There’s an almost bewildering array of camera options now for travelling. With the rise of social media and new technologies into the filmmaking and photography world, you’d be forgiven for not knowing quite which route to take on the lookout for a slightly more professional image-making setup. With smartphone makers priding themselves on incorporating ever more complicated technology in their phone cameras, many people also might wonder if there’s now even a need for dedicated cameras when you travel.
There are, however, a number of benefits to be had from learning a little more about image taking and finding the right equipment to take pictures and record videos. Not only do you get better image quality at larger sizes, pictures taken on proper cameras benefit from larger lenses so their printed and zoom qualities are much better. Technology also gets smaller over time, so lots of this quite advanced technology is now available in pocket sizes – great for snapping images on the go. Here’s our pick of the best:
Compact cameras have seen their popularity decline somewhat since the advent of quality smartphones, but there’s still a competitive market out there and most of the compact cameras around tend to offer enhanced capabilities over even the best camera phones. Many offer 4k video recording, and of course there is also the fact that they’re small and easy to fit into little bags or pockets.
Sony RX100 VII – Best for: compact video recording
At £1,009, this is a bit of a ‘money no object’ purchase, but for those who are serious about their photography but still want the flexibility of a compact camera, this is definitely worth a proper look at. It’s great for video, filming both 4K and HDR footage. Its 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 Zeiss Vario-Tessar fixed lens also gives great zoom quality and range. The RX100 VII has the fastest autofocus system in the world for a compact camera.
Fujifilm X100F – Best for: street photos
The first thing that’s noticeable about this camera is that it features attractive retro styling, harking back to the era of the famous Olympus Trip 35mm from the 1960s, the world’s first and possibly still the world’s most famous compact travel camera. We also really liked the 35mm 1.4 lens on an APS-C crop sensor, perfect for roaming the pavements and capturing those perfect street photo angles.
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III – Best for: vlogging and social media
A slightly more affordable alternative is the Canon PowerShot G7, which has been a popular camera with bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers since its early incarnations. It’s recently had a revamp however and the camera now includes a microphone input, which is especially useful for filmmakers. To those ends, it also features uncropped 4K footage, which is a bonus.
DSLR cameras are based on the original single lens reflex 35mm camera, which uses technology invented towards the first half of the 20th century. Even though it’s old technology, however, it has stayed around for a reason and SLR cameras have been tried and tested for generations and have taken some of the world’s most famous pictures over the years. If you have space and the time and finances to invest in learning about the technical aspects of photography, these may be the cameras for you and are still favoured by many professionals worldwide.
Nikon D3500 – Best for: entry level hobby photographers
One of the best entry-level DSLR cameras for beginners, this Nikon is the perfect choice for those starting out in more advanced photography and wanting something to test their skills, whilst at the same time being small enough to carry around and still fit a couple of spare lenses in. A clever retracting lens to save space is a nice touch and it also features one of the best crop sensors on any small camera we’ve seen.
Canon 5D MK IV – Best for: serious photographers
The Canon 5D changed the world of photography for the masses. In 2008, Canon released the 5D MK II, which featured full HD 1080p video recording and opened up full frame photography to the general public in an affordable package for the first time. Little has changed since then, except of course for the technology, and there’s plenty to suggest that the Canon 5D Mk IV is one of the best cameras in the world for the mass market. If you’re on a bit of a budget, we’d recommend going used or grabbing the MK III, as there’s very little difference and quite a cost saving to be had.
Canon EOS 90D – Best for SLR video recording
The EOS line is intended as a middle-ground range for Canon, sitting above their entry level lines and below their full-frame offerings. The 90D is a great step up from the 70D and 80D as it features uncropped 4K video recording in a slightly neater package, with a lighter weight and an extended battery life. A strong camera, especially considering its dust and rain prevention thanks to its weather resistant exterior.
Best instant cameras
Although they can be relatively bulky, the nostalgia evoked by looking at real printed polaroids or instant images can’t really be beaten, and is certainly back in-vogue for many wearied by a solely digital experience. It’s worth shopping around a bit if you’re after an instant camera, as film prices can vary quite wildly as can the purchase prices of the cameras themselves.
KODAK Smile Instant Camera and Digital Printer – Best for printing from your phone
This clever idea from Kodak enables you to print digital photos on special small paper from your smartphone, thanks to Bluetooth connection, and also take images using its small 5 megapixel camera on the front of the device. Although picture quality isn’t superb, it’s fine for the tiny images it produces and you can even edit on the fly from the camera or on your phone. One of the best things about the Kodak Smile is that it’s not much bigger than your phone itself, which makes sticking it away to take travelling a breeze.
Polaroid One Step 2 Instant Camera – Best for original Polaroid simplicity
It’s worth mentioning the original Polaroid One Step here, introduced in 1977, it quickly became the go-to name for instant photography. The brand has recently updated the model, but gladly it hasn’t got anymore complicated – just stick some film in the back and you’re ready to go – it really is that simple. There is a more powerful flash on this model though, so your photos of your friends in the kitchen at parties will be even clearer, even if your memories aren’t.
Fujifilm Instax 300 Wide – Best for instant picture qualityFrom: £77
One of the best quality instant cameras out there, we really liked the wide version of Fujifilm’s instant picture maker as it really makes a difference to the amount you can fit into the frame. There’s also a detail to the pictures and a bulkiness to the colours that we really liked. The only downside is that it’s a pretty sizable unit, so it might not necessarily be your go-to when it comes to travelling but if you make an exception for a trip or two, you’ll be delighted with the results.
Best mirrorless cameras
Mirrorless cameras are something of a recent introduction to the scene. They work by shining light from the outside world straight on to the image sensor, rather than using a mirror to reflect what the lens is seeing to a viewfinder. They project the image from the sensor to a touchscreen on the back of the camera. Doing away with a mirror means that mirrorless cameras are often smaller, lighter and more portable than their DSLR counterparts.
Canon EOS M20 Mirrorless Camera – Best for upgrading from a smartphone
If you’re new to the world of mirrorless cameras and want to dip a toe in to slightly more advanced photography, then the M200 is a nice starting point. It’s got 4k video and comes with a 15-45mm lens which is the ideal range for general shooting out and about. We also think it’s relatively competitively priced too and looks and feels good straight out of the box.
Sony Alpha A7R IV – Best for professional shooting
Although your average traveller might baulk at the idea of spending these kind of prices, the Sony Alpha makes this list for a reason, in that it was one of the first professional cameras to offer such high specification and turn many DSLR fanatics away from the traditional mirror setup. It features a crazy 61.2MP full-frame sensor and 10fps burst shooting, particularly useful if you’re looking to capture fast moving action. An exemplary camera, although perhaps unnecessarily good for some who need a camera to take on long journeys.
Canon EOS M6 Mark III – Best mirrorless camera for video
The EOS M range are Canon’s mirrorless offerings, but unlike the more ‘budget’ M20 higher up this list, this is aimed at a slightly more serious crowd and would be perfect for the budding travel filmmaker or vlogger. It’s got a really useful tilting screen which makes life a lot easier when shooting, and also boasts a 32.5 megapixel sensor.