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How To Choose the Best Camera for Travel Photography

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With countries around the world reopening their borders, those who have been waiting to travel again are itching to get out there. If you’ve been waiting to get on an airplane and explore different parts of the world, there’s no better time to evaluate your photography equipment before your next trip begins.

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Capturing pictures can be a hobby, a way to remember a special event, and even a profitable career. Here are some key considerations when choosing the best camera for travel photography, whether you’re a novice or a pro.

Consider Your Budget

The first consideration when choosing the best camera for travel photography should be your budget. Understanding your budget limitations will help you narrow down the options and find the best camera that is within your financial means. While you might decide to drop thousands of dollars on a camera someday, it’s typically not worth it when you’re just starting out or are new to photography. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality cameras available at a range of price points. You can check them out on sites like Run Gun Shoot to find a reputable brand that won’t break the bank. When in the market for a decent travel camera, you should at least be willing to spend $500 to $1,000. Any less than that, and you’re better off taking photos with your smartphone. 

Consider Portability

An integral consideration when choosing a travel camera is the heft and portability. Having a lightweight camera with minimal storage and transportation needs is a must when venturing to different parts of the world. You want to ensure safe transportation without taking up too much space or weight in your luggage.

Depending on where you’re going and what activities you’ll be doing, the weight and bulk of the camera will also impact your comfort level and ultimately, your decision. Hiking up mountains or touring around with a heavy camera hanging from your neck or shoulder can be exhausting. You don’t want your equipment to take away from your experience.

Larger cameras often require a specialized transportation case. Not only does this feature take up valuable luggage space, it’s also more noticeable to passersby. In some parts of the world, attracting attention to your gear could lead to an unfortunate altercation with a mugger or scam artist. Fortunately, there are many mirrorless and DSLR cameras that are compact and fit easily in a backpack or purse.

Consider the End Use of Your Photos

Another essential consideration when choosing a camera for travel is how you’ll be using the photos. You’ll have flexibility on the quality and clarity depending on what you want to do with the photos once you get home from your trip.

For example, if you’re posting photos on social media and maybe putting together a travel photo book, you don’t need anything fancy. The resolution is important, but not as important as when you’re doing large prints or resizing your images. If you have aspirations of selling your prints or creating a stunning gallery wall, you’ll want a camera that promises clarity at a granular level. 

Assess Zoom Capability and Lens Needs

Image quality is obviously paramount when taking travel photos. However, you’ll want to look beyond that consideration to assess zoom capability and lens needs. Ideally, you’ll choose a camera that works well without a large, bulky lens attachment. There’s a fine balance between choosing a camera that takes great photos without a lens, but still has compatibility with a variety of lens options. 

Look for a mirrorless camera with a few small lens attachments to improve your range. The mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a fan favorite for both portability and zoom range, closely followed by the Panasonic Lumix TZ200/ZS200.

Assess Your Skill Level

There’s no shame in being a beginner when it comes to photography; everyone has to start somewhere. Before you choose a travel camera, take some time to reflect and assess your skill level. Purchasing a camera that suits your comfort with taking photos is more important than choosing something flashy. An elaborate, professional-level camera might take nicer photos, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’ll end up with the same shots. 

If you plan on making travel photography a habit, it’s well worth taking some basic photography courses to expand your knowledge and skills.

Evaluate Simplicity and Ease of Operation

To expand on the previous idea, if you’re new to photography or lack the knowledge to use your manual settings, you should choose a camera with a point-and-shoot user experience. In other words, you want something simple and easy to use that still produces great photos.

It’s worth noting that a simple point-and-shoot camera will be limiting in terms of creating depth and composition, but it can still capture great travel photos and videos. The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a durable, high-quality point-and-shoot option that’s great for straightforward travel photography. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 is another simple solution for travel photography, as long as you won’t be photographing low-light areas.

Consider Specialty Requirements

Finally, consider what special requirements you might deem necessary as a travel photographer. For example, if you intend on taking a lot of night shots, you might want something with incredible low-light capabilities. If you intend on spending a lot of time on the water, you’ll likely want something waterproof.

Many photographers — both professional and otherwise — are taking advantage of video content creation to showcase their skills. If you’re hoping to foray into this area, it’s also worth looking at the video capabilities on the camera you’re considering. You’ll also want to think of the various accessories and tools you need to take the photos and videos you want, such as a tripod for stability. Having a camera that’s compatible with a compact, travel-friendly tripod is a must. 

With these key considerations, you can find the best travel camera to capture your next adventure. Take the time to read reviews and learn how to use your camera properly before you take off.