How to find the best travel camera – guide for beginners

How to find the best travel camera – guide for beginners

While traveling, you might find new passions… If one of them happens to be photography, I give you some tips and ideas to choose the best camera for travel photography .

Starting with travel photography – which camera? Tips for photo addicts.

 

Travel camera for beginners: first tips.

Camera and false ideas!

  • The more expensive, the better: NO! It all depends on how you use the camera. If you stay in automatic, you’ll get with a compact as good images as with a thousand dollars reflex…
  • High number of megapixels = better image quality A Megapixel in a photo is made of millions of colored dots. And like everything in life, quality is much more important than quantity… meaning that a high number of megapixels can actually make your photos worse. The camera’s lens, its sensor and your skills  are far more important than the number of Megapixels. More details on the Myth of Megapixels in this article!

Now, how to choose your first travel camera ?

  1. Ask yourself which budget to invest 
  2. Know your needs – which goals do you want to reach with your camera
  3. Plan where you are going to travel (hiking in difficult conditions for instance)
  4. Look for a viewfinder!  Meaning higher budget – but for me, a sine qua non feature on a camera to shoot in any light conditions.
  5. Compare prices on marketplaces – ebay, amazon, idealo, camerahouse
  6. Look for cameras launched in the past few years – cheaper and often delivering the same quality than new ones

Compact, mirorless or DSLR camera: a quick comparison of different kind of cameras.

  • Compact camera: simple 35 mm camera with automatic focusing and exposure, comparable with good smartphones nowadays. Semi-automatic modes for high-level cameras.

When you travel

 ♥

small, ultra light and simple… no need to be Cartier Bresson, just point and shoot!

 ♥

Lower quality image in general, small sensors and above all no control of the camera’s settings.


  • Mirrorless camera: this kind of camera allows you to change lenses, but they don’t feature a complex mirror system like DSLRs do. They are in principle lighter and mechanically simpler than a reflex. Definitely the one I would recommend for beginner photographers on a trip!

On a road trip

Still light and quite easy to use when you know the basics…mirorless cameras are my top recommendation for beginner photographers on the go – from automatic to manual mode, most of them are as capable as DSLRs. Ideal to make your first steps in professional photography and/ or video.

Compatibility of lenses often quite limited and…  you need to do your homework! Take time to get to know your camera. Learn the basics of photography.


  • DSLR camera:  a DSLR camera is a digital single-lens reflex camera which allows the photographer to see exactly what will be captured. A single-lens reflex camera typically uses a mirror and prism system.

On travels…

Still some technical advantages… larger sensors, wider range of compatible lenses, sometimes longer battery life or faster autofocus. And always a viewfinder (mirorless cameras with a VF belong to the upper -level segment)

Of course mechanically more complex to handle, more expensive… and good luck to carry them on a trip!

Photo-text-checklist-choose-travel-camera-beginners

Selection of travel cameras to buy before you go on travel

The list below is thought for travelers who want to start with photography without breaking the bank and carrying kilos of equipment.

Which compact camera to travel with? Find here top 3 affordable quality compact cameras.

Sony Cybershot W830

Photo-compact=camera-sony-w830

  • Around 150 $ / 110 €
  • Beginner point-and-shoot compact camera
  • Lens type: Zeiss
  • F 3.3/6.3 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 80-3200
  • 8x optical zoom
  • 20.1 MP

Cheap but providing satisfying image quality, it’s a good start for those who want to practice before upgrading to mirorless or DSLR cameras. The Sony Cybershot W830 allows you to play around with a basic semi-automatic mode. Besides that, it’s also a great cheap compact camera if you plan to use it only for holidays and family photos.

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Super easy to use

Entry-level point-and-shoot camera: one of the lowest-priced compact cameras with good image quality

Creative features and program mode (exposure, white balance)

360° sweep panorama

Semi-automatic mode not as complete as advanced compact cameras

No WIFI

Difficulties in low light situations

Learn more about the Sony Cybershot W830 on Sony.com.


Sony DSC HX90 / 90V

Picture-high-end-compact-sony-hx90v

  • Around 365 $ / 295 €
  • Advanced compact camera
  • Lens type: Zeiss
  • F 3.5/6.4 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 80-12800
  • 30x optical zoom
  • 18.2 MP

The high-end compact camera Sony DSCH HX90/90V (with GPS) is a great choice if you are looking for a high performing compact camera offering a wide range of features – viewfinder, large zoom range and manual mode in a pocket size camera. Even if it’s a good all-rounder  on your travels it shows a lack of performance in more complex light situations. That’s why the pricey Sony DSCH HX90 is to consider if you don’t think about getting a more professional equipment like a mirorless or DSLR camera.

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Flip Screen selfie camera (180°)

Electronic viewfinder

Automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes

Weight 245g

WIFI

No RAW capture

Low light performance to be improved

Low quality at high ISO

 

Full review of the Sony DSC HX90 here.


Canon Powershot G9 Mark II

Photo-compact-camera-Canon-Powershot-G9

 

  • Around 540 $ / 436 €
  • Beginner to enthusiast photographer
  • F 2/4.9 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 125-12800
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 20.1 MP

Really simple to use and tiny compact camera, the Canon Powershot G9 Mark II will be the perfect replacement to your smartphone. It’s the entry-level model on the Canon compact cameras market and allows to capture in RAW.

  ♥  ♥

Weight 206g

WIFI

 Very simple to use

Good image performance at low light situations

RAW format

Limited zoom range

No viewfinder

More details on the Canon Powershot G9 Mark II on Techradar.com.

Mirorless camera on travels: a selection of  Top 3 upper entry-level cameras.

Sony A6000

Image-mirorless-travel-camera-sony-a6000

  • Around 650$/ 525€ including a 16-50mm lens
  • Beginner to enthusiast photographer
  • F 3.5 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 100-25100
  • APS-C
  • E-mount interchangeable lens
  • 24.3 MP

Even if the mirorless camera Sony A6000 has been replaced by the Sony Alpha A6300 and Alpha A6500, it is still one of the top mirorless cameras for beginner and enthusiast photographers. If you are looking for a high end enthusiast camera but still easy to use, the Sony A6000 will make the job. At a fair price this mirorless provides quality images. After giving up definitely the compact cameras segment and stepping into photography, the Sony A6000 is now for me a great all-rounder on which I can practice. It also accompanies me on my travels by being so light and handy.

Foto samples on my portfolio and on the website / Sony A6000’s review here.

  ♥  ♥

Quite easy to use

Electronic viewfinder

Built-in flash

Does well in harsh weather conditions

Sony’s latest Bion Z processor: faster speed

WIFI

Small and light camera – 468g

Screen not fully articulated

Performance at low light situations to be improved (especially regarding the AF point)

 


Panasonic LUMIX FZ80

Photo-travel-camera-mirorless-Panasonic-Lumix-FZ80

  • Around 500$/403€ including a 20-1200mm lens
  • Beginner to enthusiast photographer
  • F 2.8/5.9 (MAX.APERTURE)
  • ISO 80-6400
  • LEICA lens
  • 18 MP

For beginner and enthusiast photographers, the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 remains easy to use and fill the gap between a compact and a DSLR camera. Its asset is the large zoom range providing by the powerful optical zoom – from landscape photography to portrait or macro, you can practice on a lot of photographic subjects.

 ♥ ♥

Effective image stabilization

Large zoom range

4K Burst: to capture very fast-moving and unpredictable subjects

Touchscreen LCD (especially good to select the point of focus)

Doesn’t switch automatically between EVF and LCD screen

Weak high ISO performance

More details on the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 on Techradar.


Olympus OM-D EM10 II

Picture-travel-camera-Olympus-OMD-EM10

  • Around 450-800$/360-650€ with 14-42mm lens
  • Beginner to enthusiast photographer
  • F 3.5 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 200-25600
  • EZ lens
  • 16.3 MP

Comparable to the Sony A6000 the Olympus OM-D EM10 II will allow you to make the step to more complex cameras than your current compact… without breaking the bank. This mirorless camera Olympus however feels more like a DSLR than the Sony A6000 – which could help you make the decision for the one or the other.

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Wide range of interchangeable compatible lenses

Great 5-axis image stabilization

Electronic viewfinder

Light camera -488g

Noisy shutter mechanism

No 4K video

More complex to use than the previous listed cameras

 

See the review of the mirorless camera Olympus OM-D EM10 II over here.

Travel camera – Reflex or DSLR: top 2 cameras

Canon EOS 1300D

Photo-dslr-travel-camera-Canon-EOS-1300D

  • Around 500$/400€ with 18-55mm lens
  • Beginner photographer
  • F 3.5 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 100-12800
  • APS-C
  • 18.7 MP

The DSLR Canon 1300D is one of the best options to begin your photographic experience. Even if it only provides the basics of a DSLR, it still offers a solid image quality at a low cost – to consider as an introduction into the DSLRs’ world.

Full specifications on Canon.com.

  

Easy to use

Wide range of compatible lenses (all Canon’s EFs)

Light camera -425g body only

Fixed screen

Slow focusing in live-view

Basics and that’s it


Pentax K70

Photo-DSLR-camera-Pentax-K70

  • Around 800$/670€ with 18-135mm lens kit
  • Advanced beginner to enthusiast photographer
  • F 3.5 (max. aperture)
  • ISO 100-102,400
  • APS-C
  • 24.24 MP

Mid-range level DSLR camera, Ricoh’s Pentax K70 is in this selection because of its still affordable wide range lens kit 18-135mm. Plus, it delivers a really good image quality. For those who want to practice on different photographic subjects, from landscapes to macro. It’s a quite heavy DSLR though, even for a mid-range level one.

Technical specifications on Ricoh’s website.

  ♥

High ISO performance

Wide range lens kit

Fast autofocus

Weather-sealed

Heavy camera 688g body

Slow WIFI communication

Slow video autofocus

Below average battery life

Happy shooting!

How to find the right travel mates – tips and ressources for solo travelers

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