Want Epic Travel Pics? A Professional’s Guide to the Best Cameras and Drones!
Hey friends, Alexx here (a.k.a. Finding X on all things social). I’m a travel blogger and photographer with a passion for creating epic travel content and I’ve been tasked with pulling together my top suggestions for phones, cameras, drones and accessories to take your travel photos to the next level.
In the age of ‘pics or it didn’t happen’, the task of planning how to take photos on your trip is pretty much up there with booking a flight. Whether you’re a total newbie, an Instagrammer with a keen eye for detail or a future travel Vlog superstar, here are the best cameras and drones to nail the perfect shot.
Best for stunting on the ‘gram
Long gone are the days that you needed 2kg of equipment to capture frame-worthy travel snaps – phones now boast camera specs that are more than sufficient for recording your best holiday moments. The newest iPhones and Samsungs are both up there in terms of phone cameras, but the Google Pixel 2 XL takes the cake in my eyes. Along with a 12.2MP rear camera and 8MP front camera squeezed into a 175g package with a 6-inch OLED screen, the Pixel 2 XL also has slow-motion 120fps video, a portrait mode and performs incredibly well in low light. In other words; throw in a rapid charge feature, built-in Google Translate and unlimited maximum resolution photo storage until 2020, and you’ve got the perfect smartphone for a globetrotter.
Best for taking phone photos to the next level
Whether you’re all about smiling in front of a landmark or a pro who’s sick of carrying gear everywhere, Moment phone lenses are a gamechanger for travel photos. They’ve got the Tele lens with 2x optical zoom and 60mm focal length (perfect for portraits and snapping from afar), the Superfish lens with a 170 degree field of view for fisheye photos, the Macro for super close-ups showing insane detail, and my favourite, the Wide lens. These bad boys capture 2x more picture while keeping it sharp, giving you top quality photos that are almost indistinguishable from actual camera snaps. They’re perfect for group shots, landscapes, landmarks and they counteract the automatic cropping when you video on your phone, plus they’re small enough to keep with you at all times on the road, meaning you’ll never miss a good photo op.
Best for adventurers
If your idea of a holiday includes things like dune bashing, hiking and jumping off cliffs, you’ve got to join the GoPro revolution. The ultimate camera for adrenaline junkies, the Hero 6 offers 12MP photos, 4K video or 1080p at 240fps (which means you can edit sports or action shots to super slow-mo), an LCD touchscreen and the best image stabilisation in the action cam game. It’s waterproof to 10m so it’s perfect for boat parties or diving trips, and there are tonnes of accessories to choose from to build your dream GoPro kit. My top picks for extras are the three-way (camera grip, extension arm and tripod), the Karma Grip gimbal for video, and a dome port.
Best for water babies
The GoPro dome port is so good that it deserves its own paragraph. Not technically a camera, the dome port is a large bubble that houses your GoPro and helps you capture split-level underwater photos, where both above and below water scenes are beautifully sharp. It’s a bit bulky so not perfect for anyone travelling with limited luggage space, but it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to a summer road trip or beach holiday if you have room.
Best for backpackers on a budget
This pocket-sized camera with top-notch specs is a fantastic option for backpackers and hostel-hoppers on a budget. Its 40x optical zoom lets you capture the smallest details in faraway objects, the 24mm wide-angle lens is ideal for travel landscapes or group photos, and the 20.3MP sensor means you’ll have crisp and clear shots day and night. Featuring WiFi and NFC connectivity, it’s an easy option for capturing memories and then bragging about them online – plus it saves you from running out of battery and storage space on your phone. Too easy!
Best for photography newbies and technophobes
Say hello to the travel photographer’s best friend: mirrorless cameras. These lightweight gadgets pack a serious punch in terms of specs, but are way easier to use than DSLRs. If this is your first foray into taking travel photos, check out the retro-looking Panasonic Lumix GX800. The GX800 has a 16MP sensor and 4K video, as well as both intelligent (dummy-proof) auto modes and the option of full manual control, so it’s ideal for someone who’s keen to polish their skills. The lens it comes with (12mm-32mm) is a decent wide-angle lens for travel photos, and you can top up your kit with extra lenses when you figure out your favourite style of photography. It’s also got a 180-degree tilt screen, perfect for next level selfies.
Best for Vloggers
Canon’s compact G7X Mark II is a big player in the YouTube world – and with manual movie mode, top quality image stabilisation and an f1.8 lens giving the blurry background effect, it’s easy to see why. It’s got a rubber grip, a flip screen so you can see exactly what you’re shooting, and a built-in time-lapse feature for skyline sunsets and city scenes. Simply put, this 320g camera has been created with travel vloggers in mind.
Best for the pros
Sony A7R II
Sony’s A7R range is basically the mirrorless royal family, boasting sensors, focusing, dynamic range and rugged bodies that outperform all others. The A7R III has been hailed as one of the greatest cameras around, with specs that compare to top-of-the-line Canon and Nikon DSLRs. If you can’t afford the £3199 price tag (I definitely can’t!) then its predecessor, the A7R II, is still super impressive and will set you back £2400. It’s a splurge, but for a 42.4MP full-frame sensor, brilliant autofocus system and the ability to adapt any lens, it’s the perfect camera for seasoned hobbyists looking to level up or go pro.
Best drone for backpackers
There’s no doubt that DJI rules the skies in the drone world, and the Mavic Air is their latest ultra-portable gadget. With 12MP photos, 4K video at 30fps (or 1080p at 120fps) and a 3-axis gimbal camera at only 430g, it’s the perfect toy for a traveller looking to see destinations from a totally different perspective. The flight range is a massive 4km, but with a battery life of only 21 minutes (it’s worth buying extra) and most countries implementing laws that make it illegal to fly without the aircraft in sight, you’re unlikely to ever go that far. In terms of software, the Mavic Air doesn’t disappoint. ActiveTrack allows smart tracking of moving people or objects, QuickShots are drone selfie settings for epic ready-to-upload videos and Sphere Panoramas are 32MP spherical photos made from 25 shots stitched together. Oh, and did I mention palm control? SmartCapture allows you to control launch, movement and photo-taking by moving your hand. Yes, I’m serious.
Best drone for SERIOUS content creators
Phantom 4 Pro
There’s no other way to end this list than with my all-time favourite gadget and the most advanced consumer drone in the market, DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro. With an incredible camera that shoots 20MP photos and 4K video at 60fps, five-direction obstacle avoidance, 30-minute flight time and 7km range, the P4P gives content creators the freedom to capture epic footage and photos that stand out from the crowd. At 1.3kg and 35cm diagonally with no ability to fold, it’s not easily crammed into a suitcase, but if you can handle an extra piece of luggage in the form of a drone bag (I like this one) then I guarantee you won’t regret it.
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