Every travel photographer just needs one thing: simply the very best travel camera out there to capture all the incredible moments he comes across during his journeys.
Compact Travel Camera or DSLR?
The first thing you might ask is:
why are all the cameras you present here bulky DSLRs and not some of these smaller, handy compact cameras?
The answer is easy: if you travel to certain destinations, you will only get there once in your life. Therefore, you need get the best photographs out of that one visit! Therefore for me, the best travel camera out there has to be a DSLR (“digital single-lens reflex camera“). DSLR cameras will – generally spoken – offer you larger image sensors, better optical zooms (forget about digital zooms please), more realistic lighting and flexibility for all situations you might come across.
What makes a camera the “best travel camera”?
In my opinion, there are certain features that make a camera the best travel camera:
We’re on the road, often with just a backpack for months. We’re looking for a camera that is light-weight, small and easy to carry along.
Travel Photographers come across the most diverse settings in regards to lighting, distances, smoothness of your ride, et cetera. You want to have a all-in-one camera that can cover all of these aspects perfectly!
Even the best photographers need to be able to use a camera easily. Especially when you’re on the road, you don’t have the time to dial in certain camera settings for minutes. Therefore, the camera has to be easy and quick to use.
Face it – sometimes we travel photographers crawl through the jungle, around hot deserts, in the rain or a sandstorm. The best travel camera out there has to withstand all of these conditions.
The Top Five Best Travel Cameras
Rank 5: Pentax K-50
Aside from the market leaders Canon and Nikon, there are gems to be found at other manufacturers as well. Pentax has a proud history of producing fine cameras, even before the digital age. The K-50 is a great suit for travellers: it has a total of 81 weather seals throughout the entire body. These make the K-50 withstand rain or sand perfectly and it works during very cold temperatures as well. The in-body shake reduction also comes in handy for travellers on the road. It has a big variety of features, as well as an intuitive user interface. Of course there might be travel cameras on the market with a better sensor or more features, but in this price segment the Pentax K-50 is as good as it gets for travel photographers!
Pros: Durability, price
Cons: Available lenses, color quality
Rank 4: Nikon D800
The Nikon D800 is a beast for photographers. It is clearly aimed at professionals as it features the biggest price-tag in this comparison, but also the (by far) best image quality. Many professionals consider it the best camera on the market right now as it offers the highest resolution (36.3 megapixels) of all Nikon cameras. This comes with an outstanding dynamic range, as well as the perfect configuration for every image setting. This camera will make some of the best images you’ve ever encountered, if you can afford the hefty pricetag (worth though!). Another benefit for travel photographers: it is one of the most lightweight full-frame DSLR cameras. For professional travel photographers with enough space in their camera bag, this is the best travel camera on the market.
Pros: outstanding image quality, features
Cons: pricetag, size
Rank 3: Canon EOS 6D
The EOS 6D is Canon‘s full-frame professional DSLR camera in a relatively low price segment. It is even lighter than the Nikon D600 or the EOS 5D and fits very well to the needs of travel photographers with a professional approach. It has a great low light performance and offers WiFi and GPS – which is quite handy when traveling. Also, the 20.2 megapixel sensor offers very good image qualities in different settings. The DIGIC 5+ image processor works quite well to reduce noise. If the price-tag might be to high for you, the EOS 5D might be a good choice for you!
Pros: ISO range, image quality
Cons: price, autofocus
Rank 2: Nikon D5200
The Nikon D5200 is not the smallest camera on the market. To make up for that, it has one of the best sensors on the market that covers 24.1 megapixels that is also used on higher tier cameras. It still is lightweight, especially when compared to the features it offers. Awesome light sensitivity, an extensive auto-focus field, HD video recording in 1.080 pixels and a fold-out display make this camera a great overall choice. If you prefer features and image quality over size and weight, the Nikon D5200 is the best travel camera for you! If you want to save some money – check out the D5200’s predecessor, the Nikon D5100!
Pros: best sensor in the “middle-class”, image quality
Rank 1: Canon EOS Rebel SL-1
The Canon EOS Rebel SL-1 is the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR camera that’s currently on the market. Not only this feature makes it a great choice for travellers – the SL-1 also has a very durable feel and handling to it. Although its small appearance, there is some great technology inside it. The new 18 megapixel CMOS sensor offers an ISO range of 100 to 12.800 and captures everything with bright colors and clear image textures. The touchscreen handles well and the handling of the menus, as well as of the overall camera body is exceptional. All these factors combined make the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 truly the best travel camera on the market right now!
Pros: Very lightweight and small, great ISO modes, 4 FPS shooting mode
Cons: Bigger lenses would provide even better results