Since I started travelling frequently around the world, I got a chance to try out different cameras. Some cameras I thought were good but turned out they weren’t for travelling. And some cameras were compact but after checking the videos I filmed, I was blurry and the background was clear. In this article, I’ve narrowed down the best travel camera to get based on your budget and travel style.
VIDEO – What I Think Are The Best Travel Camera To Get
What type of cameras you should not get
Unless you’re a professional or hobbyist photographer, I think it would be best to avoid big bulky cameras such as DSLR and even mirrorless cameras. During my travels using a mirrorless camera, I often felt frustrated having to change lenses before capturing a shot. It was also annoyingly bulky even if mirrorless cameras are smaller than DSLR. In my opinion, if you can’t put your camera in your pocket, it’s way too big. For most people, the best travel camera is compact and you can easily pull it out to take a picture or shoot a video.
Smart phone’s photo and video capabilities have improved a lot. Many people stopped buying cameras because your phone can pretty much take all the pictures and videos that you need nowadays. I personally use the Google Pixel 2 and will probably upgrade at some point in the future. What I like about the Google Pixel phones is that they are fantastic for photography. However, their video capabilities are not as good as other Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy. The newer Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy are over $1000 so prepare to drop a lot of money for these phones.
The bad thing about mobile phones is that their sensor size is smaller than an actual camera. That means their lowlight capabilities aren’t very good and you’re more likely to capture grainy pictures or videos at low light settings. The mobile phone’s zoom is also awful and will often times come out grainy and pixelated.
Budget point and shoot
When I travelled around the world for one year, my girlfriend recommended I get the Canon G7X Mark I camera. She knew that I’m the type of person that works best with something compact and easy to use. To this day, the Canon G7X Mark II is still a great budget point and shoot camera. The low light capabilities are great at F/1.8 (the higher the number, the worst the low light capabilities become). Also, the camera can zoom all the way to 100mm which definitely beats any mobile phones. Finally, this camera comes with a front-facing upward flipping screen so you can see yourself when you vlog.
The camera cost around $659.99 CAD for a new one. I honestly think you’re better off buying a used one. This camera was launched in 2016 and you can easily find a used one in the $500 range.
Yes, there is the G7X Mark III now, but it has awful autofocus causing the user to be blurry many times so I’d skip it and go with the older model.
Best point and shoot cameras
One of the biggest problems with many point and shoot cameras is that they don’t have a mic input. So when you make travel videos, your audio quality tends to be awful. In 2019, the Canon G7X Mark III and Sony RX100 VII came out and both cameras came with an external mic input. This was a game-changer in the point and shoot space. Except that Canon G7X Mark III sucks thanks to the awful auto-focus. The Sony RX100 has an amazing auto-focus and it ended up being my dream camera. I actually purchased it back in 2020 and still use it to this day. The Sony RX100 VII also zooms all the way to 200mm which is ridiculous! When I do wildlife safari, I like the ability to pull out my camera and capture the video. I hate fidgeting around with lenses that ruin the experience. Finally, the Sony RX100 VII also has an upward flipping front-facing flip screen so you can see yourself when you vlog.
The two negative points of the Sony RX100 VII is that the aperture is F/2.8 meaning it’s not the greatest at low light settings. It also doesn’t have a hot shoe mount to put your shotgun mic. You’d have to use a mic that doesn’t require a hot-shoe. The last con of this camera is the price which will set you back $1,599 for a new one. Yeah, it’s a very expensive camera. If you look online, you can buy a used one between $1250-$1400.
Sony ZV-1 – the alternative to Sony RX100 VII
A lot of people would argue that the Sony ZV-1 is the superior camera to the RX100 VII. This is because the low light capabilities are better having an aperture of F/1.8. It also comes with a hot shoe mount allowing you to place your shotgun mic on top. Finally, the flip screen tilts sideways.
The bad thing about this camera is that it only zooms to 70mm. This is not great for travelling when you need to zoom far away to take a photo or capture a video. This is a deal-breaker for me since I love doing wildlife safaris. The camera also doesn’t have a viewfinder so if it’s sunny outside, it’ll be hard to take a picture. I personally don’t care for the viewfinder and wished the Sony RX100 VII had a hot shoe mount instead of a viewfinder. But for the photographers out there, the viewfinder is useful.
One of the biggest advantage that the Sony ZV-1 has over the Sony RX100 VII is that the price point is $998. This is $600 cheaper than the Sony RX100 VII. You can buy two cameras for the price of one Sony RX100 VII.
Another great option for a travel camera is action cameras. You can bring them as your primary camera if you love doing the adventurous type of travelling. Do keep in mind that most Action Camera has terrible zoom capabilities since they’re made for action related videos.
When I travelled for one year, I absolutely loved using my GoPro Hero 4 Silver. It was the perfect companion to my Canon G7X Mark I. Not only did it take amazing action video shoots, but I also used it to take tons of selfies! Back then, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver didn’t have a front-facing screen so it took some practice to make sure I am in the shot.
The new GoPro Hero 9 has a front-facing screen which is a huge upgrade from the other GoPro’s. I’m tempted to buy one since I love having an action camera. This camera will set you back $599.
I love and hate drones. I love them for their beautiful aerial footage. But, I hate the fact that many countries won’t let you bring a drone to their country. Drones are also bulky so many times, it’s a pain in the ass to bring them with you. To be honest, I’m still working on a system to best use my drone which is the Mavic Air 1.
Speaking of drones, I only recommend you get them if you like taking beautiful aerial video footage. If not, skip the drone because they’re bulky. There’s also a small drone called the Mavic Mini 2 at 249g. This means you can bring this drone to countries that require you to get a permit to fly any drones that are 250g or heavier. My problem with a Mavic Mini 1 or 2 is that strong winds will blow this drone away. There’s nothing scarier than the thought of losing your drone. I almost lost my drone when I flew one in Tumbler Ridge because it was so windy. I’m strongly considering getting the Mavic Pro instead in the distant future to avoid having my drone blown away by the wind.
Personally, my best travel camera combination would start with the Sony RX100 VII since it has a great zoom, great for vlogging with the flip screen and external mic input, and amazing auto-focus capabilities. I’d pair it up with a GoPro or DJI Osmo Action since action cameras are the perfect companion to a point-and-shoot camera. I’d have a drone for countries that allow it; though, a heavier drone might be better to avoid the chance of losing it when going to windy areas. Finally, I’d like to get a mobile phone with strong video capabilities for places that I wouldn’t want to use my cameras.
What is the best travel camera in your opinion?