The best camera gear to take on your Hawaii vacation – our picks for stunning Hawaii photos & videos

I probably have one of the most envied jobs in the world. I get to follow Sheila to Hawaii with the task of making sure everything we see and do is captured to photo or video.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. 😉

Actually, it’s not quite as tough as it used to be. Since our first visit to Hawaii in 2003, camera technology has come a long way. We started with a humble 2mpx compact camera and upgraded all the way up to a high-end DSLR. Recently, cameras have gotten so advanced (and so small), that I’m back down to a mirrorless camera as my main camera, supplemented by a GoPro and Mavic drone.

We are often asked what kind of cameras we recommend. I thought you might like to get an idea of what accompanies me on most trips, so you can decide if you, too, wish to get the most out of your vacation photos and videos.

Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is my current camera of choice. I picked this up late last year after I decided that compact cameras had finally reached the amazing level of “old school” DSLRs. The Lumix LX100 II has been an awesome choice of camera. It’s so amazingly compact–as this photo next to a tin of Altoids clearly demonstrates:

Despite its portable size–perfect for travel–it has an amazingly fast medium-zoom lens and shoots stunning 4K video too! Pair it with a tripod and you’re all set! You’ll be able to capture many stunning images in Hawaii!

Best Cameras for Stunning Hawaii Photos

Budget Option: The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS60 is a great compact camera that doesn’t require additional lenses and shoots 4k video!

GoPro Hero

I absolutely love GoPro cameras!

I bought my first one in 2013 and have upgraded three times since. They not only allow you to take action shots on land but let you capture some amazing underwater video footage too! The Hero7 is my current GoPro, and it’s one of the smallest ones yet. It, too, captures stunning 4K resolution video as well as amazing wide-angle photos. It has a tiny preview screen on the back, so there’s no guessing what’s in frame, and you can also stream it directly to your smartphone!

For those stunning underwater videos, I like to use this underwater telescopic pole:

Not only does it help you to get your GoPro closer to the reef, but it also floats–so you don’t have to worry about losing your GoPro to the ocean bed. 😉

GoPros are awesome for snorkeling!

Budget Option: If you don’t want to invest in a GoPro Hero5, then I would check out the AKASO EK7000 as a cheaper option.

DJI Mavic Pro

OK, this was a total splurge but has been a fantastic investment. The DJI Mavic Pro is a drone that practically flies itself. It can take off on its own, it can hover in place, it can avoid obstacles on its own, and it can use GPS to return back to the take-off spot–within inches! Did I mention it can fly up to 40mph with a range of 4 miles?

It gets even better! It folds down to the size of a milk carton! How about that for a space-saver when you’re packing for Hawaii?

The Mavic Pro takes gorgeous 4K resolution video and thanks to its onboard gimbal, the movies are rock steady! It also takes some amazing photos too!

The Mavic Pro has also recently received many upgrades and additional versions. You can check them out here.

Budget Option: Honestly, don’t go too cheap when it comes to drones. You get what you pay for. With that said, I would stick with a DJI drone. This one is half the price of the Mavic.

Google Pixel Phone

Let’s not forget that tiny device that is likely with you everywhere you go. Most smartphones can take 1080P video, and many new ones shoot 4K. The Google Pixel is one of the best camera phones I have ever owned. Not only does it shoot amazing photos and videos with the automatic settings, but the built-in photo editing is also so good, I rarely have to fire up desktop software in order to get the best out of my Hawaii photos!

Budget Option: Whatever camera phone you already own. Try it, and you’ll be surprised at how well it does!

When I get home, I transfer everything to my iMac and then use Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and the built-in iMovie software to create stunning videos like these:

So, that’s the camera gear of Go Visit Hawaii’s official photographer, videographer, and most envied husband on the planet. If you need help taking the most amazing Hawaii pics, then check out our guide for taking the best Hawaii photos.

What gear do you like to take? What questions can we answer for you?

  1. I’d come to rely exclusively on my iPhone for photos until late last year when I decided it was time to splurge on a Nikon D7200. I missed all the creative options and flexibility a SLR could provide and today’s digital SLRs are amazing. I have to admit the compact options you talk about here are very impressive.

  2. First off I must say you got some fantastic footage!!!!
    Did you use the Lumix G85 to shoot the lava at volcanos national park?? Amazing footage!!
    also where was the cave you where being guided though? Im planning my second trip to kona in august for a honeymoon. any adventure recommendations? last trip I went dolphin swimming, coral reef diving, and did an atv tour! this trip I plan on filming and taking a lot of pictures, I currently use a cannon T2i, Go pro hero 3+ ( is it worth upgrading to the 5?) and a dji phantom 3, I would love to know where you visited, the island is so large its hard to plan here

  3. Are you sure that’s not the Panasonic Lumix GX85? The G85 has a larger “dslr like” body.

  4. Great article and info. It’s been a couple of years since the original post – are you still using the same equipment? An update would be great. I’m going to Maui in a week!

    1. We updated the post in January, but camera gear is always updating. The list is still worth considering, but if you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

  5. Excellent article and information. It’s been a long time since the initial post – are you still utilising the same hardware? An overhaul would be extraordinary. I’m planning to go to Maui in a week!

    1. I have not changed much since the last update. I switched back to an iPhone, but everything else is the same. Enjoy Maui!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like