As you know, our lines are always open for questions—or offers—for that matter. And what can be more rewarding than connecting the two together. Many of you have asked me my opinion about the best camera for travel over the years. And while I never shewed away to give my opinion, it is always tricky as I do not spend my time in the camera shops and do not know what’s hot or not.
So, when Mark emailed me offering to give his take on the best travel camera, I thought why not. So without further ado, I leave the floor to Mark.
Choosing a Camera for Travel
Hey there! My name’s Mark and I’m a professional photographer. I also run a site all about camera gear and photography called Shotkit… so you could say I’m a bit of a camera nerd!
I came across Land Cruising Adventures via my wife who was googling information on our next holiday. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the photography on the site, so reached out to Karin-Marijke and Coen to ask if I could guest post here today.
Read More: Books on Preparing your Overland Adventure
Since I know many of you are traveling aficionados who like to document their trip in the most efficient way possible, today I’ll be discussing choosing the best travel camera for your needs. It’s all well and good to have a smartphone in your pocket to take the odd snap, but it’s best to invest in a dedicated camera for your photography.
Let’s look first at what makes a good camera for travel.
What makes a good camera for travel?
You’ve probably heard the old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. As I mentioned above, this usually means that the best camera is our humble mobile phone.
Modern mobile phones do a decent job at taking a pretty picture, but they do have their limitations.
If you want to get creative with your photography or get that envious ‘blurred-background’ look (which helps to separate your subject), you’re much better off investing in an interchangeable lens (ILC) camera, or at least, a good compact camera.
Buying a decent camera doesn’t mean breaking the bank – there are plenty of great cameras available for under $500 and some great dSLR lenses which cost much less than you’d expect.
By stretching your budget a little further, you can get a camera that will serve you well for many years to come.
The Line UP
The Budget Option
Canon has had a long history of making well-built, good-looking compact cameras. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS isn’t a particularly new camera, but for its price, it’s such a great performer.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS
Type: Compact Camera
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch (6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 12x zoom (25-300mm eq.) f/3.6-7
Weight: 147g (0.32 lb / 5.19 oz)
Price: Approx $195
Packing a 12x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilizer into such a small, slim body is pretty impressive!
A 12x zoom equates to roughly a 25-300mm lens, meaning that you can go from wide angle (for shots of large groups, wide panoramic vistas and city-scapes, for example), all the way to distant shots of wildlife, all in the press of a button! This is perfect for those of you who want to shoot out of the side of your car whilst traveling.
The aperture range of f/3.6-7 doesn’t make the lens on the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS particularly ‘fast’ (i.e. one that can let in a lot of natural light), but the optical image stabilizer does help you achieve a sharper image when the sun begins to set.
A neat feature of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is the Intelligent IS mode, which helps even the most novice photographer capture clear, steady images, even in lower light. The Intelligent IS automatically analyses camera movement and applies the ideal shake correction method for the shooting situation, allowing you to focus more on framing and capturing your shot.
There are admittedly better cameras than the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS, but none that are this good value for money. If you’re on a strict budget, it’s a great option to get a photo that’s a step above one that even the best mobile phone can produce.
The mid-priced option
The Sony a6000 uses a combination of a 79-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor, 179 AF tracking points and 11 fps (frames per second). Thanks to this machine-gun like shooting ability, you’re sure to get the shot you want.
Sony Alpha a6000
Type: Interchangeable Compact Mirrorless Camera
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.5mm x 15.6mm)
Lens: body only
Weight: 345g (0.76 lb / 12 oz)
Price: Approx $598
Remember one thing though – the more photos you take, the less present you are in the moment… not to mention, the more photos you’ll have to ‘cull’ through later!
Aside from impressively-fast autofocus, the focus on the Sony a6000 is no slouch either, using contrast-detection and something called Spatial Object Detection to achieve autofocus speeds of 0.06 seconds – definitely among the fastest performance of any camera.
A 1.4m dot OLED electronic viewfinder delivers 100% frame coverage I am impressively fast refresh rate. This means that you can preview exactly how your image will look through the viewfinder, before you press the shutter button.
Electronic viewfinders are specific to a genre of camera called ‘mirrorless’. I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras, and always recommend them to beginner photographers in particular. Why? Well being able to see how shutter speed, aperture and ISO affect your photographer in ‘real time’ is so useful in understanding the components of exposure.
Another great feature of the Sony a6000 is its 3″ tiltable LCD screen which allows you to get creative with your angles. I always recommend cameras with tilting LCD screens as they’re so good for getting unusual angles. This could allow you to take a shot from the back of a motorcycle for example, holding the Sony above your head (if you’re the passenger, or course!)
Low light performance of the Sony a6000 is also impressive, with a range of 100-25600. You’ll get some ‘noise’ (basically specks of white) when really pushing up the ISO, but this is normal for most cameras at this price point. However, there’s always the pop-up flash to rely on, ensuring you won’t miss any of the action when light falls.
As for recommended lenses to use with the Sony a6000, I’d advise you to start off with the 16-50mm power zoom lens which covers a useful focal range and isn’t too heavy or bulky.
The high-end option
As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras. Keeping up the pace with bulkier and older dSLRs, mirrorless cameras use the latest technology to produce high-quality images in smaller bodies.
Type: Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6mm x 15.6mm)
Lens: body only
Weight: 998g (2.2 lb / 35.2 oz)
Price: Approx $850
The Fuji X-T20 uses a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which delivers gorgeous, vibrant, clean and crisp images that rival even the best dSLR cameras.
The Fuji X-T20 offers a speedy start-up, meaning that as soon as you turn the camera on it’s ready to shoot. This is essential whilst traveling to ensure you never miss the moment.
Autofocus speeds are also excellent, and there’s very little shutter lag time or shot-to-shot delay. All this means that this camera won’t get in the way of you capturing your shot.
Speaking of the auto focus, 325 selectable AF points deliver some of the fastest and most accurate focusing capabilities ever seen on a mirrorless camera at this price point.
For travel, a lightweight zoom lens provides the most flexibility, but for the ultimate in compactness, you should consider a prime (fixed focal length) lens.
The Fujifilm X-T20 is a great value mirrorless camera, especially when you consider that it offers many of the features that its ‘big brother’ the (much more expensive) X-T2 offers. If you want to invest in your photography, the Fujifilm X-T20 really is a great travel camera.
So there you have it – 3 great cameras for your next overlanding adventure at 3 different price points. Whatever you decide, remember that having the right gear is only the first step. Learn how to use your camera, then invest some time in learning the basics of photography to make the most of it.
I’d like to thanks Karin-Marijke and Coen again for having me here on their fantastic blog. I wish you all safe travels and happy snapping 🙂
Guest review by photographer Mark Condon of Gold Hat Photography.