A detailed guide to help you pick camera gear for travel. Includes tips on choosing travel camera equipment, with options for varying budgets and photography styles.

I’ve been working as a professional travel photographer for over 3 years but the truth is I have been traveling and taking photos for much longer than that. I couldn’t think of a more rewarding and creatively fulfilling way to spend my time. When I first started out back in 2015, I never dreamed that I’d one day be making a living from traveling and taking photos!

That’s why I’ve created this comprehensive guide to creating the perfect travel photography kit– to help you kickstart your dreams of becoming a travel photographer, or perhaps to just help you pick a good camera for your next vacation. Either way, I’ve included recommendations and a beginner’s breakdown to creating the perfect travel camera and photography kit for a wide range of purposes and needs.

Designing a Photography Kit For Travel

One of the most common and obvious questions you hear from people first starting out with travel photography is “what is the best camera for travel?” This is a good question because the camera is the foundation of your travel photography kit. Hence, everything you choose to buy from lenses to accessories will need to be compatible with the camera.

As you might expect, with the boom of smaller mirrorless and even micro four thirds cameras, there are just so many options on the market these days.

To narrow down the search, I’ve selected a few that I believe are the best cameras for travel photography in 2021. Again, I’ve also included various options to suit different needs and budgets. If you continue reading, I’ve also included recommendations for the best lenses and accessories to craft your perfect travel photography kit around the camera of your choice.

NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TRAVEL

Buying Photography Equipment For Travel: Considerations

Here’s what you want to look when selecting gear for your travel kit. At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included a guide covering technical terms for those with no experience with photography.

  • Keep it Minimalist

    One of the most important things to consider is that in most cases, you want a minimalist travel photography gear. The last thing you want to do is to be lugging around unnecessary, bulky (and expensive) camera equipment when on the road. Selecting minimalist camera gear means that you’ll only buy what you really need to create beautiful travel photos and video– no crazy filter systems or dozens of prime lenses.
  • Prioritise weight and size

    This one is a no-brainer. This means sticking to smaller and lighter camera systems like mirrorless, micro four thirds, or point and shoot bodies. That rules out huge DSLRs like the Canon 1DXII. In most cases these systems are overkill.
  • Consider brand

    Brand is important. I’ve shot on Canon and Sony systems but have always preferred the images produced by Canon. Everyone has their personal preference– either way I’ve only included the best brands.
  • Future-proof your gear
    In 2021, we are in a transitional stage where camera manufacturers are stepping away from DSLR to mirrorless technologies. The truth is that until recently, I’ve always carried around a bulky DSLR. However it’s pretty clear that mirrorless is better in almost every regard, and the tech is here to stay.

    The camera systems I’m recommending are “future proof” and relevant in 2021, meaning that while you won’t need to replace your gear any time soon, if you would like to a few years down the line, the process will be easier and cheaper.

Camera Gear For Travel: Travel Photography Gear List

Here’s a useful travel photography gear list with recommendations. A comprehensive kit includes:

  1. Camera
  2. Lenses
  3. Drone
  4. Action Camera/360 Camera
  5. Essential Accessories

Remember you don’t need to have all of these items to take great photos. You might decide that a simple GoPro or Insta360 camera is enough for your travel photography kit. However, I’ve included everything that I use everyday to cover all the bases of a great travel photography gear list.

1. Best Cameras for Travel

Best option for most: Sony A6600

What I use: Canon R5

CameraTypePrice
Panasonic Lumix TZ220Compact$
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IVMicro Four Thirds$$
Sony A6600Mirrorless (Crop Sensor)$$
Sony A7IIIMirrorless (Full Frame)$$$
Canon R5Mirrorless (Full Frame)$$$$

Panasonic Lumix TZ220

The Panasonic Lumix TZ220 is Panasonics flagship compact camera and nicknamed the company’s Ultimate Travel Companion. While it is technically a little more expensive than the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, the in-built 15x zoom means that you won’t need to spend anything more on lenses.

Pros:

  • 15x Zoom Leica Lens in-built
  • 1-inch Mos Censor in a tiny form-factor
  • Very lightweight at 340 grams (0.75 lb)
  • Built in 5-axis image stablizer
  • Decent image quality

Cons:

  • No tilt screen
  • Can’t use different lenses
  • Small design makes controls harder to use
  • Softer images at telephoto-end

Best for: The Lumix TZ220 is probably the best compact camera out there for travel. This one is best for people who don’t want to spend a fortune on buying different lenses and would like to keep their travel photography gear as lightweight and discrete as possible.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

PANASONIC LUMIX TZ220

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a 20-megapixel micro four thirds camera with 5-axis in-built image stabilization and includes a great range of high-quality compact lenses. This is the entry-level camera in Olympus’ micro four thirds range of compact DSLR-style cameras. However, I believe that it’s best option in this price range with all the features you’ll want in a low-budget interchangeable-lens camera for travel.

Pros:

  • Great camera form factor for travel
  • Great in-built stabiliation
  • Flip-display
  • 4K 30p video
  • USB Charging (don’t need to carry additional chargers)
  • Wifi + Bluetooth
  • Decent battery life
  • Loads of great lenses to choose from

Cons:

  • Contrast-detect AF system isn’t as good as Dual-pixel or hybrid
  • No mic/headphone input
  • Slow 5fps max shutter

Best for: Olympus is a great entry-level camera for travel photography serving as a perfect platform to learn and grow as a photographer.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Sony Alpha a6600

The Sony a6600 is my recommended camera of choice for both travelers looking to get into photography and photography-enthusiasts looking to upgrade their gear to a purposed-travel kit. I’ve used the a6500 (previous version) as a backup camera for a few years and I’m constantly amazed at how well it performs.

The specs on this upgraded version are even better, with super fast AF, in-built image stabilisation, great image quality, long battery life and even 4K HDR video recording, all in a great, compact, mirrorless APS-C form factor.

Pros:

  • Awesome autofocus
  • Good balance of excellent image quality and size
  • In-built image stabilization
  • Great battery life
  • USB Charging
  • Oversampled 4K video recording
  • Fast 11fps burst speeds
  • Tilting screen
  • Headphone and mic sockets

Cons:

  • Quite expensive for a crop-sensor camera
  • Buttons and controls are a little cramped
  • No UHS-II card capability
  • Serious photographers might prefer full-frame

Best for: The Sony a6600 is one of the best options, ticking nearly all the boxes for excellent travel photography gear. The images and video this thing produces are incredible considering just how compact this mirrorless body is. This is a great camera for beginners and enthusiasts serious about travel photography. The only downfalls are that due to the small size, it is a little more difficult to use the buttons and controls than compared to some of the larger, pro models below.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Sony Alpha a6600

Sony Alpha A7III

These last two camera bodies sees us step up into the pro-level travel photography gear. While this particular model has been around for a while now, it’s proved to be one of the best-performing full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. While its specs don’t stand out much when compared to some of the other full-frame pro options, it’s more than capable as an excellent full-frame camera for travel.

Pros:

  • Great full-frame image quality
  • 93% autofocus coverage with great performance
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Many excellent lenses to pair with
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Oversampled 4k video recording capability
  • Great size for a full-frame camera
  • Best bang-for-buck camera on the market

Cons:

  • Weather sealing is not as good as competitors
  • No swivel screen
  • Low megapixel count for a modern pro camera

Best for: The Sony A7III came in very close to taking the top spot for the best camera for travel photography. Its relatively low price, excellent performance and great features make it the perfect camera for pros or those really serious about travel photography.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Sony Alpha A7III

Canon EOS R5

The Canon EOR R5 is the holy-grail of small form factor, full-frame mirrorless cameras. I’ve been a Canon DSLR loyalist for years, shooting on bodies like the Canon 6D and the Canon 5D Mark IV but this camera finally gave me enough reasons to swap to mirrorless.

This camera has incredible features and insane specs, but be prepared to fork out a bit of cash for it.

Pros:

  • 45MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 8K 30p and 4K 120fps video recording
  • Insane auto-focus and tracking capability
  • 20 FPS burst mode
  • Completely silent shutter mode (great for wildlife)
  • Tilt and swivel screen
  • Great Canon build quality and weather sealing
  • In-body stabilization
  • New Canon RF lenses are incredible (EF-mount adapter available)

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • CF Express cards are expensive (required to shoot in 8k)
  • RF Lenses are expensive
  • Shorter battery life than competitors
  • Slightly bulkier than Sony A7RIV

Best for: The Canon EOR R5 is best for professional photographers who make a living with their gear. This camera will give you the best image quality and more than enough features for all travel photography needs. However, this is by far the most expensive camera and very overkill for beginners or hobbyists.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Canon EOS R5

2. Best Lenses for Travel Photography

The next step in choosing your travel photography gear list is a lens or two to match your camera of choice. The truth is, there are way too many options to list and review for every camera body out there.

However, for travel photography especially, it’s best to go for zoom lenses over primes. This will give you a more flexible focal range without doubling up or needing a whole bag of lenses for different shoot types. To achieve a good coverage of lenses for all shoots, consider getting:

  • A good walk around lens is versatile lens for portraits, shots of people, landscapes, food, buildings
  • A wide angle lens or ultra-wide for landscapes, astro and architecture
  • A telephoto lens for wildlife and unique perspectives

Walk-Around Lens

A walk-around or general kit lens is a versatile lens that photographers use for a wide range of subjects and shoots. The focal-range will depend on the sensor size for your camera, but usually covers that ranges from fairly wide to near-telephoto focal range.

This is typically the type of lens that travel photographers use most. However, this varies depending on the style of photography you like. For example, I tend to shoot a lot more landscape so I actually end up using my wide-angle lens more often.

Best option for the Sony A6600: Sony 16-70mm f/4

What I use: Canon RF 24-105 f4L USM IS (cheaper and lighter than the better 24-70mm f2.8L)

To fitLensWhere to buy
Panasonic Lumix TZ220N/AN/A
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IVOlympus 12-45mm f/4 Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Sony A6600Sony 16-70mm f/4Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Sony A7IIISony FE 24-105mm F4 Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Canon R5Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8L Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU

Wide Angle Lens

For my style of travel photography, a wide or ultra-wide lens is the most fun and captivating focal range to use. Wides and ultra-wides fit an entire scene into the frame, which is great for landscape vistas, action shots, night photography and busy streets.

Below I’ve listed the best wide angle lenses for travel photography for each camera. Note that again, all but one are zoom lenses, allowing them to be more versatile. The Rokinon for the Olympus is a prime, but a great one that shouldn’t be passed up if this is the camera you go for.

Best option for the Sony A6600: Sony 10-18mm f/4

What I use: Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8L IS USM

LensTo FitWhere to buy
Panasonic Lumix TZ220N/AN/A
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IVRokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CSAmazon | Amazon AU
Sony A6600Sony 10-18mm f/4Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Sony A7IIISony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GMAmazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Canon R5Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8L IS USMAmazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU

Optional: A Telephoto Lens

Telephotos aren’t a necessary lens focal length for many travel photographers. Due to their large size and limited use-cases, many seem to pass them up so save room in their travel photography gear bags.

However, I’ve recently started shooting with a super-telephoto by Canon and I absolutely love the unique shots that I’m able to get with it. For landscapes, you can get incredible blown-up backgrounds of mountains, city skylines or even the moon or setting sun. I also love using a telephoto for wildlife photography, allowing beautiful, up-close photos without needing to get too close to the subject.

Best option for the Sony A6600: Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS

What I use: Canon RF 100-500mm f4.507.1L IS USM

LensTo FitWhere to buy
Panasonic Lumix TZ220N/AN/A
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IVOlympus 12-200mm f/3.5-6.3Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Sony A6600Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Sony A7IIISony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU
Canon R5Canon RF 100-500mm f4.507.1L Amazon | Amazon AU | DigiDirect AU

3. Best Drone For Aerial Travel Photography

Drones have absolutely changed the game! I consider them one of the most useful bits of travel camera gear in my kit. More often than not, my favorite shot from a particular shoot will end up being captured from my drone. The unique perspectives are just too good to pass up.

Below are the best drones for travel photography.

DJI Mavic Pro 2

The DJI Mavic Pro is currently the best travel drone you can buy. While it is a little bulkier and a bit more dated than some of the newer, smaller drones by DJI, it still offers the best image-quality, range and features like variable aperture and 4K 60p video recording.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS)

dji mavic pro 2

DJI Mavic Air 2

The DJI Mavic Air 2 takes an excellent camera and turns it into a tiny drone. This thing is smaller than the Mavic Pro 2 and offers similar specs and image quality. The Mavic Air 2 is more than enough drone for most people’s travel photography gear list and is cheaper than the Mavic Pro 2.

However, what it does lack is a variable aperture, which will be enough to turn many of the pros away.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

DJI Mini 2

For amateur or enthusiast photographers looking to get into aerial photography on their travels, the DJI Mini 2 is going to be the drone for you. This thing is tiny, and weighs less than 250 grams (8.5 oz). Additionally, it folds down to the size of a coke can, which is perfect for travel.

However, the small size means sacrificing performance across the board including flight time, image quality, and stability in wind. Another gripe I have with this drone is that the controller is stupidly large– it’s bigger than the drone itself.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

4. Choosing an Action/360 Camera For Travel

Another great piece of camera gear for travel is an action camera. For some, you could easily skip on this. For others, you might choose to replace your entire kit with a single, tiny, high-performing camera.

Personally, I’m a big fan of action cameras like GoPros. Similarly to drones, they’ve changed the game in travel and adventure photography. They allow photographers to get insane perspectives and to capture quite good images and video with a camera that fits in your pocket.

Recently, the industry is changing once again. With the introduction of high-quality 360 cameras, many like myself will end up replacing their traditional GoPros with 360 cameras since they do it all, with the ability to create awesome, 360 images and video.

Below I’ll include the best action cameras for travel for you to consider.

The GoPro hero range is the most-sold camera in history. And, the latest Hero 9 is the best yet. Its tiny size, waterproof construction and excellent image quality with features like a front LCD screen, 5K 30p recording, insane hypersmooth image stabilization and 20MP sensor make most really rethink whether it can replace a traditional camera altogether.

GoPro Hero 9

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

GOPRO ACTION CAMERA FOR TRAVEL

Insta360 One X2

I recently traded in my GoPro for the Insta360 One X2. This new camera is one of the most entertaining pieces of equipment I’ve used in years. While 360 video and photo hasn’t really taken off yet, it’s just so cool I can’t imagine it not becoming one of the most consumed styles of media very shortly.

The Insta360 One X2 is a great action camera as well. It records a 360-degree view at all times, allowing you to trim and crop video to turn it into immersive perspectives even in traditional formats. I’ve also been using this camera for commercial work as it allows me to create high-quality 360 photos and virtual tours for hotels.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Insta360 One X2

GoPro Hero Max

The GoPro Hero Max is GoPro’s answer to the 360-camera. While I believe they’ve made too many sacrifices in their attempts to create an “all-in-one” action cam, it’s still one of the best action and 360 cameras on the market.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS)

GOPRO HERO MAX, ACTION CAMERA FOR TRAVEL

5. Essential Camera Accessories For Travel

By now, you’ll probably have quite the shopping list or Amazon cart. But I’m sorry to break it to you, it doesn’t end there. When it comes to crafting a perfect travel camera gear list, you can’t go past some of these accessories.

Again, as I mentioned at the start of this article, the goal is always to keep things as minimalist as possible. There are loads of nifty accessories on the market but the hardest part for travelers is sifting through what you actually need.

Below I’ve listed travel camera gear essentials that I couldn’t live or work without.

TRAVEL CAMERA GEAR

Lens Filters

Lens filters are arguably the most-used photography accessory. Usually, these screw onto the front element of the lens so you’ll need to buy filters to fit your lenses. Below are the most commonly-used filter types and why you should use them for travel photography.

  • UV-filters: UV filters reduce UV light rays slightly but are better used to protect your lenses. They are fairly cheap so if you drop or scract your camera, you can just replace a filter rather than your expensive lens.

Find UV-filters for your lens on Amazon

  • ND-filters: Neutral Density filters reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor. The good ones achieve this without affecting the image. This is useful for videographers to maintain the desired shutter speed for their frame rate and for landscape travel photographers taking long-exposure photos.

Find ND-filters for your lens on Amazon

  • CP-filters: Circular Polarizing filters reduce glare and increase saturation. If you’ve ever worn polarized sunglasses, you already know what I’m talking about. I often use CP-filters when shooting over water or if I want to make lush forest greens pop.

Find CP-filters for your lens on Amazon

Using ND filters to create motion blur and a CP filter to cut through water glare

Camera Clip

A camera clip is my personal favorite travel camera accessory. These clips are made by Peak Design and allow you to easily clip your camera on and off your backpack or belt. This is a game changer for long hikes and outdoor shoots and I honestly couldn’t live without it.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Camera Backpack

Of course, you’re going to need a camera backpack to store all of your gear.

Recommending the best camera backpack for travel is a difficult task as there are just so many variables to consider. Generally, backpacks are better for travel than sling bags or big pelican cases. That’s because are easy to transport, more comfortable and more secure and discrete for traveling.

Below are my recommendations for camera backpacks based on what I’ve used and reviews from photographers.

My camera backpack: F-Stop Tilopa 50L

F-stop make some of the best outdoor camera backpacks in the world. They’re tailored for outdoor conditions and are comfortable for long hikes.

The Tilopa has great features with loads of pockets and a huge back-access pocket for all of your gear. The great thing about F-stop backpacks are their modula ICU systems. This means you can change up your backpack depending on whether you need lots of camera gear, or more space for clothes and other tings.

What makes the F-Stop Tilopa my favorite travel camera backpack is that I can store my gear, as well as many other things I use day-to-day when living on the road.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Great All-Round Camera Backpack For Travel: WANDRD PRVKE

The PRVKE by WANDRD is a very popular backpack for travel photographers with excellent features. What’s great about this bag is that it doesn’t look like a camera backpack, but still has the accessibility of one.

The PRVKE comes in three sizes; 21L, 31L, and 41L. I’ve personally tried one on and consider it pretty darn comfortable. However, it’s just not as comfortable as the Tilopa, especially if you spend a lot of time hiking.

I’d say that the PRVKE is the best camera backpack for most travelers, especially for cities and transit.

Check for latest best price on: Amazon

Buy in Australia: Amazon (AUS) | DigiDirect (AUS)

Technical Camera Terms You’ll Need to Learn

Understandably, when starting off with photography, there are a lot of technical terms that are utterly confusing. If you’re struggling to choose camera gear for travel because you don’t understand what the specs mean, let me help you out with a simple glossary.

  • Aperture or f-stop
    One of the primary settings in-camera. Aperture is the opening which light passes through the lens to the sensor. A lower “f-stop” means a larger opening, allowing more light and a shallower depth of field. Lenses with a lower maximum f-stops are considerably more expensive.
  • Burst rate
    Burst rate refers to a camera’s maximum number of consecutive photographs that it can shoot before the buffer is full.
  • Crop sensor (crop factor)
    crop sensor is smaller than the standard 35 mm sensor size (full-frame). Crop sensors capture less light since it is taking in less information in a scene. This means that you will need to purchase lenses that accommodate for the sensor size of “crop factor” of you camera.
  • Dynamic range
    Dynamic range refers to the ratio between the maximum and minimum measurable light intensities. A camera with a higher dynamic range captures more information and allows for more control when editing.
  • Exposure
    Exposure refers to the amount of light captured by the camera’s sensor. A common mistake is to severely “underexpose” images (too dark), or “overexpose” them (too bright). Exposure is controlled by the camera’s three primary settings, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
  • Focal length
    The focal length refers to the distance (in milimeters) between the lens and the sensor. A longer focal length results in a closer (tighter) image, while short focal lengths are used to capture wide scenes.
  • ISO
    ISO is an important setting for digital cameras. The ISO setting determines the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. For example, a low ISO of 100 is good for bright scenes in daylight, while an ISO of 6400 is very sensitive to light and should be used in dark senes. However, higher ISO sensitivity results in more grain added to the image. Generally speaking, expensive, full-frame cameras allow for a much more acceptable range of ISO to be used without adding too much artificial grain.
  • IS or OS
    IS or OS means image stabilization or optical stabilization. This is a feature in modern cameras and lenses, allowing for smoother video and the ability to shoot hand-held with slower shutter speeds without introducing motion blur.
  • Prime vs Zoom
    This is important when choosing photography equipment for travel. Prime lenses have a fixed (single) focal range, while zoom lenses allow for a range of focal lengths to be used. I recommend choosing good zoom lenses for travel as they are more versatile.
  • Quality (image quality)
    Quality or image quality is a very broad term. When comparing cameras and lenses to purchase, image quality is usually used to determine factors such as dynamic range, exposure, aberrations, information loss etc.
  • Resolution
    Resolution refers to the megapixels captured by a sensor (dimension). The higher the maximum resolution or megapixels, the more detail photographers get from their images. However, these days you will only notice a difference between cameras with the highest maximum resolution when blowing up the images for large prints.
  • Shutter speed
    Shutter speed is the time in seconds (or fractions of a second) that the sensor is exposed to light in order to capture the image.

Check out Wix’s great guide for a full list of terms.

Wrapping Up

And that wraps up my comprehensive guide to camera gear for travel. I hope that i’s helped you out on your mission to design the ultimate travel photography kit.

My goal is to keep this gear list as relevant and updated as possible to ensure that this always remains a trustworthy resource for my readers. While you’re here, make sure to check out my travel guides for your next travel destination, or head over to my prints page to see my fine art available for sale.

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