Top 10 Best Value Travel Photography Cameras

Looking for a great travel photography camera? There are many, many great options out there. Let’s find the best of the best deals.

What’s important for a travel camera: compact, light, unobtrusive, comfortable to hold, with fast lens options (when the light starts to drop). Ideally, weather-sealed and with decent battery life.

Here are some great options for your next trip:

Fixed-lens Cameras

  • Your smartphone: phone cameras have come a long way, and are getting better with every passing year. Maybe it’s all you need for your trip! Try a dedicated camera app to unlock even more features and controls. Popular apps include Halide (iPhone) and ProShot (Android).
  • Sony RX100 Mark III: 20 megapixel 1-inch sensor, great 24-70mm equivalent lens, tilting screen, shoots 1080p 60 fps video, and even has a 1.44 MP electronic viewfinder (EVF). Packs a punch in a small package. $300 used. 
  • Sony RX100 Mark V: 20 megapixel 1-inch sensor, great 24-70mm equivalent lens, tilting screen, shoots 4K 30 fps video, 2.36 MP EVF, and phase detect autofocus. A compact beast! $500 used.

Micro Four Thirds

Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless (Micro Four Thirds sensor) cameras represent a perfect balance of size:performance. They are small, light, and won’t attract too much attention.

  • Panasonic GX85: 16 megapixels, tilting (touchscreen) LCD, 2.76 mp EVF, shoots 4K 30 fps video. Tiny, especially when paired with a Panasonic 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 lens. Total = $400 ($300 camera + $100 lens).
  • Olympus E-M10 Mark II: 16 megapixels, 2.36mp EVF, tilting LCD, in-body image stabilization, 1080p 60 fps video. $300 used. Combine it with an Olympus Digital 14-150mm f4-5.6 II ($300) and Panasonic 20mm F1.7 ($150) lenses for a do-it-all kit. Total = $750.
  • Olympus E-M5 Mark III: 20 megapixels, phase detect autofocus, articulated LCD screen, 2.36 MP EVF, weather sealed, 6.5 stops of IBIS, 4K 30 fps video. Just about a perfect travel camera. $600 used. Combine with an Olympus 12-45mm F4 PRO lens ($400 used) and you’re all set. Total: $1,000

Mirrorless (APS-C)

We’re moving up a sensor size from Micro Four Thirds. This is when things start getting serious!

  • Fuji X-T20: 24 megapixel (X-Trans) sensor, 2.36 MP EVF, tilting LCD, 4k 30 fps video. Pair with the excellent Fuji 18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS lens. $450 body + $300 lens = $750 used.
  • Nikon Z50: 21 megapixels, tilting LCD screen, 2.36 MP EVF, weather resistant, shoots 4K 30 fps video. $600 used, or $700 with the (excellent) 16-50mm kit lens. Combine with the excellent Nikon Z DX 18-140mm F3.5-6.3 VR lens ($400). Total: $1,000 (body and lens). 
  • Fuji X-T3: 26 megapixel (X-Trans) sensor, 3.69 MP EVF, weather resistant, dual card slots, 4K 60 fps video, tilting (touchscreen) LCD. $750 used. Combine with Fuji 18-55mm F2.8-4 OIS ($300) and Fuji 35mm F1.4 R ($400) and you’ve got a killer travel setup for $1,450.

Mirrorless (Full Frame)

A full frame camera for travel? Absolutely! Modern bodies are compact, and plenty of options are available for small & light lenses, too.

  • Nikon Z5: 24 megapixel Full Frame sensor, tilting LCD screen, 3.69 mp EVF, weather resistant, stabilized, 4K 30 fps video. Combine with the excellent Nikon 24-70mm F4 S for a total of $1,150 ($750 body + $400 lens). 
  • Alternatively, pair the Nikon Z5 with two lenses: Nikon Z 24-200mm F4-6.3 VR ($650 used) and Nikon 40mm F2 ($200). Total: $1,600.

PS. Don’t forget to bring a small travel tripod, such as a JOBY GorillaPod or a Manfrotto PIXI. Really helps when setting up those sunset shots, or if you want to play around with long exposure!

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