Finding a great travel camera can be difficult. That’s why today we’re looking for the best travel camera for under $500. Not all of us have the money to purchase a vacation and a vacation camera at the same time! But for under $500, you can get an excellent piece of equipment to take photographs of the Pyramids of Giza, the Mayan temples of Mexico, or the historical architecture of East Europe. When it comes to travel, we have you covered for the best camera.
Sure, you can use a smartphone. It’s easier to carry a smartphone in your pocket, especially while traveling. But if you want to take outstanding photographs that make everyone on your social media jealous of your exploits, you need a professional travel camera. And yes, you can get one for just a couple hundred dollars.
Today’s reviews are going to focus on smaller cameras that are easier to take with you while exploring a new city. DSLR cameras do offer superior photographs and a better selection of lenses, and mirrorless cameras are great too, but both are heavier and more troublesome while trying to explore. This is especially true when visiting a hot location. Nobody wants a heavy camera draped around their neck all day while trying to enjoy themselves.
This is why we always recommend getting a powerful camera with a large sensor while still keeping it lightweight. For this, digital cameras are usually the best. But of course, at the end of the day, it’s all up to you!
The Canon EOS M200 Mirrorless Camera is a vlogger’s dream come true. It’s small, it’s portable, it offers 4K video support, it has a 3” touch panel LCD, and it has the newest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology to give you instant upload capabilities. This is undoubtedly one of the best cameras if you want to document all your travels. For any backpacking trip, this is the camera you need.
Furthermore, the M200 comes in white or black, you can get it as a complete video content kit, and you can stay connected to all your platforms with the EOS webcam utility software. The camera even offers automatic image transfer. As for the actual specifications of the camera, it comes with a huge 24.1-megapixel sensor that gives you ridiculously high-quality images regardless of light. Expect all your travel photographs to have bright colors and excellent details. And as a final bonus, vertical video support allows you to mix and match camera angles to create interesting and engaging video content.
- Fabulous for Travel Vloggers & YouTube
- 4K Video Capability
- 1-Megapixel Sensor
- 3” Touch Panel LCD Screen
- Integrated Bluetooth & Wi-Fi & Image Transfer
- Overheating Issue
- Surprisingly Heavy
Here we have a standard digital camera from Sony. Keep in mind that Sony does offer some of the best travel cameras out there, but they hover around the $700 range. Sony always makes the best cameras, and for that reason, most of them are pretty expensive. But for a budget model, this version has a lot to offer. You can shoot amazing panoramas with the special “Sweep Panorama” mode. You get 20x optical zoom. There is simple connectivity to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or NFC. Plus, this ridiculously affordable camera has 4K-quality image output when hooked up to HDMI2.
But that’s not all. If you want a small and replaceable camera because you’re worried about pickpockets or losing your equipment on an alcohol-fueled night in Europe, this is definitely a great unit. It’s small, it’s under $300, and it’s still going to dramatically improve the quality of your photographs, especially when compared to any current smartphone on the market. You get 18 megapixels of quality, plus extremely smooth video recording. The sensor even harnesses ample light for taking quality photos in the dark.
- 20x Optical Zoom
- Comes in Black and White
- Great Connectivity for Smart Phones
- 4K Image Quality w/ HDMI2
- Fantastic Panorama Mode
- Small rechargeable Battery
- LCD Screen Not Great + No Viewfinder
If you know you’re going to be in some dramatic situations, either skiing, snorkeling, hiking, running, biking, or any other intense activity, you need a durable and tough camera that’s going to stand up to all the action. That’s where the Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera comes into play. It is undoubtedly the toughest action camera for travelers on the market. This thing could be stepped on by an elephant and still take fantastic photographs. It’s packed full of so many features we might not even be able to list them all! But we’re definitely going to try.
First, the camera itself looks great. It’s tough, it’s made from solid materials, and it comes available in either red or black. The camera is waterproof up to 50 feet. It’s also dust-proof, shockproof, freeze-proof, and even crushproof. You get 8x zoom, high-resolution photographs, four different macro shooting modes to take photos of extremely small subjects, and five underwater shooting modes that will allow you to have endless fun while snorkeling or diving. And it doesn’t end there! You can create 4K movies, the camera has a surprisingly impressive battery life, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. For adventure travelers, this is the only camera you’re ever going to need.
- Best Travel Action Camera
- Waterproof to 50 Feet
- 8x Zoom
- 4 Macro Shooting Modes
- 5 Underwater Shooting Modes
- GPS Can Be Slow
- Doesn’t Come w/ Lens Cover
For those who just can’t stomach the idea of using a digital camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 is the best affordable DSLR for traveling. It’s simply amazing! The camera has integrated Wi-Fi, it comes included with an 18-55mm lens, and it can take full HD videos. The camera also includes an optical viewfinder with a maximum of 95% viewing coverage.
And even though this is a DSLR camera, it’s still lightweight and comfortable. It boasts a huge 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, it has incredibly fast autofocus, and it’s simply fun to use. While definitely not the most impressive professional camera out there, it is the best first step for beginner photographers, especially those who want to document all of their exciting travels.
- EOS Utility Webcam Software
- 95% Viewing Coverage w/ Optical Viewfinder
- Integrated NFC Technology
- 9-Point AF System
- Ideal for Action Photography While Traveling
- No Microphone Jack
- Good for Beginners/Unsatisfactory for Pros
Last but certainly not least is an awesome 4K digital camera from Panasonic. This fantastic digital camera is small enough to fit in your pocket, it’s lightweight and ideal for walking around new cities and snapping photos whenever you see an opportunity, and it has a 20.3-MP sensor combined with a 5-axis image stabilization system for blur-free, crystal-clear images. The 4K video recording is smooth and flawless, you have full intuitive operation using the lens-mounted control ring, and the camera even features a special 4K selfie photography mode for making the most out of your face!
The LUMIX ZS70K also comes included with a 30x optical zoom system, allowing you to get ridiculously close to all your subjects. And if you’re worried about low-light capabilities, don’t be. The camera has an impressive ISO range that works in conjunction with Panasonic’s unique Venus Engine to ensure magnificent pictures even when working in a dimly lit environment. Basically, this camera does it all – and it does it at a wildly affordable price.
- Internal Focus Stacking
- Quick Operation w/ Lens-Mounted Control Ring
- 4K Video Capture + 4K Selfies
- 5-Axis Optical Image Stabilization
- Great for Low-Light Environments
- Only 18MP
- Images Suffer When Zoomed In
If you’re still unsure which camera is going to be best for your travels, let us leave you with a few things to consider. Like we said at the very beginning, most casual travelers want something lightweight. It may seem like no big deal to carry a large DSLR camera with a lens around your neck while visiting Jamaica, Mexico, or Southeast Asia, but wait until you’re there and sweating! It ends up turning into a nightmare.
For any casual photographer who just wants spectacular photos, you definitely want to keep it lightweight. You also want to think about durability. Your camera will be going in and out of bags constantly, you will probably drop it a few times, and there is always the possibility of it being stolen. Plus, if you’re going hiking or scuba diving, you’ll need a waterproof action camera!
At the end of the day, your choice is going to depend on your type of travel. For example, if you’re going on a road trip, then of course, you can have the biggest and heaviest and most expensive camera ever, complete with a whole bag of lenses! But if you’re going to be vlogging around Europe, you want something robust and capable of 4K video.
The good news is that any of the cameras on our list today are all-around great and check off most of the boxes. Any one of them will make for an awesome experience while traveling and taking pictures.