Oliver Lynch

Oliver Lynch

Content writer, language nerd and aspiring screenwriter. Usually found wandering old European towns or trying to snowboard.

DSLR, Compact Or Smartphone – Which Camera Shall I Take On Holiday?

If you’re off on holiday you’ll want to capture those memories. But which type of camera should you take travelling?

Making memories is one of the awesome things about travelling. Seeing things you’d never see at home and knowing that you’ve experienced something truly different.

Recording the experience is something travellers have done since tourism first started and today is no exception. In fact today, we have a dizzying array of technology to enable us to capture as much of our precious holiday time as possible.

Many travellers and budding photographers will pack their bag with a £1000 DSLR with a selection of lenses which probably cost more than all their other travel equipment combined.

But do you need to take a big camera travelling?

Who Needs A Big Camera?

The people who will genuinely benefit from taking a big DSLR with interchangeable lenses are:

  • Professional or aspiring pro photographers.
  • Journalists.
  • People going on safari.
  • Birdwatchers/other wildlife enthusiasts

In short, a specialised niche of people who want to take high quality photos with a good quality camera. As a side note I’d also add:

  • Weekenders/City breakers.
  • People who drive to their destination.

Basically, if you’re not carrying the equipment with you all the time or you only have to carry it for a few days, then a DSLR and lenses can be a good idea.

For everyone else, especially those on an extended jaunt, big cameras can be awkward to pack and carry, and horribly expensive if broken or stolen. Plus if you’re mostly going to be snapping selfies or drunken pictures of new friends you won’t need a DSLR.

Ideal for most people pic: FirmBee

So Which Camera To Take Travelling?

For most people (probably about 90% of the travelling public) their smartphone will suffice. If you own a flagship model smartphone from the last five years chances are that’s all you’ll need.

Ask yourself what are you going to be taking pictures of?

  • Yourself and your family/friends at tourist attractions and sites.
  • Some landscape pictures.
  • The odd impromptu snap on a night out or sightseeing tour.

If that is your lot then a good smartphone will adequately cover your needs, easily.


If you want to step up your photography game without too much bulk or expenditure then the mid range compact camera market has a lot to offer.

The Best Budget Digital Compact Cameras

The pocket sized digital compact camera has been around for a few years now, but the megapixel and picture quality is now seriously challenged by the smartphone.

If the camera has ‘digital zoom’ in particular, then you won’t need it. For the best zoom you’re going to need ‘optical zoom’, which means that the lens extends for a cleaner and less grainy close up.

Many compact cameras now also have Wi-Fi and GPS to geo-tag your photos so you know where they were taken later on.

This would fit the bill as an affordable pocket sized compact with 12 x optical zoom. It includes Wi-Fi and NFC so you can easily connect it to your phone. Current price on Amazon UK £195.00.

This is a similar offering with a slightly smaller optical zoom (x10) but the same Wi-Fi and NFC. No GPS on this one though. It’s a bit cheaper on Amazon UK at £155.00.

The Best Premium Compact Digital Cameras

If you’re still quite serious about capturing some professional images then you’ll want to step it up a notch slightly to the premium compact range.

These tend to be slightly chunkier than the budget range, often with much better lenses and all the bells and whistles as standard.

This is one of the cheapest available premium compact cameras. Although it only has a 3x optical zoom the quality of the image is a very clear step above the budget range. It’s also HD and has Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC. You can pick one up on Amazon UK for around £350.00.

If you’re going premium compact and you have a bit to spare, then go for the newer G7 X Mark 2. It has a 4x optical zoom and the standard bells and whistles plus the image quality goes that step up. Expect to pay around £595.00 on Amazon UK.

Professional Compact Cameras

If you’re looking to go big and not go home, these are the premium compacts that will set you back the cost of half a year in India. However, they will capture stunning images that will make you look like a pro even if you’re anything but.

This beautifully retro styled camera is a cool £4000 to buy new (you can get it cheaper if you shop around). It’s made for the kind of people who do amazing street photography or artistic close ups rather than safari pictures, but if you are looking for best in its class, then this is the daddy. It does have Wi-Fi but no GPS!

For those of us who aren’t photographing models on the beach in Aruba, this will do. It’s (marginally) cheaper than the Leica Q at around £3000. As a pro bit of kit, if you’re serious about street photography in particular consider one of these two.

The Best Adventure Cameras

If you’re off to do fun things like jumping off things, sliding down things on wheels or a board, diving or anything that would look cool if you filmed it – you’ll probably want an adventure camera.

And adventure camera means…

The standard in adventure cameras is Go Pro since adventure cameras became a thing (mainly because they were the original and best). If you can’t manage to stump up the £350 for the latest model, never fear, the older models are still pretty solid. Grab a GoPro Hero 3 for around £150 instead…

  • No-Pro:

No-pros are what I call the cheaper rip off models of Go Pro. But there are plenty of super cheap models available for around £50-100. If you’re only after some comedy footage of yourself jumping off cliffs or going downhill really fast then they will do, but be warned, quality varies massively between models. The SJ4000 and SJ5000 are the standard but make sure to get the right version. That is the original that actually says the model on the camera.

Do I Need A Tripod?

Unless you’re planning on doing some serious photography or timelapse footage it’s highly unlikely you’ll need a tripod.

Instead you can pick up small cheap mobile phone tripods in Poundland which will do the trick for 99% of casual photographers.

Something like this ought to do the trick for most people.

Even the much maligned selfie stick can be used to stabilise a shot for timelapse or wildlife shooting purposes.

Don’t Forget To Print Your Photos

Digital is great and all, but having printed copies of your photos can’t be beat. Check out out partner for deals on photo printing. Our favourite is printed photo books…


Any suggestions about taking cameras travelling or on holiday? Feel free to let us know in the comments and please share on social!


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