There is currently a number of debates raging… Is Full Frame, APS-C or M43 the best route for photography?
This debate is even more convoluted when we talk about travel photography. On the whole Full Frame cameras are bigger, but the quality is generally better.
For me, photography is all about quality, so Full Frame is for the win… But then, which type of Full Frame camera is best for travel photography? DSLR or Mirrorless?
Obviously, this is all dependent on you, how you’re traveling, whether you’re doing this professionally, or just for the sheer joy of it.
Here are some of the very best full frame cameras available on the market today for travel photography.
Sony Alpha a7R III
- Sony Alpha a7R III (Mirrorless)
- Price: $2998
- Megapixels: 42.4
- Weight: 23.2 oz
Sony totally blew everyone away with the original Sony A7, and they have continued to produce high-quality mirrorless cameras that somehow manage to squeeze high megapixel sensors into tiny little lightweight bodies.
The Sony a7R III offers a stunning 42.4-megapixel sensor, up to 10 frames a second burst mode, in body stabilization and gorgeous 4K video.
While it is fair to say that Canon and Nikon have a much larger range of lenses, Sony currently has a good range of excellent quality lenses which is ever expanding.
While they may not have the same number of lenses, they do offer enough of a range to cover most applications. It is more the specialist lenses like tilt and shift lenses that the Sony range is currently lacking.
This is (In my opinion) probably the very best Full Frame Mirrorless Camera you can buy for travel photography.
It packs a massive sensor which gives extremely sharp results. It is very lightweight (perfect for travel) and is punching well above its weight.
The few negatives about this camera that you might want to consider:
Personally, I love digital viewfinders, but there are a lot of folks who after twenty years or so of using optical viewfinders may find it difficult to adjust at first.
The body is fairly small! For those of you with chunky fingers, you may find this body just a bit too small.
While some professional photographers have been switching to Sony from Canon and Nikon, they don’t have the pedigree yet… You just don’t know how well they are made because they just haven’t been around that long.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II (DSLR)
- Price: $1,499
- Megapixels: 26.2
- Weight: 24.2 oz
Canon has been producing exceptional quality cameras for many years now… Needless to say, they know what they’re doing!
The Canon 6D Mk II has several improvements over its predecessor, but still offers fantastic value for money for such a well-specified Full Frame DSLR Camera.
The resolution is a very respectable 26.2 Megapixels, and the autofocus and touch screen has been significantly improved.
Of course, there is a HUGE range of lenses available in the EF range that will cover absolutely every possible need you may have.
If video is your bag, then you might want to look at the Canon EOS 5D Mk IV as it offers a lot of extra features for video, although bear in mind that this will come at a large increase in the $$$ factor.
This is an exceptionally well-specified camera and a lot of camera for the money. You really can’t go wrong with the Canon 6d Mk II.
There are 2 points you may want to consider before buying:
I really wish they’d put a dual card slot into the camera. It would make it perfect.
26.2 Megapixel is ok, but compared to a lot of cameras available, 30 Megapixel would have been a better place for them to aim for.
Pentax K-1 Mark II
- Pentax K-1 Mark II (DSLR)
- Price: $1797
- Megapixels: 36.4
- Weight: 32.6 oz.
Believe it or not, Pentax was, once upon a time, one of the largest camera manufacturers in the world. Unfortunately, though, the move towards autofocus bodies saw them lagging behind Nikon and Canon.
The introduction of digital SLRs saw them lagging behind again.
However, they are finally starting to produce some truly amazing, well-specified cameras.
The Pentax K1 Mark II is one of these cameras. It has a couple of features that are really quite nice. The first of these is a well-specified 36.4 Megapixel sensor that is very sharp and produces high-quality images.
The next plus is the 5 axis in camera image stabilizer. This works really well and means that instead of having to buy specific image stabilization lenses as you do with Canon and Nikon.
Finally, the Pentax offers an ‘advanced pixel shift mode.’ In essence, this will allow you to shoot 4 images and then combine them to create a hi-res image file.
The main reason that the Pentax is included as one of the best Full Frame DSLR Cameras for travel photography is the brilliant weather sealing on the body.
This is available in a few cameras, but not generally at this level in a camera this light.
If you’re traveling to places where you just can’t guarantee to keep your camera dry, then this camera is going to be your best choice.
There are two down points to the Pentax, these are:
Lousy autofocus. You’ll get used to it, but it’s not the best you’ll use.
There’s a real lack of quality AF lenses for the Pentax. On the positive side of this, you can still use all of the manual focus lenses they’ve made.
- Nikon Z7 (Mirrorless)
- Megapixels: 45.7
- Weight: 20.6 oz.
Following the amazing Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras from Sony, both Canon and Nikon have produced Full Frame Mirrorless Camera options. The Canon EOS R is a little under par, but the Nikon Z7 is a fabulous camera.
It has a whopping 45.7 Megapixel sensor, built-in image stabilization, superb low light sensitivity, and a high-resolution rear LCD screen.
The Z7 is the lightest body listed here with the highest Megapixel count. This is a travel photographers dream.
Top quality high-end images, but light enough that you won’t know you’re lugging it around.
This is Nikon’s answer to the Sony a7R III. The question is though, which one should you buy? As it stands right now, the Nikon is just a little bit overpriced, and as such, the Sony is still the better buy.
However, once the Nikon Z7 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera has been around a while and the price has dropped, this will be a perfect option.
There is only one thing not to like about the Nikon Z7, and that is the lack of current lenses available.
Summary of Best Travel Full Frame Cameras
Should you buy a Mirrorless or DSLR Full Frame camera for your travel photography?
The advantages of DSLR’s is that they are generally a little cheaper and because you’re using an optical viewfinder give better battery life.
While you may have to carry a couple of extra batteries for a Mirrorless Full Frame Camera, they are still much, much lighter. This will make all the difference to you if you’re a keen traveler.
If you can afford it, then I’d recommend a Mirrorless Full Frame Camera, however, if you have to go for a DSLR you’ll still have an excellent camera that will last you for many, many years to come.