Camera Gear to Take on Your Next Vacation

As a photography or videographer, vacationing is an excellent opportunity to recharge your proverbial inspiration batteries, and take a moment to get off the grid and just enjoy living while documenting. However, the challenge we always face is that if we’re going to vacation, even if it is to separate ourselves from the craft, we still want to document it in some capacity. So while you may have a giant camera bag filled with cameras, lenses, and accessories for your professional work, it kind of defeats the purpose to bring it all with you on vacation to help decompress.

And that is a common place where we at come in. Not only do we have a plethora of professional-grade video and photography gear, but we also stock many other systems that work great as a small replacement to your typical systems. So often, we give suggestions to those who work in the professional market but want something small to use as a carry along while on vacation. So let’s jump into it, here are our recommendations for cameras to use while on various vacations.

To The Beach

One of the more popular vacation spots that we get asked to help with is those to the beach or in other tropical environments. The biggest recommendation we can make is to find a capable point and shoot system with a fixed lens. DSLR and Mirrorless Systems are more prone to sand getting inside them since they have much more removable parts. Additionally, compact cameras are usually cheaper, making the entire cost less if they were to get lost or destroyed underwater. Below are our favorite recommendations for beach friendly cameras —

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 V

The Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 V is one of our favorite point and shoot cameras right out of the box. With 4K video and a surprisingly impressive 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens, the RX100 V is an improvement over it’s Mark IV version and is rich in features when it comes to point and shoot systems. When you’re looking for a simple point and shoot system, which also has the capabilities to take really fantastic images and video, it’s hard to beat the RX100 V.

Canon PowerShot G16

For years now, Canon has had their G Series line of cameras, which gives all the professional features from a DSLR, and puts them into a point and shoot system. The Canon PowerShot G16 is the latest in their G series systems, and sports a humble 12.1MP 1.7″ CMOS sensor that allows for an impressive 9.3fps shooting speed, through it’s optically stabilized 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 lens. While the system is not quite pocketable, it does do a fantastic job of bringing professional level technology in an almost pocketable form factor.

GoPro HERO5 Black

Certainly, by now, you’ve heard of GoPro and their lineup of action sports cameras. The GoPro Hero5 is the latest in their camera lineup and comes with a new few design factor, as well as an improved image processor. Though what makes the GoPro a fantastic camera to bring on a beach vacation is the fact that it’s built for rugged use, and most importantly – waterproof down to 33ft without the need for special housing. While you may not get the best image quality from a GoPro Hero5, the ability to shoot underwater makes it a unique camera for a beach setting.


Additionally, if you’re in the position where you want to get a great time-lapse of that sunset, or just need a tripod to help show off your trip, we recommend the Gorilla Pod tripods, as their design makes them far less prone to sand.

To a Theme Park

Also popular as a vacation spot this summer, are the various theme parks all over the United States. Whether it’s Disneyland or Cedar Point, you want to make sure you can document the trip, and not be cumbersome to all the walking and moving you’ll be doing throughout the day. For these types of trips, we recommend the smaller form factor systems, which still allow for plenty of lens options. Below is our recommendations for theme park friendly camera systems —

Sony Alpha a6500

Few cameras feel more from the future than the Sony a6500. Packing a lot of the incredible specs of the Sony a7RII and similar systems, the Sony a6500 is a small mirrorless system from Sony that doesn’t sell itself short with features. With in-body five-axis stabilization and a 24.2MP CMOS sensor, the a6500 also allows for 4K video recording and 425 phase detection autofocus points. Additionally, the Sony a6500 allows for E-Mount lenses, which is the fastest growing lens mount system on the market, with plenty of options for diversity.

Fuji X-T2

There are few cameras that I like more than the Fuji X-T2. For one, it’s rugged rangefinder-esque design makes it quite a lot of fun to shoot, and the 24.3MP sensor within the system is impressive, with equally impressive film simulation built into the camera body itself. Additionally, Fuji has been killing the game lately with their lenses, allowing you a wide range of lens options to work with. While not always the most practical camera system available (with mediocre battery life at best), the Fuji X-T2 is a fun camera to work with and is sure to get you some pretty fantastic images as well.

On Safari

While the opener of this article had suggested using vacations to help decompress when you feel burnt out, certainly if you’re going on a safari vacation, you’re going to want to try and get the absolute best images possible of the scenery. For these holidays, we recommend taking a professional grade system, such as a Canon 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5, or the new Sony a9, so that you have the power and speed to capture everything you see. However, these trips rely far more on lenses, so be sure to contact your safari organizer for their recommendations. However, if you were to ask us, here are our recommendations for lens choices —

Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 1.4x Extender

While we could argue for days on the topic, I’m a firm believer (and I think Roger would agree with me) that there is no better Supertelephoto lens on the market than the Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 1.4X Extender. Not only does this lens have incredible image quality, but the built-in 1.4x extender also allows you to increase the focal length to 560mm at f/5.6 – giving you a pretty incredible amount of versatility and range when on location. 

Sigma 150-600mm  f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports

If you want the range of the Canon 200-400mm mentioned above and aren’t looking to break the bank, the Sigma 150-600mm  f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports is a pretty fantastic alternative, which sacrifices a little image quality and speed for an extended focal range. I file this lens as one of those which I personally call “surprisingly impressive.” For its price, you’d expect something mediocre in quality, but Sigma has done it again, showing that exceptional image quality can come from affordable lenses. Best of all? It’s for both Canon and Nikon.

Wildlife Kit for Fuji

Often, we get asked about what to bring for wildlife, while still maintaining a small form factor. Obviously, that’s pretty difficult to do, as many telephotos get pretty large, but we get asked enough that we put together a special package just for the occasion. The Fuji Wildlife package is a diverse setup that should cover many people’s needs when working on wildlife photography. The package includes a Fuji X-T2Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR, Fuji XF 1.4x TC WR Teleconverter and a spare battery and memory card.


While Hiking

When hiking, you want to find something that is small and doesn’t weight much. Depending on the difficulty of the hike, a lot can change with just a few more pounds of gear on your back all day. But with the recent development of camera systems, you can cut down on size and weight without sacrificing too much on image quality. For hiking, our recommendations are as follows —

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 V

I mentioned above on why I love the Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 V for the beach, and the same rules apply when it comes to a hiking trip as well. In my humble opinion, I do not think there is a better point and shoot system on the market right now, and the RX100 V offers a lot of diversity as to what this camera can do. Though if you’re looking to save a little money, the slightly older Sony RX100 Mark IV is a great substitute as well.

Fuji X100F

When Fuji released the original X100, the world went a little crazy, and many were left with envy as to what this small fixed-lens system could really do. With each update afterward, Fuji was able to make marginal improves to the already excellent system, bringing us up to date with the latest in the Fuji X100F. Using a 23mm f/2 Leaf shutter lens, the Fuji X100F has an old school film aesthetic but features a 24.3mp APS-C sensor, hybrid viewfinder, and plenty of other pieces of tech to bring it into the modern world.

Burning Man

If you happen to be going to Burning Man this summer, we must make a plea with you to not rent gear from us. Not only do events like Burning Man (and the Color Run) absolutely destroy gear, you’ll likely be deemed at fault when you return the equipment to our facility. However, we’re not going to completely leave you empty handed, and recommend buying something old and used on the cheap and wrap it in plastic wrap or gaff tape. While the process can’t guarantee that the gear will survive the weekend, it’ll help increase its chances. Good luck out there.

Hopefully, this article was able to bring you some insight as to what to bring with you next time you’re going on vacation and looking for a simple camera system to take along with you to document the experience. Have you recently taken a vacation and used one of the camera systems above? Share your insights in the comments below!


Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at I’m also a commercial beauty photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • Don Robertson

    Howdy, do you have any experience yet with the Sony A9, metabones and Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 1.4X Extender combo yet? Reliable enough for safari (even if just 10 fps)? Thanks.

  • Y.A.

    Sony needs to make a waterproof body with a 1″ sensor. Shots on and in the water are very cool…. adding IQ and low light capacity to them would be phenomenal.

  • Riley Escobar

    ” 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens, the RX100″

    No, it does not have a 24-70mm lens.

  • DrJon

    Presumably you could use a waterproof case for Burning Man, if the camera has a compact one?

    Oh and I hate the term “fastest growing” as the less lenses you have the easier it is to meet that. Have two lenses and add two more = 100% expansion 🙂
    “Nicely filling out lens selection” would be better IMHO.

  • Seth Honeyman

    Maybe conflated with the X-Pro 2?

  • vasile

    for urban hiking or or bikepacking i go light with a d800 and a 16-35. plus a sigma 50 art for low light. a sb800 is indispensable, especially in strong daylight. nikon CLS was good , but next time i’d take my yn622 triggers. also a nano stand for off camera flash. may be an umbrella for a soft-ish light. a travel tripod under 1 kilo is perfect for panoramas, long exposures and family-selfies. i think that is a good start for transforming a snapshot into a lifestyle photo. of course photoshop could not harm either…

  • Ralph Hightower

    I’ve taken my camera on numerous vacations. My wife and I took a trip to Florida in for a dog show in June 1985 and I took everything: 50mm, 80-205mm, and 400mm. We took a side trip to Kennedy Space Center and I got photos of a Space Shuttle ready on the launch pad. We took a trip up to Virginia, for another dog show, near DC in 2012; as a side trip, we visited the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center next to Dulles. I was shooting B&W with my Canon A-1; I carried my 28mm and 80-205mm with my handle-mount flash mounted.
    In 2017, we visited Huntsville Rocket Center to pickup a puppy; we also made another trip to Florida and another side trip to KSCVC. This time, I brought my 5D III to both places. The kit lens, 24-105mm f4L lens is just not wide enough to photograph in some situations, such as the Saturn V rocket or a Hubble Telescope mockup, or Space Shuttle Atlantis. A faster lens would also have been preferred.
    On a side note, while we were driving from Huntsville to Anniston, Alabama, my wife was using her smartphone to photograph the Tennessee River and I mentioned “You can probably get better photos shooting in landscape mode rather than portrait.” She said “Yea, you’re right.” Somewhere, we stopped at a boat landing for me to take photos.

  • John Ward

    Do not get it wet!!!!!!!!

  • Impulse_Vigil

    Yeah, lens options is what really makes M4/3 shine for travel purposes IMO, it could easily fill a hole in that compact safari kit (100-400?) or as an alternative to the 6xxx by virtue of it’s smaller lens AND body alternatives…

    The system does scale way way smaller than stuff like the GH5… GM/GX + 12-32 + 35-100? I can fit that in a waist pack and still have room for a wallet/phone. E mount might be growing fast but it’s all larger full frame lenses…

    Both Fuji and M4/3 put Sony’s APS-C catalog to shame IMO, and both of the former also happen to offer a wider variety of body styles and sizes than Sony.

  • Article regarding vacation recommendations is to fulfill both questions that we get calls for all the time, and it initiate the sale we currently have going for those who are signed up for our mailing list. I know it’s not as tech savvy as a teardown or MTF charts, but it is important for us to write about, as it is unbiased views and helps many of our clients. We’ll have plenty more techy articles for you soon, I promise.

    As for why Micro Four Thirds wasn’t included, that was purely based on having plenty of options in the APS-C market. Systems such as the Panasonic GH5 are incredible, but they’re actually being used on video production work, and still might be too much camera for what you need if you’re looking for something to relax at a vacation with.

  • Wow, Nikon does not seem to be in the game at all.

  • David B

    I mentioned m43 in my comment above

  • David B

    I disagree. Despite having a hole most rugged interchangeable cameras are constructed better than most point and shoots. And sometimes cost less than point and shoots.
    Case at hand – Panasonic zs100. I took it to the beach vacation. Result. Somehow sand got into the lens and Panasonic wants $300 for repair even though it is under warranty.
    That’s a $699 camera.
    Another case at hand – recommended here rx100. Don’t you remember when first rx100 came out there were numerous samples with dust on sensor? And unlike ilc you cannot remove lens to clean it. I had to return my fist rx100 to amazon because of the issue

    On the other hand my Olympus em1 with 12-35 panny lens. Took it to many sand vacations. Zero problem. In fact if send attaches to outside em1 and 12-35 I simply wash it under tap water in hotel room later. Never a single issue

  • brnpttmn

    I have the first version (bought it used about 3 years ago), and the thing has dents and scratches all over, but still works like a charm. Although, I’ve not taken it to the ocean.

  • Y.A.

    I’m still bummed Nikon canceled the DL1850. I would have loved to pair that with something like an A6500 + 30 1.4… good light vacation setup.

  • Ryan Farr

    A TL:DR with the “Tags:” under the headline are a great idea and time saver for us.

  • Ryan Farr

    The TL:DR of with the Tags under the headline are a great time saver.

  • Well for starters, if you don’t have time to learn put it in auto, it should work well enough.

  • Hubertus Bigend

    I value this site and I’m not a fanboi of any brand, but while the complete omission of Micro Four Thirds in a random article would be one thing, in an article about gear for vacation it raises questions (and, in my case, at least one eyebrow).

  • Martin Krautter

    I had the RX100 in my hands in stores many times and always put it away in fear of breaking it. How well do these delicate constructions handle sand and ocean spray?

  • brnpttmn

    I’m partial to an A7 w/ 35/2.8 (+other primes as needed) for hiking.

  • J L Williams

    Aside from struggling to identify anything “rangefinder-esque” about the ’80s-SLR-inspired Fuji X-T 2, I found this an interesting guide. Can’t help wondering, though: How much lead time would the prospective vacationer need to learn a complex, feature-rich camera such as the Sony A6500? I’d hate to tackle that task the day before departure… I struggle enough to remember how to operate the more obscure features of cameras I own and use regularly!

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