When you’re going on vacation, you want to capture the very essence of the place you’re visiting. You want to preserve the moments in the highest quality possible. You don’t want the camera to get in the way of preserving the moment though. If you’re not a professional photographer, skip the Nikon D4s or D5! They are too much camera for you. You’re not going to want to carry a beast of a camera like that on your Hawaii vacation.

I recommend as the Ultimate Camera to Carry to Hawaii on Your Vacation:

Camera: Nikon D610

That’s the one. It is full-frame – meaning, it will give you the largest image possible, and it has 24 MP resolution. The images it produces at the highest resolution are between 20 and 30 MB in size. The images are incredibly detailed. You don’t need anything better, and because this camera is not brand new, you won’t pay the insane price I did – around $2,300 USD. Today you can find them on Amazon or B&H Photo, much cheaper. Have a look at Amazon >

I’ve been using the Nikon D610 full-frame (FX) camera for about a year now. I haven’t been disappointed with anything about it. You can take around 1,000 images with one full-charge of the battery. It has modes for all kinds of ‘dummy’ shooting – night, sports, macro, food, etc. Everything you might need if you are not sure how to set a camera manually as you traipse Hawaii’s incredible landscapes, shopping, sunset, beaches, and restaurants plus a lot more.

This camera is solid as a rock. It shoots 1080p video – giving you 1920 x 1080 resolution video which is mind-blowing, especially the blacks in the dark. There is very little difference between this camera and the top of the line Nikon in this regard. The Nikon D610 handles the blacks VERY well.


First off, consider buying some Tokina lenses for your Hawaii trip instead of all Nikon brand. In doing so, you’ll save yourself half off the price of Nikon’s overpriced and lackluster lenses. Because Nikon is who they are, they overprice their lenses to a very high degree. That said, there are still two of their lenses you should buy. More about that in a minute.

Pro quality Tokina lenses are equal or BETTER quality than Nikon lenses. You’re not paying for the name – Nikon – you’re paying for the lens build quality. Tokina is a world class company with lenses that blow the major camera manufacturers out of the water when it comes to lenses. Buy them when it makes sense and you want better build quality over cheap plastic!

Tokina SD 17-35 F/4.0 (IF) FX (AT-X PRO) Lens

This lens is absolutely amazing, and covers all your wide-angle needs with precision. This lens auto-focuses on the Nikon D610 and the metering works perfectly. The lens build is like a TANK. It’s solid as a rock. It outweighs it’s Nikon equivalent by a substantial amount. The difference between this Tokina lens and its Nikon equivalent is a WORLD of difference. There is no comparison. And, get this – you can add filters to this lens! I even use a B+W KSM nano-coated $300 circular polarizer on this lens and it works perfectly. The photos are breathtaking. HIGHLY recommended. If you’re visiting Hawaii, you need to have a camera that will melt minds. Hawaii’s landscape is Top 10 WORLDWIDE. Give it the equipment it deserves!

Some places you can go on Oahu to take photos with this lens: Makapu’u Beach, North Shore, Kaena Point, and inside any building, restaurant, mall, etc. because you can include the entire room in one shot.

This lens is just around $500 USD. I bought mine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It has been flawless for a year. It will last twenty years if taken care of. It’s that solid.

Nikon 50 mm F/1.8 Lens

This lens is amazing, and it gets incredible reviews time after time, so, save yourself some money and grab one as soon as you see it. It’s lightweight and focuses VERY fast. You can’t beat it, so why try?

Tokina Macro 100 mm F/2.8 D (AT-X PRO)

This lens is my baby! If you haven’t shot with a true macro lens giving 1:1 size ration (true-life) then you haven’t lived. When you start exploring Hawaii, you’ll see that there are so many plants and small things to take photos of, you don’t want to miss anything. This lens adds lovely bokeh (blurring of background) and the same build quality of the wide angle lens mentioned above.

The elements of this lens sit back inside the cylinder, well protected from the elements or an easy drop.

This lens is also built like a solid tank. MUCH more solid than Nikon’s equivalent zoom, but without the vibration reduction the Nikon has, which is definitely nice to have.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

This zoom by Nikon is super-inexpensive, and built well enough to withstand more than the average knocks. I bought mine for $400, and I see in Amazon, that’s what they’re going for now. Lenses don’t change in price much. That, and they don’t depreciate much when they’re in good shape, so think about that when you buy them.

This is a “G” lens, which means on an FX camera like you’re going to use it, you get 1.5x multiplication factor at all zoom lengths. So, 55 mm – wide open with this lens really means you’re shooting at around 83 mm. When you’re zoomed in at 300 mm on the lens, in reality it is 450 mm! You get a nice boost for the zoom. This is great for far away Hawaii subjects like birds, lizards, wild pigs, shooting boats from the top of volcanos, or whatever it is you’re shooting from far away while in the Hawaiian Islands.

Ok, let’s say you don’t want to carry six pounds of camera equipment. Which camera should you take?

What Is the Best Ultra-Portable Camera for Hawaii?

Since a vacation in Hawaii means you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the water, why not get a waterproof camera? Every so often DPReview.com reviews the top waterproof and shockproof cameras on the market. Consistently these two brands come out on top.


The latest iterations of these top brand waterproof cameras give waterproofing, shock-proofing, dust sealed. They have wide angle to zoom lenses built in. They are very small and don’t weigh more than 250 g. each (1/2 lb.). They can shoot 5-7 frames per second in auto mode. Batteries last for 370 shots. The flash is strong enough for night time shots close-up. Video max is 1080p with stereo microphones.

I have an older version of the Nikon AW130 called the AW100. I bought it four years ago. It has held up to remarkable stress over the years, and this new AW130 is even stronger and will hold up better.

Choose either one of these cameras – use this side-by-side comparison to help you make the choice.


So, there are my recommendations for cameras to take to Hawaii with you. If you don’t want to buy a new camera, at least make sure you bring one that is going to work for your trip. I think unless you’re a serious photographer, you might stick with one of the amazing waterproof cameras mentioned.