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Best travel camera?

Hi all,

I’m a wedding photographer, and we are taking out third trip out of the US this year to Scotland. (Previous trips to Ireland and Germany). I always lug around one of my big camera bodies and lenses. But this time I’m looking for a more compact option. Something that will still allow for landscapes, churches and the odd sheep, and is better than my iPhone.
Could you give me some insight into what you have taken along with you?
Thanks!

Added to say, I’m not looking to spend a ton either. Maybe less than 300.

Posted by
84 posts

Nikon P900. Fantastic zoom and photos. I use a monopod for long shots. I think the camera weighs 2 lbs, but don’t quote me. B&H Photo is where I bought mine. Online. Good luck. Have fun on your trip.

Posted by
4685 posts

Try a bridge camera - a bridge between a P&S and an SLR. My choice a few years ago was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 with an attached 25mm-400mm (35mm-equivalent) zoom. This one is a few years old now; there's a newer version. But it's been a great camera for travel. I was skeptical that I would really use the 400mm zoom, but I've used it a lot when I travel, and the images are a lot sharper when hand-held than I imagined. The image-stabilization system in the camera is very well designed.

Sony's version of a bridge camera, the DSC-RX10, is more expensive and probably better in some ways (especially for video; one drawback of my Lumix is that it is a bit noisy, and if I shoot video in a quiet room, I can hear the noise; I understand the Sony is very quiet.

Posted by
741 posts

I just bought the Panasonic LX-100, the one that's a few years old, not the new version that just came out (I simply couldn't talk myself into spending $1,000 on a travel camera). So far, playing with it at home, I've been very impressed. I've got three months until our trip to Scotland to really learn it, but I think I'm going to like it.

My previous travel camera was the Nikon P530. The Panasonic is smaller, lighter and faster. Seems much better.

Posted by
6099 posts

The camera I have is a - Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS25 16.1 MP Compact Digital Camera with 20x Intelligent Zoom-- I have traveled Greece and Italy with it and not encountered a situation that I could not get the photo I wanted. I have not had the urge to 'get a newer' camera.

This appears to be the current version-- https://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-Lumix-ZS50-Camera-Black/dp/B00RBG687A/ref=asc_df_B00RBG687A/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312148122212&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7997212630547260933&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9033269&hvtargid=pla-558829875531&psc=1

Posted by
656 posts

I like the Nikon Coolpix A900, it only weighs 10.5 oz., fits in your pocket, has a great telephoto built in, takes excellent pictures, for me this is so much easier than dragging a camera with multiple lenses and other accessories around. Mine has been to Europe multiple times and has always got the job done.

Posted by
39 posts

I've been very satisfied with the Panasonic ZS100 (weighs 312g / 0.69 lb / 11.01 oz) particularly for zoom pictures. It's a couple years old now but I have no desire to upgrade or replace.

Posted by
1254 posts

I use a Canon SL1, which is a DSLR, but quite small and light, so I don't mind carrying it. I see there's now an SL2 out, which has more pixels and a higher max ISO. The only lens I usually bring on car-free trips is the 18-50 zoom it came with.

Posted by
6027 posts

I have an older Panasonic Lumix p&s that I still swear by for travel. The only thing I would upgrade on it is the zoom - it only has the 16x zoom and I would like a longer zoom. It still takes terrific travel photos that I have been very happy with and its compact, light-weight size makes it so easy to carry in a pocket. It doesn't have the flexibility or manipulation ability of a DSLR (or a bridge camera), but it does have some features that most p&s cameras don't have. And, one of the better things about an inexpensive p&s camera is that they aren't a target for pickpockets or others with sticky fingers. If I replaced it, it would be with another, more upgraded, Lumix.

Posted by
239 posts

After reviewing options for replacing my 'stand-by' travel camera last year, I went with the Sony RX100 vi. While it doesn't fall within the $300 range, I found it to have an optimal mix of features and abilities to capture GREAT photos and memories under all types of conditions (low light, wide panoramas, people and places, even an HD Video capability). It's small and easy to pack/transport; it has a Zeiss lens which yields crisp focus; and it has a remarkable zoom capability (24mm to 200mm). That last attribute was the deciding factor for me; getting the same range and quality of images without having to lug multiple lenses - and a DSLR body - when touring a castle or a museum or the occasional 'surprise' photo-op that avails itself.

Posted by
22 posts

My wife uses the Lumix ZS50 and is very happy with it (there is a newer model available). I still have an older Lumix ZS40, but I use my Sony A6000 mirrorless for travel because it does well in low-light conditions. However, I understand that is more than you want to spend. The Lumix cameras do a great job for travel and you can probably get a Lumix ZS60 for around $250 or so.

Posted by
4685 posts

If you want to spend less than $300, you might stick with the iPhone, if it is a newer one. I don't have a fancy phone and use my DSLR or the Lumix for photos I care about, but some pro photographers do use their iPhones and nice Androids (Samsungs and Pixels) these days.

Posted by
4 posts

I do want something better than our phones, i just really don’t want to be hiking around with my DSLR and lenses.

Posted by
4685 posts

But are P&S cameras that can be had for under $300 really much better than your phones? My Lumix was about $700 at the time. I think it's going to be far superior to a phone even now (photos are pretty sharp at 400mm-equivalent, and it shoots RAW). It's got a big 1" sensor which is pretty low noise. Truly, there are only a few serious limitations compared to my DSLR (for one: can't stop down past f/8! Occasionally this is a limitation I can work around.). Can't get a wider aperture than f/4.0 at some focal lengths, either. To shoot indoors with that slow of a lens, I have to crank up the ISO - but that's actually been surprisingly OK, too. Noise even at ISO 800 is not awful, and for some shots, even 3200 is acceptable (maybe wouldn't print those super large).

I still need my viewfinder - my Lumix has one (albeit, a digital viewfinder). I do take pics with my phone too, but only snapshots.

Posted by
141 posts

I switched from DSLR to a Nikon Coolpix P900 a few years ago when we were returning to Africa for safari. It has incredible zoom and other features far advanced from most PS cameras. nikon has issued the P1000 with even greater zoom range but heavier. The P900 was great on safari. I was able to capture shots of birds and far away animals that others were not able to reach. In Namibia, the wind and dust would have made changing lenses a problem. Now for Europe, I switched last year to a Sony DSC-RX 100 iv (I think) that is small, fits in my purse, 28-80 zoom, fully automatic to manual and in between, etc. I love this camera for Europe where the need for zoom is not so great as safari. It takes a great photo with little post processing. Easy to set up for personal preferences. I think there are two newer iterations and one has 28 - 200 zoom. Would love to have it but too soon to spend the money for more zoom now. The Sony was $800-900 but well worth it. The B&H folks were very helpful in helping with the election based on my needs.

Posted by
30929 posts

studio,

I'm also a photographer, and always tolerate hauling around my DSLR on trips to Europe as it provides the settings and flexibility to get the results I want. However I also pack along at least one backup P&S camera as well, and use that if for snapshots if I'm out in the evening and don't want to take the larger camera. At the moment, one of the P&S Cameras is a Panasonic Lumix with a 20X zoom.

Regarding your questions.....

You may have to increase your budget a bit.....

Posted by
2 posts

I always do the same this so a few years ago I bought a compact SONY 5000 to take and just wasn't happy. So this year to Sicily I will take one lens with me - the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. It's super light weight.

Posted by
622 posts

Could you give me some insight into what you have taken along with
you?

I'm spoiled by the image quality of my (now mirrorless, formerly DSLR) interchangeable lens cameras. But I hate lugging heavy gear along on vacation trips. Especially when I'm walking around all day and thus aware of every ounce of stuff I'm carrying with me for the day.

I have a Sony RX100 iii (it's not the latest greatest version of that camera, but still on the market) which has been a handy travel camera for me. You can look up the specs: 24-70mm zoom 1.8 lens, pop-up viewfinder, 1" sensor. The latest version, mentioned above, is the RX100 vi, which has a much longer zoom at 200mm, but is way over the $300 mark. Not tiny but will fit in a coat pocket and certainly in a day bag.

That said, on recent trips to the UK, my favorite "travel" camera is my Sony A7R2 + 35mm f2.8 lens. Not as compact as the RX100 of course, but not too bulky, and I'm spoiled by the image quality and dynamic range of the sensor. That setup fits in my usual day bag and I love it for urban photography.

Because I found a great open box deal, last year I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, which although not tiny is a wonderful bridge camera. I've had some great results shooting around town with it. If I ever get as used to its controls as I am with the controls on my Sony cameras, the FZ-1000 will be a great travel camera. It's got that 400mm telephoto zoom reach and a 1" sensor - but it actually weighs a bit more than my A7R2 + 35mm lens combo.

Posted by
4685 posts

Suz, just saw your post. I have the same Lumix DMC-FZ1000 (also an open box buy on Amazon). Mine has been a great travel camera as well. Quite a few years old now! I bought mine back in 2017, and it was old even by then. No plans to replace it, however.

Posted by
1500 posts

Another option is to rent a camera, I’m doing that for my upcoming trip. I’m running the Sony Rx100vi. Total rental cost including insurance batteries etc. was around $200. . If I really like it I’ll buy one later but this seem to be a good compromise for this trip.

Posted by
192 posts

My wife and I have Panasonic Lumix compact cameras. Hers is newer - model DC-ZX70. They’re both small enough to put in my front pocket so we don’t look like tourists. And it uses an 32 GB SDHC card that holds three weeks worth of high def photos. We buy a new SD disk each trip to give us another back up format. I chose this model mostly for its nice big Leica lens.