Anyone can take a picture while traveling, but that doesn’t mean travel photography is easy. Traveling creates specific challenges for photographers: tight schedules, changing locations, and less-than-ideal lighting. To capture a frame-worthy moment you’ll need the right camera—and one that packs small.
I set out to find the best cameras for every challenge travel photographers face on the road, with two stipulations: it should be small enough to fit in a pocket or a small bag, and has to be better than a smartphone camera. While your smartphone camera probably suits your needs for daily use, it’s a one-size-fits-all camera. For spectacular travel shots, these are the compact cameras for travel that are built to address your photography challenges.
SiOnyx Aurora: A Night Vision Camera That Shoots in Color
By now, you’ve probably given up on photographing anything on your phone once the sun goes down. Low-light is a nightmare situation for photographers that often results in grainy images, no detail—or worse— the uncalled for use of flash. All that can change with the game-changing SiOnyx Aurora, a night vision camera that shoots in color. This pocket-size camera is reminiscent of old school camcorders in that you can only view the photos you’ve taken through the viewfinder. Having tested this camera personally, I was incredibly impressed with the image quality when used in a darkly-lit room. It would make a great camera for anyone looking to photograph nighttime moments like camping, cave exploration, or just a night out. It’s easy to use and includes day and twilight settings so you can use it at any time of day.
GoPro HERO 7: The Ultimate Solution to Shaky Video
Everyone knows GoPro as the action cameras that you can take anywhere, but sometimes filming your action-packed adventures can lead to shaky videos. GoPro has been working on their stabilization technology, and their latest camera, the HERO 7 Black, is the first to feature HyperSmooth stabilization. This new setting produces impressively smooth video. If you’re looking for the smoothest possible videos, and don’t want to carry around a handheld gimbal stabilizer, the newest GoPro on the line delivers high-quality images and super-smooth video in a pocket-sized package.
Nikon D3500: A DSLR for Beginners
If all you know about DSLRs is that they take better-looking photos, then this is the DSLR for you. Unlike its bigger more expensive cousins, the Nikon D3500 is a great camera for beginners that doesn’t compromise on photo quality. It’s lightweight, portable, and has an image sensor 15-times larger than the average smartphone to deliver richness in every pixel. With easy-to-use presets and a high-functioning auto focus, this compact camera doesn’t require a whole lot of technical knowledge. It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can download photos straight to your phone.
Ricoh THETA – V: A 360-degree Camera for Beginners
For your first foray into 360 photography, the Ricoh THETA – V camera is slim and portable, with simple controls that are easy for any camera novice to figure out. You can also sync up this camera to its app so you can see everything your capturing in real time, shoot from far away, and download photos straight to your phone.
Panasonic Lumix Lx10: a Point-and-Shoot That Delivers
For a simple travel camera, you can’t go wrong with a slim and easy point-and-shoot camera. However, you should at least invest in one that can deliver the highest quality for all of your once-in-a-lifetime moments like the Panasonic Lumix Lx10. With the capacity to shoot 4K video and a powerful optical zoom lens, you won’t miss a single detail with this small but powerful compact camera for travel.
DJI Mavic Air
In case you haven’t heard, cameras can fly now. Drones have revolutionized the way people capture their travels, and they’re not complicated to use or hard to travel with if you choose the right one. The Mavic Air is a super-compact drone that you can control from your phone. It’s one of the easiest drones to learn how to fly, with technology built-in to prevent you from crashing or losing it. Its flight presets also allow you to take your travel footage from novice to cinematic.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 12 Travel Photography Mistakes to Avoid
- 10 Waterproof Travel Tech Accessories That Could Save Your Next Trip
- 10 Instant-Print Cameras Recommended by a Travel Photographer
Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Instagram @jamieditaranto.
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