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There’s this old adage that the best camera for travel is the one you have with you. This makes your smartphone the best camera for a wide range of situations. However, no matter how good, a smartphone camera will never match the low light photography performance and the dynamic range of a DSLR or mirrorless camera. I use my phone a lot to take photos during my travels, particularly in those situations when reaching out for the camera would spoil the charm of the moment. However, I usually carry my Sony camera with me while I travel. It is already switched on and ready to use as soon as I get out of the hotel. It is a Sony s5000. Paired with the right lenses, it is one of the best mirrorless cameras for travel.

What Makes Sony Alpha a5000 One of the Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel?

I’ve bought my Sony a5000 camera after reading countless mirrorless cameras reviews and side by side comparisons. I knew that I wanted a mirrorless model, as their weight recommends them for frequent travelers. Besides, I had the opportunity to use some bulky DSLR and Bridge cameras and I was not impressed with the perspective of walking around with that much equipment hanging off my neck.

I loved the size and the weight of this camera. I also loved its APS-C sensor (23.2 x 15.4 mm). While making comparisons, I’ve found out that the bigger the sensor, the more light enters the camera. This would result in better photos in low light conditions. According to this, I should have chosen a full frame mirrorless camera. However, the price and the weight of those lenses put me off.

Olympus and Fuji were also high on my travel camera shopping list. Among their most common models there were some that fitted into my budget (which was in the range of $400-$600 USD).

Olympus was attractive because of the wide choice of lenses. However, thinking that I’d only buy one or two extra lenses apart from the kit one, I didn’t see this as an advantage any longer. I can tell you now that I was wrong about that. I’ve already bought three more lenses for my Sony mirrorless camera and I still miss a good tele lens.

Fuji had great prices and excellent image quality. The price and the specs of Fujifilm X-T100 were comparable with the ones of Sony a5000.

Canon and Nikon didn’t have any mirrorless camera models by that time.

Taking all these into consideration, I decided to go for the APS-C sensor on Sony cameras. The good performance in low light conditions was one of the main arguments for my choice. I knew nothing about photography, so I had no idea that I was going to need a wide aperture lens in order to take full advantage of this performance.

My choice, Sony Alpha a5000 won against Sony Alpha a5100 and Sony Alpha a6000 thanks to a special promotion that allowed me to grab it for about $350 USD. I also liked the idea of shooting some video with my mirrorless camera and the reviews of this camera model and its video shooting capabilities were favorable. Little did I know by then that there’s no good video without a steady hand holding the camera (or a gimbal for that matter).

After using this mirrorless camera for a few years in different lighting conditions, I can say that I do miss a viewfinder. The back screen is awesome in most situations, but when it comes to shooting outdoors on sunny days, it becomes almost useless. I’m a big fan of landscape photography, and I tend to travel to many outdoorsy destinations, so this lack of visibility bothered me times and again.

Today, Sony doesn’t manufacture the a5000 model any longer. You’ll still be able to find it on amazon or on other websites, but its price is very close to the price of Sony a6000, so you’ll want to buy this camera model instead.

Sony a6000 vs. Sony a6300 vs. Sony a6400 vs. Sony a6500

This is the cheapest of the four. If you are on a budget, get the Sony alpha a6000 to be your travel camera. You won’t regret your decision.

This one, here, comes with two kit lenses and with a wide range of accessories.     

When Sony a6300 was launched, everybody thought it was going to be here for a very long time. I was on the verge of buying it. However, now I’m happy I haven’t. This is probably the mirrorless camera with the shortest lifespan. It took very little for Sony to release the improved version, a6400.

However, if you want to see its features, top read some reviews and perhaps to buy this camera for your travels, click here.      

Sony alpha a6400 offers the best value for money. It has almost the same price as its predecessor, Sony a6300, but all improved features that make it a better choice. The only drawback is that it has in-lens stabilization, so you’ll need to use a tripod with your non-stabilized lenses, if any.

You can read reviews and buy this camera here.    

This one is the best mirrorless camera for travel. What makes it so great is that it has in-body stabilization. This means you can use it with lenses that aren’t stabilized, without the need for a tripod.

Read reviews and buy the Sony alpha a 6500 camera here

The cheapest of all these cameras is the Sony a6000. However, all others feature more advanced image processors and several functions that can make all the difference.

Sony a6400 is an improved variant of the older Sony a6300. Both cameras have a pixel count of 24 MP, maximum shutter speed of 1/4000, a continuous frame rate of 11 fps, a viewfinder resolution of 2.36 M dots, and a 4K video res of UHD/30p. Their price is also very similar, and it ranges around $1,000 US (body only).

As you can see, the specs are very similar. The difference between Sony a6300 and Sony a6400 comes from the design and control options.

Do you want to pin this article for later? Here you are!

Why mirrorless is the best camera for travel

My Best Mirrorless Camera Lenses

I started with the Sony E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. I bought it with the camera. Looking back, now I know I should have bought a camera with two kit lenses, because I terribly miss a good tele lens.

One year later, I added what was going to become my travel lens of choice. I’m talking about the Sony E-mount SEL 35mm F1.8 prime lens.

One more year and three photography camps later, two new prime lenses joined my travel photography gear collection: Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount and Sigma 60mm f2.8 DN Art Sony E-Mount.


This is the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount. In Europe, you’ll find it under the name of Samyang. It is a wide angle prime lens with no stabilization. It has manual focus, so you’ll need to learn some tricks to be able to focus on your desired subjects. I use it mainly for shooting buildings during my urban travels. It is also perfect for astro photography. Ur looks great, thanks to the high-quality materials it is made from. If you want to read reviews or buy this lens, click on its image, below.


Sigma makes awesomely sharp lenses. The ART series is amazing. This series has several E-mount lenses. I’ve chosen the 60mm because it works best for portrait photography. This lens is fairly inexpensive, but it lacks stabilization (which means that you may need to use a tripod to take good shots). If you want to read more about this lens, click on its image, below.

My Mirrorless Camera & My Best Travel Photos

Here are some photos I took with my Sony a5000. You’ll see why I thought it to be the best mirrorless camera for travel.

Sunset over the hills in Romania

Photo taken with the Sony E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens

 

Rome ruins of Caracalla baths

Photo taken with the Samyang (Rokinon) 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Marrakech La Koutubia in Storm

Photo taken with Sony E-mount SEL 35mm F1.8 prime lens.

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Violeta Matei

Violeta writes for people who want to design, research and plan their own travel experiences. After two decades of working in advertising and marketing, she decided to pursue her two passions, to travel the world and to write about it. Since 2012, she authors and administrates a network of travel blogs.