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What is the best camera for a world tour? And why?

Whoever makes a long journey or world trip will have his or her suitcase, camper van, camper of backpack probably packing with clothes but of course also all kinds of handy (often electronic) Gadgets† An important gadget and also a question that many people have is of course whether the camera is going on a trip. Or that maybe their cell phone camera will do. Maybe you are even about to buy a nice camera? Then you immediately come to the next problem: which one? Which cameras are really suitable for a long, distant trip or world trip? And why?

Preface

The best camera is obviously the one you have with you. That is why we will only discuss compact cameras here that you can easily take with you on a trip. In this article, I'm going to help you choose a camera type that's right for you. This article is therefore cannot intended to sell you the most beautiful, most expensive or most fancy camera. It is mainly intended to make you think about your wishes, the possibilities and the pitfalls of the various cameras that are for sale.

Bangkok by night | 2019 | Fuji X-t20 system camera with standard kit lens and automatic mode
Bangkok by night | 2019 | Fuji X-T20 system camera with standard kit lens and automatic mode

I'll help you with that because I speak from experience. With 15 years of world travel experience I have worn out quite a bit of camera equipment and I will be honest with you: I have not always made the right choices. One camera was the big one, so I often didn't want to take it with me. The other camera was too fragile and vulnerable or was qualitatively comparable to a smartphone camera.

I learned from that. And that's why I'm happy to help you on your way by recommending cameras that I really liked and that have allowed me to capture unique moments.

Cameras that are not only good quality but also versatile. Cameras that make beautiful images and also last a long time if you handle them a bit normally. For example, you also want your camera to be able to survive a year of heavy travel – and the latter is not as obvious as it seems.

Why not a smartphone camera?

I take as few photos as possible with my smartphone while traveling. Smartphone cameras are cannot just as good or comparable to cameras that are actually built for one purpose: shooting. I see many of you, with your eyes already rolling in your skull rebelliously, already thinking: I have a futuristic iPhone 23 or a 57 euro Samsung S1500 that takes great pictures!

Sorry. Those smartphone cameras are great for home and a picture of your grandmother and your cats, but not for one of the most amazing experiences of your life: a trip around the world. I recently wrote a whole article about the how and why (link below). Many of you will disagree, but this is how I feel about it.

Also read: Why you should NOT take pictures with your smartphone during your world trip

What is a good camera?

So what is a suitable camera for travel? Well, of course it all depends on what you're looking for. But assuming, like me, you travel a lot, or plan to take a long trip, we're now going to focus on cameras that are versatile as well as tough and reliable. There is no perfect camera and you will find as you read this article that I use different cameras for different situations.

Thailand - 2011 | Canon D600 with standard kit lens
Thailand – 2011 | Canon D600 SLR camera with standard kit lens

In this article I am going to rate the mentioned cameras on the following:

Photo and video quality

The photo and video quality is important, because you want to be able to use the images for the rest of your life. After all, they are important memories of some of the most beautiful moments of your life. Cherish this fact and think ahead.

Portability

Portability is very important, because the best camera is one that you actually have with you. When you're going to climb a 4 kilometer volcano, every gram counts. When you need extra bags for a camera, you will quickly be tempted not to take it with you. Also something to keep in mind.

Firmness

Built to survive, that's what you want in a travel camera. Of the thousands of cameras out there, 95% are too fragile and therefore immediately unsuitable for long journeys. Hotel in, hotel out. Taxi or tuk tuk in and out. Walking in the jungle, in the snow, the desert, the beach, and so on. Your camera has to endure a lot during a long trip or world trip. Sturdyness and build quality is therefore of great importance.

The Fuji X-T2 system camera

The best compact cameras

Which model suits you best depends on your specific expectations and not unimportantly: your budget† Do you think portability is the most important? Or the quality of the photos? In this article I have rated the different cameras by giving them + or – scores.

Note: Three +++ is excellent, two ++ is good, one + is mediocre and – is simply bad.

Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ20

It may not be the newest or the most superior travel camera money can buy, but the Panasonic Lumix G80 and GX80 (here for sale), has been at the top of the list for many world travelers for years because it is so incredibly compact and, for what it is, takes incredibly good photos. The reviews don't lie, this is the number 1 camera for on the road for thousands of people.

Remark: The Panasonic Lumix G80 and GX80 are more or less the successors of the ZS200 / TZ20. Unfortunately, the XS200 and TX20 are hardly available in the Netherlands these days.

Photo quality

The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ20 is the best travel camera money can buy for most people. It's small enough to go unnoticed, but still has a large image sensor that dwarfs your smartphone's camera. It's also equipped with a versatile 15x zoom range to get you closer to the action. The manual controls allow for extra creativity on the go without having to look at the screen every time you squint at the sun.

Video quality

The video quality of the Lumix is ​​good, but nothing special. It can record videos in 4K resolution, but the color depth and sharpness are a bit disappointing. And because video recording is cropped / zoomed 1,5x by default, it is difficult to get a good picture of something close. For example, if you want to film a beautiful building on the street, you sometimes can't get it on in its entirety. It is therefore more of an option and not what this camera was designed for.

Portability

The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 is really compact. It fits easily in your jacket pocket or spacious trouser pocket when the lens is retracted. And because the housing is made of a sturdy material and the lens is well protected when folded behind mechanical covers, it can also take a beating. For extra security, purchase a small camera bag to keep the camera in when you put it in your jacket pocket or backpack to prevent dust build-up and this camera will give you years of enjoyment.

Pricing

With a new price of about 600 euros, it is not a cheap camera (current price here ), but for that you get a compact camera that can take a beating and that takes excellent photos. I already own a full-fledged system camera (the Fuji X-T20), otherwise I would definitely consider this device.

Score

Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200

GalleryVideoPortabilityPricing
+ + +++++

GoPro Hero 8, 9 or 10

Maybe this is an even better travel camera for you. If you want something super portable for, say, quick and easy photos or videos, an action cam like the GoPro Hero 8, 9, or 10 (here for sale) may be the most suitable. Also, I don't think I need to explain to anyone that GoPro cameras really asshole proof to be. They are made for extreme sports, can go up to 25 meters under water without extra protection and are used to drops, bumps and extreme conditions. The ideal camera for a long trip or world trip.

photo quality

The photo quality of the GoPro 8, 9 and 10 is unfortunately far below par and you can't focus the photos, just like the videos. The camera in your phone will most likely take much better photos from the GoPro. I therefore find the GoPro cameras especially suitable as an additional camera. A GoPro is perfect if, for example, you already have a good compact or system camera with you that does not have good image stabilization and cannot be used underwater.

Also read: Why I prefer sturdy 'world travel proof' smartphones over iPhones

Video quality

However, the image stabilization in the videos is top-notch. There is no better one on the market right now. The video quality of these devices is also very contrasting and excellent, but it must be said that you cannot zoom (optical). Everything is always in focus, so you can't focus on a subject or person. Since that is a best limitation anyway, the camera does not get the '+++' score for video from me.

Where the camera really excels is the image stabilization. Since the GoPro Hero 8, GoPro has added a new image stabilization technique for the videos to the cameras. It's called Hypersmooth 2.0 and the GoPro 10 even has a 3.0 version. This technique works so well that a separate stabilizer for your camera has become completely unnecessary. When I first saw it in action, I couldn't believe my eyes. Weird how well it works! To give you an idea, take a look at the video below. These are images I took myself in Kenya while just walking around.

Portability

This is the second point where GoPro cameras really excel. There are situations where I have only been able to take photos or videos with the GoPro, such as while diving or snorkeling. With the GoPro 8, 9 and 10 you can take underwater images without an additional housing and thus photograph unique situations that you would never have been able to capture otherwise. During your long journey or world trip, you need a camera for certain situations that is resistant to water and extreme conditions.

I shot some great underwater shots with my old GoPro hero 3 and more recently the GoPro hero 8 for example. Photos that I really cherish not because they are super sharp or beautiful but simply because they have captured a unique moment.

And yes, I love taking selfies with animals in the open sea!

A seal that playfully came to say hello to me in South Africa | GoPro Hero 8
A seal that playfully came to say hello to me in South Africa | GoPro Hero 8
Whale 1 | A selfie with a whaleshark in the Philippines | GoPro Hero 3
Whale 1 | A selfie with a whaleshark in the Philippines | GoPro Hero 3
whale 2 | Selfie with a whaleshark in the Philippines | GoPro Hero 3
whale 2 | Selfie with a whaleshark in the Philippines | GoPro Hero 3
Manateefie | Selfie with a Manatee in Belize | GoPro Hero 8
Manateefie | Selfie with a Manatee in Belize | GoPro Hero 8
Mantafi | Selfie with a manta rays in Komodo, Indonesia | GoPro Hero 3
Mantafi | Selfie with a manta rays in Komodo, Indonesia | GoPro Hero 3

Pricing

The GoPro Hero 8, 9 or 10 does a number of things super well. Taking pictures under water is a big plus and the image stabilization is incredibly powerful. The price of a GoPro varies between 300 and 500 euros, depending on the model. For 300 euros you have the GoPro Hero 8, which already has the famous Hypersmooth 2.0 image stabilization and this can be submerged 10 meters under water without an additional housing. This is great value for money!

Score

GoPro Hero 8, 9 or 10

GalleryVideoPortabilityPricing
-+++ + +++

Fuji System Cameras

Save the best for last, I'll just say. If you look purely at portability, system cameras are a lot less compact than, for example, the aforementioned Panasonic Lumix and GoPro cameras. Nevertheless, the system cameras are compact cameras, especially if you compare them with a standard DSLR (SLR camera).

Background

For those who are wondering what exactly is a system camera: it is in fact the successor of the old-fashioned SLR (DSLR -digital single-lens reflex camera) camera. A DSLR SLR camera briefly directs the incoming light via a mechanically rotating mirror onto the sensor, which is the closing click you hear every time you take a photo. This system works excellently and the quality of this photo system has remained unparalleled for decades. I have actually taken thousands of beautiful pictures with it! But there are also drawbacks to this system…

SLR cameras are fragile

There is one major disadvantage with SLR cameras: they are very fragile, vulnerable, moving parts in your camera that also need quite a bit of space to be able to move. For that reason, old-fashioned SLR cameras are quite large and can hardly be made more compact. In addition, they are vulnerable because the mirror can break and because the mechanical shutter can get stuck due to dust and dirt, especially if you regularly change lenses.

System cameras are getting better

System cameras have no moving parts in the camera and therefore do not have this problem. For decades, the SLR camera was unbeatable in terms of image quality, but the digital photo world has of course not stood still either. System camera resolutions became higher and sensors became more sensitive, which means that the quality of digital photography without a mirror has continued to improve.

The tipping point came about in 2017. In this year, the mirrorless system camera quality surpassed the SLR camera quality (on average). Tweakers.net wrote a nice article in 2018 about the end of the SLR cameras, for those who want to know more about it.

Canon stops with SLR cameras

More and more major brands such as Canon and Fuji began to see in 2017 that mirrorless cameras without vulnerable, moving parts are the future. Almost the entire professional DSLR line-up has been replaced by mirrorless variants in recent years and at the end of 2021 the definitive end of an era of SLRs was announced: Canon definitively stops producing SLR cameras.

Me in Death Valley - USA | Canon D600 SLR camera with standard kit lens
Me (top right) in Death Valley – USA | Canon 600D SLR camera with standard kit lens

Canon, the largest photo brand in the world, wants to be able to focus entirely on mirrorless cameras, or system cameras from now on. Other major camera brands such as Fuji, Sony and Panasonic are expected to follow suit.

Malou and I in Monument Valley, USA | Canon D600 SLR camera with standard kit lens
Malou and I in Monument Valley, USA | Canon 600D SLR camera with standard kit lens

As you can see from the various photos above, I have been shooting with Canon SLR cameras for over 10 years. I have always been very satisfied with these cameras and when my Canon 600D had to be replaced after 8 years, I naturally started looking for a good system camera from Canon.

Fuji X-T20 / X-T30

However, after a lot of Googling, searching and reading product reviews, I found out that the Fuji X-series system cameras systematically trumped the comparable Canon variants in product tests. See for example these two extensive product comparisons on Tweakers.net (1), (2) in which various Fuji system cameras manage to beat the Canon system cameras. That is why, after much deliberation, I bought my first Fuji system camera at the beginning of 2018, the X-T20 with the standard kit lens.

photo quality

I often shot beautiful pictures with the Fuji X-T20 from the free wrist, anywhere in the world. Note: I am by no means a professional photographer or photo shopper. I shoot 95% of my photos simply in the automatic mode and the only thing I often adjust afterwards is the contrast and color intensity to give it a little more vibrancy.

I've included several photos in different lighting conditions below to give you an idea of ​​what this camera can do.

Flowers at sunset in Macro mode | Philippines | Fuji X-T20
Flowers at sunset in Macro mode | Philippines | Fuji X-T20
Marley, the dog of the couple we stayed with through AirBnB in South Africa | Fuji X-T20
Marley the dog during a sunny day | Automatic mode | Fuji X-T20
Antigua, Guatemala | Sunny backlight, automatic mode | Fuji X-T20
Selfie in Petra, Jordan | Just after sunrise, automatic mode | Fuji X-T20
Selfie in Petra, Jordan | Just after sunrise, automatic mode | Fuji X-T20
Bacalar, Mexico | Sunny around sunset, automatic mode | Fuji X-T20

What I like about the Fuji X-T20 system camera is that it is just very easy to take a nice photo. Yes, there are countless options for advanced photographers and you can do a lot with it. But for me, someone who travels a lot and just wants to take a quick picture, this camera works perfectly. The moment I have something in front of the lens and focus, the automatic scene selection does its job and chooses the right mode for that moment. Whether that is a sunset, landscape, macro, portrait or something else.

Video quality

I can be brief about the quality of the video: when you film in well-lit conditions and mount the camera on a tripod, the quality is sublime. The weak point, however, is the image stabilization. When you film handheld, the images are jerky and the camera also has trouble adjusting to light and dark areas in your video. I shot the video below just after sunset in Bacalar, Mexico. You can clearly see here that every movement of my hand is visible and when you move the camera it has trouble adjusting to the light, it's all a bit jerky.

Portability

Due to the compact size of system cameras, you can easily hold them with one hand to take a photo. With an old-fashioned DSLR SLR camera, that is quite difficult due to the size and additional weight.

Below you see a photo of my old Canon 600D DSLR camera (left) next to my Fuji X-T20 system camera (right). If you don't look at the lens, but only at the housing, you can already see a huge difference. The Canon DSRL is almost three times as thick, a lot higher and twice as heavy. A big difference that requires no further explanation.

Canon 600D single-lens reflex camera (left) vs Fuji X-T20 system camera (right)
Canon 600D single-lens reflex camera (left) vs Fuji X-T20 system camera (right)

Because the housing of the Fuji is made of hardened plastic, steel and aluminum, it can also take a beating. You can also fold the LCD screen at the back so that it is protected when you store the camera in, for example, your backpack. The biggest advantage is of course that there is no longer a vulnerable mechanical mirror that can break.

Pricing

The Fuji X-T20 and X-T30 (the successor) are for about 850 euros, here for sale. These are more or less the entry-level models of the Fuji X series system cameras. For that money you get an excellent camera that takes beautiful pictures. It is not for nothing that this camera comes out so well every time in the test, it is about the best camera on the market for this price.

Who has the money for an X-T3 (1200 euros) or X-T4 (1700 euros, here for sale) does not have the limitations of the X-T20 (moderate image stabilization and autofocus). These more expensive models are equipped with excellent image stabilization for both photo and video and are much more focused on professional vlogging. The X-T4 is therefore the number one choice for many professional YouTubers.

Score

Fuji X-T20

GalleryVideoPortabilityPricing
+ + +++++++

Fujifilm X-T4 system camera

UPDATE 13 Apr 2022: I bought the Fuji X-T4 mirrorless camera with the 16-80 kit lens for our roadtrip of one year through America and Canada and wow! What a fan-tas-tic photos makes this device. It's worth it, but it's really worth it. Now I just shoot 99% of all my photos in automatic mode. Whether you're taking photos during the day or at night, it's bizarre to see the quality that comes out of this camera.

The ultimate world travel camera
Fujifilm X-T4 Silver + 16-80mm
5.0

The Fujifilm X-T4 with 16-80 is the ultimate all-round world travel camera† This camera has been declared several times by both the consumer association and Tweakers.net the best system camera you can buy.

Even on the automatic mode you suddenly feel like a professional photographer! You can effortlessly shoot the most beautiful photos, and thanks to the versatile zoom range of the 16-80 lens, you can easily get closer to the action anywhere in the world.

Pros:
  • The best tested camera
  • Fantastic photos
  • 4k video at 60 fps
  • IBIS image stabilization
  • 5 year warranty
Cons:
  • Get used to it, many options!
  • Pricing
Buy now
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our link(s), at no additional cost to you.

Conclusion

I hope that after reading this article you will know better which camera suits you best as a person during a long trip or world trip. You now understand that there is no one camera that can do everything, there is no clear winner! Every situation calls for a different type of camera, so when traveling you will mainly benefit from cameras that are versatile and do not break easily. Portability and durability are important.

Many world travelers often carry several cameras with them for this reason. So am I, I carry several cameras with me on every trip, each for a different purpose. In short, I use the mirrorless cameras for photography, the GoPro for filming and taking pictures underwater and the Mavic Air 2 drone (not discussed in this article) for extra possibilities from the air.

You will therefore have to decide for yourself what is important to you, and what budget you want to make available for this.

Must have for drone pilots
EU Drone License | Drone Class
5.0
€ 99,00

From December 31, 2020 it is mandatory for individuals and companies to obtain an EU Drone Certificate. You can achieve this quickly and easily via Drone Class's online courses with exams. This allows you to fly in a responsible manner.

The 'EU drone driving license' is also accepted outside the EU in most cases, so it is advisable to have it with you at all times when you take your drone into the air, anywhere in the world.

Pros:
  • 100% success rate
  • profitable price
  • online training
Go to website
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Chris

Owner or Wereldreizigers.nl | Discover the world!

– Travel 3+ months per year, 10 years in a row
– 10 months USA & Canada in 2022
– Bucket List Destination: Antarctica
–Best Beaches:Philippines
– Best Food: Thailand
– Best Wildlife: Uganda
– Best City: Singapore
- Best roadtrip: Croatia

Stubborn & decisive world traveller
– Life is short, make the most out of it in literal sense.
– Never take no for an answer.
– If you think about it, DO IT!

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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