Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Best DSLR Cameras for Travel Photography

by Josh Laronge | August 1, 2014

DSLRs are the most advanced category of digital cameras—these are the ones the pros use. There’s no question they produce the best image quality, have the fastest operational speed and the most features. They’re also the largest, heaviest and most expensive of all the camera types. Purchase a camera at least a month before your trip so you have time to practice with it and get comfortable with lugging around. Not sure the DSLR is the type of camera for you? Read our full guide on how to choose the right camera for your travel photography.

Pentax K-5 IIs ($699 body-only) Pentax started making cameras in 1952 and has produced some of the most iconic, well-regarded film cameras and lenses. The K-5 IIs carries the Pentax tradition into the digital age. In the K-5 IIs, Pentax leaves out an anti-aliasing filter, which is commonly found in most DSLRs to smooth edges by softening them. Without this filter, the K-5 IIs delivers sharper pictures with crisp, clean details. The K-5 IIs is also a very user-friendly camera with intuitive menus and controls. The body is built of magnesium and stainless steel for ruggedness in the field; it’s also weather-sealed and can operate in temperatures from 14 to 104 degrees. There’s an extensive cadre of lenses, flashes and accessories available for the camera. At a $700 price point for the body and an excellent lens for $600, there’s no better value in a DSLR.

Canon EOS 6D ($1,699 body-only) The Canon EOS 6D features a Full Frame sensor—the largest sensor size currently available in DSLRs—giving it great image quality and the ability to shoot pictures in very low light. Full Frame DSLRs are the higher-end of the category, and the 6D is considered an entry-level Full Frame camera (while at the same time it’s considered a mid-level DSLR). To keep the price lower, the 6D sacrifices a little on performance and build quality by using polycarbonate instead of metal in some places, but it still offers excellent image quality. Nevertheless, the creative photographer will find the 6D has all the tools to make great images and that the polycarbonate does help cut down the weight. The camera also shoots Hollywood-level HD video, has built-in Wi-Fi, and has built-in GPS that will let you plot your photos on a digital map.

Nikon D810 ($3,299 body-only) At a cost of more than $3,000 the Nikon D800 is pricey. However, you’re paying for the best image quality currently available in a DSLR and a solid, well-built camera packed with features. The D800 has every bell and whistle, including extremely accurate autofocus with face detection, precise metering for perfect exposures and broadcast-quality video. It also offers professional features such as an extra durable shutter, two memory card slots, and hi-speed recording and transfer of files. The D810 is compatible with Nikon’s huge selection of lenses and with the brand’s intelligent flash system, which enables you to take great photos using multiple flashes (a tricky thing to do).

For further in-depth information on the cameras mentioned in this article check out  

—by Josh Laronge for Josh Laronge is a professional photographer, photo educator and avid traveler. He’s photographed on all seven continents and his photos are published in a wide range of periodicals.

Read our full guide to the best cameras for travel photography:

How to Choose the Right Camera for Travel Photography

Best Enthusiast Cameras for Travel Photography

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel Photography

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