Ansel Adams once set out to prove it is not the camera that makes the great photos, it is the one taking the picture. He did a whole series of photos with a Polaroid camera (if you don’t know what that is – look it up) and they were spectacular.
So, which is the best camera to use for travel photography? The one you have in your hand!
Think about this… my little cell phone camera takes images 4160×3120 pixels in size. They are in excess of 7-megs each. With that size, you can make some great prints or a magazine could even use them. While I don’t care much for talking on the phone a lot, I pretty much have my phone no matter where I go. On the other hand, I don’t carry my camera gear everywhere so I could miss the perfect picture. I should carry the gear everywhere, but I don’t.
Another point about cell phones: they have apps that allow you to adjust many of your settings before you take your picture. You can shoot for HDR (High Dynamic Range), you can shoot in burst mode (like a motor drive), you can adjust quality, and the list goes on.
The same goes for compact cameras. Many allow you to shoot in manual if you so desire as well as make many adjustments. The quality of their sensors are much better and the megapixels are much higher.
DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras are of course top of the list (in my opinion). First, the lenses are interchangeable so you can use the focal length you need to capture the image you desire. You can also control your F-Stops and depth of field. You can control every part of the photo process allowing you more creative control.
If you are looking for the top of the line… dig deep into your pockets because they get a bit pricey. You will be wanting a full framed sensor and possibly mirrorless camera.
To answer the question, What is the best travel camera, you must decide what you plan on doing with them. Cell phones are great for web pages, Instagram and other Social Media sites, and smaller photographs. DSLRs give you higher resolution so you can do even more and have more control. Compact cameras give you descent resolution but lack in some of the controls.
One last but very important point: many compact and I would say about all cell phones are digital zooms. What this means is, it is like cropping your picture and then making it larger. You are not actually zooming in with the lens. Ultimately, the more you zoom in a digital zoom camera, the worse your picture will look. If you know your camera is a digital zoom, it is best to leave it zoomed out and you move to where ever you have to to take your photo.