Finding the right travel camera can be an excruciating process. There are lots of things to think about, thousands of different cameras to look at and it all looks the same if you’re not proficient at photography lingo.
That’s exactly why we selected the ten best travel cameras and created this guide for you. All of them are very portable (minus a couple of DSLRs), easy to use, and will allow you to create some absolutely outstanding photographs.
At A Glance: Our Favorite Travel Cameras
Whether you’re looking to shoot stunning 4k videos, professional-looking photographs, or just selfies with amazing backgrounds, you will find the perfect travel camera for you in this review!
Best Point And Shoot Travel Camera
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Best Mirrorless Camera For Travel
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Best Action Camera For Travel
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Best Budget Travel Camera
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Best Instant Travel Camera
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The G5 X is one of the best compact cameras that exist at the moment. It’s like a mini DSLR in terms of image quality, but about ten times more portable.
This digital camera weighs less than a pound, so you will barely even feel it in your travel bag. It is also very small and thin, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your luggage.
It features a 20 MP CMOS sensor with 5x optical zoom, as well as optical image stabilization. The camera has a focal length of 8.8 – 44 mm, with an aperture range of 1.8 – 2.8.
What that basically means is that you can get some stunning portrait shots with a shallow depth of field, but don’t hope for great low light performance.
Also, this digital camera has a 3” LCD screen that you can flip up by 180 degrees – a pretty useful feature if you want to vlog your travels, or just take awesome selfies. The screen can also be flipped down by 45 degrees, and the camera even has an electronic viewfinder for really bright environments.
Another reason why I’m impressed with this point-and-shoot camera in 2020 is the ease of use. All of the controls are at the top of the camera, and they are very intuitive to use. Pair that with a streamlined UI, and you get yourself one of the best digital cameras on the market which is great for travel photography.
Honestly, if you want DSLR quality images but don’t actually want to carry around a DSLR and a bunch of different zoom lenses, this is by far the best travel camera for you.
The only problem is that the G5 X costs more than an entry-level DSLR, so it’s not that great if you were hoping to get an affordable camera.
The Z50 is one of the best mirrorless cameras – not just by Nikon, but in existence.
At first glance, it looks just like a DSLR – that’s because of the Z lens mount that allows for use of some really big lenses on the camera. But when you look at the actual body of the Z50, it becomes obvious why this is one of the best travel cameras out there.
It is unbelievably tiny! And it looks deceptively large at first glance, but that’s because of the generous grip that’s standard on Nikon cameras. The Z50 body actually weighs some 15 ounces, and that is with the battery inside.
Now, there are several options when it comes to the lens you get with the compact travel camera. You could go for just the body, but that’s useless if you don’t already own a Z-mount lens.
The other options are just a 16-50mm zoom lens, a 50-250mm plus a 16-50mm lens, or a creator’s kit that includes a tripod and a microphone. The two-lens kit is definitely the best value for money out of the bunch.
The Nikon Z50 features a 20.9 MP APS C sensor, with 4K UHD video support. It’s also great in low light. It has an LCD that flips down, which is perfect for taking selfies and vlogging. And it has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, so you can pair it with your phone and view images as you’re shooting them.
Obviously, the aperture range and focal length depending on the exact lens you use. But, if we’re talking about the standard 16-50mm lens that comes with the camera, you should know that it has an f/ 3.5 – 6.3. And it’s a VR (vibration reduction) lens, so you’ll always get really sharp and focused images.
The Z50 truly is one of the best mirrorless cameras that were ever made, but it’s also one of the priciest. It costs a lot more than an entry-level DSLR, so it’s definitely not a good idea if you’re on a tight budget.
If you just want to shoot videos, it’s a no-brainer – get yourself a GoPro action camera and you’ll be all set.
They are the best action camera manufacturer for some really good reasons, like the excellent camera build quality, and incredibly smooth videos. It’s no surprise that many people use this for travel photography and video.
The latter is thanks to HyperSmooth 2.0 – GoPro’s take on image stabilization. It works astoundingly well, and you’re guaranteed smooth and stable videos even if you’re constantly moving around.
In addition to that, this action camera can also take some really good photos. The Hero8 has improved HDR, as well as a feature called SuperPhoto. It lets you really crank up the contrast and kill the blur, allowing you to get some extremely detailed shots even in really bright conditions.
Another reason why the Hero 8 is an excellent compact travel camera for travel is its durability. This action camera is designed for people who are constantly on the move and want to capture their adventures.
This means that the brand has taken into account what might happen when you’re trying to ski and shoot at the same time – sometimes you just land on the camera, whether you wanted to or not.
That’s exactly why GoPro cameras are champions – they are extremely durable, and can survive pretty much anything short of being run over by a car.
The camera body is entirely waterproof up to 10 meters, and you can even control the camera just with your voice – you can tell the Hero 8 to start recording and then plunge yourself into the ocean – you’ll have an incredibly cool video to show for it, and a slightly wet action camera that’s still recording.
And even if you can’t afford a GoPro, why not check out some affordable GoPro alternatives?
The Panasonic Lumix ZS50 is a great point and shoot camera with an affordable price point. It retails for around $350, so it’s a good option for people who are on a tight budget and can’t afford a pricier camera.
It’s lightweight and portable, as well as equipped with some really good features. It supports RAW format shooting which is a must for more experienced photographers, and it has 30x optical zoom lens.
On top of that, the Panasonic travel camera has optical image stabilization, as well as a live viewfinder for better shots in really bright conditions.
However, the video quality isn’t that great and I would not recommend this travel camera if that’s your main focus. Sure, you get OIS, but the highest resolution you can film in is 1080p (so not 4K video!). You can get up to 100fps if you scale down to HD, and if you go down to VGA, you can film at 200 fps – those numbers aren’t really up to our 2020 standards.
But if you just want to shoot photos, it’s a good compact camera. It features a Leica lens with max focal length of 129.0 and it performs pretty well even in low light conditions. At least, it performs well for a small pocket camera – you still won’t get DSLR quality images in the dark, but they will be acceptable.
This travel camera also has a few different modes that you can use to get some unique shots.
It supports macro shots, which is great for those really close-up photos when you want to capture all the little details. And you can shoot timelapse videos in Full HD, which is pretty cool. The battery life is decent, but nothing impressive.
Have you considered getting an instant camera? They’re a great option if you want old-school photos that you can print out on the spot, but there are a few things you should know about them first.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is one of the modern modern polaroid cameras you can get your hands on. Unlike the older polaroids, the Instax Mini is very small and lightweight, making it an excellent option for travel.
It also allows you to go old-school with printing out photos and using film, like a proper photographer.
But that’s also the downside – you are limited by the amount of film you have. And since you constantly have to buy film to continue shooting, this tiny polaroid camera could eventually set you back more than a proper DSLR.
On top of that, you can forget about the video, since instant cameras can only shoot photos.
If you can live with those downsides, I think you can learn to love the Instax Mini – especially if you’re a fan of vintage photos. And this has some convenient options you can play with, so it’s not like it will do everything for you.
The camera has a macro mode that allows you to shoot objects that are at least 30cm away from the lens, which is pretty cool. It also has the ability to shoot double exposure images on a single sheet of the film if you press the shutter button twice.
Also, the sensors are able to automatically detect the brightness of the photo subjects and adjust shutter speed and exposure accordingly.
While more experienced photographers prefer to do this on their own, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to fiddle around the setting for five minutes if you just want to snap a photo.
Overall, the Instax Mini is a very niche travel camera that some people are going to love, and others won’t even consider. But it is a really good option for travel, thanks to the tiny and lightweight body.
The Alpha a6000 is another amazing mirrorless camera you should consider getting.
It’s ultra-lightweight and portable, which makes it an excellent option for travel. And it allows you to capture some stunning photographs, so it’s actually a really good mirrorless camera.
This isn’t exactly a cheap camera, but it is discounted fairly often and you can get it for less than $500. And that’s a really good deal for a Sony mirrorless camera, especially one that comes with a really good 16-50mm lens.
The camera features a 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a max ISO sensitivity of 25600. It also has an OLED electronic viewfinder that will help you get great shots in really bright conditions, as well as a tilting LCD.
And it has built-in WiFi and NFC, so you can connect it to your smartphone and view and edit photos as you’re shooting them.
In addition to that, the Alpha a6000 features hybrid autofocus with 179 focal points, which actually makes it the fastest AF in the world. That’s a pretty impressive feature for a tiny camera that weighs less than a pound and costs less than a last year’s iPhone.
But it’s by no means a perfect or most compact camera. For one, the battery life is disappointing – it will last you about 350 shots, which means that you’ll definitely need a backup if you’re a heavy shooter like me and love your travel photography.
Also, the screen can only be tilted; you can’t flip it up for full selfie mode. This means this isn’t a good camera for you if you wanted to use it for vlogging – instead, look for one that has a fully articulated LCD.
Nikon’s D series is full of some really amazing entry-level full-frame DSLRs, and the D3500 is one of those.
It’s a great option for travel because it’s really lightweight for a DSLR, and it is actually a great budget option. The camera retails for only some $400 for the body and a lens kit – if you want to get into DSLRs and digital photography, it’s a no-brainer.
Especially since Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs are so easy to use that they will blow your mind. If you really have no clue about digital photography, it’s as simple as putting it in auto mode and just pressing the big shiny button.
Yes, this full-frame DSLR is as easy to use as a point-and-shoot camera, making it a great option for people with little to no experience in digital photography.
And it has all the making of a good DSLR, so once you learn more about the different features you will actually be able to play around with them. The D3500 comes with Nikon’s classic 18-55mm lens with f/3.5-5.6, which works great for landscape shots.
You can also get the camera in a bundle that includes two lenses, and that’s only some $100 more expensive than just the one lens.
One thing to note is that the D3500 – and other entry-level DSLRs for that matter – are not that great for shooting videos. This Nikon camera can only shoot 1080p videos, and it has monaural sound. This is a bit outdated, considering that stereo has been the norm since the late 20th century.
All in all, if you’re looking to shoot mostly photos and start learning about DSLRs, the D3500 is a great and inexpensive option.
The Akaso V50 Elite is another really good action camera. It is a lot cheaper than a GoPro, but it is by no means a cheap action camera. And it has some really amazing features that will make you think twice about getting something that’s nearly three times more expensive.
Akaso has a lot of action cameras in different price ranges – you can get a basic one for less than $50, or you can get the V50 Elite for a little under $150.
And honestly, it’s worth every single penny. The image and video quality are really great, and it’s up there with the Hero cameras – but for a fraction of the price.
This action camera supports 4k video at 60 fps, and you can get up to 240 fps if you scale down the resolution to 720p. You can control it with just your voice, or with a remote control that you get with the camera.
On top of that, the V50 Elite comes with an improved waterproof case that lets you dive up to 131 feet underwater. That’s absolutely amazing – it allows you to go four times deeper than you can with the GoPro Hero 8.
The Akaso action camera also features HyperSmooth image stabilization, it has built-in WiFi and it comes in a bundle with all the mounts you could possibly need. It even comes with a 64GB micro SD card, as well as two batteries.
And all those accessories you get with the V50 Elite are compatible with most other action cameras, including the ones by GoPro. So, if you eventually decide to upgrade, you’ll have a bunch of useful things to use with your GoPro camera.
If you want a portable camera that will get you DSLR quality images, the Sony RX100 VII is the one to get. It features a stacked CMOS sensor that allows you to get some outstanding photos even in low light conditions. This camera has an electronic viewfinder that you can access with a simple push, which is super convenient.
The Sony travel camera features a 20.1 MP image resolution and an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/4.5. It supports 4K video shooting, and it boasts incredibly fast autofocus with 357 focal points.
Also, the camera has great image stabilization that works even when you’re filming in 4k, and that’s really amazing.
This is a great travel camera for both photos and videos, in terms of image quality. You will be able to create some absolutely stunning shots, and you can even get some really good selfies thanks to the screen that flips out. This also makes the RX100 VII a great option for bloggers!
It even has a built-in microphone, as well as an external 3.5mm microphone jack.
The only problem is that you’re paying top dollar for those top features. This is a really pricey camera with a four-digit retail price – it’s not something everyone can afford, and definitely not for those who just want a budget option.
You can get a really good DSLR or a mirrorless camera for the same amount of money, and I would honestly recommend those over the Sony if you want a bit more flexibility with your travel camera.
But if you just want DSLR quality in a portable package, then this is the camera for you.
The Rebel T7 by Canon is another great entry-level full-frame DSLR that could work for travel.
It’s also one of the most affordable entry-level cameras on the market, so it’s a great option if you’re ready to finally bite the bullet and get a full frame DSLR, but don’t have a lot of money to spend.
In fact, for some $400 you will get a camera body, a standard 8-55mm lens, a lens cleaning kit, a carry case, and three different filters to play with. Just put everything you get in the box in that camera bag, and you’re ready to be on your way!
The filters are an extremely convenient addition to this bundle – they’re great for experimenting with different types of shots and trying to create something unique. The bundle actually includes a UV filter (self-explanatory), a CPL filter (for reducing glare) and an FLD filter (color correcting), which will really let you step up your game even with your first shots.
Also, this entry-level DSLR has some really great features. There’s the 24.1 MP sensor, a 3” LCD monitor, a generous grip, lots of different photo modes, and support for Full HD videos.
Plus, it is very simple to use – Canon cameras always boast a simple and intuitive UI, which is what makes them an excellent option for amateur photographers.
The only thing that’s not great about this camera is its weight. At 1.5 lbs, it’s a properly heavy DSLR, so it’s definitely not the most travel-friendly option.
But, that is the weight of the camera with the battery inside and the attached 18-55m lens – the actual camera body is much lighter. All in all, it’s a really good travel camera and it’s great for people who are on a budget but still want a quality DSLR.
I long for simpler times when you could just go to a store and pick up a random disposable camera for your upcoming trip. It was efficient, affordable and you didn’t have to spend hours on the internet trying to find a camera that’s both suitable for your skill level and in your price range.
Because those are the two main things to look for – a camera that you can figure out how to use in less than an hour, and which you can actually afford.
If you’re a newbie to photography, your best options are either an entry-level DSLR – if you want to learn and get better – or a simple digital camera.
The benefit of DSLRs is that you’re getting amazing image quality even with an entry-level camera, but they take some time to master. This is okay if you actually want to learn – you will get good at it really fast, and you’ll enjoy capturing memories of your trips.
And there are lots of other types of cameras if you don’t want to lug around a heavy DSLR. We’re talking compact point and shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras, modern versions of instant cameras and even smartphone cameras – the phones of our day and age have gotten so good that you don’t even need a proper camera anymore.
DSLR cameras are arguably the ones that will give you the best photos. But they are also the least portable and travel-friendly cameras you could get, so they’re not worth it if you don’t have a lot of experience in photography, or even they will learn.
It’s not so easy to master a DSLR, and there’s always room to learn more. But that’s what makes them the best travel cameras – they are very flexible and allow you to adjust pretty much anything you want about the image, from the shutter speed to the focus type. And the pricier the DSLR, the more feature you get to play with.
However, even though DSLR cameras will get you amazing images, they are so far from portable and travel-friendly it’s not even funny. These cameras are bulky, heavy, and very sensitive.
Plus, you’ll probably want to carry more than one lens with you for different types of photos, and eventually, you will realize that you need an entire backpack just for the travel camera and all the accessories that come with it.
If you don’t have experience with DSLRs, they’re not worth it. Go with a compact or mirrorless camera instead – they are lighter, much more portable, and a lot easier to use. Plus, compact and mirrorless cameras are usually cheaper than DSLRs, so you’ll wind up spending less money on a travel camera.
The best travel camera for you will largely depend on what you want to do with the camera. If you usually just shoot photos, then it’s best to get a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.
You will be able to adjust anything you need about the camera, from the exact zoom to the depth of field you want in the photo. And if you’re looking to capture some artsy photographs, these are by far the two best camera types for you.
On the other hand, if you just want a simple camera that is really easy to use, your best bet is a point and shoots digital camera. These are suitable for everyone since there’s not really anything you need to adjust – just literally point it to what you want to capture and press that button. And you actually have the ability to mess around with the aperture and shutter speed if you want.
If you’re not interested in taking photos at all but want to capture videos, then either get an action camera or a point-and-shoot camera.
In this case, it’s all about portability – you want a camera that isn’t too heavy, which you can carry in one hand without wanting to chop it off. Or, in the case of action cameras, something you can attach to a backpack strap or a helmet so that you can capture the scenery in front of you without actually using your hands.
So, just get a camera that is a good fit for your needs and you will actually be excited to use it!
Not sure which travel camera is just right for you? It’s okay – go with one of our top three choices depending on your skill level, and you’ll be able to capture moments like a true pro.
If your main priority is shooting gorgeous photographs, go with the Nikon Z50. It’s truly an amazing mirrorless camera, it is beginner-friendly and once you actually get to learn more about digital photography, it will open up a whole new world for you. On top of that, this is ridiculously small and lightweight, at least for a camera that will get you professional-looking photos every single time.
In case you are just interested in shooting videos, I have to recommend the GoPro Hero 8 – no other camera can even come close to the level of portability and image quality the Hero 8 will get you.
You can get sharp and stabilized 4K video no matter what you’re doing – whether you’re looking to climb to the top of a mountain or dive into the ocean, the GoPro camera will let you capture everything. And you can do it hands-free, with just your voice or push of a button, which is even more amazing!
I assume a lot of you just want a good and versatile travel camera that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and that’s the Panasonic Lumix ZS50. It is a point-and-shoot camera so it’s super simple to use, and it features a Leica zoom lens with optical zoom that easily gets you some high-quality photos.
The ZS50 is also great for shooting videos in Full HD, it performs well in low light conditions and it supports the RAW format. It doesn’t get better than that if you want to stay under $400!
Head over to Amazon to see the prices of all these awesome travel cameras, as well as some image examples – if you scroll down to the reviews, you’ll be able to see lots of example images that people shot on the cameras featured here.
And check out our related posts for ideas on other travel cameras and equipment that you’re missing out on!