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Finding the best camera for travel is an immense task. A travel camera must be durable, packable, lightweight and easy to use. There are dozens of cameras on the market that fit the criteria, but not all cameras for travel are affordable. Additionally, budget travelers asking the question, “What is the best camera to travel with?” are often treated to a full dose of sticker shock, which can be discouraging.
We understand the angst. Whenever we need to buy new photography equipment – whether we are seeking the latest and best digital camera for travel or a new lens for a camera we already own – we spend hours, days, even weeks making our decision. We research the top features, pore over reviews, and diligently compare prices to ensure we are making the best budget camera choice.
Best Camera: Travel
Because different travelers have different needs, it is not as simple as proclaiming one camera as the absolute best camera for travel photography. That said, we can help you sort out which is the best camera for travel photos for your trip.
The first step to determining the best camera to travel with is to decide how you will be using your camera. How much zoom will you need? Do you want your travel camera to have video capabilities? Do you need a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses or is a compact camera for travel better suited for your style? And, perhaps most important: How much money do you want to spend on a camera for travel?
What is the Best Budget Camera For Travel?
Generally speaking, we are budget-conscious – and especially so when it comes to travel. We have spent ample time in pursuit of the best budget camera for traveling. That said, when considering which camera to buy for traveling, it should not be a quest to simply seek out the best cheap camera for travel. The key is to find a balance; you want to buy a travel camera that offers the best value for money.
The good news is that, although cameras are not cheap, they are much more affordable than they used to be. The best budget travel cameras come in a variety of styles and sizes. To help you pick the right one for your trip, we have rounded up the best budget cameras for travel.
Top Tip for the Best Cheap Travel Camera
In terms of travel cameras, technology is always advancing at a rapid pace. This means that newer camera models are being released on a regular basis with enhanced features.
When this happens, older models get significantly discounted. While the latest-and-greatest is a compelling sales point, sometimes that best low budget camera is simply last year’s model!
Best Camera For Budget Travelers
Our list of the best cameras for travel on a budget includes our top picks, which offer a range of features. As you go through our recommendations, keep in mind how you envision using the camera on your travels so that you can find the best budget travel camera for your vacation!
Best DSLR Budget Camera: Canon Rebel
When it comes to the best budget DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel gets high marks from professionals and novices alike. We, too, think it is the best budget camera for travel – and it is the camera we have been using since we started traveling full time in 2014.
Canon, a trusted brand in cameras, first introduced their Rebel line of cameras in 2003 – and with each new release, they add enhanced features. Rebel cameras are wildly popular, as they are designed with professional camera elements, but are offered at an extremely affordable price.
Why Canon Rebel is the Best Affordable Travel Camera
The Canon Rebel been touted as the best budget camera for photography for beginners – and we agree. With great versatility, we think the Rebel camera is the best pick for travelers; let us explain why.
The camera body itself weighs about 1 pound and the camera is designed to fit comfortably in your hand. This Canon travel camera can be used in Auto or Manual mode – and it has the added value of video capabilities. In most cases, the Canon Rebel is sold with an included 18-55mm lens – but some cameras are bundled with a professional accessory kit that comes with multiple lenses (as well as other fun attachments and useful gadgets!).
Another reason to consider the Canon Rebel as the ultimate travel camera is the long battery life – which is ideal for full days of sightseeing.
Read the latest reviews and best prices on the Canon Rebel
Canon Travel Camera Lens
While the Canon Rebel tops our list as the best inexpensive travel camera, budget travelers need to consider if the included lens will be sufficient for their travels.
When we determined that the Canon Rebel was the best budget camera for travel photography, we purchased the Canon Rebel Kit model that came with two different lenses. We quickly learned that, while the camera body only weighs about one pound, the lens (and larger lenses) will add weight to to what we pack besides the camera.
Initially, we carried both lenses with us on our travels – the 18-55mm lens and the 55-250mm lens. However, we disliked changing the lens on a regular basis (and this is something to seriously consider for your travels!).
Later, we opted to purchase a Standard Zoom 18-135mm lens to use in place of the two separate lenses. While we did not have to buy a new camera for travel, the lens itself was an expensive purchase (and is a major cost to consider when searching for cheap cameras for travel).
We now use the 18-135mm as our sole lens while traveling because it works for all of our travel photo needs.
Pro Tip: Rather than buying a brand new Standard Zoom lens, we purchased a used lens on Amazon and saved a ton of money!
Find out more reasons why we think the Canon Rebel is the best DSLR camera for travel in our article, 5 Reasons We Use a Canon Rebel Camera!
Best Budget Digital Camera: Sony A6000
We have to admit, we have long been lusting after the Sony A6000 travel camera. It is highly touted as the best mirrorless camera for travel – and it was a top contender when we started our search for the best budget camera for travel.
The Sony Alpha A6000 is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Canon Rebel; it fits all of the criteria for the best camera for travel beginners. However, while it is not exactly expensive in terms of cameras, it costs quite a bit more than the Canon Rebel.
Why the Sony A6000 is one of the Best Affordable Travel Cameras
What travelers love about the Sony A6000 is that it is small enough to easily fit in a travel day bag and light enough to comfortably carry on long days of sightseeing.
Typically, the lenses are lighter, but they also tend to be more expensive. That said, adapters can be fitted to the camera to enable use of other lenses, which will add more weight and is something to be considered.
The Sony A6000 is very similar to the Canon Rebel in terms of key specifications. However, the Sony travel camera excels at some of the technical features – like better autofocus and a larger viewfinder. That said, we personally couldn’t justify paying more for the slight differences.
Read the latest reviews and best prices on the Sony A6000
Note: There are newer models of this camera – like the Sony Alpha A6400 and the Sony A6600 – however, these newer models are priced at $1,000-plus, which we think is too expensive to be considered an affordable camera for travel. If it is within your budget, however, the newer cameras are equipped with more modern capabilities, touchscreens and Bluetooth technology.
Pro Tip for Mirrorless Cameras: Looking for other mirrorless camera budget options? The Canon EOS M50 is well-priced and is a top pick among fellow travelers!
Best Compact Camera For Travel: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
The Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II is one of the all-around best small cameras for travel. The camera is a Fixed Lens Camera (unlike the Canon Rebel and Sony A6000, which both have interchangeable lenses). That said, it still features quality Canon technology that – in some ways – make it a better camera than a DSLR or Mirrorless option.
Why the Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II is one of the Best Cheap Travel Cameras
What makes it the best compact budget camera is that it is easy to use, has optional manual controls and takes high quality pictures. It is loaded with cool features – but is still little enough to fit in a pocket, which is why we think it the best small camera for travel.
Additionally, the compact travel camera has exceptional video quality and is hailed by many as the best camera for travel vlogging.
While it is tough to compare a Fixed Lens camera to a DSLR, the PowerShot G7X Mark II is about as close as you can get to a fair comparison. Without a doubt, it is the best budget compact camera – and it gets rave reviews as the best budget camera for video, too.
Read the latest reviews and best prices on the PowerShot G7X Mark II
Looking for something even simpler? We think the Canon PowerShot ELPH is the best point-and-shoot camera for travel if you just want something inexpensive and easy to take photos with. Actually, it is the backup camera that we still travel with – just in case something was to happen to our Canon Rebel.
Final Thoughts: Best Digital Camera on a Budget
We know that it is not an easy decision when it comes to choosing the best camera for budget travel – we’ve been there! It took us some time to determine which was the best camera to buy for travel while on a budget, but we are confident that we succeeded when we purchased the Canon Rebel.
If you are still on the fence, we recommend studying the specs and features of each style and reading product reviews on Amazon.
Budget Travel Camera: At A Glance
Best Budget Canon Camera for Travel, Best Budget Camera for Beginners
Best Digital Camera Travel
Best Compact Camera Travel
Top Travel Camera Tips
Whether you are leaning toward buying one of the compact travel cameras or have your sights set on one of the mirrorless travel cameras, the most important thing to do after you make your purchase is to learn how to use it!
High image quality is a top feature of all the cameras on our Affordable Travel Camera list…but the camera only takes amazing photos if you learn how to shoot it properly.
We recommend taking a course – in person is best, but there are great online courses, too. Check for cheap or free community camera classes or at the very least, watch some YouTube videos for using your camera before you take your trip. While a short course might not make you a professional travel photographer, you will take much better photos on your trip!
We Want To Know: What do you think is the best affordable camera for travel? Share your tips in the comments below!
Now that you’ve got a Travel Camera, start planning your next big trip! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing! Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!
Next Steps: Now that you’re on your way to sorting out your travel camera, get ready for your amazing vacation with our specific travel planning articles. Looking for Cheap Airfare or the Best Way to Score Hotel Deals? Need help packing that suitcase or backpack? We even have suggestions for the Best Travel Shoes and advice on how we Stay Healthy Traveling!
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