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With travel photography becoming increasingly popular, a good quality camera is now a necessity for most travelers. But the biggest question is, what kind of camera should we use?

Bulky DSLR’s were once the go-to, and it was the mark of a photographer to sport a massive zoom. But technology has evolved tremendously, and now that you can take high quality photos with your cell phone, most travelers today are going the portable route.

Also known as compact, or hand-held, portable cameras are preferred among travelers because they are conveniently sized for travel, allow freedom of movement when you’re out. These are often pocket-sized cameras that don’t need to be mounted.

Given this trend towards smaller bodied cameras, the following are 5 reasons to jump on the bandwagon and join those going the portable route.

Reasons to Invest in Portable Cameras

Better Price Point

Camera money cash RF

Cameras come in various designs, brands, and prices, and you can pay anywhere from $200 – $5,000 even though the quality (for what you’ll use it for) may stay exactly the same.

Expensive cameras are not automatically better, especially if you never plan on using the additional features; if you’re after something that points and clicks and not interested in learning about white balance, focus, or preset scene modes, you don’t need to spend big.

What you’re paying for in high quality cameras is often a heavy set of pro functions and features, and this is where more portable cameras come in handy for the price conscious; they’re better valued because they don’t come with a lot of frills.

They often maintain the same high quality image, but you won’t necessarily be able to do crazy, fancy things. Which isn’t really a bad thing. Most photographers don’t use (or understand) half the features on the fancy cameras they splash out on.

Even with the best camera gear and gadgets, investing in education is the fastest way to improve your photography skills. 

More Compact

Girl camera

A good portable camera is compact and therefore easy to transport and use. This is especially convenient for travelers, as you main maintain high quality images, without having to carry cumbersome equipment with you.

Tripods and multiple lenses are a way of the past; while travelers used to have to haul heavy backpacks full of equipment, now many are choosing to instead opt for cameras that can slide easily into their pocket.

You don’t have to sacrifice on image quality, and you’re able to faster access your camera for capturing fleeting moments you otherwise would have missed if you had to unpack and set up a tripod.

When it comes to a pocket sized camera, great for photographing fast action subjects, the Sony Alpha a6500 gets the attention of most photographers. This is Sony’s top tier mirrorless camera, and not only is it one of the smallest mirrorless cameras on the market, it’s also one of the toughest.

For additional info on the best cameras for travel, check out

The Smartphone vs Camera Debate


Some may argue that it is unnecessary to have a camera in this age where every smartphone is essentially a camera. While this does hold some merit, serious travel photographers do need to have a camera.

Most digital cameras produce high-quality photos, but the quality of pictures on your camera phones will usually differ. And ultimately, whether or not a camera phone is equal or better to a digital camera will depend on your purpose.

The quality of image taken with your phone will depend on autofocus, image stabilisitation, megapixels, exposure, preset scene modes, and while most phones these days off high quality images and video, these essential photography elements aren’t always something that phone companies consider.

Generally, as long as you have a quality camera phone, you’re good to travel, and many people view these devices as the most portable compact camera. The multi-tasking abilities of today’s phones makes them more economical than traditional digital cameras.

That said, there are many drawbacks to using your phone as opposed to investing in an actual camera, and if you want to get creative with your photography, or get that envious ‘blurred-background’ look, you’re much better off investing in a good compact camera.

Save Space and Power

Space and battery power are two of the biggest challenges that people face when using their smartphones. Especially when you’re traveling, it’s increasingly difficult to maintain phone battery, even more so when the phone is using power heavy apps like the camera.

Portable cameras are great for longevity, won’t suck the battery life out of your phone, and you’re heading on a long trip without electricity, you can opt to pre charge a back up supply of batteries.

What Makes a Good Portable Camera

Portable cameras should be small enough to fit into a handbag, light enough to carry around a neck all day, non-flashy looking to avert unwanted eyes, take a great photo, not break when bumped, and above all, must be great fun to use!

So when you’re looking to buy, make sure you find one that is both small & lightweight, inconspicuous in design, has good image quality (obviously), is rugged and durable, and above all, is a pleasure to actually use.

In terms of technology, keeping up pace with bulkier and older dSLRs, mirrorless cameras use the latest technology to produce high quality images in smaller bodies. If you have no idea where to start, refining your search to mirrorless cameras is a good place to start looking.

If you’re looking at brands, Canon has had a long history of making well-built, good looking compact cameras.  The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS isn’t a particularly new camera, but for it’s price, it’s a great performer.


Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12MP Digital Camera

ZoMei Z818 Light Weight Heavy Duty Portable Travel Tripod

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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