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BEST 2023 TRAVEL CAMERAS reviewed: midsize, pocketable, smartphone

Tom Dempsey recommends the following camera gear for on-the-go photographers:

Recommended PRINTERS ■ SCANNERS ■ MONITORACCESSORIESSOFTWARETIPS for travel in adverse conditions

Sony RX10 IV camera
The versatile Sony RX10 IV dust-resistant camera sports a superb 25x zoom 24-600mm equivalent f/2.4-4 lens.

PART A. Top SMARTPHONE CAMERAS

compensate for tiny cameras with ease-of-use, instant photo sharing, good close focus, and vast computational power for superior AUTO HDR. Get the latest most-advanced Pro or Ultra models for superior speed, telephoto, and dim-light (night mode) performance. Top brands include:

Photographers using Cloud storage can get away with 128GB internal storage on the phone. For business use, Tom prefers 256 or 512GB.

An “unlocked” phone lets you pick a lower-priced wireless service provider and/or install a cheap foreign SIM in each country visited (as I did in Japan and UK). To save money on your USA wireless carrier, consider Consumer Cellular (external link), which accesses AT&T’s complete USA-only network most cheaply while providing top customer support. Get Consumer Cellular’s “all-in-one SIM” from Target stores or via mail, then insert into an unlocked GSM phone and activate with their help. For international roaming capability when away from Wi-fi, I now use Consumer Cellular’s T-Mobile service. With my wife on Consumer Cellular’s AT&T and me on their T-Mobile service, together we broaden our USA coverage.

Off by default, be sure to turn ON your phone’s “Wi-Fi Calling” Setting, which costs nothing extra. Wi-Fi Calls in the USA will be clearer, if cell reception is poor where Wi-Fi is strong. When you are outside of USA, Wi-Fi Calls eliminate roaming charges when calling US phone numbers. While you are roaming, calls made to non-USA numbers are charged per-minute rates by both the foreign and home mobile network operators. When abroad, only use Wi-Fi service to access internet data; turn OFF “Data Roaming” to avoid unexpectedly large bills.

PART B. World’s best POCKETABLE TRAVEL CAMERA

The best and brightest pocketable 8x-zoom camera is now the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII (RX100M7) (2019, 11 oz, 24–200mm f/2.8-4.5). The sweet spot for a sharp, portable zoom is now found in cameras like this which use Sony’s 1-inch-Type sensor — as explained in my “Sensors” article.

Or save $ on the older RX100 VI (RX100M6) (2018). Read Tom’s “RX10M6 review.”

Accessories: Avoid dropping its slippery body by adding Sony AG-R2 attachment grip. Fit into Tamrac Digital 1 Photo Bag with extra Wasabi Power NPBX1 batteries. Avoid LCD scratches with QIBOX Premium GLASS Protector.

Other good pocketable cameras

  1. Panasonic Lumix DSC-ZS100 (2016, 11 oz, 25-250mm equivalent lens f/2.8-5.9). Read Tom’s ZS100 review.
  2. Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 (2018, 12 oz, 24-360mm equivalent lens f/3.3-6.4) outguns all pocket-size 1″-sensor rivals with a versatile 15x zoom, but sibling ZS100 is sharper and brighter through 10x.
  3. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 versions IV, III, II, or I: within its limited 3x zoom is sharper and brighter than that sub-range of Panasonic’s 10x-zoom ZS100. Save money with used or earlier III, II or I versions — read Tom’s “Sony RX100 III review.”
  4. Best value pocketable superzoom: Panasonic ZS80 (2019, 11.5 oz, 24–720mm equiv 30x zoom, 20MP, Electronic ViewFinder/EVF).
  5. Cheaper, tiniest 10x zoom: Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS (2016, 5 oz, 24-240mm equivalent, 1/2.3″ sensor, but no viewfinder).

Weather resistant pocketable cameras

  • OM System (Olympus) Tough TG-7 camera (2023, 9 oz, 25-100mm, f/2.0-4.9 lens) is waterproof, shockproof, and dust-resistant. Beat smartphone image quality by shooting and editing its raw format files, as I did after rafting the Grand Canyon using the earlier TG-4.
  • For hiking in the rain, a waterproof smartphone is a good choice (plus adds topographic tracking via Gaia GPS, AllTrails, or other apps). My Samsung Galaxy Note9 worked great in New Zealand rainforests.
  • Beware that seawater can corrode contacts even on waterproof phones, so a case or a TG-7 is advised. While a cheap CaliCase Universal Waterproof Case can take smartphones snorkeling under seawater, beware that 2 out of 4 copies that I received in 2018 noticeably softened camera resolution due to a milky stain on the already-blurry plastic window.

TIP: As a workaround for sluggish autofocus (AF) in cheaper compact cameras: prefocus (lock) on a contrasty edge of the subject by half pressing and holding the shutter button, then the subsequent full press will be instant, ≤ 0.15 second. But half-press autofocus lock doesn’t work in continuous focus or action modes. Don’t let an inferior camera frustrate your capture of action, people, pets, or sports. For surer action shots, upgrade to a newer model with hybrid AF such as pocket-size Panasonic ZS100, Sony RX100, or midsize RX10M4 or Panasonic FZ1000 II, or an interchangeable-lens camera. 

PART C. MIDSIZE TRAVEL CAMERAS

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV (RX10M4) with 24-600mm equivalent f/2.4-4 stabilized zoom lens.
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV (RX10M4) with 20MP 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor. Phase detection 315-point autofocus. Touchscreen for AF.

Since 2018, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV packs the ultimate all-in-one travel tool into 37 ounces — read Tom’s “RX10M4 review.” Its dust-sealed, bright f/2.4-4 lens with remarkable 25x zoom is sharp across the frame from 24-600mm equivalent, well into birding territory (read Tom’s Telephoto article). With an efficient 1”-Type sensor, it captures great depth-of-field details, everywhere from close flower shots to distant bird feathers.

Smaller, cheaper midsize cameras with 1″-Type sensor

  • Best midsize camera for the money:  Panasonic FZ1000 version II (2019, 28.5 oz with fast-focusing 16x zoom lens 25-400mm equivalent, bright f/2.8-4 aperture, 20MP, 1″-Type BSI sensor) rivals the zoom quality of APS-C-sensor and DSLR systems of this weight. (The earlier FZ1000 version I has a noisier sensor and poorer LCD screen & EVF.)
  • Travelers may prefer FZ1000 II over the older, heavier Panasonic FZ2500 (2016, 33 oz, 20x zoom 24-480mm f/2.8–4.5, 20MP, called FZ2000 in some markets). In comparison to Sony RX10 III, the Panasonic FZ2500 has a fully articulated LCD with touchscreen, increases viewfinder magnification (EVF 0.74x versus 0.7x), has better menus, and improves video specs (ND filter, Cine/UHD 4K). But FZ2500’s lens collects a half stop less light, lowering image quality; its telephoto doesn’t reach long enough for birders; and its CIPA battery life of 350 shots is shorter than RX10III’s 420 shots.

Larger APS-C sensor, midsize camera for dim light, indoor action, events

Tiny 1/2.3″-Type sensor extends zoom range for midsize cameras

Tiny, noisy 1/2.3″-Type sensors are leveraged well by smartphones’ superior processing power, but therein mostly limited to wider angles of view. When attached to larger-diameter lenses to collect more light, these little sensors usefully extend zoom range in the following midsize cameras:

  • Cheapest: Panasonic Lumix FZ300 (2015, 24.4 oz, 12MP, bright f/2.8 lens 25-600mm equivalent, 24x zoom range, weather sealed).
  • Nikon COOLPIX P950 (2020, 35 oz, 24–2000mm equivalent 83x zoom lens f/2.8–6.5, 1/2.3″ sensor, 16MP). Fully articulated LCD. 290 shots per charge. P950 adds a flash hot shoe and can record RAW files (whereas older P900 only captured JPEGs).
  • Compare with bulkier Nikon COOLPIX P1000 (2018, 50 oz, 24–3000mm equivalent 125x zoom lens f/2.8–8.0 on 1/2.3″ sensor, 16MP) for dedicated birders and wildlife specialists. The P950 and P1000 are best intended for zooming above 1000mm equivalent, whereas various rival cameras would better cover 24-1000mm. For example, superior processing of modern smartphones generally beats P950 and P1000 at wide angles (24-50mm equivalent). A 1″-sensor Sony RX10M4 shot at 600mm can be digitally cropped by 2x to outshine the P950 and P1000 up to about 1200mm equivalent.

If your camera was made prior to 2018, do yourself a favor — upgrade for better real resolution, lower noise at higher ISO speeds ≥800, or quicker autofocus. From 2009–2022, top cameras have markedly improved handheld optical image stabilization (branded as Nikon VR, Canon IS, Panasonic OIS, Sigma OS, Tamron VC, Sony OSS), largely freeing us from daytime tripod use. The latest cameras capture more highlight and shadow detail, by using better sensors plus automatic HDR (high dynamic range) imaging and other optimizations for JPEG files. On advanced models, I always edit raw format images to recover several stops of highlight and shadow detail which would be lost with JPEG.

Related camera history: Tom Dempsey’s travel cameras adopted from 1978 until now.

PART D. DSLR-STYLE TRAVEL CAMERAS

feature an optical viewfinder using a legacy mirror box. Tom recommends the following economical DSLR camera body:

  • Nikon D3500 (2018, 13 oz body, 24MP APS-C sensor/DX format, CIPA battery life 1550 shots)
  • or upgrade: Nikon D5600 (2016, 16.4 oz body, 24MP) adds fully articulated (flip out) LCD touchscreen

and attach a travel lens:

Read “BEST TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS 300mm+” to seriously magnify wildlife, birds, and sports with optical image stabilization. Ultra-wide- angle lenses broaden the DSLR perspective.

Recommended close focus, macro enlargement prime lenses for DSLR cameras

Instead of carrying one of the above prime macro lenses for a DSLR camera, consider using a pocketable camera or smartphone which can focus very closely at wide angle with deep depth of field, and can serve as a backup for your larger/main camera. A pocketable Panasonic ZS100 captures good close-focus shots optimally sharp at 45mm equivalent (after the Macro/Flower symbol button is pressed).

In fact, I gave up lens-swapping in 2016. Instead, I carry the Swiss-Army-Knife of cameras — the 25x zoom Sony RX10 IV, which captures excellent macro at 400-600mm, sharpest at f/5.6 — read Tom’s RX10M4 review.

Historical DSLR comparison: Nikon version Canon

Nikon D3300 (released in 2014) offers more for your money (at a lighter travel weight) than Canon EOS Rebel cameras of 2014 and earlier. Also, the earlier Nikon D3200 beats Canon Rebel DSLR cameras of 2012. The best mirrorless designs can pack more quality into a smaller box, but DSLR cameras offer more specialty lenses, with a design legacy inherited from the 35mm film era, where an optical viewfinder’s mirror box adds bulk.

PART E. FULL-FRAME-SENSOR TRAVEL CAMERAS

The world’s best full-frame mirrorless camera in a compact body is the

  • Sony a7CR (2023, 18.2 oz body, 60MP BSI CMOS sensor). Up to 7EV of in-body image stabilization (IBIS) is achieved by impressive sensor-shift technology.
  • Cheaper sibling: Sony a7C II (2023, 18.1 oz body, 33MP BSI CMOS). 7EV of stabilization built into the body means lenses needn’t provide it.

Mount it with the optimal travel lens for Sony Alpha 7 (A7) series cameras:

  • Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (2020, 20 oz, AFA071S700) with sharp 7x zoom range. This lens plus a compact A7CR or A7C II camera body = 38 ounces (just 1 ounce more than a 25x-zoom Sony RX10M4). Handheld shake is counteracted by excellent IBIS in the A7 bodies (instead of in the lens).

Let’s compare this Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 lens mounted on a 60MP A7 Series camera (38 oz total) versus a 20MP Sony RX10M4 with 24-600mm equivalent lens F2.4-4 (37 oz). Advantageously in dim light, the A7’s full-frame BSI CMOS sensor may capture up to 3 stops less noise in terms of ISO setting. The A7CR will be sharper from 28mm to about 340mm equivalent. Cropping the Tamron shot at 200mm from 60MP down to 20MP image size extends its reach to roughly match 350mm equivalent on the RX10M4. Further cropping the A7CR’s 200mm image to 6.7MP (still useful for publications) would digitally zoom to 600mm equivalent. (This is an inverse-square relationship: cropping to one-ninth of the megapixel area on the sensor makes an equivalent-lens linear magnification of 3x — from 200mm to 600mm.)

When compared to Sony A7CR mounted with Tamron 28-200mm, the Sony RX10M4 makes a compelling all-in-one travel solution by:
being sharper from 400-600mm equivalent for wildlife magnification (optimally shot sharpest at f/5.6),
by covering wider angles of view from 24-27mm equivalent,
by being smaller (protrudes less by 1.25 inches when retracted),
by including a built-in flash and a sharper LCD (although with less articulation, just swiveling), and
by costing half as much.

More Sony FE (full frame) E-mount lens options:

  • Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS E-mount lens (27.5 oz, SEL24240) has a versatile 10x zoom range for travel — but is pricier, heavier, and not as bright or sharp as Tamron’s 28-200mm F2.8-5.6. The SEL24240 lens + body = 46 ounces. A reader at dpreview.com using a 42MP A7R2 mounted with SEL24240 reported clearly superior dim light performance versus Sony RX10M4, but not so significantly better in good light.
  • Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS (2017, 23 oz, SEL24105G) has a more-limited 4x zoom range but is sharper than the above lenses. Lens + body = 41 ounces.
  • Sony FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM SEL2470GM lens (2016, 31 oz) 3x zoom is brighter and incrementally sharper than the above options. Lens + body = 49 ounces.

Sony A7 series history: The A7R (2014, 16.4 oz) captures 36MP. In contrast, A7S (2015, 17 oz) has 12MP optimized with large photosites and more sensitive autofocus great for low-light videographers, but its stills require ISO 12,800+ to beat A7R’s 36MP image quality. Instead of having an optical viewfinder like a DSLR, the A7, A7II, A7R, and A7S have a great electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 2.4 million dots (XGA). The 3-inch tilting LCD has 1.23 million dots (except 921,000 on A7S). New Hybrid AF builds phase-detection autofocus into the sensor, capturing 5 fps with continuous autofocus. With contrast-detection autofocus only, A7S shoots 5 fps and A7R shoots 4 fps. Weatherproof bodies.

Full-frame-sensor cameras excel at night, indoor, high ISO 6400+, and very-large-print photography. Covering that large sensor area requires more glass, thereby restricting the optimally-lightweight travel lens to 7x zoom range — using the crisp Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6. (To capture distant wildlife or birds while traveling, instead use a smaller sensor, as described in BEST TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS 300mm+.)

When an image is well-shot in bright outdoor light, the advantages of full-frame cameras are only noticeable when large prints bigger than 3 feet diagonally are inspected very closely. Full-frame cameras tempt us with high megapixel counts such as 33 to 60MP, but can be overkill for most practical publications, since a billboard only needs 3 to 10MP at typical viewing distances.

A tradeoff exists between absolute image quality, zoom range, system weight, bulk, and other features. The optimal choice depends on your preferences.

What makes an ideal travel camera?

The “best” travel camera is the one you want to carry everywhere. For many people, a smartphone is sufficient — so get one with the best telephoto reach. But for me, the best Light Travel cameras (as chosen above) should MINIMIZE bulk and weight while MAXIMIZING sensor dimensions (read article), zoom range, lens diameter, battery life ( ≥ 350 shots), and ISO “sensitivity” (for lower noise in dim light). A sharp optical zoom lens should magnify the field of view by a factor of 7x to 25x to rapidly frame diverse subjects, without the bulk or annoyance of swapping lenses. Lenses should autofocus fast (with hybrid AF minimizing shutter lag ≤ 0.3 second), optically stabilize images, and focus closely (for good macro enlargement). Travel cameras should pop up a built-in flash and also flip out (articulate, hinge, or swivel) a high-resolution display screen to jump-start your creative macro, movie and candid shooting at arm’s length. OLED displays usually outshine LCD. Sunny-day reflections often obscure display-screen visibility − but to save bulk, most pocket cameras sadly lack a viewfinder. A camera with a brilliant electronic viewfinder (preferably EVF with ≥ 1 million dots) gives superior live feedback on the final digital image than a non-digital optical viewfinder

RECOMMENDED PHOTO PRINTERS | SCANNERS | MONITOR

The 13-inch-wide Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 Printer with ten pigmented inks is excellent for photographers.

The 8.5-inch-wide Canon PIXMA TR8620 Multi-function Printer is an excellent value for a one-person office, with five ink colors including pigmented black, accepting paper from small media up to Legal 8.5×14-inches. Adding photo blue ink in the following model achieves slightly better color accuracy, but it’s hardly perceptible and costs more for ink usage: Canon PIXMA TS8320 combines a pigment-based black ink with dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow, “photo black” and photo blue inks.

SCANNERS: Pacific Image PowerSlide X: Batch scan 50 film slides, up to 10,000 dpi, excellent dynamic range of 4.2, with critically important Magic Touch infrared dust and scratch removal (ICE). Or Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE scanner (2014) reincarnates your slides & film digitally, with important infrared/ICE removal of dust & scratches.

MONITOR: ASUS PA328Q 32″ 16:9 4K/UHD IPS Monitor, nicely precalibrated at the factory, has served me well since 2017.

RECOMMENDED ACCESSORIES

  • Adobe “20GB Photography Plan” — I rely on Lightroom Classic (LRC) to organize and edit 200,000 photos stored on my Windows PC (5 terabytes, too large for Adobe Cloud). The included Photoshop helps build trickier panoramas, complex Layers, or CMYK color space for book publishing. I don’t use LR with its 20GB cloud. LR and LRC both radically speed tonal editing, adjustment-brushing, cropping, organizing, sorting, and labeling of images.
  • Adobe “1TB Photography Plan” — My wife separately subscribes for a full terabyte (1TB) of storage and uses the simpler Lightroom (LR) app to manage her 400-GB image collection stored in the Adobe Cloud, accessible across multiple devices.
  • Apple Photos easily organizes photos for free on Apple devices — be sure to add critical adjustment brushes with Google’s free Snapseed app (for iOS, MacOS, Android, and Windows).

TIPS for travel in adverse conditions

  1. Weather & dust protection: Prudent bagging can avoid the extra expense of a weather-sealed body & lens – keep a camera handy, safely in a front pouch on your chest or hip (where it can be retrieved more quickly than from a pack on your back). Adverse fluctuations of temperature & humidity, or dusty conditions, or sea spray all require cameras to be double-protected in a zip-lock plastic bag inside the padded pouch (Amazon). Use a soft, absorbent silk cloth to wipe away moisture or dust from lens & body before bagging.
  2. Cold batteries: Using camera batteries (price at Amazon) below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4 Celsius) loses their charge quicker, causing camera shut down or lock. Revive and extend battery life in cold or below-freezing weather by warming an extra battery or two in an interior pocket near your skin and swapping with the camera’s battery after every 5-10 minutes of cold exposure.
  3. Satellite communication: Stay in touch everywhere in the world via Iridium satellite with a 3.5-ounce Garmin InReach Mini 2 (Amazon): send and receive 160-character text messages with GPS coordinates (accurate to five meters) to cell numbers or email addresses worldwide and post updates to social media. Tom found it valuable for texting with his wife while backpacking. Good battery life. This affordable technology connects campers, hikers, hunters, backpackers, alpinists, and backcountry skiers who often venture outside of cell phone networks. Messages are easy to read on the Mini 2. But Smartphone connection via Bluetooth is required for a faster keyboard and smoother interface, as the Mini 2 screen and menus are otherwise very slow for typing characters. While charging, the Garmin disconnects from the smartphone. The month-to-month “Freedom – Recreation” plan is $34.95/month, which can be paused as desired to save money in ensuing months (unlimited SOS, 40 text messages/month both sent & received then 0.50 overage per text, unlimited preset messages set up on website, unlimited 10-minute tracking). You only pay for active months plus an annual $34.95 activation fee on the anniversary of initial activation into Freedom Plans. In case of SOS, info is shared with Garmin International Emergency Response Coordination Center. 24/7 monitoring & emergency dispatch benefit is available to anyone using your inReach. Compared to Mini 1, version 2 uses a quicker chip set and more satellites (Multi-GNSS, over 100).

Terminology and metric conversions

  • oz = ounces | above camera weights in ounces (oz) include battery and memory card.
  • g = grams | multiply ounces by 28.35 to get grams
  • mm millimeters | 10 millimeters = 1 centimeter (cm) | multiply centimeters (cm) by 0.3937 to get inches
  • ILC = Interchangeable Lens Compact = “midsize mirrorless camera” term used above
  • DSLR = Digital Single Lens Reflex = a traditional camera where an optical viewfinder uses a mirror to see through the interchangeable lens
  • EVF = Electronic Viewfinder
  • OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) consumes less power and beats an LCD in dynamic range from darkest to brightest.
  • LCD = Liquid Crystal Display
  • MP = megapixel
  • LPH or LPPH = resolvable lines per picture height = the best empirical measure of real resolution of a camera’s sensor for a given lens (independent of pixel pitch or megapixel count). A camera with higher LPH can make sharper large prints. Look up cameras on dpreview.com to find absolute vertical LPH judged by photographing a PIMA/ISO 12233 camera resolution test chart under standardized lighting conditions. Note which lens, settings, and camera body was used in each test, and compare with others within the same web site.
  • equivalent lens = To compare lenses on cameras having different sensor sizes, equiv or equivalent lens refers to what would be the lens focal length (measured in mm or millimeters) that would give the same angle of view on a “full frame35mm-size sensor (or 35mm film camera, using 135 film cartridge).
    • Compared lenses are equivalent only in terms of angle of view. (To determine sharpness or quality, read lens reviews which analyze at 100% pixel views.)
    • Crop factor = how many times smaller is the diagonal measurement of a small sensor than a “full frame” 35-mm size sensor. For example, the 1.5x crop factor for Nikon DX format (APS-C size sensor) makes a lens labeled 18-200mm to be equivalent in angle of view to a 27-300mm focal length lens used on a 35mm film camera. The 2x crop factor for Micro Four Thirds sensors makes a lens labeled 14-140mm to be equivalent in angle of view to a 28-280mm lens used on a 35mm film camera.
  • 10x zoom range = a zoom lens’ telephoto focal length divided by its wide angle focal length in mm. For example, a 14-140mm focal length zoom has a 10x zoom range (140 divided by 14). An 18-200mm zoom has an 11x zoom range (200 divided by 18).
  • equivalent F-stop = refers to the F-stop (F-number) on a full-frame-sensor camera which has the same hole diameter as the F-stop of the camera lens being compared. The concept of “equivalent” F-stop lets you compare capabilities for creating shallow depth of field on cameras with different-size sensors. Smaller-sensor cameras use shorter focal lengths for the same field of view, so at a given F-stop they have a smaller physical aperture size, meaning more depth of field (with less blur in front of and behind the focused subject). Formula: F Number (or Relative Aperture) = actual focal length of lens divided by diameter of the entrance pupil.

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28 thoughts on “BEST 2023 TRAVEL CAMERAS reviewed: midsize, pocketable, smartphone”

  1. I agree with your thoughts on the Nikon DX line of cameras. I believe they and the lenses designed from them represent the best image quality to price ratio in the market. I have (too many) types of cameras but have the luxury of selecting what I bring on whatever type of location and coverage I visit. I love my tiny point-and-shoots, my advanced point-and-shoots. and all the way up to my full-frame DSLRs. I regularly shoot on one-inch sensors, micro four thirds, APS-C, and full frame even as I shoot a whole bunch on my iPhone. I love the ability to choose exactly the kit I want for any excursion. I’ll bring my OM-D camera with a wide-ranging travel zoom on a bike ride, I’ll bring my 1-inch sensor point-and-shoot for park walks with my family. I like my APS-C camera with three zoom on short hikes or the same body with a fast prime on evening walks in the city. Of course, when it’s a money shoot, it’s gonna be my full-frame with a bag full of lenses.
    Horses for courses.

  2. I am surprised to see more emphasis on the RX series of Sony’s point and shoots over the 5100 or 6xxx alpha series.

    These compact interchangeable bodys with full APS-C sensors can make use of any Sony E-Mount lenses that you may have to use with a full frame Sony.

    I am surprised to see such strong recommendations for Nikon cameras, especially the 3500. Nikon is such a mess right now and may never recover financially. The Nikon D3500 looks and feels cheap and plastic like a toy. It will be in a dumpster in a couple of years with millions of other lower end DSLRs manufactured today which aren’t mirrorless.

    1. With your emphasis on professional portrait photography, I understand your preference for Sony 6xxx Alpha series (APS-C), or full-frame (35mm) mirrorless cameras — great tools for that job.

      For travel photography, I recommend compact mirrorless cameras with 8x to 25x zoom lenses; and I discourage using DSLRs, whose legacy design is becoming obsolete. But for readers who want an optical viewfinder (instead of EVF), a Nikon D3500 makes an inexpensive entry level product which captures about the same image quality as more expensive models, depending on lens choice.

      For my hiking, travel and nature photography, I look for portable high-quality cameras on a moderate budget. As I’m not tied to any one system or brand, I regularly upgrade to the optimal tool. I’m a big fan of all-in-one zoom lenses which can instantly re-frame rapidly-changing travel subjects without the extra bulk or annoyance of swapping lenses.

      After using various interchangeable-lens cameras from 1978-2004, I switched entirely to all-in-one zoom lenses after 2004. I fell in love with mirrorless cameras in 2003 using the fun Canon PowerShot G5, then upgraded to Canon PowerShot Pro1 in 2004. After 5 years of using Nikon DLSRs starting in 2007, I went entirely mirrorless in 2012, using Sony Alpha NEX-7, then A6000, then A6300, all mounted with Sony’s versatile 11x E-Mount 18-200mm lens for APS-C. Then Sony developed a superior tool. From 2016-20, my 1-inch-sensor Sony RX10 III and IV cameras have preserved publishable image quality while radically extending all-in-one zoom range to 25x. They even capture sharp macro, especially good at 600mm. The edge-to-edge sharpness of a 20-megapixel Sony RX10 IV is more than sufficient for my professional publishing in a variety of sizes.

      Regarding effective print size, one of my rock pattern images from 2002, scanned at just 10 megapixels from 35mm film, was enlarged 64 feet wide onto the permanent glass of a Calgary skyscraper. Good gear is somewhat helpful, but the photographer’s perseverance, skills and talent are more important.

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