Choosing a Camera for Travel: How to Pick the Right Camera for You

… This is a guest post by Mark Condon of Shotkit …

Hey everyone! My name’s Mark and I run a site called Shotkit which is all about camera gear and photography.

Amanda has kindly let me guest post here today on Adventures All Around on the topic of choosing a camera for your next trip.

On Shotkit we discuss the professional camera equipment and photography of pros and experienced amateurs, but in this post I’ll be keeping all my advice very accessible for you.

Even if you haven’t used an inter-changeable lens camera before, by the end of it, I hope you’ll feel motivated to have a go yourself!

What makes a good travel camera?

The best camera is the one you have with you, so for most of us, that means our mobile phones. Modern phones do a decent job at taking a pretty picture, but they do have their limitations.

If you want to get creative with your photography, or get that envious ‘blurred-background’ look, you’re much better off investing in a proper (stand alone) camera.

Picking the right travel camera is a great move for your photos

Buying a decent camera doesn’t mean breaking the bank – my most recent post was on the best cameras under $500, and there are plenty of good ones to choose from. What I will say though, is that by stretching your budget a little further, you can get a camera that will serve you well for many years to come.

Let’s first decide what makes a good travel camera.

Here are my criteria:

1)     Camera must be small & lightweight

2)     Camera must be inconspicuous

3)     Camera must have good image quality

4)     Camera must be rugged and durable

5)     Camera must be a pleasure to use

My reasons for choosing the above criteria should be quite obvious. In summary, the ideal travel camera should be small enough to fit into a handbag, light enough to carry around my neck all day, non-flashy looking to avert unwanted eyes, take a great photo, not break when bumped, and above all, must be great fun to use!

Cost is of course another major factor when choosing a camera, but since everyone’s budgets are different, I’ve not mentioned it as part of the criteria above.

Instead, I’ll recommend a few cameras for travel in a range of budgets.

Capture those holiday moments with the right travel camera for you

Recommended cameras for travel

1)     The Budget Option – Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS

Type: Compact Camera

Megapixels: 20.2

Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch (6.2mm x 4.6mm)

Lens: 12x zoom (25-300mm eq.) f/3.6-7

Weight: 147g (0.32 lb / 5.19 oz)

Price: Approx $195

Canon has had a long history of making well-built, good looking compact cameras. Whilst the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS isn’t a perfect all-round performer, it’s still up there with the best digital cameras under $200.

Housing a 12x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilizer in such a small, slim body is no mean feat. For those who don’t know, ‘optical’ zoom as opposed to ‘digital’ zoom means that the camera is using a lens to do the zooming rather than the camera software simply ‘cropping’ the digital image. Optical zoom is always better quality.

The Canon Powershot Elph is a great budget camera for travel

A 12x zoom equates to roughly a 25-300mm lens on a 35mm camera, meaning that you can go from wide angle (for shots of large groups, wide panoramic vistas and city-scapes, for example), all the way up to distant shots of wildlife.

The aperture range of f/3.6-7 doesn’t make the lens on the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS particularly ‘fast’ (i.e. one that can let in a lot of natural light), but the optical image stabilizer does help you achieve a sharper image when the sun begins to set.

A neat feature of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is the Intelligent IS mode, which helps even the most novice photographer capture clear, steady images, even in lower light. The Intelligent IS automatically analyzes camera movement and applies the ideal shake correction method for the shooting situation, allowing you to focus more on framing and capturing your shot.

2)     The mid-priced option – Sony Alpha a6000

Type: Interchangeable Compact Mirrorless Camera

Megapixels: 24mp

Sensor Size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm)

Weight: 0.76 pounds

Price: Approx. $598

The Sony a6000 uses a combination of a 79-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor, 179 AF tracking points and 11 frames per second to ensure that when you hold down that shutter button, you’ll capture what you want.

Aside from blazing-fast autofocus, the focus on the Sony a6000 is also impressive, using contrast-detection and something called Spatial Object Detection to achieve autofocus speeds of 0.06 seconds – definitely among the fastest performance of any camera.

The Sony a6000 is a top mid range camera for travel

My two favourite features of the Sony a6000 are to do with how you view the image. A 1.4m dot OLED electronic viewfinder delivers 100% frame coverage and am impressively fast refresh rate. This means that you can preview exactly how your image will look through the viewfinder, before you press the shutter button.

My other favourite feature of the Sony a6000 is its 3″ tiltable LCD screen which allows you to get creative with your angles. If I had the choice, I’d always go for a camera with a tiltable LCD screen as it’s so good for getting those low down, or high up shots. My only gripe is that the screen only tilts to 45 degrees down (it tilts the full 90 degrees upwards), but I guess it’s rare that you’d want to take a selfie of yourself from directly above!

Low light performance of the Sony a6000 is also impressive, with a range of 100-25600. Obviously you’ll get some noise when really pushing up the ISO, but thanks to a built-in pop-up flash, you won’t miss any of the action at night.

As for recommended lenses to use with the Sony a6000, I’d advise you to start off with the 16-50mm power zoom lens which covers a useful focal range and isn’t too heavy or bulky.

3)     The higher-priced option – Fuji X-T20

Type: Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera

Megapixels: 24.3

Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)

Weight: 2.2 pounds

Price: Approx. $850

Mirrorless cameras are all the range in 2017, and for good reason. Keeping up pace with bulkier dSLRs, mirrorless cameras use the latest technology to produce high quality images in smaller bodies.

I recently included the Fuji X-T20 at the top of the list of the best mirrorless cameras. It uses a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which delivers gorgeous, vibrant, clean and crisp images whether you shoot in RAW or JPEG image format.

The Fuji xt20 is a top travel camera to consider

A fast processor means more responsive start up times, autofocus speeds, shutter lag time and shot-to-shot time. Speaking of the auto focus, 325 selectable AF points deliver some of the fastest and most accurate focusing capabilities ever seen on a mirrorless camera at this price point.

One note about the price – whilst $850 may be within the budgets of some travellers, one thing to remember is that with an inter-changeable lens camera such as the Fuji X-T20, you’ll need a lens!

With some many great lens options out there, I put together a guide to the best Fuji lenses which should serve as a helpful starting point for investing in your first lens. For travel, a lightweight zoom lens provides the most flexibility, but for the ultimate in compactness, you should consider a prime (fixed focal length) lens, such as the 35mm f/2.

Make no mistake – the Fujifilm X-T20 is an absolute bargain of a mirrorless camera and a great balance of size to pro-grade performance. If I could have any camera to take on my next trip, the Fuji X-T20 would be top of my wish list!

Final Words

So there you have it – 3 cameras for travel at 3 different price points to choose from. Whatever you decide, remember that a camera is an important investment in the preservation of your memories!

I’d like to thank Amanda for letting me guest post here today on Adventures All Around. I hope that you enjoyed my short introduction into the geeky world of cameras – remember to visit Shotkit if you’d like to learn more about camera gear and photography.

Now get out there and start shooting 🙂

Guest review by Mark Condon, a British wedding photographer based in Sydney.

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and buy something I will get a small percentage to help pay the blogging bills and keep my site ad free. But don’t worry, it’s absolutely no extra cost to you. Thanks!

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If you love taking sharing photos on your travels, you may also like to check out my review of the HP Sprocket portable printer

The right travel camera is the perfect travel buddy

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  1. So many people ask about cameras. I’m sure people will find this a really helpful post! 😀

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