The best camera for travel

…they say, is the one you take with you.

For some reason (probably laziness), on my last trip I took that maxim too much to heart and foolishly brought just my phone. For Scotland! I’m so stupid! Anyway, I couldn’t go too wrong because the landscape was too gorgeous to totally mess up…

Taken on the train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Localsh
Taken on the train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Localsh
Portree Harbour
Portree Harbour
At the fairy pools in Skye
At the fairy pools in Skye

…but I think the photos would have come out better with a proper camera. Not to get all finicky about photo quality — I think the OnePlus One does have a decent camera, especially considering its price — but I would have loved to do Scotland justice.

So I’m wondering: what camera do you use for your travels? Do you use prime lenses (and if so, which one)? Any camera/photography tips for travel? I’d love to learn from you.

The best camera for travel | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

24 thoughts on “The best camera for travel”

  • I can totally relate. Sometimes I hate toting around my “big cam” because aside from being heavy and bulky, it gets in the way of you enjoying the moment. So I use my phone. But I try to make it a habit to bring it when I go to places for the first time. I just use the kit lens. No more zoom lens for me (last time I used mine was in Alaska). It also helps to have a camera bag/day bag.

    • That’s a very good rule of thumb — make the effort to bring a good (if heavy) camera when visiting a place for a first time. I’ll keep that in mind next time! 😀 You’re right, sometimes the compulsion to take a photograph, especially if you’re toting a heavy camera, can sometimes get in the way of just totally absorbing and being in the moment. That’s something I struggle with too… Thanks for the tips!

  • I’m a photography buff so I feel naked if I don’t have my DSLR with me. Even then, I also use my smartphone if I don’t have my DSLR with me. For travelling, I prefer to bring my zoom lenses for versatility since they allow me to go from wide to tele in a single lens or 2. The downside of DSLR is the weight of the camera and lenses, and they take up plenty of space.

    If you want to use prime lenses then I suggest a wide angle prime and a 50mm. These 2 lenses should cover 80% of most travel photos. For the 50mm prime, you can get them in F1.4-1.8 which is good for low light situations. Eg. concerts, caves, night scenes, restaurants, etc.

    You can also get a mirrorless camera instead of DSLR. They offer a smaller size (and weight) with added versatility of interchangeable lenses.

    • Thank you very much for these helpful tips! If you don’t mind me taking a bit more of your time, what do you think of the 40mm prime? I’m intrigued by it (though admittedly mostly because it’s very thin compared to other lenses).

      • You are referring to the Canon 40mm pancake lens I assume. I had owned it for the past 2+ years before I sold it recently to get the new 50mm prime. It’s a great lens for the relatively cheap price and the F2.8 aperture is good for low light situations. And the small size is a big plus. It makes my DSLR look like a lomo lens got stuck on it. I brought this combo on some of my biz trips too.

      • Thanks again. Your tips have been really helpful. Much appreciated. 🙂

  • I have long refused to go full dslr because of the weight. Less than a year ago I got an upgrade and tried one of the new mirrorless cameras but couldn’t get the lens I ideally wanted. I settled for a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. It’s a bridge camera – part way between a dslr and a point and shoot. It has a built-in 25-400 lens and a 5-way stabilization system both of which I love, but a small sensor which is not so wonderful. It was a compromise, and I’m quite happy with it. Ironically it’s bulkier and heavier than my previous camera when I set out searching for the opposite. Sigh.

    • Never in a million years could I have guessed you’re not using a full dslr! Your photos are AMAZING. 25-400 is a good range too. I’m going to look it up. Thanks Alison!

  • Who needs a fancy camera when your pictures come out like that?? Amazing!

    I have a Nikon D5100 I like to use when I travel, but I have yet to figure out which lens to bring along.

    • All due to Scotland being totally gorgeous. (I love your blog, by the way, I love its personal appeal. All the best to you and your family. xx)

  • Your pictures do translate the beauty of Scotland. I know there’s nothing like seeing some places with your own eyes but you did a pretty good job of capturing that with these pictures anyway! I wouldn’t have known it was a phone camera unless you told me.
    I have no camera advice:/ But when you gather some you should post it!

    • Something that I really loved while in Scotland was looking at the mountains and seeing different areas in light and shadow…it was such beautiful light…that’s what I wanted to capture and just couldn’t with my phone. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure if I could have captured that with a proper camera either, I’ve been too lazy to learn how to fiddle with settings.

      I’m getting good advice about cameras in this post so far. But your photos are already ridiculously beautiful!

      • I would except I don’t think I can find the time. I mean, I know what they say that you can always find the time for something that you REALLY want to do, so I guess the more accurate thing to say is that it’s not a super priority right now. But sometimes I will come upon something useful, like while I was searching for good cameras for travel purposes, I came across an explanation for what the Av and Tv settings are for (which I’d never known till now!).

      • FUNNY(or maybe not that funny that I needed caps) but yesterday I mentioned to someone that we make time for things we really care about and that’s why I wasn’t making time for something because it’s not that important to me!
        I’m still finding new ways to use my camera. What I really enjoy is using certain settings alternatively to what they’re supposed to be for so there are some pre-sets that I find really helpful in certain situations and maybe I rely on them too much but I’ve found a purpose for them other than whatever the label says for that setting. Sometimes once in a while I’ll find a function I never knew was there and I’m floored and then the next time I can’t find it.
        I can’t get star trails with my camera anyway but I do wish there was a comprehensive, easy to read cheat sheet online that gave the settings (manual or otherwise) or star trails, waterfalls, ect. They seem to be more for DSLR cameras & when they’re for single lens cameras they’re always really basic and have little detail and often no settings listed. I need help!=)

      • There are photography forums that you could try posting the question in…if no one answers, no harm done, and if someone does, perfect!

  • I use my Nikon D5100 for city tours and walks. I use the 18mm-100mm(?) lens. I bought an action cam just this year since I pity my dslr during my beach trips, since the sand is getting inside it. 🙂

    • Hi Aye! You’re the second person to mention a Nikon D5100, I really should look it up. Thank you! I’m also tempted to get an action cam but…one expense at a time. 😀 Did you go for a GoPro or another action cam?

    • After I took that first photo I was just kind of sitting on the train and thinking omg, I can’t believe I got to take a photo of that. Who would leave a red boat in the middle of a lake? There was no one around the lake that I could see. Serendipity. I think that first one, yeah, I’m actually glad I was using my phone’s camera, I don’t think I’d have been fast enough with a proper one.

  • I love good photos but in my experience, bringing an SLR around your neck while touring is literally heavy. When we went to Paris, we decided to leave the SLR home and all our photos were using our phone cameras. Smartphones can get good quality photos naman na. but if given the chance, i want something small and not so heavy camera na.

Share your thoughts!