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.
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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 or best mirrorless cameras. 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 or if this is your first camera, the best cameras for beginners 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 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 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
The Fujifilm XS-10 might not have the same external exposure dials you'd find on the X-T4 or the X-T30 but it does have a lot of other things going for it. For example, it has in-body stabilization which is super handy if you're shooting low-light stills or handheld video. The fully articulated screen makes it ideal for shooting at the hip, overhead or even recording yourself. The shutter speed button has been replaced with a mode dial which some Fujifilm fanatics may find annoying but for anyone coming from a different system, it'll feel more familiar. 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. Honestly, the X-S10 is probably one of the best APS-C cameras you can buy right now in terms of performance, build quality and price.
Read more: Fujifilm X-S10 review
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, 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
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.
The Nikon Z fc has wowed a lot of photographers; so many in fact that the firm has struggled to fill out the order demand over the first few weeks of shipping. It's not hard to see why, as this super-cool retro-styled mirrorless camera is perfect for travel. It uses Nikon's sophisticated 12-pin Z mount, enabling faster-than-ever communication between camera and lens, and the image quality from its APS-C sensor is superb. The Nikon Z fc is lovely and lightweight, but with the kind of capable versatility that makes it ideal for travel. If you don't care about looks at all, the the Nikon Z50 is basically the same camera for a lower price, but for us, the classical styling of the Z fc wins out every time.
The only reason the Z fc isn't further up this list is that the line-up of Nikon DX-format Z lenses is still pretty thin – essentially a retracting kit lens and a telephoto zoom – but that's something that will come in time.
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
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G100 review
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.
If you’re going travelling, the last thing you want is to be weighed down with kit – but at the same time you’ll want a camera that can capture any kind of subject and get as close as possible to the quality of a ‘proper’ camera. That’s what the best long-zoom compact travel cameras get right, and the TZ200/SZ200 is right at the top of the tree. The TZ200/SZ200 has a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor like those in many of the best compact cameras but adds in a long-range 15x zoom lens. This covers a 24mm wide-angle view right up to a long-range 360mm equivalent telephoto setting. The TZ200/SZ200 produces excellent JPEGs images straight from the camera and has the option of raw shooting and and 4K video. A macro mode lets you focus on subjects just 3cm away, and Panasonic’s 4K photo mode can generate 8K images from burst sequences shot at 30 frames per second. With the 4K Photo mode you can even choose your focus point AFTER you’ve taken the picture. This is the best travel camera for those who want quality and versatility, but without the fuss of interchangeable lenses.
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.
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.
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.
So we round off our list with something very different. For some travelers, the only thing that matters is a camera that can stand water, ice, dust, rain and even impacts. The Olympus TG-6 might not have the zoom range or the large sensors of other cameras in our list, but if your travel photography is based around adventure rather than sightseeing, the TG-6 is probably a better fit. With its waterproof, crush-proof, shockproof and freeze-proof design, the TG-6 will withstand a lot more abuse than the average compact, but it's not only its tough credentials that impress. Raw shooting and 4K video recording are two rarities on waterproof compacts, while the 12MP sensor had its pixel count deliberately lowered over earlier model to make it produce better-quality images with lower noise. It was a brave move by Olympus, but a refreshing one too. New Microscope and Underwater modes improve the spec over the older TG-5, which you may still lingering in some stores.
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- The 10 best cameras under $500
- The 10 best cameras for beginners
- The 10 best compact cameras
- The 10 best mirrorless cameras
- The 10 cheapest full-frame cameras
- The 10 best bridge cameras
- The 10 best selfie cameras
- The 10 best action cameras
- The best travel tripods