid stability. It has a 16.1MP sensor and offers Full HD video, as well as the inclusion of a newly designed directional microphone which eliminates background wind noise. All these features in a Panasonic camera priced under £200 are hard to beat and make it one of the best cameras for travel photography on a budget.
Nikon Coolpix P900
More expensive than the FZ72, the Nikon Coolpix P900 shares a similarly-sized sensor – at 16MP – but takes the already impressive optical zoom of the FZ72 to a huge 83x (extendable to 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom), giving it the 35mm equivalent of a 24mm-2000mm lens. Normally, this could pose stabilisation issues, but thankfully the P900 incorporates 5.0-stop Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction so your images will remain blur-free – even when shooting without a tripod. The P900 must surely be the best travel zoom camera out there in its price range.
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC support allows you to easily share images on the move and you can track your route with impressive accuracy, thanks to the GPS/GLONASS/QZSS international satellite systems tracking function. With a shooting time lag of only 0.12 seconds at wide-angle, and a long battery life of around 360 shots, the P900 offers everything you need in an economical but advanced package.
Sony RX10 II
The most expensive bridge camera in our review is the Sony RX10 II, but the price tag is more than justified thanks to its numerous advanced features. Besides its rugged dust and moisture-resistant construction, it boasts the world’s first memory-attached 1.0-type stacked CMOS image sensor, which delivers up to 40x super slow motion (up to 960fps) and an Anti-Distortion Shutter of up to 1/32,000 of a second, that would normally only be found in very high-end professional equipment. Additionally, the special shutter allows you to shoot in extremely bright conditions – even with defocused backgrounds – so is ideal for holidays in sunny climates.
The RX10 II can also capture 4K video, and its XAVC S codec records stunning footage with high bit-rate recording through the outstanding ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens. With a high contrast 2,359k-dot OLED Tru-Finder, bright and clear visibility is guaranteed in all types of situations.
Compact cameras are a very popular choice for taking holiday snaps as they are so lightweight and portable, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they produce low quality photos. Some of the best compact cameras for travel photography can deliver highly impressive images that rival those of larger and much more expensive models. If you’re looking for the best small camera for travel photography, we recommend investigating the following compact cameras.
Canon IXUS 285
The Canon IXUS 285 is one of the most affordable cameras in our review. It’s a pocket-sized compact camera that maintain’s Canon’s stylish appearance of the IXUS lineup. The IXUS 285 features a high resolution 20.2 megapixel sensor, a powerful 12x optical zoom to get your really close to your subject, and Full 1080p HD movie recording for making videos and home movies about your travels. Alongside these main features, the IXUS 285 also boasts a number of fun, creative features as well as shooting modes which will choose the right settings for you to suit the situation you’re shooting in. In-built Wi-Fi makes it amazingly easy to transfer images to your smartphone and share them from anywhere around the world to your friends and family back home.
Moving up a little in price, the Panasonic DMC-TZ80 is the first superzoom camera to feature both 4K video and photography. It utilises an 18MP ½.3-type high sensitivity MOS sensor, a stunning Leica lens with 30x optical zoom (wide 24-720mm, f/3.3-6.4), and a sharp and clear 3” 1,040k-dot touch LCD to ensure taking precise, balanced images is effortless. Stabilisation is fully taken care of, with POWER O.I.S. for still photography and 5-axis HYBRID O.I.S. for video. It offers 4K burst shooting at 30fps and also features Panasonic’s brilliant Post Focus technology which lets you choose what you would like to be in focus, after taking a shot.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV
The most expensive of our reviewed compact cameras is the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV. Similarly to the aforementioned RX10 II, it has a memory-attached 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor – this time at 20.1MP – and a 1/32,000 of a second Anti-Distortion Shutter, enabling you to capture distortion-free 40x super slow motion – even in bright conditions up to EV 19 – as well as 960fps extreme high-frame-rate (HFR) video recording.
With continuous shooting up to 16fps without blackout, 4K video recording up to a maximum of 5 minutes, and a retractable 2,359,296-dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF that is treated with ZEISS T* Coating, the RX100 IV offers a multitude of advanced features well worth its higher price tag.
Although capable of taking still photographs, action cameras are primarily designed and used for video recording. They tend to be attached to devices such as bike helmets or drones for example, and are also often used handheld. If you’re going on an adrenaline-fuelled holiday that involves plenty of outdoor activities, action cameras should be your first choice if you really want to capture the adventure. Below, we review some of the best action cameras currently available.
The Ricoh WG-50 is a lightweight but extremely rugged and waterproof action camera – in this case down to an impressive depth of 14m. It’s also dustproof, shockproof from a drop height of 1.6m, can operate in freezing temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius, and crushproof to a weight of 100kgf (Kilograms force). It’s not just a rugged camera though, it’s also amazingly capable, with a 16 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom (with an effective 35mm focal length of 28-140mm), Full 1080p HD movie recording, and wireless Wi-Fi capability to instantly transfer your images to a smartphone or tablet. One of the Ricoh WG-50’s most innovative features are the 6 LED lights around the lens which light up in Macro mode to add extra illumination to you image.
GoPro Hero5 Black
If you really want to capture the action-packed elements of your holiday, the legendary GoPro Hero5 Black is the top-of-the-range action camera on the market. Now almost a household name, GoPro action cameras have revolutionised the world of outdoor video recording, and the Hero5 Black is regarded by many as the best video camera for travel videography.
The Hero5 Black can record video in the Ultra High Definition 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, as well as being able to record in Full 1080p HD. It will also capture 12MP RAW images and features voice recognition which means it can be controlled simply by shouting at it.
As a go-anywhere, do-anything camera, the GoPro Hero5 Black is the ultimate choice. It’s also waterproof up to 10m and has a built-in GPS.
The innovative 360Fly action camera lets you record 360° HD videos of your surroundings and share them with ease via its built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as view and control the footage from a smartphone app. With a wide variety of mounts available (and supplied with a Tilt Mount with curved and flat plates), you can attach it to almost anything – including tripods, bikes, helmets, and more – so is the best camera to take travelling if panoramic shots are your preferred method of recording your environment.
Thankfully, it has a durable construction that is resistant to water, sand, freezing, and shock. It offers the ability to preview live video from your smartphone which can be recorded to its 32GB internal memory, and comes with a microphone plug and protective neoprene pouch.
BEST CAMERA LENSES FOR TRAVELLING
Obviously some people are perfectly comfortable taking a digital SLR camera on holiday – it isn’t as if all of them are monstrous devices that require their own check-in tag! However, traveling in general does require some forethought to how much really you want on your being at any one time.
Tamron 16-300MM F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
Tamron offer a great selection of suitable lenses – which are available in Canon, Nikon, and Sony fit – ensuring their range covers a great deal of photographers’ requirements.
The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD features a focal range varied enough to be suitable for macro, landscape, portrait, and general photography. This means that it is an absolute all-rounder and perfect if you only want to carry a single lens around with you!
Its macro capabilities are particularly impressive with a 1:1 life-size capture, and a minimum focusing distance of just 39cm. It is the ideal all-in-one lens.
Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Black
The portability of mirrorless cameras has already been alluded to and another added benefit is the ‘pancake’ lenses that some manufacturers offer.
The most outstanding one of these is perhaps the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ for their OM-D range of mirrorless cameras – not only is its profile extremely low at just 22mm deep, but it has an electronic zoom which can be controlled by a smartphone via the Olympus app!
It has a very usable effective focal range of 24-84mm, ensuring wide-angle and telephoto focal length imagery can be achieved.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY ACCESSORIES
Travel photography isn’t only about the cameras themselves of course, and to truly capture your holiday highlights, it’s often also necessary to bring along with you some accessories – especially something to carry all your camera equipment in! Here are some of the most useful travel photography accessories on the market.
Manfrotto Off Road Walking Stick
The ingenious Manfrotto Off Road Walking Stick set consists of 2 extremely lightweight and rugged walking sticks which collapse into three sections via a simple Twist-to Lock mechanism – which can easily be removed for cleaning. On the top of one of the sticks is a rotating quick-wheel camera attachment, so you can convert it into a monopod in a matter of seconds by removing the protective cap and screwing in your camera. Although very lightweight, it can carry a payload of up to 2.5kg/5.51lb, and is perfectly suited for holidays that involve a lot of hiking.
Vanguard Supreme Cases
If you have no choice but to travel with a larger DSLR, and want to guarantee that your camera equipment is fully protected, the range of Vanguard Supreme Cases is perfect for your needs. These rugged hard cases are not only almost indestructible, but are also O-ring sealed, airtight, waterproof to a depth of 5 metres/16.5 feet, and can withstand temperatures ranging from -40°C to 95°C – as well as weights of up to 120kg/256lb.
On top of this, they feature an automatic pressure equalisation valve for airline travel, anti-slip rubber feet, a substantial carrying handle, easy-locking quick-release latches, and steel-reinforced lock holders. Various models are available, with the more expensive versions including features such as internal padded soft cases with adjustable dividers.
Manfrotto Off Road Hiker Backpacks
If you’re looking for the best camera backpack for travel photography, you can’t do much better than to invest in one of the range of water-repellent Manfrotto Off Road Hiker Backpacks which are specifically designed for hiking and photography. They allow you to store your personal items in the top part of the bag and your photographic equipment in the lower part. In addition to being a complete travel camera bag solution, you can unzip the internal divider and remove the camera section, so you can store more of your personal possessions if you prefer. They feature a breathable back system, rain cover, comfortable adjustable shoulder straps, a padded belt, and an innovative camera strap on their front, so you can securely attach your camera and avoid any unnecessary neck strain.
The Off Road Hiker backpacks are available in 2 sizes – 20 and 30 litres – but both incorporate the Manfrotto Camera Protection System which fully protects your gear. The 30L version is able to carry a pro DSLR with a 70-200mm lens attached as well as another lens, and the 20L version is able to accommodate a mid-level DSLR with attached lens, and an additional small lens. You can also attach the previously mentioned Manfrotto Off Road Walking Sticks to the bag or under the arm – thanks to dedicated tripod connections – so you can easily access your accessories without removing the pack.
Digipower Re-fuel USB Power Banks
This range of portable USB chargers from Digipower are perfect for those expecting to be caught short of power at some time on their travels. The Digipower Re-fuel powerbanks come in a variety of battery sizes suitable for any recharging requirements – and a range of budgets.
Their application is pretty simple – you charge up the powerbank and, providing your camera or gadget is USB powered, you have a charging solution with you on the go. The range expands from 2600mAh – 13,000mAh; the larger the mAh number means the more recharges you can get from your powerbank, with the Digipower Re-fuel USB powerbank 13,000mAhproviding the capability to recharge up to 5 times. The obvious trade-off here is portability, so the smaller the recharge capability also results in a more portable solution – so this is certainly something to consider.
ZEISS TERRA ED Pocket 8×25 Binoculars
Although not technically photographic, the ergonomic ZEISS TERRA ED Pocket 8×25 Binoculars still deserve a place on this list as they deliver outstanding results in a durable, lightweight, and portable design. They are 100% waterproof and offer 8x magnification, an extra-large field of view, advanced low-light ability, and a state of the art hydrophobic multi-coating which ensures impeccable optical performance in all conditions.
The Pocket 8×25 Binoculars feature a smooth easy-access focusing wheel, and with a minimum object distance of just 1.9 metres, a 25mm subjective viewing angle, and a 357 foot field of view at 1,000 yards, cover everything you might want to view with precise accuracy.
Canon 10×30 IS II Binoculars
Although more expensive than the Pocket 8x25s, the Canon 10×30 IS II Binoculars are certainly worth their higher price tag. With 10x magnification, distortion-free optical performance, field flattener optics, the Porro II prism design, low-reflectance exterior, a low gloss front, and the Super Spectra coating usually found in the Canon EF lenses range, they deliver a vivid, high contrast view with accurate colour rendition, while eliminating unwanted internal reflections that can cause ghosting and flare.
The most notable aspect of the 10×30 IS II however, is their advanced image stabilisation ability. They feature a powerful optical Image Stabiliser that quickly and accurately counteracts many different types of shake and movement. It even corrects shake introduced while panning if you are following your subject, or viewing them from a moving vehicle. Their significantly reduced power consumption delivers up to 9 hours of continuous use from a single set of 2 AA batteries.
As you can see, when it comes to selecting the best camera for traveling on holiday, there’s a huge range of choices available in terms of camera type, price, and features – and your weapon of choice does not always need to be a DSLR! All of the equipment reviewed here will deliver excellent results and will be sure to help you record your holiday memories in brilliant detail, wherever you choose to go.