Best Travel Camera 2016
 

Best travel camera 2016 – November 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. I am often asked what do I consider to be the best travel camera.

As you may suspect there is no easy answer. Add the fact that what we are experiencing in technology in 2016 is incredibly different from only the 2013 or even the 2014, and that’s just 2-3 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

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 20-120 focal length.

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 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

panasonic-cm1

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 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

Panasonic TZ110 Review Panasonic TZ100 ZS100

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 IV

This is one of the earliest and greatest success in the Sony camera world. We are now at the 4th incarnation of this beautiful camera with Zeiss lens.

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

The Sony Alpha 7R II, probably the lightest professional camera in the market

The Sony Alpha 7R II, probably the lightest professional camera in the market

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 however 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

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8

This is another camera that I was able to review in late 2015. 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-Pro2

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.

Inside the frame you find another fabulous camera which is a great competitor of the GX8.

Is the Fujifilm X-Pro2 the most beautiful travel camera in the market?

Is the Fujifilm X-Pro2 the most beautiful travel camera in the market?

I had recently the X-Pro2 for a 2 weeks review. I stressed it in poor light conditions with some amazing results

Pros of the Fujifilm X-Pro2

  • 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-Pro2

  • video, no great at Full HD, if this is one of the reasons you buy your camera I would reconsider the choice
  • no flash
  • no USB charging option

More on the Fujifilm X-Pro2

  • size: 141 x 83 x 56 mm
  • weight: 495 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm) at 24MP
  • Wireless: WiFi
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Video quality: Full HD (1080p)

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

Check the best price of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 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

Travelling with a Canon 6D will not be an awesome experience

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 Nikon D610 is a great camera although quite heavy!

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:

  • 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

Sony Alpha a5000, just love it

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-Pro2 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-Pro2 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

Latest popular posts

 
    • Jay
    • November 3, 2016
    Reply

    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

    • Reply

      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. Reply

    Hi, great efforts. Thanks.

    • Maria
    • October 14, 2016
    Reply

    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,

    • Reply

      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. Reply

    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

    • Reply

      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
    Reply

    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.

    • Reply

      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. Reply

    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!

    • Reply

      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. Reply

    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
      Reply

      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

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