Photographing London with the best travel cameras
A photo taken in London with our old Canon PowerShot travel camera.

A travel camera can mean many things to many people. For some, it’s just their phone they carry around every day in their pocket. (Phones these days can take some pretty amazing shots). For others, a compact point and shoot that’s easy to use will fit the bill.

Since our blog relies on quality photos to generate income and keep it interesting, we’ve started carrying a bit more gear around with us as we travel. We prefer to have more control over the photographs and the finished product, so our idea of a travel camera is a larger DSLR kit.

Compact camera reviews - shooting at Canyonlands National Park UT
A photo from Utah taken with our newer Canon 6D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

No matter what type of travel camera you’re looking for, our travel camera guide will help you narrow down your options so you’re prepared to capture every moment. Whether it’s a slim phone or a mirrorless DSLR, we’ll help you find the best camera that’s ready to go when you are.

After all, that’s what a good travel camera should do.

Choosing the Best Travel Cameras

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The best travel cameras at a glance


Finding the best travel cameras - what to look for

Image Quality

Old Courthouse at Gateway Arch National Park shot with ou compact dslr camera.
Old Courthouse at Gateway Arch National Park shot with a Canon EOS 60D

A good camera should take good photos period. There are several considerations that go into this equation, but for me it comes down to optics, RAW capability, a focusing system that's quick and accurate, and a sensor that accurately recreates what I see with my eyes.

Sometimes it's hard to sift through the marketing jargon and camera features which is why I always rely on third-party reviews and real-world examples when I can. If a camera is waterproof, indestructible, comes with a 10 year warranty, and only costs $200, but takes crummy photos, I'm not interested. For most families, you only get one chance at capturing that perfect moment, so get a camera that's up to the task and won't disappoint you down the road.

  • Pro Tip!

    When we’re trying out new gear, we like to rent from Borrowlenses.com. It’s an affordable way to try out gear before making a large investment.

Price is a factor (but not the largest one)

Photograph of Bastille Day in Paris with our canon small camera.
Bastille Day Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower shot with our old Canon camera.

While there are expensive compact cameras and also cheaper DSLR cameras available, there has to be a balance when travelling. Most families aren't going to be traveling around Universal Orlando Resort with a huge DSLR slung around their neck and a bunch of expensive lenses in the stroller bag. At the same time, I want a fast, capable camera that's easy to manage and takes great photos.

Most of the cameras on this list are less than $1000 (some much more) and even fall around the $300-$400 mark, which I think is a good range. Just because I can buy a similarly priced DSLR, they have a different use and don't necessarily make for a good travel camera. Save the DSLRs for sunrise at a National Park. If you're looking for good cameras for beginner photographers, you might want to consider a camera that is similar to a DSLR but smaller like the Sony a6500 or the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II.

Too big or heavy are dealbreakers (maybe)

Best DSLR camera for travel at Watkins Glen State Park in Nwy York.
Watkins Glen State Park shot with a Canon EOS 60D

For most, travel cameras have to be easy to manage, and that means lightweight and compact. If we're walking around a city, and I want to take a candid photo of one of the kids, the camera has to be ready when I am. Phones can also be good at this, but can also be a little clumsy and don't always focus very quickly, although their getting much better.

Remember, the best camera is usually the one you have with you!

If you aren't' comfortable carrying a camera around because it's too bulky or heavy, then it's not a good travel camera.

Personally, I'm used to my DSLR at this point. It's heavier - sure - but I trust that I'm going to get the shot I want and I have more creative control with the photos. Carrie shoots with a compact Panasonic to catch anything I might miss and it works well for us.

The best compact camera for travel - shooting photos in Ireland
Dingle Peninsula, Ireland shot with our Panasonic LUMIX ZS100.

Quick auto focus matters

When you're on vacation, you will be shooting in a variety of light, at different times of day, indoors, outdoors, and everything in between. Not all cameras handle this very well - particularly in low-light situations. Make sure you get a camera that has quick, accurate focusing so you can get your shot. Your kids aren't going to wait for your camera to decide where to focus when they're too busy having fun.

Other features found in the best new travel cameras

RAW files

There are several other features that I would now consider standard when shopping for a compact travel camera. This first is RAW shooting. As someone who likes to edit and process photos in Adobe Lightroom, I want to be using the RAW file and not a JPEG. Fortunately, most small cameras these days will shoot in RAW and memory cards are cheap, so space isn't an issue.

WiFi Connectivity

Connectivity via Bluetooth or WiFi makes it super-easy to share photos straight from the camera to all of your other devices. Many even let you control the camera with your phone. WiFi is a must-have for us, but if you want some of the other features, look for NFC (Near-field communications) capability and/or Bluetooth.

Sensor size

1" sensors with at least 20 megapixels in resolution is becoming the norm for compact cameras, and all of the cameras on our list hit the 20MP mark or better. We shoot with a Canon 6D Mark II DSLR as our 'good' camera, and it is a full-frame 26MP model. Our point-and-shoot model is the 20MP Panasonic LUMIX ZS100.

Video

Video is a big consideration these days. If you want to take great video, most cameras will do it. Long gone are the days when you have to carry around a bulky camcorder (remember those things?)

Look for a camera that will do HD video at 1080p at a minimum. 4K video is becoming more prevalent and a nice feature. While there might be some other considerations if you're wanting to edit video, 4K will be great. Another great option is an action camera like a GoPro.

Aperture

Lens aperture - or f/stop - refers to the size of the opening that lets light onto the camera sensor. It's measured in f/numbers like f/1.8, f/5.6, etc. The lower the number, the more light gets in, so generally speaking, a lens with a lower f/stop like 1.4 or 1.8 will work much better in low-light situations without the need for flash.

Megapixels

Megapixels is a measure of the amount of data that a camera's sensor can capture in an image. The higher the number, the more data is in your image. Higher is better here, but don't go chasing this number exclusively. Some cameras do a better job of accurately processing the information than others. The cameras on this list are all 20 megapixel cameras and above which are great. Some of the newest models from Sony can get to 60MP and higher.

Manual Mode

If you want the most control over your photos, choose a camera that allows you to control things like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Not only will this help you become a better photographer, it will help you to get your photos just right.

Weatherproofing

By definition, taking pictures while traveling means you'll probably be out in many different situations. Nicer cameras and lenses have some level of weatherproofing to help protect your gear should the weather take a turn for the worse or you're snapping photos in a very dusty environment. Weatherproofing also helps combat saltwater spray when you're shooting near the ocean or at the beach.

Optical & Digital Zoom

When looking at zoom, optical is always better. Digital zoom basically crops in on the image and produces noisy (grainy) photos. If zoom is important to you, look for a camera with a long optical zoom.

EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)

Both of these types of stabilization help to reduce "camera shake" in your photos and reduce accidental blur. Generally more expensive cameras and lenses will include some type of stabilization to help you get crisper photos.

Interchangeable Lenses

Some enthusiast and professional cameras have lenses that can be swapped on and off depending on the situation. Phones and smaller cameras have fixed lenses that are not interchangeable.

Travel Camera Reviews

Point and shoot camera reviews - photos of Hawaii
Oahu North Shore Hawaii shot with a Canon 60D with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

  • Size

    340g/0.75 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Canon G5 X - best small camera for travelCanon G5 X Mark II - good camera for travelThe Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a 20 megapixel point and shoot camera that is a nice upgrade from the G7 and G9 models. The G5 X Mark II has loads of features we love like fast focusing, a sharp lens, and enough zoom to get close to the action. We've always loved the accurate, vibrant colors that the Canon compact cameras produce and this is no exception.

For video, the G5 X Mark II can shoot 4K at 30 fps which is great for just about anyone. The lens is a 24-120mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens offering crisp photos and good low-light performance. The large touchscreen is a nice feature along with various shooting modes that give you a lot of creative control.

Overall, the size and features of this Canon make it our favorite compact camera of the bunch. While there are higher-performing cameras in the list, the Canon's price vs. performance makes it a good buy for an all-around family travel camera.

  Click here for the latest prices on the Canon Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII - Best point and shoot camera

  • Size

    302g/0.67 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Sony RX100 VII point and shoot digital camera

Looking for the best compact digital camera? This Sony may be it. Replacing Sony's RX100M III on our list is the new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII. Like it's predecessor, this camera is compact with high performance - what a good travel camera should be. Viewfinder and focusing is fast, and the 20 megapixel sensor delivers great images. Focusing accuracy and loads of features make this compact camera a favorite by nearly all reviewers.Sony RX100 VII - compact camera with viewfinder

The lens is a 24-200mm giving you a lot of reach in a small package and the F2.8-4.5 aperture will help you capture the best photos in lower light. Other high-end features of this Sony compact camera are the stabilized 4K video, 20 fps shooting, USB charging capability, and incredible dynamic range that Sony cameras are known for.

With all of this functionality comes a slightly higher price of course, but if you're looking to capture the best possible images in one of the smallest packages, this is your camera. Wireless NFC make it easy to share photos and control the camera with your phone which adds to the cool factor of this camera. One drawback to this Sony is that the interface can be complicated to figure out at first, but if you like having a lot of control, this is a great pocket camera.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII. Try it before you buy it here.


Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10 - Best compact camera

  • Size

    310g/0.68 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Panasonic LX10 - best small digital camera

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10 is another top camera from Panasonic. It falls into the enthusiast compact category, as it has enough bells and whistles to keep even avid photographers happy.

Although this is an older model from Panasonic, we're keeping it on our list because it offers a great value when you compare the price-to-feature ratio. It's super lightweight and compact, so if you need something small and handy, take a look at the LX10. It's probably the best pocket camera on our list.Panasonic LX10 - best point and shoot camera for travel

The LX10 has a 20 megapixel, 1" sensor for capturing sharp pictures, a 24-72mm lens to give you a little bit of reach, and only weighs .68 pounds. One drawback is that it does not have a viewfinder, so you must use the 3" screen to frame your shot. If this doesn't bother you, then the high marks from dpreview.com and Amazon should prompt you to give this camera a look.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX LX10.


Panasonic LUMIX ZS100

  • Size

    312g/0.69 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/UHD/1080p

Panasonic ZS100 - best compact zoom cameraPanasonic delivers again with a great compact travel camera in the ZS100, and is the compact camera that we currently carry. It is a great size with capable features that can go anywhere.

It features a 1" 20 megapixel sensor, a sharp Leica lens with a respectable 25-250mm zoom, electronic viewfinder, and shoots in 4K video. It also has a unique feature that lets you grab 8MB still photos right out of your 4K video. With a pocketable design and a median price, this is a great compact digital camera.Panasonic ZS100 - best portable camera

This small digital camera has a long zoom and the ability to shoot in RAW which we love. It also has several manual options giving us control over ISO and shutter speed. Built-in modes allow for beginners to capture great action shots, scenes at night like fireworks, and macro photography. While I prefer the settings and handling of the Canons, the ZS100 has been a great camera so far and one we'll continue to use. It offers a lot of great features for the price and we recommend it.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX ZS100. Try it before you buy it here.

Using our compact zoom camera at Arches National Park, Utah
Double Arch at Arches National Park shot with our Panasonic LUMIX ZS100.

Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II

  • Size

    808g/1.78 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Panasonic FZ1000 II - small camera for travel

Panasonic makes a great travel camera. It seems that everywhere I look, everyone loves them, from Amazon reviews to other travel bloggers. They take quick, sharp photos and they make several different models to chose from, so you're sure find one that suits you.

This is the second iteration of the LUMIX FZ1000 that has been on our list, and because of a few updates, remains a great travel camera. The Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is a larger camera body, so if you need something super-slim, you'll want to look elsewhere. It does have a long zoom lens at 25-400mm that will help you get nice and close to your subjects. It has a 20 megapixel sensor, fully articulating 3" screen which is convenient for shooting video, which it can shoot in 4K. Panasonic FZ1000 II - best family camera

New on this model are a touchscreen, additional manual controls on the body, and Bluetooth capability. Focusing is face along with face and eye detection which makes tracking faces easy to do. It can also do burst shooting at 7 fps and shoot 4K UHD video at 30p and 24p.

Because of the size of this camera and its SLR-like body, it is a bit heavy (relatively) at 1.78 pounds, but with its host of features and mid-range price, it's a great option. It also took top honors in the enthusiast long zoom category from dpreview.com and is one of their best rated cameras, so it's worth a look.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000


Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

  • Size

    319g/0.70 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    1080p/No 4K

Canon G7 X Mark II - best point and shoot digital camera

 

Canon pocket camera G7 X Mark IIOur last travel camera was a Canon PowerShot, and we really loved it. It was compact, had a great zoom, and took great photos. Canon extends that tradition with the G7 X Mark II.

This camera has a 20 megapixel sensor and also performs pretty well in low light. It will shoot video in 1080p, but not 4K, so be aware of that. It's got a 24-100mm lens, shoots in RAW, weighs less that a pound, and can fit in your pocket. These feature in a smart, compact design make this Canon one of the best digital cameras for travel.

While it doesn't have the features that the G5 X does, it's cheaper and will still take great photos.

Check here for the latest prices on the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II. You can try it before you buy it here.

The best point and shoot camera with zoom - the Canon G7 X Mark II in Tampa, FL
Tampa, FL shot with a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

  • Size

    206g/0.45 lb

  • Sensor

    20MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

  • Video

    1080p/No 4K

 

Canon G9 X Mark II - best budget camera for travelling

Canon G9 X Mark II - compact camera for travelThe Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II definitely gets our vote for the coolest design in this roundup, but don't let the looks fool you, this is a very capable travel camera. (It also comes in black if that suits you better)

It has a 1" 20 megapixel sensor for sharp photos, 24-84mm lens for some zoom capability, and a 3" screen. It's also one of the most affordable travel cameras in our roundup. It weighs less than half a pound and can go anywhere.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II.


The best mirrorless camera for travel

Mirrorless travel cameras are rapidly gaining in popularity so you may have seen the term being used more and more. It means just what you think - a camera without a mirror. For practical purposes, it means two things: 1.) The camera is lighter and 2.) it's probably more expensive than its mirrored counterparts.

Sony has been leading the way in this area for years now and their technology is solid, but others like Canon, Fujifilm, and others are in the game as well. They are making some of the best cameras on the market - mirror or no - so if you want some of the very highest resolutions being offered today, a mirrorless camera may be for you.

Photgraphing the Japanese snow monkeys with the top point and shoot cameras.
Snow monkey at Nagano Japan shot with an old Canon PowerShot travel camera.

Sony Alpha a6500

  • Size

    453g/1.00 lb

  • Sensor

    24MP APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Sony a6500 - best digital camera for travel

Sony is leading the way with its mirrorless cameras these days. These cameras are much lighter, and because of the simpler design, no internal mirror to worry about keeping clean. With a 24 megapixel sensor, the Sony takes incredibly detailed photos which is a hallmark of the newer Sony cameras.Sony alpha a6500 - lightweight camera

The a6500 also shoots in 4K if capturing awesome video is important to you. It's not as slim as other cameras in this round-up, so don't plan on carrying this in your pocket, but it's what I would consider a small DSLR camera relative to other cameras in its class. Another drawback could be the price for some, as this is a higher-end model, and you will need to by a lens to go with the body. However, with superior optics, quick focus with hundreds of focus points, and huge list of features, the Sony Alpha will not disappoint.

 Click here for the latest prices on the Sony Alpha a6500


Sony a7 III - Best camera for travel photography

  • Size

    650g/1.43 lb

  • Sensor

    24MP full frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Sony A7 III - best all around cameraThe Sony a7 III is a 24 megapixel powerhouse with tons of pro-level features and image quality to justify the higher price. One great reason to think about this camera is the 5-axis in-body stabilization meaning it's much easier to get crisp, detailed shots even while shooting without a tripod. Sony a7 III - best handheld camera

Many professional photographers shoot with this or its sibling the 42.4 MP a7R III for capturing incredible still scenes and quality video. If you're looking for a professional camera with a mirrorless design, look no further than the A7 III. Sony is leading the way with unbeatable dynamic range, fast focusing, and a rich feature set that just keeps pushing the envelope.

Sony has also just released it's groundbreaking a7R IV model the boast a whopping 61 megapixels of resolution. No one else really even comes close, and right out of the gate gets glowing reviews and a Gold Award from dpreview.com.

Click here for the latest prices on the Sony a7 III mirrorless camera. Try it before you buy it here.


Canon EOS M50

  • Size

    390g/0.86 lb

  • Sensor

    24MP APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)

  • Video

    4K/1080p

Canon M50 mirrorless DSLR - canon travel cameraThe Canon EOS M50 marks Canon's (late) entry into the compact mirrorless camera market. Even though Canon is late to the party compared to other manufacturers like Sony and Fujifilm, it makes up for it with a solid camera that takes great photos and is a nice entry-level travel camera.Canon M50 - camera for travel photography

The M50 offers a new 24 megapixel APS-C (crop) sensor armed with Canon's Dual-AF focusing system and is the first non-pro in Canon's lineup to offer 4K video. An articulating touchscreen. wireless, and Bluetooth capability make taking a sharing photos with others a breeze.

While the M50 takes great still photos, the video isn't quite up to par with some of it's competitors, so if you need to shoot quality, un-cropped 4K video, you'll want to look elsewhere. 1080p video does work well though, and makes use of the Dual AF system. Otherwise, this reasonably-priced mirrorless option from Canon is a good option.

 Click here for the latest prices on the Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera.


Best Action Cameras For Travel

Action cameras have become hugely popular, and we recently jumped into the fray by adding one to our kit when we travel. They're great because they're tough, waterproof, and take great photos and video.

Sunset at the lake with the GoPro travel video camera.
Sunset at the lake taken with a GoPro HERO7 Black

GoPro HERO7 Black - Best cameras for adventure travel

  • Size

    116g

  • Sensor

    12 Megapixels

  • Video

    4K/2.7K/1080p

GoPro HERO77 Black - best cameras for adventure travelGoPro HERO7 Black - best lightweight cameraThis is the action camera that's in our kit, and so far we love it. This little video camera can capture very wide landscapes, but also trim them down to reduce distortion and it also offers some really nice in-camera image stabilization. This works well for any kind of activity you might be doing while out traveling.

Other cool features like taking time-lapse videos and also high frame rate video is great for slowing down later for some cool slo-mo effects. We pair ours with the GoPro Karma Grip for ultra-smooth video, the GoPro Handler floating grip of playing in the water, and the GoPro Suction Cup for attaching to all kinds of things (moving vehicles, etc.).

Their latest camera model - the GoPro HERO8 Black - was just released and improves on their HyperSmooth video stabilization, HDR processing, and adds the ability to connect accessories like external lights and microphones to the camera. They've crammed a lot of features into this ultra portable camera. Very slick.

GoPros are small and lightweight which makes them perfect for travel and they also shoot in RAW. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better camera in such a small package which is why we love ours. The GoPro is the best small camera of the bunch.

  • Pro Tip!

    GoPro has an awesome trade-up program where they’ll give you a $100 credit towards a new GoPro just for sending them any old beat up digital camera.

    We sent them an ancient digital camera that took terrible photos and turned it into a new HERO7 Black. It was a quick and easy process, so take advantage if you can!

    Click here for all the details.

 Click here for the latest prices on the GoPro HERO7 Black.


Check out what you can do when you turn the kids loose with a GoPro in the pool on vacation!


The best DSLR camera for your next trip

If you're like us and have decided to step up to a bigger, more capable camera, then you're probably looking at a DSLR body with interchangeable lenses. Here are a few that are good for beginners and semi-pros alike that won't bust the budget.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

  • Size

    765 g/1.69 lb

  • Sensor

    26MP full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)

  • Video

    1080/60p / No 4K

Canon EOS 6D Mark II - best full frame travel camera

Compact digital camera reviews - Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland shot with a Canon 6D Mark II and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens.

This is the travel camera that we recently upgraded to and have been using it for about a year now. It is considered Canon's entry-level full-frame DSLR and it has everything we need to capture great moments whether it's hiking through a theme park or a National Park. It's got 26 megapixels, Canon's new Dual Pixel AF with 45 focus points, USB, GPS, and wireless connectivity.Canon EOS 6D Mark II - best camera for travel photos

The feature that I really love (and what makes it so versatile as a travel camera) is the articulating touchscreen. This allows me to take some really creative shots, use a rock or post as an impromptu tripod without having to hold the camera (great for bracketing shots to get an HDR composite), or snap photos in crowded situations where I need to get above or around people or obstacles.

Our first DSLR (and one we still own) was a Canon 60D, and this has been a great upgrade in every way. While it doesn't have some pro features like dual memory card slots or higher resolution, it also doesn't weigh as much as its pro counterparts like the 5D Mark IV, so this is a good compromise.

 Click here for the latest prices on the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. Try it before you buy it here.


Canon EOS 80D

  • Size

    730 g/1.61 lb

  • Sensor

    24 MP APS-C (22.5 x 15 mm)

  • Video

    1080/60p / No 4K

Canon EOS 80D - best canon camera for travelCanon EOS 80D - best camera for tripsThe Canon EOS 80D is very similar to the 6d Mark II above in many ways except that instead of a full-frame sensor, it has a APC-S sensor. Otherwise, it's shares the DIGIC 6 processor, 45-point focus, and  Dual Pixel AF with its cousin. Instead of 26 MP, it has slightly less resolution at 24 which is still great.

The 80D also has the fully articulating screen that we have learned to rely on as well as WiFi connectivity. It doesn't have GPS like the 6D, but that may not even be important to you at all. It also take both EF and EF-S lenses.

If you want a new Canon but the 6D isn't in your budget and you don't require a full-frame camera, check out the 80D. It's got nearly all the features of the 6D, but at a more affordable price point.

 Click here for the latest prices on the Canon EOS 80D. Try it before you buy it here.


Nikon D500

  • Size

    860g/1.90 lb

  • Sensor

    21MP APS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm)

  • Video

    4K (UHD)/HD 1080p

Nikon D500 - travel DSLR cameraThe D500 is Nikon's current flagship APS-C camera. Although it only has 21 megapixels of resolution, the quality of the photos will make you think otherwise. The D500 features and pro-level 153 point auto focus system for fast and smooth focusing, can shoot full HD/4K video, is capable of capturing 10 fps for up to 200 RAW photos, and has great connectivity options like USB 3, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Nikon's innovative Snapbridge which allows you to keep a constant connection to your smart device.Nikon D500 - best camera on the market for APS-C

All of these feature coupled with sharp photos make the Nikon D500 the best APS-C crop-sensor camera currently on the market. If you don't already have an investment in Canon lenses, I would give this Nikon camera a serious look.

  Click here for the latest prices on the Nikon D500 camera. Try it before you buy it here.


The best camera lenses for travel


There are a million different camera lenses available to fit your camera, and it's a lot of fun to try them out, but when I'm traveling, I typically only have one or two. You really only need a wide-angle lens for capturing those landscape shots, and a telephoto zoom with a little more reach like a 24-70mm when you need to get in a little closer.

Do I have other lenses? Of course I do, but I try to keep things light on the road. Here's what I recommend.


Ultra-wide camera lenses

Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM

Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM - best travel lens

I love this lens and it's one I take on nearly every family trip. It allows me to capture awesome landscape photos, gets the kids in the shot without distracting from the landscape, works really well inside (great for hotels, auditoriums, etc.), and is great for theme parks. The wide 2.8 aperture works really well in lower light, and it produces some of the best sun stars of any lens.

Best small DSLR camera - Canon 6D Mark II at Bryce Canyon National Park
Taking in the views at the Bryce Canyon National Park. Canon 6D Mark II with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens

This is an L-series lens from Canon (denoted by the red pinstripe around the end) and is capable of maintaining a 2.8 aperture throughout the entire focal length from 16mm to 35mm. It also has some dust a water resistance making this lens ideal to travel with.

If I had one lens to carry around on all of our trips, it would be this one. It captures beautiful photos. To read reviews of this lens on DPReview, click here.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM lens. Rent it here first to give it a try.

Nikon users: For an equivalent lens, check out the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. Rent it here first to give it a try.


Canon EF-S 10-22mm F3.5-4.5 USM

Canon EF-S 10-22mm F3.5-4.5 USM - best wide angle lensFor Canon users with an APS-C crop-sensor camera (like the 80D), this is the best ultra-wide lens you can get. We own this one and it takes great photos. Better yet, it's affordable and wont bust your budget. If you need to add a wide-angle lens to your travel photography kit, this is the one to get.

Top travel cameras at Dry Tortugas National Park
Flying to Dry Tortugas National Park. Canon 60D with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens.

When we really started to think more seriously about travel photography, this is the lens we purchased and I've really enjoyed using it.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Canon EF-S 10-22mm F3.5-4.5 USM lens. Try it out first before you buy.

Testing our digital camera for travel at Chicago360
Chicago, IL. Canon EOS 60D and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens.
  • Pro Tip!

    Good lenses are expensive, so try before you buy with Borrowlenses.com. It’s an affordable way to try out gear before making a large investment and their service is excellent.


Telephoto zoom lenses

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM - best Canon telephoto lensI used this lens exclusively on a recent trip to Scotland and Ireland, and it's fantastic. Most Canon users will agree that this is one of the best all-around lenses you can get from Canon. It's so versatile and works great both indoors and out.

Testing top rated digital cameras at Kylemore Abbey, Ireland
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co. Galway shot with a Canon 6D Mark II and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

This is an L-series lens, so it has weatherproofing and superior optics that distinguish the L-series lenses from others. Focusing is fast and silent making it easy to get the shot you want. I had equal success capturing stunning landscapes as well as the kids in action on this trip, and don't hesitate at all recommending it.

 Check here for the latest prices on the Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM lens. Rent it here first before you buy.

Nikon users: For a Nikon equivalent, check out the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8E ED VR. Rent it here first before you buy.


The best camera phones for travel

There's no denying the facts that 1.) nearly everyone has a smartphone and 2.) everyone likes to take photos and video with them. That's fine for everyday use, but can they work as a replacement to your compact point-and-shoot camera?

The answer is a resounding yes!

Today, manufacturers like Apple, Google, and Samsung are spending a ton of time and money developing cameras that aren't just for taking selfies to post on Instagram. These are serious cameras that can do so much more, so lets take a look at a few of the best.


Apple iPhone 11 Pro

What's better than one camera? Three according to Apple, and who am I to argue - I've happily used their products for years. Here are the specs on each camera:

  • Ultra-Wide

    Resolution: 12MP
    Aperture: f/2.4
    Zoom: 2x optical/10x digital

  • Wide

    Resolution: 12MP
    Aperture: f/1.8
    Zoom: 2x optical/10x digital

  • Telephoto

    Resolution: 12MP
    Aperture: f/2.0
    Zoom: 2x optical/10x digital

Other features of the iPhone 11 Pro

Apple iPhone 11 Pro - best smartphone camera2x optical zoom in and out; digital zoom up to 10x, portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono), dual optical image stabilization (Wide and Telephoto), five‑element lens (Ultra Wide); six-element lens (Wide and Telephoto), and panorama (up to 63MP).

The list goes on and on...

Some other keys features are a super-sharp OLED screen, image stabilization for photo AND video, and water resistance.

This is a stellar piece of tech, so if you're in the market for a new smartphone OR a travel camera, the new flagship iPhone could be just what you're looking for. As a current iPhone 6s user, I'm feeling an upgrade coming on. Soon...


Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4 - best phone cameraNot to be outdone, Google has just released it's Pixel 4 smartphone and it's a force to be reckoned with. It's also got multiple cameras, and if they work as well as the Pixel 3, then they've got a winner on their hands. Let's take a look.

  • Rear Camera

    Resolution: 12.2MP
    Aperture: f/1.7
    Optical + electronic image stabilization

  • Front Camera

    Resolution: 8MP wide-angle
    Aperture: f/2.0
    Optical + electronic image stabilization

  • Telephoto

    Resolution: 16MP
    Aperture: f/2.4
    Optical + electronic image stabilization

Not only does the Pixel 4 have a higher resolution than the iPhone 11 Pro, the aperture is slightly better meaning (theoretically) that it will perform better in low-light situations. The Pixel 4 offers other similar features like HDR, enhanced portrait photography, and a ultra-high resolution OLED screen.

Some other things to note are that the Pixel 4 maxes out with 128GB of device storage while the iPhone 11 Pro comes with up to 512GB. However, the Pixel 4 currently comes in at a considerably lower price point.

I suppose your decision will come down to what ecosystem you're comfortable with or already invested in (like Canon or Nikon), but both smartphones are capable of taking really great photos. It's definitely an exciting time for technology and this latest batch of smartphones are evidence that you can ditch the compact camera altogether. Just use the one in your pocket.

What's your favorite travel camera?

Hopefully this gives you a good head start on finding your next travel camera! Don't forget to show us your photos, and if we can help answer some question, let us know in the comments or drop us an e-mail.

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest and save this for later. Happy shooting!

Choosing the best travel camera. Compact, DSLR, and Adventure cameras for travel.
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