You may not be a video or photography enthusiast, but as a regular traveler, you’ll surely want to keep memories of all your trips. And so you are faced with the old conundrum when looking for the best camera for travel – weight vs quality!
In this post, we will go into detail about what to look for when buying a camera for traveling.
Apart from portability and usability, we’ll also tell you which specifications are important to your needs. Lastly, we’ll pick out the best cameras for travel in the market today.
But first, let us look at some basic things to consider when choosing a travel camera:
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Camera for Travel
You need to consider how much you are willing to spend on your travel camera. The prices of cameras vary according to the brands (manufacturers), specifications (what the camera can do) and versions (latest releases).
The newest release of a camera sporting new specs may be more expensive than an older version of the same brand. This post quotes a variety of prices of the best cameras for travel from different manufacturers for the latest releases.
If you like traveling light, then consider checking out compact cameras. They are small and easy to carry around because they comfortably fit in your pocket or purse. But if image quality and low-light shooting are important in you, then consider some mirrorless cameras.
However, you’ll have to contend with a little extra weight in spare lenses and other accessories. The cameras cited in this post are mostly compact and mirrorless cameras. For portability reasons, the bulky DSLR cameras are not featured.
Carefully think about what you’ll be taking pictures of during your travel.
Do you want to take pictures of landscapes, wildlife, people & lifestyles, or just photos of your travel scenes for your album and social media pages?
To assist you choose the best camera for travel, we have mentioned a few examples of the best uses for each camera cited in this post.
The essential features to consider for image quality are the sensor size, optical zoom, aperture range and manual controls.
Nowadays, most cameras come with extra features like tilting LCD screens, video recording, touchscreen interfaces, Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, weather-proofing etc.
A feature like GPS can help you easily remember where your shots were taken during your travel adventure. Also, a Wi-Fi & Bluetooth feature enables you to send photos online or remotely control your camera via your smartphone.
Now check out our picks for the 7 best cameras for travel across the compact and mirrorless categories.
Best Camera for Travel – The Cameras
Let’s now jump right into the camera recommendations!
Released in August 2019, the Sony RX100 VII is the latest of the RX100 models and the best camera for travel today.
If you are looking for a camera that’s small enough to fit into your jacket pocket without compromising on image quality, then this is it. This compact camera has amazing image and video quality, rapid shooting, and a user-friendly AF (auto-focus) system.
The quality of images is excellent, with flexible RAW files and JPEGs presenting vivid colors.
It sports an 8X retracting optical zoom and has a versatile 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 lens. This range and aperture offers you the reach needed for most travel situations.
The real-time AF is capable of focusing on the eye/face of both people and animals at less than 0.03 seconds.
For speed and accuracy, it can shoot bursts up to 20 frames per second while rendering no image distortion of moving subjects. That’s down to the new sensor technology borrowed from Sony’s a9 models that pose high shutter speeds and silent shooting.
In addition, its tracking-mode does well in sticking to whatever you point the camera at. You’ll have no problem shooting fast wildlife on your safari, like big cats chasing prey.
It’s small body and touchscreen helps easy-handling. It has very few but useful buttons and a single-press pop-up viewfinder.
The touch-screen can be used to initiate AF tracking in video, with digital video stabilization smoothening hand-held 4K shooting. Plus, the microphone socket and Wi-Fi system makes it appealing as the best camera for travel for vloggers.
One customer who loved its ease of use said, “Bought this camera for a trip to a track meet to see my son race. The camera is a dream to use, fast and friendly. So glad I spent a few more dollars to carry this lightweight and powerful tool.”
But for the extra zoom, something was sacrificed. The trade-off was super wide aperture. This means that if in your travels you’ll be shooting in dark locations, you’ll miss the wider aperture.
And yes, the Sony RX100 VII is quite pricey for a compact & pocketable camera. But for all those tech capabilities packed in a teeny tiny body with a decent battery life, it’s the best camera for travel ever made – only if you have the budget for it.
If not, then the previous versions, RX100 VI or RX100 V will do. They still pack a punch at a bargain price.
Best uses for the Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII?
- Shooting photos in tourist locations with people in the background.
- Tracking mode is useful for shooting wildlife.
- Focus does not drift to the background because Face and Eye Detection stays locked on the subject. This is useful when recording interviews.
- The digital stabilization available in video recording is useful for Walk-and-Talk Vlogs.
If you like the Sony RX100 VII, don’t quite have the money, and yet need better performance in low light, then the Canon G7X Mark III is your next choice for the best camera for travel.
With a 1 inch, 20MP Stacked CMOS sensor for stills, and a fast, stabilized 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens, image quality is excellent.
The colors are pleasing and it’s capable of shooting RAW images at 30fps (and JPEGs) or 8.3fps with continuous AF. The pop-up viewfinder makes shooting in the outdoors an enjoyable experience.
Its 3” touchscreen LCD can flip-up by 180°, easily framing your face. The camera also shoots decent quality 4K videos without crop.
Plus, unlike its predecessor the G5X Mark II, this version is capable of live streaming video to YouTube straight from the camera and has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth system.
All this plus the dedicated microphone port makes it the best camera for travel for selfie buffs or vloggers.
Though the Canon G7X Mark III isn’t small enough to fit in your jeans pocket, it certainly will fit into your jacket pocket or travel bag. For easy operation, it has well-placed control buttons and a decent-sized grip that sits the camera securely in your hand.
On the downside, the camera has limited battery life and it’s choosy with USB chargers. Though AF is good, the camera cannot track subjects when burst shooting.
Overall, the Canon Powershot G7X III is the best camera for travel when you need a portable, well-built, reasonably-priced camera which delivers good image quality. It also has a fast lens and social media connectivity.
Best uses for the Canon PowerShot G7X III?
- Compared to its pricier peers, this is the best camera for travel to low light locations like sunsets over the hill.
- It’s also best for vloggers who want to snap quick, good quality videos on the go.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ200 is a pocket-sized camera built for travellers who prefer big zoom power over image quality especially in low-light shooting.
The TZ200 can take great telephotos thanks to its 1-inch, 20.1MP BSI-CMOS sensor and 15X optical zoom lens with 24-360mm equivalent focal range. With an f/3.3-6.4 aperture, the lens is wider and longer, though slightly slower.
It also offers improved color accuracy in JPEGs and low noise levels in RAW images. This makes it the best camera for travel as no other compact camera in the market combines these specs.
The 5-axis hybrid Image Stabilization keeps the camera steady while shooting images handheld. The AF system quickly focuses on subjects and tracks them quite well, shooting bursts up to 10fps.
The new Sequence Composition system uses the 4K Photo function to collect photos shot in a burst and pools them into one single image.
Though the camera records UHD 4K video, better quality is achieved by dropping to 1080p and using the 5-axis hybrid system.
For connectivity, it offers Wi-Fi and an always-on Bluetooth wireless connection. Through the Panasonic Image App, you can share images and remotely control the camera.
The body of the TZ200 is metal-built but has a rubberized grip with control buttons placed around the lenses and on the top plate. This means you can shoot cool pics with a one-handed vertical grip.
The battery allows 370 shots per charge using the LCD and 350 shots using the viewfinder. That’s very good battery life for a camera in this class. It also supports charging via USB through an external source.
With a power bank, you could use the camera for weeks without plugging it in at home, making it one of the best cameras for travel.
However, the TZ200 lacks microphone or headphone jacks. It is also not weather-sealed. The LCD screen is fixed; it doesn’t tilt or rotate like other compact cameras. The trade-off for extra zoom is a slower lens, meaning less light, which increases noise.
Overall, the TZ200 is versatile and easy-to-use because it combines long-distance reach, 4K capture, touch-screen interface, EVF and control dials, all in a 1-inch pocket camera.
So if you’ve no problem sacrificing image quality for zoom, then the TZ200 is the best camera for your travel.
Best uses for the Panasonic Lumix ZS 200?
- Its new Sequence Composition feature combines a selection of shots into one image. This is useful in your wildlife adventure like when a bird is taking off.
- This new feature combined with the camera’s long zoom comes in handy if you’re a traveller on a cruise ship taking photos of whales. It also suits a sports fan in the stands taking photos of a gymnast or ballerina performing.
The Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is the best camera for travel if you want superior zoom but at the same time stay fairly light.
Though it weighs slightly above a kilo, it handles well and balances nicely in your hand, making it easy and comfortable to use ‘one-handed’. This camera will give you an all-round experience of bridge-style compactness, long-zoom optics, and video.
First impressions tell you it’s a camera built around its lens, no wonder the sheer size of its zoom. The 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor, 24-600mm lens and 24X optical zoom delivers very high quality RAW or JPEG stills.
Its f/2.4-4 variable aperture and effective optical stabilization produces good images even in low light situations. That’s a boost when shooting subjects in sharp focus with the background blurred behind them.
The new hybrid AF system is not complicated and can be relied upon for high accuracy in most of your travel situations. This is because the RX10 VI uses the phase detection AF system, rather than the contrast detection system of earlier versions.
It can focus on still subjects, landscapes and people’s faces quickly in less than 0.03 seconds for both the wide and telephoto ends. This keeps the focus snappy even when shooting moving subjects.
In your hand, you’ll feel its excellent grip because of its body shape. Also, the rough-texture coating materials are strategically placed so that the camera doesn’t slip and fall from your hands when sweaty or rainy.
You won’t grapple with small buttons, and Sony has now included a touch screen unit and a navigable interface.
Video quality is also pleasing whether you’re shooting in 4K or full HD resolution. If you keep within the camera’s ISO sensitivity range, you can expect footage that’s very sharp, free of ‘objects’ and very little ‘noise’.
And of course, vloggers will love the reserved headphone jack port which is also compatible with external microphones for audio recording.
As for connectivity, the camera comes with an NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth system. You can send your images directly to your laptop or flat-screen TV for display or remotely control the camera through your smartphone.
This camera is the best camera for travel when it comes to travellers who want the image quality of a DSLR camera, but without the hustle of carting around interchangeable lenses.
The RX10 VI is also one of the best cameras for travel as it is weather-sealed. This means you can capture the cool moments of your worldwide adventures without worrying about weather conditions like moisture, dust, heat or cold.
However, the camera is expensive and its battery life is slightly short. But it does support USB charging, which means you can keep it running by simply connecting it to an external power source e.g. a power bank.
So if you have the budget, need a camera that’ll give you great photos and videos, and which you’ll carry around under all weather conditions, then you’ll like using the Sony RX10 IV as your best camera for travel.
Best uses for the Sony RX10 IV?
- When you need extremely magnified but detailed images of distant mountains or macro shots of flowers.
The Fujifilm is a high-performance mirrorless camera. It packs all the best aspects of Fujifilm’s X-series, mostly by combining the features of Fuji’s best-selling camera, the X-T20 and the expensive X-T3 into one portable and affordable camera.
It’s the best camera for travel for short weekend getaways with family, as it doesn’t add much weight to your travel bag.
Probably, the X-T30’s strongest point is its image quality. You get stunning, colorful and detailed images thanks to its 26MP, BSI-CMOS sensor and Fujifilm’s exclusive X-Trans color filter.
RAW files are modifiable and JPEGs look vibrant straight out of the camera. The Hybrid AF system is great and allows eye/face detection and good subject tracking. With continuous AF, you can shoot bursts up to 20fps.
If you are a traveller with varied photography needs and styles, this is the best camera for travel because it gives you the possibility of interchangeable lenses.
This casts it above the other compact cameras which have built-in lenses. It also gives you the option of a central viewfinder or a tilting LCD screen for your viewing preferences.
For a cinematic capture of your travel adventure, the X-T30 also offers UHD 4K/30p video recording. There is also a 2.5mm external microphone port and USB-C socket compliant with most headphones.
For such a small camera, battery life is acceptable. The only significant flaw is in its ergonomics. The placement of the Q-menu button isn’t ideal. The viewfinder isn’t the best for travellers who wear glasses. Also, 4K video recording is limited to 10 minutes.
With all these major strengths and only a few faults, the Fujifilm X-T30 is fantastic value for your money if you are looking for the best camera for travel.
Best uses for the Fujifilm X-T30?
- It’s the best when taking ‘people-and-lifestyles’ photos of your travels. Its small body, silent electronic shutter and tilting touchscreen allow discreet shooting.
- It’s also great for ‘family moments’ during weekend getaways as its face and eye detection system is quite responsive.
- Good for ‘artsy’ photos because the Film Simulation mode allows additional creativity.
Weighing just 504g (body only), the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III is the smallest and lightest mirrorless pro camera in the world designed for serious travelling photographers.
Being more compact and cheaper than the larger E-M1X, its weather-sealed design prioritizes portability and swift-shooting. These make it the best camera for travel to sports and action-oriented situations.
Its Micro Four Thirds Sensor and multi-shot High Res mode deliver striking 50MP images. Mark III’s in-body 7-step image stabilization makes for stable handheld shooting, even in low light locations.
The TruePic IX image processor and 121-point AF system support burst shooting of 60fps or 18fps with continuous AF.
The new Starry Sky AF mode allows handheld astrophotography, making this the best camera for travel when capturing starry skies and light trails.
Because of its powerful in-camera stabilization, recording DCI and UHD 4K video becomes smooth and effortless. Coupled with its High Speed Movie mode, you can shoot crisp video with more creativity at 120fps- using only your hands, no tripod needed.
Though the camera has a built-in microphone, there is an external mic and headphone jack for improved audio. It also sports a 3-inch, 1.037-million-dot touchscreen which tilts and rotates for selfies.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III makes the impossible seem easy. It means you get amazing images by simply packing a weather-sealed camera and small lenses in your travel bag, without the need for ND filters and tripod.
This makes it the best camera for travel whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, events photographer or professional-sports shooter.
Best uses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III?
- It’s Face and Eye Priority AF tech can track speeding vehicles & fast-moving people. Take this camera when you travel to watch the Formula One Grand Prix or Olympics 100m finals. Also useful in street carnivals and festivals.
- The AF face detect system not only sticks to your subjects when they turn their faces, but also tracks and focuses on the sides of their faces. The system also allows you to choose which face to track if the camera detects more faces in the frame. This is handy in wedding photography or when travelling to other social events.
- The Pro Capture mode records 35 frames on half-pressed shutter and 120 frames after full-pressed shutter. It’s the best camera for travel when you want to move easily and react faster to photograph wildlife like a bird of prey taking off on flight.
- Its weather-sealing protection withstands up to 10 minutes of rainfall which allows you to take good quality photos on rainy days.
The Olympus TG-6 is a rugged camera built to survive almost everything in adventures, from an accidental drop to underwater submergence.
It’s small, lightweight and easily fits into your pocket. Sporting a variety of accessories, like fish-eye and telephoto lenses plus an underwater housing, the TG-6 is the best camera for travel for enthusiasts of underwater photography.
The TG-6 features a 12MP, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor, 4X optical zoom lens, with 25-100mm equivalent focal range. It can close-in and single-out a subject from a wider scene.
The camera also sports built-in optical stabilization for sturdy photos and videos. You can also shoot bursts up to 20fps for a short duration.
The TG-6 supports RAW and JPEG image capture. Its AF system is basic but speedy, focusing on targets quickly and taking only 0.1 seconds to make an image after pressing the shutter.
As a waterproof camera, the TG-6 has to keep its lenses completely inside the body. This means that at the widest angles, aperture opens to f/2, which is good for shooting in low light. It also offers face detection priority and has a tracking mode for capturing moving objects.
The TG-6 handles well, as it has a small grip which helps in keeping hold of it on a vertical grip when underwater or with gloves. Most buttons are located on the right side of the camera, making it easy to use one-handed.
On the rear, you’ll find a 3-inch 1.04 million dots LCD screen which acts as your interface and viewfinder.
The screen has good visibility in bright light, and is also very clear and sharper, which helps in in-camera editing.
However, the LCD is not a touchscreen. Video capture at 4K/30p is possible, with three slow motion options, and you can opt for 1080p to record at 60fps.
This camera allows Wi-Fi connection which requires the Olympus Image Share app to connect to your smartphone. The app is available for Android and iOS.
There is an in-built GPS too, but always remember to turn it off, because it drains the battery even when the camera is powered down.
However, as we pointed out earlier, the LCD screen is not touch-enabled. It isn’t good for selfies. Also this camera is expensive, so if your budget is limited, go for the previous Tough TG-5 version.
Overall, the TG-6 is a camera you can take to places where there is a risk of dropping or breaking, making it the best camera for travel to your most rugged adventures.
Best uses for the Olympus Tough TG-6?
- Since it can function underwater, withstand drops and endure extreme temperatures yet still snap lifelike photos, you can take it diving, snorkeling, or rock climbing.
- As it is easy to use by virtually everyone, it’s best for family holidays, group camping safaris and beach outings or skiing in the snowy mountains.
Here are the meanings of important terms to know when buying your best camera for travel
This is the hole in the lens that lets light in. It is measured in numbers, starting with the letter “f” followed by a number, for example, f/1.8 or f/2.2. The smaller the number, the bigger the hole, and the more light that gets in even in dim locations.
This signifies the largest magnification that the camera’s lens can attain. For example, a camera with a 10x optical zoom can make objects in the image appear 10 times larger when the camera is zoomed in.
This is a number you’ll see on cameras with interchangeable lenses. It’s actually the correct photography term for optical zoom. It’s measured in “mm”, so a bigger focal length means more magnification by the lens.
This stands for Electronic Viewfinder. Though the EVF is smaller than the LCD screen on the back of the camera, they both show you what the camera’s sensor is seeing.
This is the number of pixels the camera’s sensor holds. Mega means million. Any camera with 12 megapixels (or 12 million pixels) is good enough. Anything more than that is only handy if you are going to print your photos on large-size billboards.
OIS / EIS
This stands for Optical Image Stabilization or Electronic Image Stabilization. They are technologies that offset small movements of the camera system which may affect image quality, e.g. your hand. Generally, a camera with OIS technology achieves better results.
This is a crucial specification to check when purchasing a camera. A camera with a bigger sensor captures more light, thus doing better in low-light situations.
This is a file format that allows you to save the image captured by the camera as unmodified data. Shooting and saving your image in RAW format offers you more control over how your image finally looks.
However, file sizes in RAW format are bigger than JPEG/JPG versions. Most cameras allow you the choice of shooting in RAW or JPEG or both.
Best Camera For Travel – In Conclusion
The travel cameras listed here suit a wide range of budgets, needs and expertise levels, but it is by no means an exhaustive list. Your choice of the best camera for travel depends on your needs and financial muscle.
So carefully think about which features and specs interest you most in order to make an informed decision. We hope that after reading this post, you’ll be able to choose the right camera- even if it isn’t one we’ve suggested here.