Capturing a road trip requires striking a balance—time on the road, and time enjoying the scenery. Our recommendation: Get a proper camera before setting off. Whether you're a novice or a pro, this list will have something for everyone.
But how do you decided where to start, and which camera is right for you? We've done the hard part, and assembled our favorite eight cameras for recording the road trip memories.
In an era of smartphones with the capability to do everything from snapping Instagram photos to recording HD video, there are still reasons to consider standalone digital cameras. The Canon G7X acts the part of an old-school digital camera, but 1080p video and wi-fi capability make it top of its class. The G7's smart combination of these features and fits-in-a-cupholder size make it perfect for those for which a DSLR is too large.
Every photography enthusiast needs a reliable standard for shooting in the spur of the moment. When you're ready to step up to a DSLR, the handily fits the bill. Like the T-series Rebels that precede it, the T5 offers greenhorn and veteran photographers an array of easy-to-understand settings and plenty of flexibility. It's bulkier than a point-and-shoot, but the plethora of lens options, picture sharpness, and video quality make the Rebel T5 an easy choice to recommend. Keep this one on the passenger's seat and reachable at a moment's notice.
Road Trip Pro
If you have some extra cash to devote to road trip photography, the is a dream for serious snappers. A step above the likes of the Canon Rebel series, and Nikon's equivalent cameras in the category, the D750 offers even more flexibility in ISO and shutter speed, making it essential if your road trip includes any amount of motion photography. Be prepared to spend heavily on a cadre of lenses that fit this Nikon body, as well as a tripod, external flashes, and a bag suitable for keeping the D750 safe. We believe that the reward in image quality is worth the cost and effort. Store this one in the trunk.
No Mirror, No Problem
Somewhere between a simplistic digital camera and a high-complexity DSLR is the mirrorless camera, which eschews the reflective mirror and sends light straight to the image sensor, as its name suggests. Among our favorites in the segment is the Fuji X-H1. If your road trip includes any number of stops at famous race tracks, as it ought to, using the X-H1 will reward serious and amateur lensers in spades.
The isn't a camera in the traditional sense, but it's one of the best purchases you'll make to capture your road trip. Bundle it with mounts and straps, or stick with the comprehensive starter kit. Affix the GoPro to your head to register POV, first-person accounts of scenic byways—or to remember in-the-moment monologues about driving. Mount it to the driver's door, just aft of the wheel well, to record your car tackling a tough, twisty road. And in the rare occasion that the suction mount takes a fall, take comfort in the fact that the GoPro's plastic housing is seemingly indestructible. (Trust us on that one.)
Not all road trips are limited to travel on pavement. When terrain turns muddy, or there is a river to ford along a forest trail, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your camera is prepared for the situation. In these moments, having a durable, waterproof digital camera like the is invaluable. See what happens when you drop the 16-megapixel camera from a height of seven feet, or sit on it—not that we suggest putting a camera as valuable as this one through a stress test. Use the TG-5 as a regular camera in sub-freezing temperatures and count on it as an everyday companion, too.
Just For Fun
Do you crave as much tactile input from your camera as you do the manual transmission in your road tripper? Try out the Instant Film Camera. We can't guarantee that your shots will turn out as well as they might through the lens of the DSLRs in this group, but we enjoy Fujifilm's modern take on the classic, non-digital camera. No interchangeable lenses or major aperture adjustments here, but settings do exist for brightening and darkening images. Keep the Instax Mini around just for fun, or make use of its ability to create light trails while keeping the shutter open. And don't forget to buy film!
If you don't want a dedicated camera, the cameras on the latest iPhones are stunning.