When choosing the perfect camera for Safari photography, there are myriad options available, depending on the way you like to shoot, how compact you want your camera to be, and how versatile your camera system needs to be. Ranging from ultra-compact point-and-shoots to sleek interchangeable-lens options, here are 12 portable cameras perfect for your upcoming safari in Africa.
1. Leica Q2 Digital Camera
I’m an advocate of traveling with a single lens, and the Leica Q2 embodies this philosophy perfectly with its high-end design, fixed prime lens, and sleek form factor. The Q2 is an ideal safari camera due to its compact size, but it is certainly no slouch when it comes to imaging capabilities. One of the highest-resolution options on our list, the full-frame 47.3MP sensor is truly impressive and gives you some versatility with the built-in Crop Modes to simulate the look of different focal lengths. However, the Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. is one of the key reasons the Q2 is as popular as it is; it’s a stunning, fast wide-angle prime perfectly matched to the sensor. And since there’s no need for changing lenses, the whole kit is even more compact than the svelte M-series rangefinders. Other reasons this camera is perfect for travel: DCI and UHD 4K video recording, a very nice 3.68MP OLED electronic viewfinder, and a dust- and moisture-sealed design.
2. Ricoh GR III Digital Camera
A true pocketable powerhouse, there’s no denying Ricoh’s GR III is an ideal camera for safari. It boasts a high-resolution 24.2MP APS-C sensor, has a fixed 28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens, and includes Shake Reduction image stabilization all in a package the size of your palm. I had a chance to travel with the GR III earlier this year and really fell for its minimalist design and just plain impressiveness of the imagery. There’re no bells and whistles in this camera, which is why it’s so successful. It’s a simple and understated camera that works, and it’s perfect to slip in any bag or your pocket for anything from a long weekend to a multi-week overseas adventure.
3. Nikon Z 7 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Another camera I had a chance to use while on a safari, the Nikon Z 7 is perfect for the traveler who’s looking for a versatile system without having to deal with too much heft. Compared to the aforementioned cameras, the Z 7’s main merits lie in that it’s an interchangeable-lens camera, giving you a bit more flexibility for bringing along a couple of lenses, a zoom, or just a different focal length lens than a wide-angle prime. The Z 7, along with the Z 6, is Nikon’s first foray into full-frame mirrorless, and they nailed it with one of the most compact bodies in this category, exceptional imaging capabilities, while retaining perfect ergonomics for all-day use. The Z 7 is one of those cameras that will excel on the road just as much as it will in your home or studio.
4. FUJIFILM X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera
The younger, smaller brother to the X-T3, FUJIFILM’s X-T30 is a perfect travel camera due to its slightly reduced dimensions and weight from the higher tier of X-series cameras. Despite its svelte design, the X-T30 packs a wealth of photo and video capabilities to suit your travel photography needs. As Todd Vorenkamp says, the X-T30 could replace his trusty X-T3 “when I really want to travel light(er), because I know I would be getting identical image quality in a smaller and lighter package.” Speaking of identical image quality, the X-T30 does feature FUJIFILM’s 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4, which provide you with high-res stills, DCI and UHD 4K30 video, quick AF, and sensitivity up to ISO 12800.
5. Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Sometimes overshadowed by its impressive and versatile a7-series, Sony is still cranking out APS-C-format cameras that continue to incorporate noteworthy still and video features, but in a very sleek package. The Alpha a6400 is a perfect example of this, with its 24.2MP APS-C sensor, UHD 4K video, 425-point AF, and 11 fps continuous shooting. Even better, this camera has been given the “vlogger treatment,” with a 180-degree tilting touchscreen, making it perfect for recording your travelogues. Also ideal for capturing those fleeting moments, the a6400 has an incredible 0.02-second AF acquisition speed along with Real-Time Eye AF and Real-Time Tracking to help ensure your subjects are in perfect focus.
6. Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II Digital Camera
Among premium point-and-shoots, the Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II is a beloved one due to its large sensor size, versatile zoom, and range of features that tick most “wished-for” boxes. It’s a perfect all-around shooter due to its 17MP Four Thirds sensor, which offers impressive still capabilities, sensitivity to ISO 25600, and UHD 4K video. The 24-75mm equivalent zoom, with an f/1.7-2.8 maximum aperture range, is somewhat unique among large sensor compacts, and the Leica-designed lens also has POWER O.I.S. to reduce the appearance of camera shake. Also, a necessity for many, the LX100 II has a 2.36m-dot viewfinder to make this compact camera better suited for working in bright conditions.
7. Panasonic Lumix DC-G95 Mirrorless Digital Camera
For a bit more versatility than a compact, fixed-lens camera, Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G95 is a perfect blend of a sleek form factor and apt performance. As a Micro Four Thirds camera, the G95 has a huge system of lenses to choose from to suit any of your travel needs, but it still retains a small footprint that makes it easy to pack in a day bag. The 20.3MP sensor couples with a Venus Engine image processor to deliver impressive UHD 4K video, V-Log L is pre-installed, and still-photo performance is backed by ISO 25600 sensitivity, 9 fps shooting, and 5-axis image stabilization. Increasing its versatility, the G95 also has a high-res 2.36m-dot EVF and a free-angle, swiveling 3.0″ touchscreen LCD.
8. FUJIFILM GFX 50R Medium Format Mirrorless Camera
One of the requirements for a “travel camera” is that it is small and lightweight, and while objectively the FUJIFILM GFX 50R isn’t necessarily either of those, it does have the claim as being the most compact, portable medium format camera currently available. Even if not small enough for an everyday carry camera, for photographers looking for ultimate image quality in a portable design, the GFX 50R is the go-to option due to its slim, rangefinder-inspired design that’s roughly the size of a professional full-frame DSLR, but featuring a sensor approximately 1.5x the size. For photographers looking to focus on landscapes, scenic shots, and other subjects benefitted by a high degree of detail, the GFX 50R might just be worth the slight jump in size.
9. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 DSLR Camera
While DSLRs aren’t reigning supreme anymore, there is still the simple satisfaction of having a reliable, trusty camera with you for your travels. And while the initial push for switching to mirrorless dealt with the promise of smaller camera sizes, more recent cameras have bucked this trend, making room for ultra-compact DSLRs to still have their niche. Chief among the tiny DSLRs is the Canon EOS Rebel SL3; an APS-C-format camera offering a wealth of shooting capabilities. The 24.1MP sensor offers UHD 4K video, 5 fps shooting, and ISO 25600 sensitivity and, since it’s a DSLR, it has an optical viewfinder for easy viewing. Another traveling benefit to DSLRs has to be battery life, which is still markedly better; the SL3, for instance, gives you just over 1,600 shots per charge on a relatively compact battery.
10. Nikon D5600 DSLR Camera
Another compact DSLR, the Nikon D5600 is a comfortably situated camera that mixes a handful of advanced features with an especially sleek body design. Featuring a DX-format 24.2MP sensor, this camera offers up to 5 fps shooting, ISO 25600 sensitivity, and Full HD video, as well as in-camera Time-Lapse movie recording. A large, 3.2″ rear touchscreen LCD is perfect for live view shooting and playback and, featuring SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the D5600 is a well-connected camera, perfect for sharing your images when on the go.
11. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Digital Camera
The latest release in the venerable line of G1-series advanced compacts, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III includes huge improvements over its predecessor, including a step up to a larger 24.2MP APS-C sensor and the inclusion of a 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder. A versatile 24-72mm equivalent zoom is featured, and is benefitted by an Optical Stabilizer system that benefits working in low-light conditions. Also impressive for a compact, the G1 X Mark III sports Dual Pixel CMOS AF, a feature typically reserved for Canon’s SLRs and mirrorless bodies, making it particularly well suited for video recording.
12. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI
Closing out our list is the latest camera from the series that practically put premium compacts back on the map, the Sony RX100 VI. Shawn Steiner had a chance to take it for a week of travel across the USA, and deemed it the “perfect pocket camera” due to its having “all the range and quality you could ever need.” This sixth-generation model made one of the biggest shifts in the RX100 series with its inclusion of a dramatically longer 24-200mm-equivalent zoom, compared to the previous models with 28-100 and 24-70mm zooms, making the RX100 VI much more of an all-rounder/all-in-one type of camera that’s perfect for travel. And even with the new lens design, it still retains its pocketable form factor, as well as a 20.1MP 1″ sensor, UHD 4K video, and unique pop-up viewfinder design.
Do you have any additions to our list of perfect safari cameras? Tell us about your favorite cameras for safari in the Comments section, below.