THE LOVE FOR TRAVELLING, THE PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY (MADE IN MELBOURNE AND AROUND THE GLOBE)

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Best travel camera 2017 including Compact Camera

Best travel camera 2017 – April update

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I have two big passions: travel and photography. This website combines both. Guess what? I spend most of my life travelling. When I don’t travel, and I am at home in Melbourne, I can’t stop myself anyway photographing this beautiful city.

How many times I got asked what is the best travel camera in 2016. As you may suspect there is no easy answer. And now that we are in 2017 I can’t wait some of the new announced models to come in the market.

Add the fact that what we have been experiencing in technology in the last months is incredibly different from only the 2013 or even the 2014, and that’s just 3-4 years ago! 

So, I am said “Come on, what is the best camera for travel this year?”

I usually answer with another question “What kind of trip are you planning?”. This gives me at least an idea of the travel, and the weather condition, the person will experience. No much point to buy a DSLR if you are planning to spend the most of your time scuba diving 😀

Let’s proceed with order and see what are the most important points to take in consideration when you select you travel camera.

There is a final point. Sometime, when budget is limited, it may be worth checking the second hand market where you can find a 1 or 2 years old camera, working perfectly, at a great price. Also refurbished cameras can be a real bargain, especially when coming from the manufacturer itself.

This is a second-hand buy guide I have been updating with lots of tips, suggestions and what I have lately found on the internet.

What to search in your best travel camera

I am sorry to say there is not a single best travel camera. There are actually many of them, it all depends on what you want to focus your attention on.

Are you buying the camera for a serious travel photography career or just for few shots to post on Facebook or Instagram? Or maybe you just want to print a photo book when you are back at home.

I change cameras on a frequent basis. Plus I get some units to review as well, which is great because it allows me to see pros/cons of some models. I also have different kind of trips that may require different kind of equipment (cycling or trekking with a big DSLR may not be a great idea after all 😀 )

Size and weight

I heard so many times that “the smaller, the better” when travelling. Do I agree with that? Not necessarily.

Let me explain

First of all I like to think there are 5 category of cameras in relation to size and weight

  • super light and small: most of these cameras are in your mobile. I do use my mobile quite a bit when travelling. There are some great advantages of which the best I can think of is that it’s always with me. You may remember that saying “the best camera is the one with you”
  • very light and squared: these are the action cameras. They are obviously great to document any kind of sport you are involved with. If you love to make a scuba diving video or take few photos the action camera is a must have gear. The lens is usually very wide, almost fisheye.
  • light and easy to carry with you: the compact camera nowadays are great value both for money and quality. New models are coming out with a reasonable sensor size (more on it later) which means you will be more likely to have a better photo even in low light condition
  • middle weight and relatively easy to carry with you: these are the mirrorless cameras. It is an exciting category of cameras where you can reach a great photography quality without having to transport with you a big DSLR.
  • heavy and bulky: we are here in the Amateur DSLR world with an APS-C sensor. I think that this category is suffering quite a bit at the moment due to the great success of the mirrorless world
  • very heavy and bulky: these are the DSLR with the full frame sensor, also called Professional DSLR.

This above is actually a simplification. The Sony Alpha a7R II is, for example, a mirrorless with full sensor. It is also one of the best professional camera around, comparable to a pro DSLR. I really wander if in the next few 2-3 years we will have a merge of the last 3 categories.

Image sensor and resolution

To make it simple, you can see the sensor as the eye retina of your camera. It is a grid of millions of light-sensitive cells. When you make a photo, and your shutter is activated, you have light going through the lens to these cells. A signal is created and digitalised and you have the photo.

I tried to simplify the process as much as I could.

The more light the sensor receives the better chance you will have to take a greater photo. If the sensor in your camera is twice as big than you will be more likely to have a better quality image

I like to give the example of myself in the bedroom and during the day I can see perfectly everything around me. The more I close the shutters the less details I can see. When the shutters are 100% closed I may see just the things shapes around me and that’s it.

With a good light you may experience the same quality of photography even with smaller sensor. Things become tricky when the light is not perfect, and when travelling things can become quite challenging, especially in certain areas of the world where the weather can be quite dark, rainy, foggy etc

As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the sensor, the more likely you will be to have greater quality in your photos. Of course, it’s not only about the size of the sensor in a camera, there is much more than that.

If you like to dig deeper in this subject I suggest a read to this sensor performance analysis by Roger Clark, a great resource of information

The typical point and shoot have a sensor size of 1/1.7″ (7.60 x 5.70mm2 = 43.32sq.mm) or 1/2.3″ (6.17m x 4.55m = 28.07sq.mm). In the mobile world, the iPhone 6 camera has a sensor size of 1/3″ and the one in the new Samsung S7, although bigger, it is still 1/2.6″. The full frame sensor is 24mm x 36mm or 864mm2 which is 20-30 times bigger than the one in a compact camera.

There are two drawbacks in the big sensor however

  1. the cost: they are indeed an expensive part of the camera which determines the final cost
  2. the size and weight: I just said the bigger the better and now it is a drawback! Well, somehow yes. Try to put a full sensor in your mobile and suddenly your phone will be a brick, like in the 80s. If you are after a light camera you need to compromise on the sensor size, nothing you can do about it

As an indication, the smaller sensor produce more digital noise at the same level of ISO than the bigger sensor. To simplify, in the dark environment your photo will have more “noise” (it was called “grain” in the film era)if your sensor is smaller

The second concept here is the resolution. We have nowadays cameras with 12MP, 24MP, 36MP or even 42MP. My priority is always on the sensor size than the resolution.

The fantastic thing about a 42MP is that you can crop your photos in post-production (sometime it is not possible to get closer). In saying that you need bigger memory cards and better computer to manage 42M files.

Optical Zoom Lens

If you cannot get closer to your subject use the zoom, as simple as that. A great zoom range is a must if you go for a trip like a safari, less essential if you visit a city on a weekend trip.

Having a camera with interchangeable lenses has this exact benefit, you take with you only the lens you need for the trip you have planned.

I have a 200mm zoom lens however I almost never use it for my travel photography (I bought it for some cycling photography I nowadays rarely do)

I have a 12-24mm wide lens and I take it with me only if I think to visit interiors (cathedrals, etc)

I have a 24-120mm which covers 95% of my need during my trips

I have also a prime lens (fixed focal length), a 50mm, which has a fantastic quality and costs much less. Obviously there is no zoom capability. I use it in the markets or for street photography

Keep in mind that usually lenses do not perform fantastically at the extreme range values. For example my lens at 24mm or 120mm has some distortion

If the lens is built-in with the camera I would love to have the 25-150 range. Anything more is a benefit.

If I use interchangeable lens I usually go for two lenses, a prime 50mm and a zoom lens to cover part of the 20-120mm focal length.

When possible, it is better to buy the lenses on a separate deal and not together with the camera package. The main reason it is that usually the lenses that come in a package do not perform as great. They are very good deals but quality is the compromise.

My quick tip, for a mirrorless or DSLR, is to spend as much for the camera as for your main lens (in the range 20-120mm). Having an amazing camera but an average lens will defeat the purpose. Have a look to the Guide to the best lenses for travel photography 2017 for much more information and tips on what works best for any camera brand.

Why lenses with the same focal length have different cost?

There are many reasons. The number of elements, and their quality, drive the difference in price. This is the short answer. If you like to better understand, I suggest to start from this Wikipedia page that gives a very detailed description of how lenses are made.

Wireless capability and GPS

If I want to instantly share the photos in my social environments the WiFi is a must, otherwise a plus. At the moment I would not use GPS to mark the location on my photos for the only reason that it drains my battery.

Speaking of battery, I do not see it as a feature that could drive my selection. I always travel with at least a spare battery anyway. It may be a valid point if you travel somewhere where you can’t charge your batteries for few days though.

Battery is an important feature for other kind of photography I think, commercial outdoor is an example

Weatherproof cameras

Is it important to have the camera waterproof and/or dustproof? It all depends on the trip you are planning.

It is obviously a must for any action camera however I see it more of a bonus on most of the other cameras.

If I am planning a trip to Thailand, mostly at the beach, and I want just to have some good photos without worrying about the water than a waterproof compact camera can be the answer

I am updating this post on a regular basis and in the last projects I could see how beneficial was to have a splash proof camera/lens. I was making photos in a rainy day in Australia and I did not have to worry about the drops of water. Definitely something I would love to have in any new camera or lens.

Video quality

Although I have done few videos for this website and for some trips, I still have my focus on steel photography.

I like to have the video capability on my camera and the only great difference I can see on the new cameras coming out in 2016 is the 4K video capability.

You may argue that there are not that many 4K TV around and this is probably true. However they will become more and more popular. Beside that, I like to have the capability to crop a 4K video into an HD video. It’s actually quite useful during the interviews as you may go from half-body to close up using the same video track.

The 4K is not something useful just for video. Have a look to this DPReview 4K : What you need to Know page to see how it is impacting the photography world too.

My experience with travel cameras

I always have with me my mobile phone and, as I said, I use it a fair bit in my travelling.

If I am cycling during my trip (it often happens) I have a compact camera in my pocket. There are 3 main reasons. I can take it out very easily for a point and shoot, better quality than a mobile, sturdy and some of them weather sealed

If I keep moving every 2-3 days during my trip (but no cycling or similar activities) I take a mirrorless with me with a zoom lens and a small quick prime lens. I had a Panasonic GX85 in one of my last trip and it worked great!

If I am based in mostly 1 or 2 location I take my DSLR full sensor, the Nikon D610. It’s heavy however it does some great photos.

I take two, maybe 3, lenses with me:

  • wide angle: if I am planning to visit some interiors. Example: a trip to Rome, with cathedral, churches, buildings
  • quick prime 50mm (aperture f/2 or less): if I am planning to visit markets where light may be an issue
  • long range zoom (within 20-120mm): it will cover 95% of my needs

Till now we talked about important features to know when selecting your best travel camera. Let’s see what is a great choice in the present 2016 market

Best mobile camera for travel

I definitely use my mobile camera during my travel photography. It is the camera I have always with me and the quickest I can grab from my pocket for a quick photo. No wonder I love it.

The great thing about the mobile market is that there is a huge competition between the different manufacturer and every year we see better and better cameras into our mobiles.

If you are after documenting your trip and sharing it on your social environments, the mobile will work better than anything else.

If you are planning to post you photos on your travel blog, again the mobile does a great job. You will not be able to have any good narrow depth of field (I mean the background blurry on your picture) however you may be able to simulate that with some editing apps (I am not a fan of it I must say)

If you are thinking to print in a very small format it should be fine as well. Anything else may be an issue,

When I use my mobile I think more about the composition and the moment than anything else. There is no real depth of field control and the shutter speed, although changeable, has some big limits. Usually the sensor is small and the lens is another limit to the camera.

We need to remember that the manufacturers have to include everything in a very limited space with a limited budget, they can’t therefore afford to add fabulous lenses or super big sensors

For this review I am picking only 3 but I am sure this list will be updated on a more regular basis than the others below. The mobile world changes so quickly!

Apple iPhone 7

Why the Iphone 7 is into this list? Because the Iphone has a great camera combined with probably the best software market, or apps.

Based on the DxOMark, an industry standard for camera quality, the iPhone 7 come in position number 3 in the mobile world. And, honestly, I think the difference between the top camera phone (in position #1) and the Iphone 7 is probably not noticeable to most of the human eyes

There are a couple of things to say here. Someone may argue that other ratings have the iPhone in an higher position, which is fair enough. Ratings are there to be discussed however DxOMark is one of the most authoritative website in the market.

The Iphone 7 is brand new, being released in September 2016. New mobile cameras will be released in the next months with new technology for new quality improvement, as most of the time happens. It’s a no-winner market if you are after the Best of the best.

The Iphone 7 Plus is also another option, with two lenses with different focal length (bye bye digital zoom). Although the size may be an issue for someone, quite on the big side.

The iPhone 7 with the improved f/1.8 lens

The iPhone 7 with the improved f/1.8 lens

Pros of the Iphone 7

  • the apps world: there are indeed some great apps in the market, and they work mostly great (I am an Android person but I have to admit that)
  • simple and intuitive camera
  • good colours and reliable, read consistent, exposure
  • fantastic overall performance

Cons of the Iphone 7

  • close Apple environment, exporting photos to a Windows computer can be cumbersome
  • luminance noise is visible in low light in photo stills (not that much) and video (more noticeable)
  • autofocus speed may increase in low light and sometime hunting around

More on the Iphone 7

  • size: 138 x 67 x 7 mm
  • weight: 138 g
  • Sensor size: 1/3″ (4.89 x 3.67 mm) at 12MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: 4K

Improvement compared to Iphone 6

  • quicker lens at f/1.8 instead of f/2.2. This means that you will have less problems in the dark environments (the lens will allow more light to go into the Iphone 7 sensor)
  • Optical Image stabilisation, previously only on the Plus model
  • Improved Image Signal Processor chip (ISP)

If you need more numbers, the Iphone 6 has a DxOMark Mobile Score of 82, meanwhile the new Iphone 7 has reached 86, quite a big jump.

Check the price of the Iphone 7 in USA or the price in Australia

Samsung S7

This is the latest Samsung creation and, of course, number 1 in the DxOMark mobile list (till a new mobile will come out 😀 )

We are here in the Android world, which I prefer but that’s a personal thing of course. The apps market is actually bigger than the Apple one nowadays however it has to be said that the quality is not as good.

The S7 has a bigger sensor than the Iphone 6 as well as higher resolution, at 12MP.

The Samsung S7

Best mobile camera – The Samsung S7

Pros of the Samsung S7

  • very quick autofocus
  • low noise level overall (I have an S6 and I am impressed to see even less on the S7)
  • consistent exposure overall, indoor and outdoor
  • 4K video
  • weather sealing

Cons of the Samsung S7

  • it’s a brand new phone and you may experience a few first release issues

More on the Samsung S7

  • size: 142 x 69 x 7.9 mm
  • weight: 152 g
  • Sensor size: 1/2.6″ (5.79 x 4.01 mm) at 12MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: 4K

Check the price of the Samsung S7 in USA or the price in Australia

Panasonic CM1

This is a over 1 year old mobile phone but still one of my favourite. It’s actually more of a high quality compact camera than a real phone. I had the possibility to review the Panasonic CM1 and I was really surprised by the results

As a start, it implements a huge 1″ sensor with a 20MP resolution and a Leica lens on board. It uses a bear minimum version of Android with just the essential apps and the Panasonic ones dedicated to photography. Quick and clean

 

Pros of the Panasonic CM1

  • Leica lens
  • wider dynamic range than conventional smartphones
  • better depth of field than the other phones, although the lens may limit that
  • dedicated apps that have full control of the camera
  • bigger ISO range to better shoot in low light

Cons of the Panasonic CM1

  • bulkier and heavier than the other mobile phones (expected due to the bigger sensor). It may be too much for few people though
  • the flash did not work great for me
  • the screen is not as good as the Samsung S7 or Iphone 6

More on the Panasonic CM1

  • size: 135 x 68 x 21 mm
  • weight: 204 g
  • Sensor size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8mm) at 20MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Video quality: 4K at 15fps

Check the price of the Panasonic CM1 in USA

Verdict for the best mobile camera for travelling

If I would have to buy a new mobile phone with the idea to use it as a camera during my travelling I would probably go for the Samsung S7. If you have already an S6 or the latest Iphone, LG, HTC or Sony I would probably stay with that unless you are anyway thinking to upgrade.

Being the CM1 an older mobile you may find it in some sales. In that case I would not hesitate to buy one. Really it’s more like having a good compact camera with a prime lens that you can use it for few calls as well

Before you take your trip remember to download on your camera, I mean your mobile, the best travel photography apps 😉

Best compact camera for travel

If you are reading this section it probably means that you are happy with your mobile phone shooting, however you would like to take more control of your camera and setting and you wonder if a compact will do the job.

Many of my friends still tell me that they can take great shots with the mobile and they do not see the need to spend more in cameras. My answer is usually YES, they are right. If you want to take photos about your travel moments, probably the mobile is just what you need and it’s always with you

However the mobile does not offer a great deal of creativity, or almost no creativity at all if you use the standard camera app in automatic mode. You cannot control the depth of field, as a start, and you will miss out that blurry background which is sometime beautiful in your portraits. Even the shutter speed is not that easy to control (good luck with it).

As a result you will be limited in your photo creativity. To me, unless I am planning to travel in the same place multiple times, it is worth to have a nice camera that allows to take better photos of a site that most probably I will not visit again, just my 2 cents here.

Now, what are the three best compact cameras for travel?

Leica Q (Typ 116)

This is the cheapest Leica camera on the market, however, being a Leica, it is also between the most expensive cameras in this review. It can still be seen as a compact because of its size and the fact that it does not have interchangeable lenses

Leica is world famous for its lenses. The quality is just exceptional. The Leica Q (Typ 116) has a prime focal lens of 28mm (no zoom), the sharpest in the market based on several tests performed by DxOMark and others reference websites.

The Leica Q (Typ 116) is a great option for street photography

The Leica Q (Typ 116) is a great option for street photography

Pros of the Leica Q (Typ 116)

  • full frame sensor at 25MP. We already talked about the importance of the sensor size, if you are after the best quality photos even in low light condition than the Leica Q is the answer
  • bigger ISO range to better shoot in low light (as a consequence of the sensor size as well)
  • sturdy body, as you would expect from the German manufacturer
  • best optics in the market (expected from a Leica)
  • WiFi for an easy download of your photos on the mobile

Cons of the Leica Q (Typ 116)

  • no weather sealing
  • video mode is not the best
  • no zooming, only your legs
  • very expensive (expected from a Leica)
  • heavy (the extra weight of the big sensor unfortunately)

More on Leica Q (Typ 116)

  • size: 130 x 80 x 93 mm
  • weight: 640 g
  • Sensor size: Full sensor 36 x 24mm at 25MP
  • Optical zoom lens: 28mm Prime
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Video quality: Average

When travelling, I love just to walk in the street, go into markets, visit local shops, talk with people and make photos. This camera, with a full frame sensor and a wide lens at f1.8 does a great job in these environments

Check the best price of the Leica Q (Typ 116) in USA

Panasonic Lumix TZ110 (called ZS100 in USA and TZ100 in Europe)

I was lucky to have this Panasonic TZ110 for a review that lasted 2 weeks and I had a blast. I was impressed by the overall performances. I personally prefer to use my legs instead of the lens zoom, however in few occasions this is not possible. The Lumiz TZ-110 comes with a 25-250mm lens, that is a remarkable 10x zoom which is great even when travelling in a small safari trip or for some close-up of buildings in the city

 

Pros of the Panasonic TZ110

  • 1 inch sensor at 20MP. To be a compact camera this is a great sensor size (the full frame of the Leica Q is just unique, in both size and price 😉 )
  • good optics made by Leica
  • fantastic software features as Post Focus and 4K Photo Mode (see more in the review)
  • WiFi for an easy download of your photos on the mobile
  • 4K video at 30fps or Full HD at 60fps
  • touch screen monitor

Cons of the Panasonic TZ110

  • no weather sealing
  • fixed back screen

More on the Panasonic TZ110

  • size: 111 x 65 x 44 mm
  • weight: 312 g
  • Sensor size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) at 20MP
  • Optical zoom lens (equiv.): 25–250 mm
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Video quality: 4K very good

I personally tested this camera and I was really pleasantly surprised by the great quality of the produced photos. True, the price is above that $500 mark that many people have in in mind to spend however the jump in quality is quite steep.

It’s a great small camera that you can keep in your pocket, with a wide zoom as well.

Check the best price of the Panasonic Lumix ZS100 in USA or the last price in Australia of the TZ110

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V

This is one of the earliest and greatest success in the Sony camera world. We are now at the 5th incarnation of this beautiful camera with Zeiss lens however I find the IV a better value for travel photography.

The V has a greater burst shooting, up to 24fps from 16fps and a quicker autofocus, nice to have however, if you are on a budget, the difference in price may be a concern.

The Sony DSC-RX100 IV, the fourth generation of a fantastic travel camera

The Sony DSC-RX100 IV, the fourth generation of a fantastic travel camera

Pros of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV

  • 1 inch sensor at 20MP. Again another big sensor in the compact camera world
  • Fantastic optics made by Zeiss
  • Awesome sharp photos
  • WiFi for an easy download of your photos on the mobile
  • 4K video at 30fps or Full HD at 60fps

Cons of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV

  • limited focal length at 24-70mm
  • no weather sealing
  • no touch screen

More on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV

  • size: 102 x 58 x 41 mm
  • weight: 298 g
  • Sensor size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) at 20MP
  • Optical zoom lens (equiv.): 24–70 mm
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Video quality: 4K

Check the best price of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV in USA or the last price in Australia

Verdict for the best compact camera for travelling

Having a compact camera in your pocket is always a big plus. Mobile phones have the own limits and having a nice compact always with you does allow to spread your horizon of photography possibilities.

Which one I would buy?

This post is about the best travel camera and if I want to document my trip with a street style approach than the Leica is the camera of my choice, although the budget is a concern. Otherwise the Sony will do the work greatly and will give me the extra zoom that it may be needed in few occasions.

If I am looking for an overall camera I would go for the Panasonic Lumix TZ110. At the moment it is a real winner with a 10x zoom, Leica lenses and great price too. It is my favourite

Best small camera for travel

Can we consider the mirrorless as small cameras? I believe so. There are a few in the market that have a weight, including a prime lens, just above the compact camera.

I do have a huge interest for this camera category.

Why?

  • they are light
  • they are small, especially with a prime lens
  • some of them have such a cool retro and vintage design

These are the main reasons from a portability prospective.

It has to be said that having a small camera does not mean that you need to compromise on the photo quality. It would be hard for 95% of the people, if not more, to understand the difference in quality between a full sensor DSLR or a mirrorless print, up to A4. If you think that most of your photos will stay in digital, than there is no difference at all.

Sony Alpha 7R II

Can I say that the Sony Alpha 7R is the camera that most of the people, including myself, dream of? I started my photography life with Canon. I eventually switched to Nikon. I am evaluating now if I should move to Sony all together.

When travelling, the weight and dimension of a camera is an important factor to evaluate, especially when you keep travelling almost on a daily basis with a rucksack or, even worst, with your bike. The less you have the better.

This is a mirrorless camera that you can use for any kind of photography, beside travelling. It opens up few horizons, especially if you start taking photography as a profession. Starting with the right step is always a plus

Sony-Alpha-A7RII photo low def

Pros of the Sony Alpha 7R II

  • full frame sensor at 42MP. Probably one of the best in the market, even compared to other high end professional DSLR
  • Fantastic optics made by Zeiss
  • Impressive dynamic range, which translates in great photography even in that dark, foggy, rainy days. No need of HDR, you will be able to take out that details even in the over/underexposed areas
  • silent shooting, great in the markets and the street (it will not ring an alarm and questions)
  • razor sharp 4K video

Cons of the Sony Alpha 7R II

  • probably the heaviest mirrorless in the market, mostly due to the big sensor in the camera
  • limited battery lifetime
  • no touch screen
  • expensive

More on the Sony Alpha 7R II

  • size: 127 x 96 x 60 mm
  • weight: 625 g
  • Sensor size: full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) at 42MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: 4K

Yes, this camera is expensive, however I am not saying that it is not good value, just saying that it costs at least twice as much as the other mirrorless but you have so much more. You can use this camera for travelling, for wedding photography and any photography business you can think of.

This is a real professional camera, you just need to allocate the budget 😀

Check the best price of the Sony Alpha 7R II in USA or the last price in Australia

If you still question yourself if you are doing a good investment I suggest you to read my full review.

I had the possibility to have it for 4 weeks. I took it with me on a 2 weeks trip in the south coast of Australia, I used it to teach in my workshops and I “abused” it over all. What was my impression? In true honesty I was surprised. Amazing photo but …..read more on the review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

This is another camera that I was able to review in late 2015 and I still love it so much. There are some great deals on the net. The overall feeling was great. I had it again for a safari in March 2016 with the new 100-400mm lens and I was impressed even more.

What I like of the new Panasonic cameras is that they include a fair bit of firmware on it to make photography easier, like the handy Post Focus and the 4K photo mode that allows to select a frame from a 4K video, perfect for some action photography.

Lumix GX8

Pros of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

  • Great overall quality of photography and 4K video
  • Shake reduction both in lens and camera
  • tilting electronic viewfinder and rear screen (touchscreen)
  • 4K video
  • external mic for video (real plus if you make videos)

Cons of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

  • not the best grip
  • no flash
  • no eye-catching design

More on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

  • size: 133 x 78 x 63 mm
  • weight: 487 g
  • Sensor size: Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm) at 20MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: 4K

I had a great time with this camera and I can only suggest it.

It is an impressive tool also if you like to do also some street photography, so small and unpretentious.

It is probably not my first choice because I like more the vintage-style design, but that’s a personal preference I guess

Check the best price of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 in USA or the last price in Australia

Fujifilm X-T2

What do I love the most of this camera? the 60s-70s design, just great. Fujifilm has set a great stylish standard with all the cameras made in the last few years. It’s a bit of a trademark.

Fujifilm X-T2 front and back view

Fujifilm X-T2 front and back view – Is it the most beautiful travel camera in the market?

I had recently the X-T2 for a few weeks travel review. I gave it to few of the people that attended my workshop and I had a great feedback. Two words to summarise: beautiful and easy

Pros of the Fujifilm X-T2

  • great overall quality of photography
  • unique design, durst and water proof
  • twin card slots (great for memory expansion or backup, I have the same feature on my Nikon and I use it on a daily basis)

Cons of the Fujifilm X-T2

  • AF in low light is more challenging that should be. Manual focusing was the solution
  • no flash (but you can use high levels of ISO)
  • battery life

More on the Fujifilm X-T2

  • size: 133 x 92 x 49 mm
  • weight: 507 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm) at 24MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: 4K (first Fujifilm to have 4K)

Ultimately you will love or hate the Fujifilm design and that will drive your choice.

Check the best price of the Fujifilm X-T2 in USA or the last price in Australia

Verdict for the best small camera for travelling

The mirrorless is the present and future of travel photography with interchangeable lenses.

They have two of the most important characteristics that, as traveller, I always look at: light and small.

The Sony Alpha 7R II is probably the choice for anybody with some spare cash that has the idea to take photography as a career. Sony is a great brand and, even if I am a Nikon person, I must say it is is also the most promising one between all the manufacturers.

If you are more into design then Fujifilm has to be. If you are more of a practical person than the Panasonic GX8 is a great choice, less expensive and with more available features.

I know, it’s always hard to decide.

Best DSLR camera for travel

I want to keep this paragraph quite short.  The quality of some DSLR is just outstanding. I have a Nikon D610 and I have a blast with it. There is unfortunately one big drawback. They are heavy and bulky.

My suggestion is to move your choice versus a mirrorless camera. Travelling with a DSLR is always a pain, especially if you walk a good part of the day. You tend to leave if your room more times than you do with any other camera.

Yes, it’s true, when similarly equipped, the DSLR are less expensive than the mirrorless.

It must be said that even if you save $100-$200 you will remember that when you will carry them on your shoulders

I personally can suggest just 2 models. The main reason is that both cameras are not that heavy and bulky for a DSLR. Also they are both full sensor, therefore in case you decide to take photography at a professional level, you will have already a camera that will do the job and the lenses that could be used also for any new model you want to upgrade to

  • Canon EOS 6D

the small brother of the Canon 5D. It’s a great camera that will give you fantastic photos, no question about. The video production is on the poor side as you don’t have an audio port and only monoaural microphone. No flash either, although with the high ISO you will be able to cover most of the situations.

Check the best price of the Canon EOS 6D in USA or the last price in Australia

  • Nikon D610

the small brother of the Nikon D810. Again a great camera. This is basically what I use on a regular basis and I can only suggest it (mine is actually a D600 with the D610 shutter mechanism, one of the really few differences between the two cameras). This is a camera you can easily use for video too, with both audio and microphone ports and the possibility to record the video in raw format too.

Check the best price of the Nikon D610 in USA or the last price in Australia

They are both cameras weighting around 800g with a dimension in the range of 145 x 115 x 75 mm. This means you will have to carry almost twice the weight, if not more, than the previous cameras. Also the size is at least 1.5 times. 

They are both “small” to be full sensor DSLR however, by experience, carry a camera like this is not something you look forward too.

Best travel camera under $500

If you decide to go under $500 you probably need to compromise on quality. This usually comes with smaller sensor and/or bulky build and overall not that great quality of photography you will experience with other cameras we just covered above.

At the end of the day there is a budget for everything and if $500 is dedicated to photography than let’s see what the possible choices are:

  • Panasonic GX850

This camera is one of the tiniest in the market but still one that can produce amazing photos, almost on pair with any other MFT mirrorless.

At the moment is advertised at just a notch above $500 (including a 12-32mm lens) and in my opinion it is a great bargain in this price range.

I had it for a review of 2 weeks and I just loved it.

Why?

Because it is super small, ultra light and I could take it with me everywhere without a camera bag. I had it in my pocket and I just forgot about it, till I needed it.

Panasonic Lumix GX850 with the 12-32mm lens

Panasonic Lumix GX850 with the 12-32mm lens

As I wrote in the review, you may want to spare some $ for another powerful lens which would complete your travel camera needs.

Check the best price in USA

  • Olympus PEN E-PL6

Plympus is famous for the light travel cameras

this is quite a stylish camera, probably my favourite in this category. You may want to buy the 14-42mm lens kit and you are ready to go, you will cover most of the travel needs, with a compromise in final quality. Still the Micro Four Thirds image sensor (18 mm × 13.5 mm) is quite big for this money, therefore compromise up to a point

Check the best price of the Olympus PEN E-PL6 in USA or the last price in Australia

  • Sony Alpha a5000


slightly more expensive than the Olympus it has a bigger sensor (APS-C at 23.2 x 15.4 mm). With the 16-50mm kit it comes close to the $500 border. It has everything you need for your travel. It’s also quite small and light, at 269g. Definitely to keep in mind

Check the best price of the Sony Alpha a5000 in USA

  • Samsung NX3000

Samsung NX3000 - a great start-up camera

another retro style camera. It’s quite discounted in these days and it includes also a Lightroom 5 license (valued at $150). Although Samsung is not my favourite manufacturer for cameras, I must admit I am quite impressed by the size of the sensor (APS-C, 23.5 x 15.7 mm), the reviews and the fact that it includes a great software too….well you can’t get wrong with it, can you?

Check the best price of the Samsung NX300 in USA

Best camera for travel photography – Summary table

As we said there is no best camera travel in the market. I wish there was. The budget is obviously something to take in consideration.

From there I would move my attention to weight and size, that $100-$200 you save at the shop can cost you a backache along your trip. The size is important too, the more you are invisible to the eyes of the people around you, the more relaxed you will feel when taking at the markets, in the street and local events. Also you will be less visible to the thief 😉

Than I would check the sensor size and the quality/availability of lenses, Leica and Zeiss can only reasure

I may also pay that $100 more if the camera design is cool. I love that retro style and it’s a great subject of conversation with people

Weather proof, WiFi and GPS are not a concern to me

I do not shoot much video. If you do, you may want to re-elaborate your priorities

In the table below I classified the budget with a $ sign ($<500, $$<1000, $$$<1500, $$$$<2000 and $$$$$ above $2000). You may have to budget lenses as well, when not included in the kit or built-in.

Some of the cameras in this list are weatherproof (WP), it may be an important feature to have, based on how you want to use the camera. I added also a column for the design of the camera. They may just look as, well, cameras or mobile phones, or they can have a well thought design behind it.

Name Type Budget Grams Size Sens.Size Lens Design WP Price
Olympus PEN E-PL6 Mirrorless $ 325 111x64x38 224.9 Interch. Retro No USA/AU
Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless $ 269 110x63x36 368.25 Interch. Camera Yes USA
Samsung NX3000 Mirrorless $ 385 117x66x39 368.25 Interch. Retro No USA
iPhone 7 Mobile Camera $$ 138 138x67x7 17.94 28mm Mobile Yes USA/AU
Panasonic CM1 Mobile Camera $$ 204 135x68x21 116.16 28mm Bulky No USA
Panasonic TZ110 Compact $$ 312 111x65x44 116.16 25-250 Camera No USA/AU
Sony DSC-RX100 IV Compact $$ 298 102x58x41 116.16 24-70 Camera No USA/AU
Samsung S7 Mobile Camera $$$ 152 142x69x7.9 23.21 26mm Mobile Yes USA/AU
Panasonic DMC-GX8 Mirrorless $$$ 487 133x78x63 224.9 Interch. Camera Yes USA/AU
Canon EOS 6D DSLR $$$ 770 145x111x71 864 Interch. Bulky No USA/AU
Nikon D610 DSLR $$$ 850 141x113x82 864 Interch. Bulky No USA/AU
Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless $$$$ 495 141x83x56 368.16 Interch. Vintage Yes USA/AU
Leica Q (Typ 116) Compact $$$$$ 640 130x80x93 864 28mm Retro No USA
Sony Alpha 7R II Mirrorless $$$$$ 625 127x96x60 864 Interch. Camera Yes USA/AU

Final verdict for the best travel camera

I guess everybody has the own view, the own requirements, the own budget, the own feeling.

Here below my personal suggestions

If you are a beginner and/or with limited budget, with a bit of exposure into mobile photography I would probably suggest to go for the Samsung NX3000. It’s a great small light camera with a nice design at an incredible low conservative price, especially because it comes bundle with Lightroom, a software which is essential for any kind of post-processing and photo organization. I work with it on a daily basis.

If you want to step up from your mobile experience but without having to deal with lenses I would go for the Panasonic Lumix TZ110. The powerful zoom will open up a broad range of photography possibilities beside having a great image quality and some cool in-camera firmware features as Post Focus and 4K Photo

If you have already experience with an entry-level DSLR but you feel you want to upgrade, going smaller and lighter with a touch of nostalgia than the Fujifilm X-T2 is probably the answer to your question. If you are more of a practical person than the Panasonic DMC-GX8 will do for you

If you want to have the best with the idea to move into a photography career and you have a good available budget I would not hesitate to buy straight away the Sony Alpha 7R II


Whatever decision you will take, always remember that the best travel camera is always the one with you

Enjoy your travel photography!!


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Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o

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    • Andrew
    • March 6, 2017

    Hi Stef,
    this is a great post, not only for the cameras you mention but also for the information at the beginning. It really helped make up my mind….maybe 😀

    I was finally able to spare around $900 for the camera. I will use it in my gap year travelling mostly in SEA. What would you suggest? The more I read the more I believe I should go smaller however DSLR tends to be a bit cheaper for what you get (APS-C etc). What’s your thinking?

    Again great work mate
    Andrew

    • Good day Andrew,
      and thanks for your comment.

      You absolutely make a good point here. DSLR tends to be a bit cheaper based on the sensor size you get (APS-C).

      However let me tell you that it is not just the sensor size the most important thing when travelling. Of course, having a full frame sensor on a mobile phone size would be the ideal solution however this is, at least now, not possible.

      The best camera is always the one with you. When I travel myself with a DSLR I tend to leave it more at the hotel, especially when going out at night. And in doing that I miss lots of photography opportunity.

      Going back to your question. These are my suggestions:
      Fujifilm X70, the best fixed prime lens camera. At $700 you get an amazing 28mm f/2.8 wide angle lens that you can use at 50mm too (read my full review for more info). This is a very small camera that you will have always with you. There is only a drawback, it’s missing a bit of zoom capability, but again the size and weight are the reward…..and you are left with $200 spare for plenty of drinks in SEA 😉
      Panasonic GX850 with 12-32mm lens and the amazing Panasonic 20mm f/1.7. This is really all you need and you will have $100 spare for drinks. I just reviewed this camera and if you are ok with not having an EVF then it’s a great buy.
      – the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm. The camera is really awesome, probably the best MFT in the market at the moment. It’s beautiful too. And it’s a great starting point in case you decide to take photography to the next level. The 12-50 lens is not that amazing I must say but a good starting point. You will go over budget with this one, but, again, think about a possible future.

      All of the above cameras are relatively small and you will not get that noticed when making photos which is a big plus when travelling, especially in the streets and markets.

      I hope I was able to help
      Cheers

    • Charlie
    • February 25, 2017

    Great work! I was astonished by the amount of info.
    I do not like to carry much gear around…well, if possible nothing at all.
    I usually use my mobile however I would like to upgrade to a better camera. I want it very small and possibly a good design.
    Do you have any suggestion, beside the Leica which goes over my budget. I am used to no zooms with mobile.

    Thanks!!
    Charlie

      • Stef
      • February 27, 2017

      Hi Charlie and thanks for your feedback, really appreciated 🙂

      I fully understand where you come from. I usually run workshops, when in Melbourne, and this is a common question and/or comment I receive.

      I had few people that bought a DSLR few years back but they use a mobile because they do not like to carry it around.

      One of the best small camera with a fix lens I have ever used is the Fujifilm X70. It’s small at 3.9 x 7 x 7 inches and around 700gr. It does not fit in the jeans pocket however you would forget it in a jacket pocket. I got it for few weeks and I had a tremendous time. You can read more on my review here.

      The lens is amazing, very quick at f/2.8. It has an equivalent focal length of 28mm however you can set it to 50mm (the camera will crop the photo and magnify it via internal fw).

      Considering the quality of the camera, the price is a steal I believe.

      I also forgot to mention that it is a beautiful camera, fantastic design.

      I hope I was able to help

      Happy photographing 🙂

    • Valentin
    • February 20, 2017

    Hey Stef, how are you? Great work with this guide!!
    I am buying my first DSLR and I was opting towards the Nikon D5600. What do you think about it?
    Till now I have used a compact for most of my trips and also for some family photos
    I have checked it on few sites and they offer it in two kits version:
    >> AF-P VR 18-55 e 55-200
    >> AF-S 18-55 II e VR 55-200
    Not sure what is the real difference. Do I need more the VR on the 18-55 or the 55-200?
    Is it better to take a single lens to cover all, like the AF-S VR 18-140?

    Thanks!!
    Val

    • First of all, great choice, beautiful camera. Nikon DSLR level is just getting better and better.

      I am sure your choice was based on many aspects. I love the D5600 in many ways. It is bit bulky maybe but it’s difficult to have everything, isn’t it 🙂 It is most definitely a great value camera.

      Now about the lenses….

      As you may know, I am not a fan of the zoom lenses. That comes from my experience. I have almost never used them in my trips. I used to have it with me but eventually I have decided to leave my 70-200mm at home unless I was really planning something like a safari, although 200mm would not be too enough either LOL

      This is to say that 200mm may be over what you need, for both travelling and friends.

      I start from the bottom of your list. The 18-140mm is an all-round lens that will cover really all you need and let me add more than you need. The equivalent focal length is around 27-210mm. As any wide range focal length you may get a bit disappointed because the quality suffers a bit. Photos may be a bit soft, not that sharp.

      The same can be said for the 55-200mm

      In the 2 options you asked about there is a difference in the VR position.

      Vr stays for vibration reduction, or image stabilisation, it’s more effective to have it at 55-200mm focal length than 18-55mm focal length. The higher the focal length the more visible will be any small camera movement, and you will end up with images not sharp.

      In saying all of this my personal suggestion is to go with just one of these lenses:
      > only the VR 18-55, later you can buy a second one if really needed. This will help you also start using your legs as your zoom, sometime we forget about:)
      > none of the above and only the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR. There is at the moment a certified refurbished that has a great price!! This lens will stay with you for a long long time, even if you decide to upgrade. If the cost is a no-go, than probably next option
      > another alternative, more on the budget side, is the brand new Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art. This is an amazing lens and also in this case you will keep it for a long long time. Probably my favourite choice between the three

      I feel I have added too much information and you may be even more confused LOL buying new cameras is never easy 🙂

      Cheers

    • Mark
    • February 17, 2017

    Hello Stef,
    the choice is big, isn’t it. This article helped me quite a bit to clear up my mind.

    I like the new Panasonic GX800. Very cost effective, simple and small. It looks the perfect match for travelling. I usually post my photos on the social and I print a book at the end of the year with my best and memorable shots.

    What do you think? Will the GX800 do the job?

    Cheers buddy

    • Good day Mark,
      I though I have suddenly missed out on a Panasonic camera. GX800…mhmhmh…and than as usual I found out that GX800 is just another name for the GX850 (or viceversa LOL). Why Panasonic keeps changing camera name based on the country is just a mystery to me

      I have actually received this camera for a review 3 days ago. It’s probably the smallest interchangeable lenses camera I have ever seen and tested. So small, and let me say, so cute!!

      I have been out last night and I was literally impressed by some of the photos I was able to capture. At the moment however it’s too early to say.

      I will update this comment in the next couple of weeks with more info.

      Have a look back 😉

      Cheers
      Stef

    • Roger
    • February 10, 2017

    Hi Stef, great post, really loved your effort here.
    I was thinking about buying the A7 Sony but still undecided on the model. The A7II is almost half the price of a A7RII and I was wondering if, for travel photography, the A7RII is really worth the steep price. I do not shoot any commercial. I actually have a travel blog and trying to take it to an higher level.
    Keep posting 🙂
    Rog

    • Thanks Rog for your appreciation on the post. About the difference between the two cameras

      You may have read that the biggest difference is the resolution, with 42MP (A7RII) versus 24MP (A7II). In true honesty, if that would have been the only difference then I had an easy answer….go for the A7II, you are going to save bug bucks that you can use for a gorgeous lens, as important as the camera btw.

      There is a fundamental difference between the two, the sensor technology. The one of the A7RII is back side illuminated which gives an amazing dynamic range and incredible performance in low light environments. You can read more on the review I did here. This is the new market standard I believe. This is the future.

      What does it mean in practical terms?

      It means that you have lots of space in post production to work on highlights and shadows with almost no noise coming out. You can take out all of the details that you have seen with your eyes, if not even more LOL It’s almost an HDR photo.

      I made street photos in the night at ISO 12,800 and even 25,600 with the A7RII and I was absolutely surprised by the quality, something you do not have with the A7II. I reckon there is a difference of probably 2 stops between the two cameras, if not more.

      Another big difference, if you shoot video, is the resolution, 4K for the A7RII and 1080 for the A7II. I don’t do much video myself however 4K is, in my opinion, the perfect resolution (till 6k LOL) because it allows me to make 2 HD tracks from one 4k track. For example, when you interview someone half body and you can use the same video for a close-up on the face.

      Sony also claims a quicker AF. I must be honest here, I could not feel it. If there is then it is probably not a decision factor to me.

      If you come from a DSLR keep in mind that the battery life is not as great however that’s not really a big deal breaker in my eyes, I just take a second or third battery (btw, Sony provide already 2 batteries in the box)

      The decision is very subjective here. It’s really a personal opinion.

      Both cameras are amazing however you will not save a lot in weight because the lenses can be heavy. They are tiny to be full frame sensor. Just keep it in mind for your travel photography. This is not a problem to me but it may be to someone else and in this case the MFT cameras work better.

      Now, what would I choose?

      If your money is very limited I would go for the A7II and a good lens like the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM. My personal tip is to avoid going for the A7RII and buy a cheap lens. It’s like buying a Ferrari car with a Ford engine. You will suffer in performance and ultimately be disappointed.

      If your budget is not that limited than A7R II. This is a camera that will be a reference standard for many years to come.

      If you are interested on the best lenses for travel photography to be used on A7 have a look here. This is a great source for any camera actually.

      Good luck with your shopping 🙂

    • Jourdan
    • February 6, 2017

    Hi Stef, I own a Canon G7X and I was contemplating to buy the new RX100V. What do you think. Is it worth the price? Just wondering if I could actually see any big difference.
    Thanks
    Jourdan

    • Good day Jourdan and thanks for your comment.
      To be honest with you the new RX100V is something amazing I must say.

      I still can’t believe they were able to put all in that tiny body, although when I had a go I could feel it warming up after a while of wild photography and video. That’s the price to pay with such a small body I guess (similar to what happens with mobiles).

      One of the thing that impressed the most is the excellent brightness at high ISO and low noise. This is something that you rarely see with 1″ sensor compact cameras.

      Also the autofocus is super quick (315 focus points), to be a compact. You will feel the change compare to the G7X.

      Based on my notes I feel that the G7X is better stabilized on video. In saying that my notes are now almost 1 year old. Let’s say you will not probably going to gain that much in that respect.

      The RX100V works with 4K videos, something you do not have with the G7X

      The battery life is not as good probably. And I feel this is because of the back monitor quality and brightness. It’s fantastic however it eats up a lot of battery. That has an easy fix, you buy a spare one 🙂

      As a last thing, you may consider buying the RX100IV if you are not after a massive continuous boost. The greatest difference between the two versions of the Sony cameras is in fact the max boost which is 24fps, for the new version, and 16fps for the release IV. Keep in mind that the G7X has only 8fps.

      Unless you are not after the 24fps, to my eyes, I believe that the RX100IV is really a good deal. There is a difference of around $150 with the version V, up to you now.

      I hope I was able to help…..cheers

    • Lucas
    • February 4, 2017

    Hello Stef, great post, really like it. I was thinking about buying the Fuji XPro2 for my next 3 months trip. I want a camera that is responsive, solid and “invisible”. It’s expensive though and I am not sure if it is actually worth the price.
    What do you think

    • The X-Pro2 is a camera that you can only fall in love with, from the first moment that you try it. Solid, compact, well made and also amazing to watch and being watched (I had it for a month and I have been stopped many times by people that wanted to have a check). The control dialers are all well positioned including the location of the integrated ISO ring. A solution taken from the old cameras like the Nikon FM2.

      Usually the mirrorless are not as quick in autofocusing, however there is little to say about the Fujifilm XPro2: it is fast, accurate, well implemented. The phase detection (on 77 points) always proves up to the task, even in critical conditions and with moving subjects. Really fabulous!

      The images are of great quality and the differences with full frame are really minimal. At high ISO The Fujifilm XPro2 does a great job, being able to easily exceed 10,000 ISO still producing good quality photos.

      This camera has been created with an eye to the pro photographers, in fact there is even a double-slot memories, which can be used for both photo overflow or backup (this is how I usually use it on my Nikon)

      It is a lightweight camera, compact, that you can always take with you.

      It is expensive, but really money well spent. This is a camera that will last for a very long time.

      You will have an amazing 3 months with it

      Happy travelling!!

    • Jane
    • February 1, 2017

    Hello Stef,
    this is a great post, and I love the full explanation about what does a traveller really need

    I have been travelling for a while and I have a full frame sensor DSLR . I love it however it is heavy. Moreover when I go to take portraits in the streets or market it is a bit intimidating.

    I was thinking about selling everything and buying a mirrorless but not sure if I can get the same results, quality wise. What do you think? My favourite cameras are the XPro2 and the A7RII, although quite expensive but it could work better in events photography
    Thanks!!
    Jane

    • Thanks for your comment Jane……are you reading my mind 😮 ….it’s a question that at the moment I am asking myself. I had also last week a long talk with a travel photographer friend of mine. And to be honest it’s a popular subject of discussion, especially between travellers.

      I tested/reviewed the a7rii and the xpro2, i also reviewed other mirrorless. I never had in my hands the XT2 or a7r though. The XT2, on the paper looks a great camera. The a7r is a cheaper option, but different from the a7rII (different sensor etc )

      With mirrorless you have two problems. Focus speed, not as quick as dslr, and continues shooting, not as good and the evf doesn’t work when you shoot, which makes the mirrorless hard to use in sport photography, including a7rii.

      Said that, fuji and panasonic are fantastic in market etc when you don’t want to be noticed. Small. And for trekking etc….the a7rii is smaller than a full frame DSLR but the lens are bigger, so you definitely get noticed and the weight is 20% less overall…basically not a winning factor

      I had in my hands few panasonic, all models since 2015. Best fw/sw of all. Amazing 4k video and photos. Unbeatable. But down to pixel you see the MFT sensor quality difference. Not that amazing and precise as a full frame. I think olympus is very similar in that. MFT is fantastically small but quality wise is not the same as APS-C and full frame (you can’t win everywhere, can you LOL)

      The aperture is correlated to the equivalent focal length and in the MFT it is basically half of the full frame (aperture=equivalent focal length/f-stop). In say that I tested some amazing MFT lenses with lovely bokeh as the Panasonic 12 Leica. The quality of the bokeh is usually more related to the diaphragm blades. This is a great article that talk about bokeh, if interested.

      Fuji…i have two words …amazing but expensive. They have APS-C Fuji sensors. I tested against my D600 and I was positively surprised. Down to pixels i can’t see much of a difference with my d600. So small that none will notice you….but that could be an issue if you shoot events, you don’t look like a pro (I know it’s mad however most of the people believe you need to have a big camera to be a pro, like for events or wedding). If you don’t care than it’s fine. Lenses are expensive too. The xpro2 doesn’t have tilting LCD and also video is only Full HD and not 4K. I really want to have tilting monitor in my next one. Essential for street photography..and any kind really

      the a7rii is on a league of its own. Think a d600 on steroids. 42mp that you can crop as you like, very handy in that. And it’s 42mp of real quality, as you have on a Nikon d810 or Canon 5DMIV. The quickest af in the mirrorless world..although still slower than the d600. You can mount any lens with an adaptor. You may buy a small 50mm for markets etc..it’s not as small though…not as good for action photography as continuous shooting blocks the EVF. It has a back illuminated sensor which in low light produce almost no noise up to high ISO, really impressive (read previous comment for more on this). In post-production you can take out so many details from shadow and highlights that virtually the photo becomes a HDR.
      The sony a6500 is the last one. Still waiting to test it. Very small with smaller lenses. Aps-c sensor. Supposed to be also very good….we shall see..

      If i was you…..and you shoot at events than i would keep your full frame, unless you buy the a7rii. If you go with a small camera you will look an amateur…i know it’s frustrating but that is the common mind….for street i would buy the fuji x70…loved it!! Or any trekking…fixed 35mm lens (it can be used at 50mm) but amazing overall. I reviewed it few months ago and I was super impressed. Amazon has some great deals on it

      If you do not shoot events than xt2 or a6500, based on first reviews. The xt2 design is beautiful, the a6500 is not as beautiful but it costs much less.

      I hope i was able to help 🙂

      Cheers

    • John
    • January 30, 2017

    Hi Stef, great post. Massive too with a ton of info. Great work!
    Now down to my question, maybe two 🙂
    I would be interested to the A7RII. Did you shoot in RAW or JPG, do you see any difference in the two formats (I usually make photos for web and socials but I could sell as well prints in future)
    How was your experience with the ISO on this camera. Where did you start notice noise.
    Cheers, great work

    • I think that the Sony A7R II saves JPG files almost perfect for printing. I would not have any problem with posting directly on-line. I usually shoot in RAW however it must be said that with 42MP RAW (or 84MP uncompressed), shooting in JPG directly can save a bit of time on the process.

      The differences between JPG and RAW are very minimal. In post you have more information with RAW and therefore more possibility to work on it (thinks shadows, highlights, etc)

      About the ISO. The noise from 50 to 800 is non existing or anyway really minimal. From ISO 1600 to ISO 6400 you start to perceive some noise that you can minimise in post production. You may loose some details though (if you investigate down to the pixel). Going up to iso 12800 and 25600 ISO, you begin to notice the presence of noise however you still have all of the details. Some post production can help however it can’t delete completly the noise.The two highest values of 51200 and 102400 ISO are really to be used only in case of emergency, or just for the web or social environments.
      If you shoot very often at high ISO you may look at the Sony A7S II which works at lower resolution (12MP if I remember well) however it works much better with high ISO. It is one of the best lowlight cameras in the market

      A comment that I usually add in my workshops is that it is better to take a photo with noise than no photo at all 😉

    • Jay
    • November 3, 2016

    Great list of new stuff. I really need a new camera+lens but I can’t invest that much. I am having a sabbatical year and $$ is limited.

    I read about refurbished or well-looked-after second hand cameras. What do you think about that? Good compromise?

    Thanks a ton!!
    Jay

    • Hi Jay. It is definitely a good compromise. Quality wise, if you buy in the right shops/on-line markets than you can come across some very good deals.
      Sometime the differences between new models and past ones are in features you may not be interested to, like burst rate or 4k video.
      I am going to write something on this and I will updated this comment.
      Cheers
      [UPDATE 12-Nov-2016]
      Hi again Jay, I have written a long guide on how, where and what to buy in the second hand market. I will keep it updated on a monthly basis with the best deals I find on the net. As an example, I have just discovered a refurbished Panasonic GX8 at an incredible price. You may have a look here for the guide

  1. Hi, great efforts. Thanks.

    • Maria
    • October 14, 2016

    Hi, great report, I enjoy reading about all the different type of cameras and mobiles, I have the s7edge love the camera specially in the dark, I usually use the Sony cameras I have one with diff., lenses but unfortunately is to heavy for me (shoulder problem) I’m using one of the cyber-shot 400 the optical zoom is pretty good, I don’t like to use to much of post processing, I think if you start with a good photo then do as little as you can maybe crop some or some contrast,

    • Hi Maria,
      so sorry to hear about your shoulder.

      I usually advocate small cameras for travelling. Especially if backpacking. But also on short trips.
      I like the DSLR and how they work. I have a Nikon D610 myself….but for travelling is really a physical commitment. MFT and Mirrorless are my favourites.
      I was also lucky to test drive the Fujifilm X70 (I will add it in the next month update). My favourite. Just slightly bigger than a mobile but as powerful as a DSLR. Only issue is no-zoom and no interchangeable lenses but I can live with that in most of the cases, especially when on a city weekend escape.
      It’s quite amazing to see how Sony is giving Nikon and Canon a big headache. Amazing cameras in these last years and fabulous lenses.
      Happy travelling and share few photos on Facebook with us 😉

  2. Thanks for the great article on best travel cameras. I bought the Lumix ZS 100 and love it. It does a great job on auto, my comfort zone. You can go to my Instagram to see how the ZS looks in the hands of a complete amateur shooting on auto @boomervoice.ca

    I am not a travel photographer. Rather, I am a traveller who takes photos for my website, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The ZS is great for long days of sightseeing. My readers like the photos that I post with each blog on boomervoice.ca

    • Well done Rose,
      the ZS100 is a great camera, easy to use and at the same time easy to move out from the comfort zone.
      Try to go first in aperture mode and move from there. It’s quite amazing how different can be the result.
      Well done for both the IG and Blog.
      Happy travelling 😉

    • Anne
    • July 9, 2016

    Stef:
    Have you tried the new mirrorless Olympus Pen-F? It’s my new go-to for dragging around when I travel. Combine it with a Black-rapid strap and I can go almost anywhere.

    • Hi Anne. I am planning to review the Olympus Pen-F in the next few weeks. It does look awesome and also on the small side for my like 😀

  3. Hello Stef,

    Detailed post here. Loved reading about the different options out there. Been thinking of upgrading my phone to the iPhone 6S (have the 5S now) since we leave for our trip overseas before the release date. I have a Nikon AW100 now and I like it because it’s completely water proof. The wife and I are leaving for a 6 month trip (Europe, Asia, South America; No Australia this time but will for sure visit in the future!) and I want to capture some good pictures. Of course we plan on hiking/walking, diving, etc. mostly sight seeing. I was looking at a Go Pro session. I’m really torn on what to get. Not a pro by any means and kind of need an all around camera I can take anywhere and shoot a good picture for social media/blogging. Think GoPro is a good choice or stick with my Nikon and upgrade my phone? Thanks for the info!

    • Good day Edgar,
      that will be an amazing 6 months of fun. It’s a great to have such a long break because it allows to spend more time in single places instead of roaming on a daily basis. I guess there will be that feeling of being part of a local life. Well done.

      You are planning some awesome activities and the Go Pro is one of the best camera in the market for that. Very light and good videos too. I would personally not upgrade the IPhone and buy the Go Pro. Just my opinion. The Go Pro lacks in low light and that’s when the 5S can be used

      For your information, the Iphone 6S has a Dxo score of 82 (http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Apple-iPhone-6s-review-Solid-and-compelling-performance) meanwhile the 5S of 76 (http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Apple-iPhone-5s-overview-the-Cupertino-firm-pushes-the-envelope-with-image-quality). DxO is the reference for image quality. The difference between 76 and 82, in my opinion, does not justify the price. Of course there is more than a camera in a mobile phone, and my comment is uniquely on the photography side.

      Enjoy your break!!

  4. I have been kicking this one around for a while. My go-to kit is a Canon EOS 60D with Sigma 17-50, Canon 70-300, and 24 (pancake), nifty fify, and 10mm macro to give me a more compact/lightweight option. This is a great kit, but with more frequent short, budget airline, “keep it light” trips on the agenda it is a bit cumbersome.

    My first thought is to add the Lumix TZ70, for its small size and long reach, sacrificing low light image quality, and improving other image quality using RAW.

    The Canon G5X, combined with either of the above gives the shorter reach, but high quality in most lighting conditions.

    I’ll probably go for both, as the budget for the two together is not bad.

    And never forget the phone – mine is the Samsung Note 4 – blogging tool as well as a pretty good camera. A few of its shots have made it to my website.

      • Stef
      • March 31, 2016

      Good day Jerry,
      I have exactly your same problem with the low-cost airlines in Australia and Asia. They have super cheap tickets, if you don’t check-in a luggage. The cabin bag is just 7Kg, and they do check it!
      I usually take my Nikon only when I fly for a long trip, that’s it, otherwise it’s a choice between camera and clothes ahahah
      I tested both the TZ70 and the TZ110 (TZ100 in Europe) just last month and I would personally invest the extra money for the TZ110. I could definitely see the difference in the quality of the images. The TZ110 is a direct competitor of the Canon G5X although it offers better video quality at 4K, some cool features like Post Focus and 4K Photo (tried in a skate park with really cool results). Moreover the TZ110 is similar size to the TZ70 and smaller than the G5X.
      Indeed the Note4 has a great camera. I have myself the S6 and must say Samsung is really providing the best mobile cameras at the moment, at least till we see the new Iphone release hahaah
      Cheers buddy

Comments are closed.

Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o