Wondering what the best travel camera is? Then you’ve come to the right destination. The best travel cameras combine portability with advanced features, which means that wherever you want to go in the world, you can capture all the amazing things you see. Arguably, any camera can be a travel camera, but these are the ones we think are best right now.
Even though the best camera phones (opens in new tab) can produce really nice images, you just don’t get the same quality as you would if shooting with one of the best point-and-shoots (opens in new tab) or best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab). Smartphones are somewhat restricted by small sensors offering less pro-looking images, and low-power flashes mean they don’t perform as well in low light as the flash often isn’t bright enough.
The type of camera you pick comes down to personal preference and budget. To help you decide which is best, we’ve split the guide into two sections. First, we’ll look at mirrorless cameras which often offer better image quality and more versatility than compact systems but at the cost of their increased size and weight.
Second of all, we’ll look at compact cameras which are pretty much pocket-sized, perfect for keeping on you at all times, won’t weigh you down, and are really simple to use, although have smaller sensors and fixed lenses so are less versatile as mirrorless cameras.
The best travel camera in 2023
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Best mirrorless travel cameras
Mirrorless cameras might be a little heavier and larger than compact cameras, but they give you both better image quality (through larger sensors) and the option to change your lenses. The best lenses for travel (opens in new tab) give you the ability to capture ultra-wide-angle photos of famous landmarks and also zoom in on the beautiful details in the distance. You’ll also find that they perform better in low light.
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When picking the best travel camera, we’re focusing on portability, and the dinky but mighty Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is one of the best portable cameras around. Not only does it have an incredibly lightweight body, with tactile dial-led controls, but it also uses the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor.
While this has some disadvantages in terms of low-light capabilities, it effectively doubles the focal length of any lens mounted to the camera; so a lens that’s the shape and size of 50mm will behave like a 100mm. In travel photography, this goes a long way, helping you keep your kit size down. We haven’t even talked about everything else that’s great about the E-M10 Mark IV: its snappy burst shooting, its accurate autofocus, and its impressive 4K video. It’s a terrific all-around camera.
Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review.
The Fujifilm X-S10 is probably the best all-around APS-C camera you can buy right now. It’s got a fully-articulated screen and generally handles very well, despite having fewer external control dials and buttons compared to the Fujifilm X-T4 (opens in new tab) and Fujifilm X-T30 II (opens in new tab) having IBIS (in-body stabilization) is also a huge bonus, making it easier to shoot hand-held with slower shutter speeds, which is hugely useful for low-light work.
As with all Fujifilm cameras, the jpg images without any editing are stunning and it features a variety of different film simulation modes if you want to add a little something to your pictures. In terms of APS-C cameras, we’re hard-pressed to think of one that offers a better balance of features, performance, and price than the Fujifilm X-S10, and that’s why it’s one of our top picks.
Read our full Fujifilm X-S10 review (opens in new tab).
If how your camera looks is really important to you, you can’t go wrong with the Nikon Z fc. It comes in a choice of vibrant colors including mint green, coral pink, and dark orange so no matter what your preference is, there’ll be one you love.
When this camera was first released, it was so popular that Nikon struggled to keep up with demand (opens in new tab). And no wonder, this compact, lightweight camera benefits from Nikon’s sophisticated 12-pin Z mount which allows for fast communication between the camera and lens. The 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor delivers super high-quality images that you can transfer on the go thanks to built-in Bluetooth and WiFi.
One of the biggest downsides to the Z fc is the lack of lenses available. Nikon and other third-party brands are slowly bringing out more but we are hopeful more will come in time.
Read our full Nikon Z fc review (opens in new tab).
Travelers don’t just shoot stills anymore! For many of us, video is just as important as still images, if not more so, and it’s these vloggers and content creators that the Lumix G100 is aimed at. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout.
But even if you are uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos, you will be able to get still images with this camera. There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media creatives, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100.
By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you’re just as interested in vlogging as you are in regular photography. It’s also a super-small, super-cute camera with a wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses available
Read our full Panasonic Lumix G100 review (opens in new tab).
The Sony ZV-E10 is one of the cheapest vlogging cameras yet, and this combined with its slim dimensions makes it a perfect choice for travelers who want to shoot a little video. It comes with sophisticated built-in mics and a clip-on windshield for noise reduction, making it much easier to get clean audio on your vlogs even outdoors, and the 4K UHD video it produces is of excellent quality.
As we’ve come to expect from Sony, the autofocus is best in class, whether shooting video or stills. And that’s a point worth mentioning: the ZV-E10 may be optimized for vlogging, but it’s still a capable stills camera with 11fps burst-shooting in the tank, so don’t worry about restricting yourself with it. The ZV-E10 makes for an excellent traveler’s camera.
Read our full Sony ZV-E10 review (opens in new tab).
Best compact travel cameras
If you really want to save on weight and size, you would be best off investing in a compact camera. Generally, they have smaller sensors than DSLR and mirrorless systems so the image quality won’t be quite as good and they won’t work as well in low-light scenarios but that doesn’t mean they can’t take great pictures, most of the time. While they do have fixed lenses, lots of them have impressive focal ranges and it means you’ll never have to worry about carrying a heavy bag of kit.
Aimed at vloggers, the Sony ZV-1 might just look like another variant from the Sony RX100 range but in reality, it’s so much more. If you’ve used one of the RX100s, the sensor and lens will probably be quite familiar. Where this camera excels is the controls, rear screen, and body.
It too has a poplar zoom range of 24-70mm with a variable aperture of f/1.8 – f/2.8. The SteadyShot active stabilization maybe isn’t the best but the autofocus is very impressive. It has a vari-angle, rear tilting screen that means it’s perfect for recording yourself or taking selfies and it comes with a mic-wind shield which means its audio quality even with the built-in mic is still pretty good. It’s a great little compact camera for video and stills photography equally and delivers good quality.
Read our full Sony ZV-1 review (opens in new tab).
The Panasonic Lumix TZ200/ZS200 (opens in new tab) benefits from a larger 1-inch sensor and it also has a 15x zoom (equivalent to 360mm on a full-frame sensor).
You can shoot in JPEG if you want to use the images straight out of the camera or RAW if you prefer to edit your images first. For those who love documenting holidays through video, it can shoot in 4K and it also has a 4K photo mode that can generate 8K images from a burst sequence.
If you’re looking for versatility, portability, and advanced features without the fuss of interchangeable lenses look no further.
Read our full Panasonic Lumix TZ200 review (opens in new tab).
Despite the Olympus TG-6 (opens in new tab) not having such a big zoom range or sensor, it still deserves a place on this list. Where it lacks in sensor size and zoom range it makes up for the fact it can withstand water, ice, dust, rain, and impacts.
If you’re likely to be hiking, climbing, swimming, taking part in water sports, or other extreme sports, the Olympus TG-6 is probably a better camera for you than your average compact. It can even output Raw photos and 4K video which is pretty rare on the best waterproof cameras (opens in new tab).
The sensor might only be 12 megapixels but it can still produce great-quality images with little noise. All in all, it’s a great camera for the thrill-seeking traveler who needs something more robust and able to take the odd knock or fall.
Read our full Olympus TG-6 review (opens in new tab).
Canon makes several compact cameras with a 1-inch-size sensor, the G9 X Mark II being the smallest. At 98.0 x 57.9 x 31.3mm and 206g, it’s so compact you really need to hold one to appreciate how small this camera is.
This does mean that the rear panel is dominated by the 3-inch screen, so physical buttons are few and they don’t include a typical 4-way navigation dial. The pared-down dimensions also mean you don’t get an electronic viewfinder, but then many EVFs on ultra-compact cameras are very small and uncomfortable to use, so you may not be missing out too much.
Another space-saving compromise is the 3x zoom lens. Its f/2 maximum aperture is respectable, but by the 84mm-equivalent max zoom, this has shrunk to a meager f/4.9. But if you don’t mind the limited zoom range, the G9 X is the best travel camera when you want to spend less but still, get the image quality of a 1-inch sensor.
Read our full Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II review (opens in new tab).
Most of us want to travel as light as possible, and the featherweight 242g Cyber-Shot HX99 lets you do just that. It’s also amazingly compact at 102.0mm x 58.1mm x 35.5mm, yet somehow Sony has managed to squeeze in a 24-720mm-equivalent zoom lens.
Of course, this feat is only possible thanks to the use of a small 1/2.3-inch sensor, but Sony’s 18.2MP back-illuminated Exmor R sensor performs well for its size. It just beats rival cameras like Panasonic’s TZ95/ZS80 for fine detail capture, and low light performance is also respectable given the titchy sensor.
Extras like 4K video and Sony’s very effective Eye AF focus mode help sweeten the deal, as does a built-in EVF. This is very small, however, and you’ll have to pop it up from inside the camera before use, but at least the camera automatically turns itself on in the process, saving you some time.
How to choose the right travel camera
These are five key things to look out for when choosing the right travel camera for your needs.
1) Image quality: Ask yourself how you will use any photos or videos you capture. If you only plan to share content online on social media then any of the above cameras will be suitable as image compression online strips out a lot of image quality. If you plan to print your pictures, then mirrorless cameras with larger megapixel counts will produce better-quality prints.
2) Zoom range: What zoom range do you need for your traveling activities? Compact cameras can have big zoom ranges, but to achieve these tiny sizes, compact zooms often lack quality compared to mirrorless cameras.
For mirrorless cameras, what lenses are available? All-encompassing zooms (opens in new tab) are a great option for all types of travel, but they can also be large and heavy. A wide-angle lens (opens in new tab) might be best for capturing cities and landscapes, or if you are going to see wildlife or a sporting event then a compact telephoto lens (opens in new tab) might be best.
3) Size and weight: If you’re going on holiday the last thing you usually want to take is a heavy kit, especially given the restrictions of airlines and the expense of taking extra baggage. With that in mind, both your camera and lens(es) need to be relatively lightweight. If you want something that can fit in your pocket, get a compact camera, but if you don’t mind taking a bag, a mirrorless system with one or two lenses is a more versatile camera.
4) Simplicity: Don’t want to get bogged down with camera settings? Most modern cameras have a full auto mode – especially compact cameras which take away the stress. Unless you are keen to learn more, don’t buy a camera that offers more than you think you will need, decide what is important to you and pick your camera based on that.
5) Price: The cameras in our list have a range of prices, and we try to include cameras that suit every budget. The price of a camera usually reflects that camera’s capabilities, although all the cameras included will take excellent quality images and video, try to strike the right balance between what you need in a camera to what you can afford.
How we test travel cameras
Want to find out how we test and review (opens in new tab) DSLR and mirrorless cameras? We trial cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests will generally measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio, which gives us a benchmark by which to compare cameras.
Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera’s ISO range. Our compact camera evaluations are based on real-world testing alone.
For our real-world testing, our reviewers spend time with each camera, testing it in a variety of shooting situations and providing their qualitative thoughts on how the camera was to use and evaluating the images and video it produced.
How we choose the best travel cameras
When we are reviewing cameras, we carefully think about what scenarios each camera could be used for. When considering which cameras would make ideal travel cameras, we judge each camera on how small and lightweight it is for easy packing and transport, as well as carrying for long periods of the day while out exploring.
We also consider the technical capabilities of each camera, and how suitable they are specifically for travel photography scenarios from beach vacations to safaris, to city breaks. Finally, we consider the price of the cameras to select options that cover a range of budgets and requirements.
We use our real-world experience with each camera and our in-depth camera knowledge to determine a final selection of top cameras that we would recommend as the ideal camera traveling companions.
Is a DSLR or mirrorless camera better for travel photography?
Often when using cameras for professional work, it can come down to personal preference of if you prefer using a DSLR or mirrorless camera. However, as a travel camera, mirrorless cameras are usually the better choice for most people. Mirrorless cameras offer much smaller and lighter sizes than DSLR cameras, and also usually have a selection of smaller and lighter lenses to match. This makes traveling with the camera easier as it takes up less space and weight in increasingly restricted carry-on bags. Mirrorless cameras also are generally newer than DSLR cameras and most likely have more modern technology, making photography and video easier to capture and of better quality.
What is the best DSLR camera for travel photography?
DSLR cameras are still great cameras, although mirrorless cameras have become much smaller making them more ideal travel cameras. If you have already invested in a lot of DSLR lenses though then buying a new DSLR camera makes sense. You will still want to aim for a small and light camera that easily fits into a bag or suitcase. My top picks for travel DSLR would be the Canon EOS Rebel T7 (EOS 2000D) or the Nikon D3500, both these cameras fulfill the criteria for travel cameras outlined above and will produce stunning images of your adventures.