The best travel cameras combine portability with advanced features so no matter where you go in the world, you can capture all the amazing things you see. If you're going on holiday the last thing you want to take is heavy kit so both the camera and lens/lenses need to be relatively lightweight. Whether you shoot photo, video or a little bit of both, there are lots of compact mirrorless systems that won't take up much room but will produce much higher-quality content than your phone. Really, any camera can be a travel camera but these are the ones we think are best.
1) Image quality: You want to show off your travels as best you can and a good compact or mirrorless will produce much higher quality images than your phone.
2) Zoom range: Long-range zooms are popular but they can also be heavy, a wide-angle, wide-aperture zoom might be better for capturing the sights.
3) Size and weight: If you want something that can fit in your pocket, get a compact but if you don't mind taking a bag a mirrorless system is more versatile.
4) Simplicity: Don't want to get bogged down with camera settings? Most modern cameras have a full auto mode - especially compacts which takes away the stress.
Even though the best camera phones 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 and low power flashes which means they don't perform as well in low light and the flash often isn't bright enough.
Cameras also have much more zoom capabilities, regardless of whether you want to buy a mirrorless or a compact system. The zoom range on mirrorless systems entirely depends on which lenses you invest in and while the zoom range on compact cameras is fixed, some can extend to 700mm!
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 size and weight.
Second of all, we'll look at compact systems 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. It's also worth considering how much you want to use the camera outside of your travels and if so, what for?
If you're on a really tight budget you might want to check out our guides on the best cameras under $100 (opens in new tab) or if this is your first camera, the best cameras for beginners (opens in new tab)will show you to the ones that are the most user-friendly. For anyone who is off on an adventure-packed outdoors holiday, one of the best action cameras (opens in new tab) might suit your needs better as they're robust, weatherproof and can be attached to anything from your head to your surfboard.
Whichever travel camera you pick, you'll need something safe and secure to transport it in – take a look at our guide to the best camera bags and cases (opens in new tab) for some ideas in this department.
The best travel camera in 2022
Mirrorless cameras might be a little heavier and larger than compact cameras, but they give you both better image quality (through larger sensors) and interchangeable lenses. This means you can have 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.
• See also: The best lenses for travel (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 a 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, its impressive 4K video. It's a terrific all-around camera.
Readers in Europe and the UK take note: Olympus has also recently come out with the Pen E-P7 (opens in new tab), a stylish take-anywhere camera that inherits a lot of tech from the E-M10 Mark IV. We've not included it here as it's unclear when or if it's coming to the US, but it's worth considering if your budget stretches far enough.
Read more: The best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab)
The Fujifilm X-S10 is probably the best all-round 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 our top pick.
Read more: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, 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 (and the Nikon Z50 (opens in new tab)for that matter) 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. If budget is an issue, the Nikon Z50 is practically the same camera - it's just not quite as pretty.
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 travellers 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 optimised 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 traveller's camera.
People don't just shoot stills any more! 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. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results 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 regular photography. It's also a super-small, super-cute camera with a wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses available
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.
There are three things you should consider when buying a compact camera to travel with and they are size, image quality and zoom. If you can't change the lens you want to have a zoom that can capture any kind of subject, even if it's from a long way away. The TZ200/SZ200 benefits from a larger 1-inch sensor as you would find in many of the best compact cameras (opens in new tab)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.
See full Panasonic Lumix TZ200/ZS200 review (opens in new tab)
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 RX100's, the sensor and lens will probably be quite familiar. Where this camera excels is the controls, rear screen and the body. It too has the 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.
Despite the Olympus TG-6 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 in the fact it can withstand water, ice, dust, rain and impacts. If you're likely to be hiking, climbing, swimming, taking part in watersports 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.
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 meagre 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.
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 we test cameras
We test DSLR and mirrorless cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. 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.
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