Best Travel Photography Cameras and Lenses

Nature and travel photography both require equipment that can handle a range of shooting conditions. You might be shooting in dust, rain, extreme temperatures, high humidity, or any number of other unpredictable scenarios. That means that your gear should be up to the challenge. It needs to be rugged enough that you don’t have to worry too much or be too precious with it while you’re shooting, but also portable enough that you can take it to various locations relatively easily.

Nature-Landscape-Gear

The best travel photography equipment and nature photography equipment will also be flexible in terms of what you can capture with it. Scroll through some of the best nature photography portfolios on Format and you’ll quickly see that travel photography is quite a broad category and can include up-close shots, telephoto images of subjects at a great distance, vast landscapes, and much more. The best travel photography cameras and lenses will depend on the specifics of what you’re capturing, but it’s also a good idea to keep flexibility in mind and choose options that will let you capture a range of different kinds of images. 

Need a little extra inspiration before diving in? Check out some examples of gorgeous photography portfolios on Format, and take a look at our list of the best equipment to help you build your own portfolio.


Best Travel Photography Cameras

All kinds of cameras can be suitable for travel and nature photography, but there are a few key features you’ll want to look out for when choosing your travel photography camera. A good travel photography camera should be rugged and durable since it might get a little more beat up than a camera typically does in a studio. The best travel photography camera will also be comfortable in your hand and easy to grip, and ideally will be able to shoot quickly and silently (especially when photographing wildlife). If there are animals around, a quieter camera is always preferable so they remain unaware of your presence. Fast autofocus and burst mode makes it easier to get the perfect shot in a rapidly changing scene, such as if there are animals in your shot. 

Sony A7R IV

Sony has proven itself to be a leader in the mirrorless camera space, with a range of really well-performing options coming out in recent years. The A7R IV is at the top of their lineup, with a full-frame sensor that produces high-resolution images you can comfortably crop dramatically while still retaining detail. You can count on beautiful colors, sharp images, and rich tones in the nature photos you shoot with this camera. Features include:

  1. The 61-megapixel full-frame sensor, so you can crop in post-production or use the in-camera crop mode and still have plenty of resolution

  2. Real-time Tracking and Eye AF for intelligent autofocus tracking of humans and animals

  3. 5.76M dot OLED viewfinder, looks better than most electronic viewfinders

  4. 10 frame per second burst shooting, ideal if you’re capturing animals

  5. 4K video capability

  6. Redesigned hand grip and buttons for comfortable, secure handling

  7. In-body 5-axis image stabilization

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

Travel photographers looking for a more affordable option that will still produce beautiful, portfolio-worthy shots should take a look at Canon’s EOS M6 II. Its compact, mirrorless design is perfect if you’re the type of shooter who wants to travel as light as possible, but doesn’t let its small size deceive you. It features Canon’s newest CMOS APS-C sensor, and at 32.5 megapixels produces high-resolution images that could fool anyone into thinking they came out of a more powerful camera. The EOS M6 Mark II features:

  1. 14 frames-per-second shooting with autofocus and autoexposure

  2. 30 frames-per-second RAW burst shooting with autofocus

  3. The powerful DIGIC-8 processor for noticeably better performance and image quality

  4. 4K UHD video capability

  5. Wifi and Bluetooth enabled for easy file management on the go

  6. Dual Pixel CMOS AF for fast, accurate autofocus with Face Tracking and Eye Detection

Nikon Z6 II

There are a lot of mirrorless cameras on this list because the offerings from all the major camera companies are just that good. As a travel photographer, you know that the name of the game is optimizing performance while still maintaining portability and ease of use. You might be shooting in remote locations that you hike into on a multi-day expedition, making portability all the more important. The Nikon Z6 II full-frame mirrorless camera not only captures stunning photos and video, but it’s also designed with the photographer’s needs in mind. Take a look at these features:

  1. Brand new 273-point hybrid AF system with Eye-Detection (humans, dogs, and cats) and low light autofocus down to -4.5 EV

  2. 5-axis VR image stabilization for ultra-sharp photos

  3. Multiple exposures allow you to combine up to 10 different exposures in one composition from the viewfinder

  4. Up to 900-second exposures controllable from your phone, perfect for astrophotographers

  5. Direct connection to PC or Mac so you don’t need cables to transfer your files

  6. Dual processors for faster image processing, more buffer capacity, and more overall speed.

  7. 4K Ultra HD video at 60p with full pixel readout

  8. Dual card slots for peace of mind and additional memory

Olympus Tough TG-6

Most point-and-shoot cameras in this price range simply won’t cut it for travel photographers, but thanks to Olympus, there is an exception. While it’s not a pro-level camera, you’ll be surprised just how much quality you can get out of this little pocket-friendly camera. Part of being a travel or adventure photographer is just being in the right place at the right time with a camera, and with the Tough TG-6, you’ll always have a quality camera in tow. It's waterproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and dustproof so you don’t have to worry about your gear when you’re on a wild adventure. Features include:

  1. Waterproof up to 15m (50ft.) with underwater microscope mode

  2. Fast f/2.0 wide-angle lens, perfect for capturing landscapes

  3. 20 frames per second, ideal for capturing action

  4. 8x zoom capability

  5. Can capture RAW files so you can achieve more in post-production 

  6. 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor

Nikon D780

If you still prefer a DSLR over a mirrorless camera, this unassuming but high-performing camera from Nikon is an excellent option for travel photography. It boasts serious processing power, fantastic speed, and resolution, and performs very well even in low light situations. Whether you’re freezing the rapid movement of a rushing stream or the rich detail of a wide vista, the D780 is an excellent choice. Check out some of its top features:

  1. 24.5 megapixel backside illuminated full-frame sensor

  2. 273-point phase-detection autofocus system inherited from Nikon’s top line D5

  3. Focus stacking for images where focus throughout the entire composition is essential

  4. 10-Bit N-Log and new HDR (HLG) shooting formats preserve more detail, dynamic range, and contrast in video

  5. Dual UHS-II SD memory card slots for more redundant image capture or so you can spend less time swapping cards when you’re shooting

  6. Impressive low light performance with ISO range of 100-51,200 (expandable to ISO 204,800)

  7. The tough magnesium alloy body with extensive weather sealing build is rugged and can handle shooting in harsh conditions

Panasonic Lumix G9

Considering this is Lumix’s top-of-the-line stills-oriented camera, this high performer provides excellent value for the price. Better known for its video cameras, Panasonic is establishing itself as a serious player in the photography space with this camera body. Travel photographers will love its high-resolution mode that builds at an 80-megapixel file by shifting the sensor, allowing you to capture vast landscapes or beautiful architecture at an impressive resolution that you wouldn’t normally expect from a micro four-thirds camera. The Lumix G9 offers:

  1. A 20.3 megapixel live MOS filter

  2. The largest level 0.83x OLED live viewfinder in a mirrorless camera, so you can see detail while you shoot

  3. A large status LCD at the top of the camera is ideal for situations where you’re frequently shooting at night

  4. Ability to add a battery grip, doubling your shooting time before you have to replace it and making vertical shooting more comfortable.

  5. 20 frames per second burst with super fast We continuous autofocus 

  6. Tough magnesium-alloy body with weather sealing making the camera dust, freeze, and splash-resistant

  7. Wifi and Bluetooth compatibility for easy file management

Canon EOS R3

The EOS R3 is an all-around impressive camera body and is fully equipped to capture the moment with its high frame rate, impressive autofocus, and 6K RAW video. The EOS R3 from Canon is a worthy choice and will handle what you can throw at it if you’re willing to splurge a little. Canon has officially announced that it won’t be producing more pro-level DSLRs, and the EOS R3 is the culmination of its focus on the mirrorless format to date. Their premium mirrorless offering, the EOS R3 is packed with the features nature photographers will love: 

  1. The 30 frames per second continuous frame rate for freezing movement and getting the perfect shot

  2. Impressive autofocus with improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 1,053 AF Points including Vehicle Detection as well as Eye, Face, Head, and Animal Detection

  3. Rugged, weather-sealed, and dustproof

  4. An excellent, and ever-growing range of RF lenses and compatibility with EF lenses

  5. 6K RAW video capability

  6. Eye Control AF so, when using the viewfinder, you can simply look where you want the camera to focus

  7. 24.1 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor

  8. Exceptional low-light performance including autofocus down to EV -7.5

Nikon D850

DSLR lovers will appreciate Nikon’s latest offering in the 800 range for its superb high-resolution images, an improved sensor, whisper-quiet shutter mechanism, and more. It’s compatible with the NIKKOR line of lenses which will help you make the most of the camera’s sensor. Plus, if you want to play around with video, you’ll love the full-frame 4K UHD output. You can even create 4K and 8K time-lapses, which will seriously help your portfolio stand out. The Nikon D850 boasts:

  1. 45.7 megapixel back-side illuminated FX-format full-frame CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter

  2. Dual memory card slots

  3. 4K and 8K time-lapse with the D850’s built-in Interval Timer Mode

  4. 120p for buttery slow motion video

  5. ISO range of 64-25600

  6. Impressive autofocus performance with 153 Point AF system inherited from Nikon’s flagship DSLR

  7. Deeper, more comfortable grip for better handling

  8. Stellar magnesium alloy frame that’s built to last

Best Travel Photography Lenses

The best travel photography lens for you will depend on what exactly you’re shooting. If you’re capturing landscapes, you may want a wide angle travel photography lens. On the other hand, if you want to capture distant subjects, like birds in flight, in rich detail, a telephoto lens will be more up to the task. You can always start with the lens best suited to what you want to capture and build your kit as you progress. While prime lenses tend to be sharper and faster, there is something to be said for a quality zoom lens when shooting in nature because it gives you much greater flexibility.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

Ask any pro landscape photographer with a Canon system if they have this lens, and it’s either their go-to or at the top of their wishlist. The latest version of the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM improves on what was already a stellar ultra-wide angle zoom lens, loved by so many nature, travel, and landscape photographers. It provides an image that is ultra-sharp across the entire field, beautiful contrast and color reproduction, reduced ghosting and flaring, and fast, accurate autofocus so that you never miss a moment. This premium lens features:

  1. Bright, fast aperture range from f/2.8 to f/22

  2. Weather-sealed construction

  3. A rounded 9-blade diaphragm that produces universally loved sunstars, and smooth round bokeh

  4. Compatible with full-frame Canon EF-mount DSLRs and APS-C sized models (although focal length will be impacted by 1.4x or 1.6x depending on the crop sensor body you’re using.)

  5. Designed to minimize chromatic aberrations and eliminate ghosting and chromatic aberration. 

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

This ultrawide lens offering from Nikon’s NIKKOR range features the brand’s proprietary image stabilization technology for blur-free shooting, captures exquisite detail throughout the entire zoom range, and is the ideal companion for landscapes, cityscapes, and anywhere else you want a wide-angle. Plus, the NIKKOR range is more compact and lightweight than other ranges, making it perfect for travel and for shooting remote nature scenes where you might want to pack light. This lens offers:

  1. An ultra wide 16-35mm focal length range

  2. Impressive vibration reduction image stabilization

  3. Nanocrystal coating

  4. Silent wave motor

  5. Weather sealing

  6. Built to last a lifetime 

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS

If you thought the Nikon was wide, wait until you try the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS. With a recently updated design, this is a versatile lens you’ll reach for again and again. Travel photographers love it for its beautifully rendered colors, sharpness, and updated image stabilization system which means you can leave the tripod at home in many conditions. Another recent update is the dust and moisture sealing, something nature photography pros consider a must, especially when they’re out exploring in the wild and in the elements for hours, or days at a time. This lens includes:

  1. A constant f/4 aperture throughout the lens’s zoom range

  2. Internal focusing and zoom, meaning the lens length remains constant throughout the zoom range

  3. 7 rounded diaphragm opening blades for a pleasing background blur 

  4. Ability to shoot landscapes with excellent detail in both foreground and background

  5. Strong low-light performance

  6. Minimum working distance of 24 cm, making it suitable for beautiful close-up photography shots

Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS

When it comes to choosing lenses for your camera bag, versatility should always be top of mind. That’s especially true for travel photographers who don’t have the luxury of being able to haul around a full suite of studio equipment to their shooting location. The Sony 10-18 f/4 OSS is a worthy choice for Sony users thanks to its exceptional versatility: it will capture stunning ultra-wide landscapes, but you’ll love the result when shooting a subject close to you as well. It’s a great, affordable all-arounder that will probably spend a lot of time on your camera. Features include: 

  1. Compatibility with Sony E-mount cameras

  2. Sony’s proprietary Optical SteadyShot image stabilization

  3. Fast, responsive autofocus with a minimum focus distance of 9.8”

  4. Pleasing bokeh thanks to the rounded seven-blade diaphragm 

  5. Sharp images even at the edges

Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR

Shoot outdoors worry-free with this robust offering from Fujifilm. It’s a top choice for landscape photographers and architecture photographers alike, and it will perform well even in the toughest conditions. One thing to note is that it isn’t exactly light or compact. However, the sturdy build means that there is no compromising when it comes to the optical capabilities of this lens. The same goes for its ability to withstand intense rain and dust storms and extreme temperatures. Photographers who aren’t afraid of pushing limits to get the shot will love this lens. It features:

  1. 17 element lens construction

  2. 9 rounded blade diaphragm

  3. A focus range from 0.6m to infinity, with the ability to take macro shots with a focus range starting at 30 cm

  4. Robust, high-quality build

  5. Near-silent performance

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM is a true workhorse and a favorite of professionals everywhere. You can use the pro-approved EF 24-70mm for all your wide-angle to mid-length telephoto needs. Its constant f/2.8 max aperture makes working in tricky lighting easier than ever, and also gives you tons of control over your depth of field. This lens is popular with everyone from sports photographers, to wedding and portrait photographers. It’s engineered to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberration, but an ultra-clear, accurate image every time. This lens features:

  1. Incredibly sharp images

  2. Outstanding colors and contrast

  3. Updated to be more lightweight and easy to handle

  4. 9 rounded diaphragm blades

  5. Corner-to-corner sharpness

  6. Weatherproof and dustproof construction

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

Sigma produces some of the best third-party lenses on the market, and this offering is no different. Available with Canon, Nikon, or Sigma mounts, it can be attached to a wide range of camera bodies. Until relatively recently, it would have been unheard of to reach the 600mm range as a travel photographer on a budget. You’d have to fork over well over $10,000 to get a lens with that kind of performance. Thanks to Sigma, this shooting experience is now available at a very reasonable price so you can get up close and personal with your subject while maintaining a safe distance. This lens includes:

  1. Built-in OS image stabilization

  2. A removable rotating tripod collar

  3. Sophisticated optics

  4. Hypersonic motor for fast, quiet autofocus

  5. Compact and lightweight for its specs and performance

  6. Dust and splash resistance for inclement weather

  7. Water and oil-repellent coating on front element for easy cleaning

  8. The zoom lock switch can be used at any focal length to prevent accidental zoom adjustment

Tamron 11-20mm f/2.8 di III-A RXD

Another much-loved third-party offering, this compact ultra-wide lens is the perfect travel photographer’s companion. From beautiful landscapes to cute animal shots, to interesting wide angle portraits, you can do it all with this glass. It has a solid construction, especially for the price point, and a stunningly wide field of view. Other features include:

  1. Impressive optics with edge-to-edge sharpness

  2. Dust, splash protection

  3. Made specficaclly for APS-C cameras

  4. Unprecedented brightness 

  5. Travel friendly and lightweight

  6. Fluorine coating to keep the front of the lens protected

Best Travel Photography Gear

In addition to your camera body and lenses, putting together a few travel photography equipment essentials for your camera kit will make your workflow easier and more efficient. This is a list of the most useful travel photography gear that you’ll thank yourself for buying when you’re out in nature shooting. We’ve also listed some of the top photographer-approved options in each category. 

Lens Filters

The word “filter” may conjure up images of Instagram selfies and overly edited phone snaps, but as any travel photographer will tell you, they are a game-changing addition to your photography arsenal. Solid neutral density filters (ND filters) modify or reduce light across wavelengths without impacting color. In front of a lens, they reduce the light reaching the sensor which lets you shoot at longer shutter speeds or higher apertures even if you’re shooting in bright light. Look for these types of ND filters:

  1. 3 stop filters, to create a realistic motion effect

  2. 6 stop and 10 stop filters, for longer exposures

  3. Graduated neutral density filters GND), with a gradient that helps you balance the exposure across your photo, for example, if the sky is bright and there is a darker subject at the bottom of the frame

Remote Shutter Release

Remote shutter releases are a simple but often essential piece of equipment for your camera kit, especially if you're trying to capture long exposure cityscapes at night or anything of that nature. They let you release the shutter without actually having to press the shutter release button, so you don’t introduce any shake to your camera when taking a photo. Even pressing very gently can cause your photo to blur depending on your shoot situation. Whichever you choose, make sure you carry extra batteries for it. Here are our pro-approved picks:

  1. Your phone! Depending on your camera there will likely be an app you can use to release your shutter using your phone. Some people don’t like pulling their phones out all the time while shooting, but if you don’t mind, this is a good option.

  2. CamRanger mini works at a 400-foot range and gives full access to exposure settings

  3. Amazon Basics is a simple, reliable option with a 10-foot range

Extras of key items

While most travel photographers try to keep their bags as light as possible, you still want to make sure you have extras of a few key pieces of equipment. It would be a shame to hike out to the perfect spot and have a great view and perfect lighting, only to have your battery die out with no backup. The same goes for your memory cards. Here are a few items to keep two of, just in case:

  1. Camera batteries

  2. Battery charger

  3. Remote shutter release batteries

  4. SD cards

  5. Sensor cleaning kits and microfiber cloths

  6. Any cables you may need

Sturdy Camera Case

You probably don’t want to check all your camera gear when flying, so a reliable carry-on camera bag is a must. There is a range of camera bag types you can opt for depending on your requirements. If you’re looking for something you can walk around with easily, a slingback with shoulder straps like a backpack would be a good choice. If you’re going to be traveling on flights frequently, a roller bag may be more convenient. If you need something truly rugged, go for a hard case that will protect your precious equipment from just about anything. Some options include:

  1. Best sling camera bag: Tenba Solstics Swing 10L

  2. Best roller camera case: Manfrotto Manhattan Roller Runner 50

  3. Best hard case: Pelican Air Case 1535

Tripod

While the latest cameras and lenses have very good image stabilization, there are still times when you will be glad to have a tripod. If you want to take a longer exposure, a tripod is an absolute must for getting the sharpest images possible out of your camera. Even if you don’t plan on taking long exposures, your images will be that much clearer if you use a tripod and remote shutter release. Photographer-approved choices include:

  1. Feisol Tournament CT-3442 Rapid 4-Section Carbon Tripod, which weighs only 2.5 lbs but can support 55 lbs 

  2. Geetko 77” Compact Aluminum, a sturdy and more affordable option

  3. Manfrotto MT190XPRO3, a reliable, well-rated option from a trusted brand

Heavy Duty Harddrive

As a travel photographer, you might find yourself transferring images to your hard drive on the go. If you’re handling your equipment in a train, tent, car, or even out of your bag, you’ll be exposing it to tougher conditions than in a typical office. Whether it’s dust, rain, extreme weather, or just getting dropped or bumped, you want a hard drive that can handle all of this without any risk of losing your files. Some choices include:

  1. LaCie Rugged SSD Pro, Thunderbolt-equipped for Mac users

  2. iStorage DiskAshur M2 boasts that it can be run over without being compromised

  3. Adata SE800, tough while being small and affordable

Raincover

You may have noticed that most of the cameras and lenses we’ve looked at here are weather-sealed. Still, you probably don’t want to expose your thousands of dollars worth of equipment to pouring rain given the option. That’s where a good rain cover comes in. Snap away happily while protecting your equipment with one of these:

  1. Think Tank Hydrophobia 300-600 V3 for super-telephoto lenses, or the 70-200 V3 for regular telephoto lenses

  2. Raincoat RS, available in camo if you want to stay invisible

  3. WANBY Waterproof Camera Rain Cover, a highly rated budget option for shorter lenses

Gimbal

A gimbal head can help you quickly and smoothly point your lens toward your subject while still enjoying the stability and ease of using a tripod. The gimbal head attaches to the top of your tripod and allows your camera to hand in suspension so you can articulate it as needed. This is especially handy if you want to shoot a landscape panorama. If you’re using a lightweight camera and lens, you can probably get away with a regular ball head for your tripod. However, if you’re using a very heavy and long telephoto lens, you’ll have a much easier time shooting with one of these gimbal heads:

  1. Benro GH5C. It’s not exactly cheap, but if you’re using an expensive camera setup, you’ll want to pair it with the best gimbal.

  2. Benro GH2. A fantastic option at a friendlier price point

  3. Neewer GM101. A budget option from a company that is known for putting out excellent affordable equipment

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