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The Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel & Other Useful Photography Gear
We get a lot of questions from readers and fellow travelers about our the best mirrorless camera for travel and other photography gear that we use or helpful tech gadgets. Over the years we’ve gone from using our trusty iPhones to now having a backpack of travel photography gear. While we don’t consider ourselves to be professional photographers, we are excited to share with you what we believe to be the best mirrorless camera for travel.
CAMERA: Sony A6000
Before our trip to Japan in 2015, we knew we wanted to splurge on a nicer camera (we’ve been using our iPhones for years)! After months of deliberation between the new MILCs and the ever-popular DSLR, we opted for the Sony A6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera and have been nothing but impressed. We believe it is the best mirrorless camera for travel for a variety of reasons, two of the biggest being the cost and weight.
(Note: The A6000 has now been superseded by the A6500 but has almost identical features to the A6000)
Why is the Sony A6000 the best mirrorless camera for travel?
- Weight: At 11.1 ounces without a lens, the Sony A6000 is extremely lightweight in comparison to most DSLR or full-frame cameras. This makes it easy to carry while traveling and takes up significantly less space. It can easily be put in your day backpack or a purse.
- Image stabilization comparable to DSLR cameras
- Photo & Video Quality: With 24 MP and customizable settings (even when filming video) you should be able to get some fantastic shots in any kind of setting.
- Shutter Speed: Shoot up to 11 frames/sec with AF and AE.
- Decent Low-Light Capabilities: With a higher ISO the A6000 can take exceptional photos in low-light conditions. There is sometimes a hint of graininess or noise, but it isn’t noticeable if you only plan to upload your photos to a website, social media, or even bring album size photos.
Cons of the Sony A6000
- Battery Life: After reading a few different articles and camera specifications, we found that the battery life was a little over half of that of comparable DSLR cameras. We solved this problem by purchasing a few extra batteries off Amazon and keeping them charged up. On days that we’ve been doing a lot of shooting we typically have only used two of our three batteries.
- Lenses: Because mirrorless digital cameras are a newer type of camera, there aren’t as many lenses to choose from as DSLR cameras. However, as of 2018, this has since changed. We were recently able to find a larger variety of lenses for the Sony A6000.
- Accessories: while there are a lot of accessories available for purchase, there are not as many as what DSLR cameras have to offer.
Cost: Around $498 for the body and 16-50mm lens OR around $700 for the body, 16-50mm lens, and 55-210mm lens (we opted for both lenses).
The Best Lenses for the Sony A6000
Sony 16-50mm Lens
The Sony 16-50mm Zoom Lens is often included in a bundle with the body of the A6000. But if you buy the body separately this lens is a good starter lens to have. It isn’t as sharp as other lenses compatible with the Sony A6000, but it will do the job for those who are looking for an everyday lens for their family vacations or if you are just getting started in travel photography.
Sigma 16mm 1.4 Prime Lens
The Sigma 16mm 1.4 Prime Lens is the newest lens that we purchased and we are really excited about it. A prime lens is a fixed focus lens meaning it doesn’t have zoom capabilities creating a sharper photo. Due to its low f-stop of 1.4, it also allows for better low-light photography.
Sony 50mm Portrait Lens
The Sony 50mm Portrait Lens is terrific for portrait shots with alluring bokeh (blur) in the background with the subject crisp in front. It is also another lens that is great for low-light performance with an f-stop of 1.8. Because it is a portrait lens it is not able to zoom.
Sony 55-210 Lens
The Sony 55-210 Zoom Lens is another that we purchased initially when we bought our Sony A6000. It has beautiful zoom capabilities that are great for nature and long-distance photography. We don’t carry this one at all times because it is quite large but it is handy to have when your subject is farther away.
Must-Have Accessories for the Sony A6000
- ImageEdging Mobile App: This app allows you to control your camera from your phone. You can easily download photos or use the app as a digital remote control with the WiFi that the camera has.
- Memory Cards: The larger the better, we travel with 2-3 64GB and/or 128GB SD cards in case we have an issue with one card or run out of storage. $28-34
- Camera Bag: While others might prefer a backpack dedicated to camera equipment, we love our Crumpler bag because it easily holds our camera, two lenses, and other small accessories. Then we can slip this compact bag into one of our day bags/backpacks. Unfortunately, the one we have is no longer sold so here is a good alternative. $60
- Extra Batteries: Your Sony A6000 will come with one battery but it always pays off to have a few more. We decided to try the off-brand Sony batteries that came with a wall charger and they’ve held up so far since we bought them in 2015. $35
- UV Filters: Filters for your camera lenses may not seem absolutely necessary but they do more than just filter out certain colors or light. We recommend buying UV filters for each of your lenses to protect the lens from dings, scratches, and even shattering. Having a filter on your lens also makes it easier to clean off spots and debris. $6-30
- Lens Cap Holder: Again, this is another item that might seem unnecessary but for the low cost it’s completely worth it. This lens cap holder easily slips onto your camera strap and you no longer have to worry about losing your lens cap while you’re taking a photo. $10
Useful Accessories for the Sony A6000
- Wireless Remote Control: We used to use this remote control but now use the Sony PlayMemories Mobile App on one of our cell phones to take photos. We like the app better because we can see the shot on our phone screen and can adjust our position more easily. But, the downfall is that a phone is not as easy to hide in a photo and it’s nice to have a back-up should your phone need a charge.
- Screen Protector: While this might not be necessary for all if you’re on the go a lot you might want to consider it as it will help protect your LCD screen from cracks. $7.50/3 pack
- Camera Strap: While your camera does come with a camera strap, it isn’t the most comfortable to wear around your neck. Consider upgrading your camera strap to one that is softer but also durable. $10
- Tripod: We prefer something compact and lightweight, like our travel tripod from Benro. We use our tripod for low-light photography, photos that have the two of us in them, or shots that have more movement. The tripod we carry is $400, but you can also get this one for $150.
A FEW PHOTOS FROM OUR SONY A6000
Even though we believe the Sony A6000 is the best mirrorless camera for travel, we still enlist in the help of a few other cameras from time to time. After our honeymoon trip to Jamaica in 2014, we decided to take the plunge and purchase a GoPro for underwater photography or fun action shots. Mainly because at the time, my Lifeproof case on my iPhone decided it didn’t want to be waterproof anymore. We filmed and photographed our trip with an iPhone, broken Lifeproof, and a ziplock bag!
Right after we bought our GoPro we were scouring the web for accessories, tips, and planning adventures in order to go GoPro crazy. We have loved using it for action shots, underwater scenery, videography, and wide-angle shots. But we don’t take it everywhere we go. We typically only take it with us when we know we’re going somewhere we’ll be in the water a lot or are doing a special activity such as snorkeling, scuba, winter sports, etc.
Pros of Having A GoPro
- Size: GoPro cameras are TINY. They fit right inside your pocket and can easily be thrown in a bag or purse.
- Durability: This camera was built to go to the places that your other cameras can’t go as safely. GoPros are dust, storm, sand, and waterproof with the right casings.
- Ease of Use: For a first-timer, these cameras are really easy to use. You can almost point and shoot at your ideal location and gather great results.
- Wide Angle: The fish-eye lens on the GoPro is perfect for action shots and capturing larger objects such as a statue, temple, or tall building.
Cons of Having A GoPro
- Fixed Lens: This means there is no zoom with a GoPro, what you see on the screen is what you get.
- Settings: Accessing things like ISO, exposure, etc can be a pain when trying to capture your perfect shot.
- Battery Life: The best thing to do is have a few backup batteries (we currently have 3 batteries).
- Expense: While the camera itself isn’t that expensive, buying accessories adds up quickly!
Must-Have Accessories For GoPro
- Micro SD Card: We typically say the more memory the better. We keep two 64GB and/or 128GB SD cards handy in case we run out of memory or have an issue with an SD card. $12-21
- Extra Batteries: As we said above, the battery life for GoPros is short. We typically have 3 batteries with us when we are using our GoPro for an extended period of time. $15/battery
- Dual Battery Charger: Having a dual battery charger is super handy for charging up your batteries on the go, not to mention it charges them very quickly. $42
- Camera Case: In order to keep your camera and equipment in one place we recommend getting a small carrying case for your GoPro and favorite accessories. $12.50
- Gooseneck + Flex Clamp: This is by far our favorite accessory. It’s super handy for attaching your GoPro to a variety of places, and the gooseneck also acts like a handheld pole or selfie stick. $35
Useful Accessories For GoPro
- Smart Remote: You can use the mobile app to take pictures, but the smart remote is a faster way to get your favorite shot and is helpful for action shots. $65
- GoPole: Perfect for selfies and action shots, it also has an attachable mount for your smart remote so you can set a timer or take a picture easily. $40
- Suction Cup: If you plan on using your GoPro on a vehicle, boat, etc, the suction cup is extremely durable and easy to use without worrying about scratching the paint. $27
READ MORE: The Best GoPro Accessories for Travel
A FEW PHOTOS FROM OUR GOPRO
DRONE: DJI Mavic Pro
After much deliberation, we recently purchased the DJI Mavic Pro. While the world of drones is a fairly new market, they give you a thrilling and different perspective from the sky.
Pros of the DJI Mavic Pro
- Perspective: You’re able to capture some pretty neat images from above that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
- Easy to Fly: If you’ve ever played a game on your phone or a video game, you can probably fly and land a drone. We suggest practicing in an open, flat field or even your own backyard if possible to get used to flying and landing.
- Size: Unlike other models and brands, the Mavic folds up to a size that could easily fit in one hand but doesn’t skimp on quality.
- Settings: You can easily change the settings via your mobile device or remote control while the drone is in flight.
- Video & Photo Quality: DJI makes the top of the line products when it comes to drones. We’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of photos and videos with our DJI Mavic Pro.
Cons of the DJI Mavic Pro
- Rules: This applies to all drones including the DJI Mavic Pro. There are many areas that are “No Fly Zones.” The DJI app is usually quick to tell you where you can fly and where you cannot but you need to read up on the area you’re in before attempting the flight. You will also need to register your drone with the FAA before flying.
- Price: All drones are expensive, the Mavic is no different. After purchasing your drone and necessary accessories it can run you well over $1,000.
- Weather Conditions: As of now, drones aren’t water and weatherproof. If you have a rainy or windy day, flying your drone won’t be an option. We have even attempted to fly in windy conditions which led to our drone crashing into a tree. Thankfully only a few propellers were broken in the process.
- Battery Life: Typically you will only be able to fly your drone for approximately 20 minutes before needing to change out your battery.
Cost: $959 (base) or $1,400 for the new Mavic Pro 2
Must-Have Accessories for the DJI Mavic Pro
- Extra Batteries: With a battery life of 20 minutes, you will need at least three to keep you going. If you want to save a little money consider buying your drone in a combo pack that comes with 1-2 batteries already. $75/battery
- Micro SD Card: We recommend one that is 64GB or larger. We personally use a 128GB Micro SD for our DJI Mavic Pro to ensure we have enough memory for photos and video. $11-22
- Camera Case: You spent a fortune on the camera, so protect it with a case! The Fly More bundle comes with a case but if you buy
youcamera separately you’ll need to purchase your own.
- Extra Propellers: We’ve gone through quite a few of these since we bought our drone. Regardless of how careful you are, things happen. Should one of yours break, you’ll be ready if you carry extra propellers. We recommend carrying at least a full set (4). $25/set of 2 for low noise propellers, $10/set of 2 for regular propellers
- Added Insurance: This varies for everyone but we were able to purchase a policy through our insurance company for minimal cost. The policy covers our drone should it get stolen, lost, or even crash into the ocean.
- DJI Go App: In order to fly your drone you’ll need to download the free DJI Go app.
Helpful Accessories for the DJI Mavic Pro
- Car Charger: If you need to charge up the batteries or remote on the go, this is super handy to have. $44
- 4 in 1 Rapid Battery Charger: This is extremely useful for charging your batteries and remote overnight. $20
- Mavic Lens Sun Shade: Helpful when shooting in extremely sunny conditions. $6.50
- Remote Joystick Protector: Helps protect the remote joysticks from moving around in the case and causing damage. $7
A FEW PHOTOS FROM OUR DJI MAVIC PRO
INSTANT CAMERA: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Recently, instant Polaroid shots have become exceedingly popular once again. We don’t typically take our Fujifilm Instax Mini with us while traveling internationally or when we’re packing light but it is fun to take unique instant photos.
Pros of the Fujifilm Instax Mini
- One-of-a-Kind Photos: The photos you’ll capture from the Instax have a fun vintage vibe that is perfect for unique travel photos or photos with friends and family.
- Instant Prints: No need to wait to edit and upload, the photo you take will be printed in a matter of seconds.
- Variety of Colors + Accessories: If you are purchasing an Instax, chances are you are looking for a unique way to express your photos and personality. You can definitely do so by customizing your camera by color, straps, cases, photo skins, and more.
Cons of the Fujifilm Instax Mini
- Batteries: This camera requires 2 AA batteries so it can be a pain to carry around extras. We typically just keep the batteries inside the camera and should we need more, purchase them on the go.
- No Internal Memory: This camera allows you to print photos instantly with the click of a finger which means you have to keep track of the printed photo after taking it. My suggestion? Think of a way to creatively store or display your photos such as one of the ways we have displayed our travel memorabilia.
NoTake Backs: Once you press that button your camera will be working on delivering a photo. Since the film is expensive it can be pretty heartbreaking when a photo is overexposed or taken at the wrong time. Allow your camera to sense the light and setting once you turn it on because it is usually accurate.
Must-Have Accessories for the Fujifilm Instax Mini
- Camera Bag: Since the Instax is plastic, it’s a good idea to have a case to keep it protected. $9.50
- Extra Batteries: While the batteries tend to last a while, it’s good to have back-ups at home or even a few on the run just in case. $5
- Film: You can’t use the camera without film! $40/60 pictures
Useful Accessories for the Fujifilm Instax Mini
- Close-up Lens with Self-Portrait Mirror: Perfect for taking selfies with the Instax. Not to mention it’s super cute! $7
- Photo Album: Photo albums are an easy way to store and display your photos and protect them from dust. $7
- Neck Strap: Your Instax will come with a wristlet strap but this neck strap is great for being hands-free. $6
A FEW PHOTOS FROM OUR FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI
CELLPHONE: iPhone 8/8+
As I mentioned previously before we ever bought our Sony A6000, which we consider to be the best mirrorless camera for travel photography, we both used our iPhones when traveling and honestly, they don’t do a bad job for a quick snap. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell what photos were taken with a phone vs a camera. Currently,
Pros of the iPhone 8/8+
- Easy to Use: It’s as easy as opening the camera app, pointing, and capturing the shot.
- Size: Most everyone carries their cell phone in their pocket, purse, or another bag.
- Obtainability: You probably already have an iPhone or Andriod!
- Uploading to Media: Since you took the photo right on your phone it’s easy to upload immediately to social media or a photo editing app.
Cons of the iPhone 8/8+
- Image Quality: Photos taken via your iPhone or other cellular device have a limited range of editing due to their size components.
- Settings: You aren’t able to adjust many settings that allow a precise depth of field, lighting, etc.
- Battery Life: Taking photos and video + uploading to social media can drain your battery very quickly
Cost: Approximately $610
Must-Have Accessories for the iPhone 8/8+
- Protective Case: For most people, their phone is their lifeline. Without a protective case, your phone is at risk for a cracked screen etc. $14
- Battery Charging Pack: So you can charge your phone on the go. $22
- Extra Lightning Cables: We have many back-ups just in case we lose or break one. $9
Useful Accessories for the iPhone 8/8 plus
- Ring Grip/Stand: A lot of people use a PopSocket but we prefer the ring holder/stand for our phones. You simply attach it to your phone case and can hold your phone with the ring without worrying about dropping it as easily. The ring also acts as a stand. $10
A FEW SHOTS FROM MY IPHONE 8 PLUS
Other Favorite Travel Gear
MacBook Air (13″): Having both used a PC for many years we gradually made the switch over to Apple products. The MacBook Air is lightweight and easily fits in a larger purse or backpack making it the perfect travel accessory if you need to work or edit photos on the go. $900
Portable Battery Charger: We use two of these power banks to keep our phones charged while on the go. $30
Quick Charge 5 Port Charger: Any time we’re traveling we always seem to run into the same problem, there is never enough outlets to charge all of our devices. With this wall charger, we are able to charge up to five devices quickly and only use one outlet.
Editing Software: For our camera, drone, and GoPro photos we love using Adobe Lightroom ($10/month) to edit on our MacBooks and phones. We also use Snapseed (FREE – Mobile App) to edit some photos and VSCO (FREE – Mobile App).
Daypack/Backpack: I am actually able to fit all of this gear inside my 28 L backpack. Super handy to have it all in one place for when we’re on the go. When we’re hiking or on more extensive trips that include a lot of walking Kallsy will usually carry half of our gear in her own backpack to lighten the load. It’s important to look for a backpack that has comfortable shoulder straps and good support so you don’t hurt your back from wearing it all day. $100-$125
Have we convinced you to try out the best mirrorless camera for travel or any of our other travel gear? Do you have any favorite photography equipment? We’d love to hear your tips!