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best camera for travel

iPhone, Galaxy, Lumix: Which Is the Best Camera for Travel?

SmarterTravel

What Is the Best Camera for Travel?

Whenever I’m packing, I debate which option is going to be my best camera for travel. For years, I’ve traveled with a Canon DSLR and always regret taking it because of its weight and size. When it came down to it, I never wanted to lug around a heavy day bag, plus the camera is cumbersome to take out every time I wanted to take a photo. So, I invested in the iPhone 7 Plus recently to remedy the situation. And while I assumed that my new phone camera wouldn’t even compare to my old DSLR in terms of quality, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the iPhone is a contender for the best camera for travel.

To really test this theory out, I went out in Boston with my fellow SmarterTravel editor Jamie Ditaranto, who has a Samsung Galaxy S7, to take some photos. We also took pictures with a Panasonic Lumix G85 Mirrorless camera—a more lightweight version of a DSLR.

Note: These photos are all unedited and were taken from the same spot and angle.

The Gear:

iPhone 7 Plus

  • Pros: Offers unique camera features like portrait mode and app support for manual shooting. Lightweight in comparison to larger point-and-shoot cameras.
  • Cons: Limited to your phone’s available storage. Using camera apps or shooting for a long time will kill your battery quickly. Larger size than most other phones. Struggles with indoor and nighttime shots.
  • Weight: 6.6 ounces.
  • Price & Where to Buy: Starting at $719 on Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy S7

  • Pros: Great for wide-angle shots and offers extensive camera features and shooting modes. Very lightweight and offers 4GB of RAM.
  • Cons: Sometimes not compatible with iPhone-specific apps, doesn’t always perform best in low-light situations.
  • Weight: 5.4 ounces.
  • Price & Where to Buy: Starting at $310 on Amazon.

Panasonic Lumix G85

  • Pros: Shoots high-quality video. Can manually adjust settings. Has unique features, like post-focus and focus stacking. Can interchange lenses. Takes better photos indoors and at night.
  • Cons: Expensive. More cumbersome to carry.
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds.
  • Price & Where to Buy: $998 on Amazon.

Shot 1: Landscape

 

best camera for travel
iPhone 7 Plus

 

best camera for travel
Samsung Galaxy s7

 

best camera for travel
Panasonic Lumix G85

Winner: The Panasonic Lumix is the best camera for travel if you’re going to be taking a lot of landscape photos. This photo is crisper and clearer than the phone cameras, and balances the light best. As you can see, the Samsung Galaxy S7 photo is a little too dark, and the iPhone 7 Plus photo is overexposed.

Shot 2: Portrait

 

best camera for travel
iPhone 7 Plus

 

best camera for travel
Samsung Galaxy S7

 

best camera for travel
Panasonic Lumix G85

Winner: The iPhone 7 Plus is the clear winner here for the best camera for travel if you’re going to be taking a lot of portraits or close-up shots. While the Lumix G85 lets you set the camera manually, the iPhone does a better job at quickly shooting with this feature.

Shot 3: Depth of Field

 

best camera for travel
iPhone 7 Plus

 

best camera for travel
Samsung Galaxy S7

 

best camera for travel
Panasonic Lumix G85

Winner: This one is a little more difficult to judge, but we like the Panasonic Lumix for best camera for travel in terms of depth-of-field shots. All three cameras do a decent job, but the Lumix photo is clearer and you can see finer details. In a pinch, a phone camera would still work well for depth-of-field shots.

Final Verdict:

The best camera for travel really depends on what type of traveler you are, your environment, and what kind of travel photos you’re looking to take. If you’re looking for a lightweight camera that takes awesome portrait shots, definitely go with the iPhone 7 Plus. But if you’re looking for a better quality camera and don’t mind carrying around some extra weight, look into a mirrorless camera option, like the Panasonic Lumix G85. Even the Samsung S7 does a decent job with depth-of-field and landscape shots, so you really can’t go wrong if you have a Samsung phone and don’t want to carry around anything heavier.

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