What are the best cameras and lenses for travel photography? It’s a question as old as the consumer camera industry itself. While opinions abound regarding the best gear for travel photography, the answer really boils down to two factors: price and practicality. It’s about what you can afford and how much you’re willing to carry while you’re active and on the move. Here are the best cameras and lenses for travel photography by budget.
Low Budget iPhoneographer (or Smartphone Photographer)
Believe it or not, iPhoneography is a thing, and some of the top rated travel photographers on Instagram used nothing more than their smartphone of choice to document their trips across the globe.
For Apple fans, the iPhone 6 Plus offers optical image stabilization, an 8 megapixel iSight camera, 1080p HD video, and an f/2.2 aperture lens. For those in the Android camp, the LG G4 offers the most bang for your buck, an 8 megapixel camera with an impressively fast for its class f/1.8 aperture lens. Both offer geotagging and all the other assorted benefits of owning a smartphone.
Love them or hate them, selfie-sticks
are to smartphones what tripods are for DSLRs—a practical tool for added stability and the ability to take a photo of yourself in the shot. As an added bonus, you can also use it to capture unique and creative angles that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach with just your arms.
Medium Budget Travel Photographer
If you’re serious about travel photography, you’ll want to invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Since it’s 2016, and mirrorless cameras have finally begun to catch up with mid ranged DSLRs, this bit will focus on a medium budget Sony a6000. For comparably priced DSLR kit, check out our guide: “Amazing DSLR Cameras for the Aspiring Travel Photographer
Sony Alpha 6000
Sleek, compact, and weighing in at only 344g, the Sony Alpha 6000
represents everything travel photographers love about the latest in mirrorless technology. The a6000 manages to pack the power of a Canon Rebel T5i or Nikon D5500 into a tighter frame at roughly the same cost. The a6000 boasts a 24.3 MP APS-C sensor, 11 fps continuous shooting and 1920 x 1080 HD video.
Sony SEL50F 18-50mm f/1.8
The Sony SEL50F 18-50mm f/1.8
is a must have for travel photographers who intend to take portraits as they journey abroad. With it’s compact design and silver finish, this fast medium ranged telephoto lens will fit stylishly on your a6000. The lens is notably compact for a lens with an aperture of this size—perfect for fitting in your daypack.
Sony SEL1670Z 16-70mm f/4
For your standard walk-around zoom, the SEL1670Z 16-70mm f/4
is a quality mid-range zoom lens that will nicely complement your a6000. The 4x optical zoom of this lens extends the range from 24mm to 105mm, making it easy to snap points of interest from a distant while you’re on the go.
High Budget Seasoned Globetrotter
If you’re a professional travel photographer looking to earn a profit from your escapades across the globe, you need a camera that can deliver optimum performance from the rainforests of the Amazon to the plains of the Serengeti, without breaking the camel’s back.
If you’re looking for the best travel camera that money can currently buy, the Nikon D810
is the current crowd favorite—36.30 MP CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, ISO 64 to 12,800 expandable to 51,200 and just about everything you could ask for in a full frame pro DSLR. You’ll need high quality glass to make the most of this DSLR system, but it’s reliability and image quality have earned the camera a special place in the hearts of travel photographers the world over.
Nikon 24-120mm Kit Lens
While you could just purchase the body by itself for under $2,800, it’s worth mentioning that the 24-120mm f/4 kit lens
is well worth the additional cost as a versatile walk-around zoom. Fast autofocus, vibration reduction and the ability to hone in on the ideal 35mm range for portrait shoots make it a great all in one lens to have on hand while you’re traveling the globe. Want to save a bit more? Pick up a certified refurbished
one for under $700.
Nikon 14-24mm F/2.8 Wide Angle
Nothing does landscape photography like a solid wide angle lens, but if you really want to capture the grandeur of famous sites like the Grand Canyon or Angel Falls, then you’ll want the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens
. This fast wide angle lens gives primes a run for their money, with impressive edge to edge sharpness, contrast and color rendering for all your your landscape needs.
Nikon 70-200mm f/4 ED
From sports to broadway performances, the Nikon 70-200mm f/4 ED
is your go to lens for capturing action at a distance. A fast and accurate autofocus ensures sharp photos with vibrant colors while zooming. The f/4 is considered bright, as far as telephoto lenses are concerned, and you’ll be able to cope with a wider variety of lighting conditions than you would with a more specialized lens like the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR.