What camera should I buy? I get that question all the time, and there is no good way to answer it. Every camera these days is a good camera and can produce good images. It really comes down to what you are going to be using the camera for and what your goals are. If you are shooting sports, you are going to need different gear than if you are shooting street photography.
With that in mind, I am not going to turn this into a million recommendations for every type of photographer. Since this website is mostly about travel, and travel photography is most of what I shoot, I am going to keep this to mostly cameras I think of as good for travel photography.
Fuji-the manual Controls I Love
Fuji has built itself a solid cult following for its fantastic image quality and retro-style manual dials. I switched to the Fuji X system a few years back because I thought it would be more conducive to my style, read travel, of photography. I have not been disappointed. The Fuji X-T3 is an awesome camera. The manual controls on the outside make it so easy to switch all the different settings of the exposure triangle.
The Well Balanced Sony
If I were starting over right now with a new system, it would be a real battle between the Fuji X-T3 and the Sony A7 III. Sony is all the rage right now in the camera world. They are the only ones putting out full-frame mirrorless cameras, and their sensors are the standard bearer. While the A7r III provides a lot more resolution and is fantastic for the landscape photography I love, I think the A7 III gives some extra options by adding some qualities that are going to let you shoot more genres and the price tag, under $2,000, is a little easier to swallow. If you are looking to save even more money, the A6500 is a great crop-sensor camera that is going to get you into the Sony world.
Canon’s new Mirrorless Competitor
Canon has made a lot of fans with its new high quality mirrorless competitor, the R6 full-frame camera. It is brand new so the price tag is still pretty steep at just under $3,000. Hopefully there will be a sale before Christmas. Check the current price of the R6 on Amazon.
Compact cameras used to be everywhere you looked, but cell phone cameras have made the basic compact camera obsolete. That being said, a serious photographer that wants a combination of excellent ability with ultimate compactness can still find what he wants with a high-end compact camera with bigger sensors.
Given my affinity for Fuji, I have to start with the Fuji X100F. This camera basically packs everything from the higher end cameras into a compact camera with a fixed 23 mm lens. This camera is still going to set you back over $1,000 so I have to recommend another option if you want to save a little money. The Fuji X70 is even more compact and still offers a decent APS-C sensor with a fixed 18.5 mm lens for a cheaper price tag.
Some other great compact cameras, most of which are going to be well south of $1,000, are available from many high-quality manufacturers. Below are some of my favorites:
- The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 combines a nice 1 inch, 20.1 mp, sensor with a Leica 15x zoom lens with a variable aperture.
- The Panasonic Lumix LX10 is another great camera from Panasonic with a 1 inch, 10.1 mp, sensor and Leica 3x zoom lens. It comes in a bit cheaper at $547.
- The Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is actually the most expensive of the compact cameras at nearly $1,700. There is a reason for that price. This camera combines an exceptional Sony 1 inch, 20.1 mp, sensor with a ridiculous 25x 24-600 mm Zeiss lens.
- The Sony DSCWX220 is at the opposite end of the price scale, under $200. Of course, it packs a lot less punch with a smaller sensor and 10x zoom, but is still going to give you a great image with a very compact body.
- The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II also has a 1 inch sensor with a zoom lens. This camera is going to be a step down from the really high end cameras, but is still going to be a vast improvement from a cell phone or cheap compact camera. It is $399 on Amazon.
The Micro 4/3 Crew
I might get lynched if I didn’t include the oft-overlooked, but very capable, micro 4/3 cameras. I am going to be honest in that I don’t have much experience with this set of cameras, but the following appear to be the best options from those I talk to.
- The Panasonic Lumix G85 is a great option for someone jumping into the Panasonic camp. And why would someone jump into Panasonic? Panasonic is famous for their outstanding video capabilities so if that is going to be your focus, give Panasonic some strong consideration.
- The Pansonic Lumix GH5 is going to get you top of the line performance from Panasonic . The video will blow you away, but you also get a very capable still-image camera with a 20.3 mp sensor and dual image stabilization.
- The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is a very affordable 16 mp camera that offers 4K video for about $500. Olympus may win the worst camera name award, but they make very capable cameras that are a lot of fun to shoot with lots of cool features.
- The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a fantastic camera for under $1,000. Unfortunately it is missing 4K video and still only has a 16 mp sensor, but it ups the game on image stabilization and speed.
If you are an adventurous photographer that cares more about video than still images, an action camera may be the best option for you. Even if you want a high-end camera for photography, an action camera makes an awesome back-up camera that you can take in the ocean, on a roller coaster or anywhere else that you don’t want to risk your bigger camera.
My top choice for a good action camera used to be the Yi 4K+ Action Camera. This is your budget option, but that isn’t to say it is a cheap camera. It still has a pretty significant price tag and compares admirably to top quality cameras as opposed to the cheap junk you can find for $50. It’s made by a Chinese company so it’s cheaper, but the quality is almost as good as a GoPro.
Speaking of GoPro, they make a fantastic action camera if you prefer to get the name brand gear that pretty much dominates the field. The GoPro Hero 9 is the top of the line. GoPro is the brand name and won’t disappoint in terms of quality. If you aren’t comfortable with Chinese products or just want the top of the line brand-name camera, this is an excellent action camera.
Finally, if you want a side mount action camera, check out the Sony Action Camera.
The DSLR Options
Alright, this is all about travel cameras and I don’t think DSLR cameras are going to be the best for most travelers, but I understand why some photographer are not willing to move on from their Canon/Nikon systems. They are great systems that offer a lot, even if compactness and portability isn’t one of them.
In the Canon camp, there are 3 cameras I recommend. The flagship 5d Mark IV is about as dependable as they come, but left Canon lovers a little disappointing with the lack of technology advancements. The 6d Mark II is about the best entry-level full-frame DSLR you can find. Finally, the 7d Mark II is a great option for those wanting a crop sensor.
If you are in the Nikon camp, I think the D750 may be the best camera value there is. It is an absolutely great camera at a shockingly great value. This is the camera I was about to buy before I switched to Fuji. A step up in quality (and cost and size) will get you the D850.
Finally, the unheralded, but surprisingly impressive Pentax K1 is loaded with features at a great price, but is less appealing for travel photography given its heavy weight.