Bigger isn’t always better—that’s the concept giving traditional DSLR cameras a run for their money.
If you’ve decided it’s time to invest in a quality and compact camera for travel, you’re in the right place. I too knew little beyond iPhone photography a few years ago, but I knew I wanted to capture better quality images during my travels and time living abroad. Picking the right travel camera for beginners taught me to do just that. And I’ve become more skilled in travel photography in the process.
However, I found that getting to this point took a lot of time, energy, and money. I went back and forth between National Camera Exchange and Best Buy. I tried the Canon t5 rebel. I tried the Sony a5000. I tried the Fujifilm x-t2.
One was too bulky. The other didn’t have the quality I was looking for enough quality. The next was TOO expensive. It’s was a tedious process of Goldie Lock and the three best travel cameras.
I wanted to find something that took quality pictures, yet was not a complex machine that would inevitably end up collecting dust on a shelf. I felt completely overwhelmed with options, until I came across the raving reviews for the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera.
I quickly came to realize that its compact size and wi-fi capabilities makes it perfect for travelers diving into the sea of photography. I also knew that the interchangeable lens system would allow me to grow with it in the future.
I buckled down and bought the thing, and it was the best investment I’ve made to date. Here’s why.
Honest Review of Sony a6000
The Sony a6000 Mirrorless camera is part of an entire mirrorless movement. Traditional DSLRs are professional cameras above the quality of a normal point and shoot digital camera that your dad still brings on trips to Florida.
In contrast, mirrorless cameras replace the DSLR mirror processing system inside. As a result, mirrorless cameras are much more compact with all the same capabilities.
The Sony a6000 has a large image sensor, 24.3 megapixels, quick autofocus, a wide ISO range and low light capabilities. The camera comes with a retractable 16-50mm lens, which takes crisp and clear photos on autopilot.
I first got this camera on my way to study abroad in Croatia (where I live now currently, story for another time). I really had no idea how to adjust things like ISO or use some of the advances features of the camera. So, for the first few months I just shot with the camera in auto mode. I really like that in auto mode you can easily adjust the saturation or brightness of a photo. I also liked that I could set it up to take burst photos for pictures with a lot of movement.
Here are a few picture I’ve taken on auto mode. Check out all my best photos on my Instagram
Another thing I grew to love is the built in wi-fi capabilities. Through the Playmemories Sony App for Apple and Android, I can send photos to my phone or even use my phone as a built in remote. This was super handy when I was traveling, as I could quickly send and upload photos from my travels. Also with a tripod, I could set up a shot and take it myself instead of asking someone to take it for me!
I do think the 16-50mm is excellent for quick snaps while on the road, especially since the lens itself is not very bulky. However, I got to a point that I realized it does have some limitations, especially with the f/5.6 aperture range. I decided to invest in a Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens, which allowed me take crisp, tight shots with a wider aperture range shots.
Below are all the products I use currently:
Expert Photography describes the aperture as the pupil of the camera, allowing more light and exposure to pass through the camera. Therefore, a lens with a wider aperture range, like the 50mm, will provide brighter shots in low lights and provide a wider depth of field. This also allows for the bokeh affect that you see above.
Below are a few photos I’ve taken on my 50 mm lens:
It’s now been over three years since I bought my sony a6000 and it’s held up very well. I find my shots are always better when looking through the view finder on the camera. However, I’ve noticed that my screen has accumulated quite a bit of small scratches. (Wish I would have bought that screen protectors below). These don’t at all obstruct my view, however. My only other complaint is that the camera battery needs to be fully charged when taking videos longer than a few minutes, because the battery doesn’t always hold up.
I recently invested in a Benro tripod and can be my own Instagram husband by connecting the camera to my phone. However, I will admit that my partner takes a lot of photos for my blog as well, bless his heart. He knew NOTHING about photography previously, and was really not interested in it. I’ll let the images he took speak for themselves, but I think this camera has helped him become a better photographer too.
Though I might invest in a wide angle or 35 mm lens, I definitely will not be buying a new camera body anytime soon.
Here are a few other products I recommend with the sony a6000.
Finding the Best Travel Camera for Beginners
After spending about a year and a half involved in the travel community, I found that many other travel bloggers also use the Sony a6000.
However, if you’re doubting the Sony a6000 , I wouldn’t recommend getting the Sony a5000. I first tried this and found that the quality of images was a lot lower. Upgrading to the a6000 really made all the difference.
The Sony a7000 is another option if you’re interested in a serious investment. I know some travel photographers swear by this one. However, in order to learn I wouldn’t advise going with necessarily the most expensive and complicated camera right away. It’s important that you pick something that is suitable to your skill level.
Here’s a few points to consider, no matter what camera you buy:
The biggest mistake people make is thinking that a bigger camera means you’ll get better pictures; it’s simply just not true. You want a bigger image sensor, but you don’t necessarily need a bigger camera body. I have so many friends that don’t have a clue how to work large, complex camera. As a result, they don’t end up being happy with the quality of their pictures. People often buy huge cameras that are too big traveling around all day, let alone bringing on a trip. Thus, they don’t practice and never learn.
I know that sometimes people want to find the cheapest option, and that’s exactly what I did the first, second and third time I bought a camera and I wasn’t happy. I tried getting the cheaper mirrorless Sony a5100, which I ended up bringing back after a week because I wasn’t happy with the quality of my pictures. The upgrade to the a6000 made a world of a difference. You have to remember that if you’re serious about getting into photography, you want something that you’ll still use for at least 3 years. Yes, Sony a6000 isn’t the cheapest option, but I think you’ll find it’s worth it.
I am by no means an expert travel photographer at this point. However, my shots are what allowed me to develop my skills, and produce high-quality images. It’s helped me grow my blog, instagram, and even helped get land brand partnerships and freelancing gigs.
Though a lot of this was me behind the camera, I think a lot of it was due to the camera itself – my sony a6000.
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