Mirrorless cameras tend to hold an advantage over traditional DSLR alternatives when it comes to travel photography. Generally speaking, they tend to be smaller and lighter, with faster maximum shutter speeds and fast-acting autofocus systems. Their electronic viewfinders are especially helpful for on-the-go use since they allow you to preview exposure adjustments in real-time. Still, with all of that in mind, not all mirrorless cameras are on equal footing when it comes to this use, with the best mirrorless cameras for travel having the right mix of portability and performance.
It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, an image's depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to take the kind of photos you want, but it could make it more of a hassle to carry around. For the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test a camera with its standard kit lens.
We've tested over 20 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras for travel photography. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price.
The best mirrorless camera for travel photography that we've tested is the Sony α6400. This compact APS-C mirrorless camera is quite portable, with a relatively lightweight body and compact kit lens. It feels well-built, with a magnesium alloy construction that's rated as being weather-sealed, though we don't currently test for that. Its deep, well-textured handgrip makes it comfortable to hold, and you can easily adjust shutter speed, aperture, and ISO without removing your eye from the viewfinder. Its flip-out screen is also relatively sharp and fairly bright, so you can see what's being displayed even under direct sunlight.
It has a remarkably effective autofocus system for photography, as it does a fantastic job of acquiring focus and tracking faces and moving objects. Images also remain sharp and detailed even at fairly high ISO settings, which is great if you're planning on using it in dark environments. There are a couple of extra photo features on offer, with an in-camera HDR mode that helps preserve image detail even in high-contrast shooting environments, as well as a dedicated time-lapse photography mode. Its 410-shot advertised battery life should be sufficient for most casual users, though battery life can vary drastically with settings and usage patterns.
While the menu system is decent overall, it can take some time to get used to its layout, with several functions being hidden in sub-menus. That acclimatization process is complicated by the fact that you can't use its touchscreen to navigate its menu system, forcing you to rely on physical controls. Overall, however, if you're looking for a sturdily-built mirrorless camera that's well-suited for on-the-go use, this is a good option.
If you prioritize the advantage in overall image quality that comes with a full-frame camera, take a look at the Sony α7 III. This mirrorless option isn't as portable as the Sony α6400 and has a slower continuous shooting speed, but its full-frame sensor allows for a broader dynamic range and better noise handling capability, which is great for shooting in low-light environments. It also feels even better-made, is very comfortable to operate and has an advertised battery life of over 600 shots, which is particularly exceptional for a mirrorless camera. Of course, battery performance can vary drastically depending on how it's configured and your usage patterns. Its autofocus system delivers excellent overall performance, as it tracks moving objects and faces quickly, consistently, and reliably. Unfortunately, like the other Sony, its menu system isn't especially intuitive.
Get the α6400 if you prioritize portability above all else, but consider the α7 III if you want superior image quality.
The best mirrorless camera for travel vlogging that we've tested is the Fujifilm X-T4. This premium APS-C mirrorless model is a great choice for on-the-go vlogging due to its excellent video stabilization performance in 4k and FHD, fully articulated screen that can be rotated to face you when the camera is held in a selfie position, and exceptionally effective autofocus system, which does a superb job of tracking and maintaining focus on faces. It can also record 4k video at 60 fps with a very minor 1.16x crop, so the corresponding reduction in field of view isn't very noticeable.
It feels very well-built and feels sturdy enough to deal with a couple of minor bumps, and its controls offer great physical feedback. Its twin UHS-II SD card slots are a great addition if you're worried about filling up one card too quickly or want a backup in case one is corrupted. Whether you're recording in 4k or FHD, video quality is impressive, with decent noise handling capability in low-light environments and sharp, well-rendered object edges and surfaces. The NP-235 battery also supplies enough power for fairly extended recording sessions, though real-world battery life can vary dramatically depending on your usage patterns and camera settings.
Unfortunately, while it isn't especially large compared to some alternatives, it's relatively heavy even without its kit lens fitted, which can make carrying it around for extended periods rather tiring. Otherwise, this is a great option if you're looking to do some vlogging while you're on the go.
The best mirrorless camera for travel for beginners that we've tested is the Canon EOS M50. This compact APS-C mirrorless camera comes with an easy-to-use menu system that you can navigate using both its physical and touch controls, and there's even a guide mode to help walk novice users through its features. It's comfortable to use, and its fully articulated screen is suitable for vlogging, which is handy.
It offers very good image quality, so your photos are sharp and detailed even at high ISO levels. Its photo autofocus system does a good job tracking moving subjects and keeping them in focus, which is handy if you're taking photos of racing cars. It's also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible, which makes it easy to transfer photos from the camera to your smartphone to share them with friends.
Unfortunately, it has a disappointing battery performance, so it may not last for long days of sightseeing. Also, while it offers both 4k and FHD recording capabilities, its video quality in both resolutions is middling, especially if you're filming in low-light settings. That said, if you're just looking for a simple, easy-to-use camera for taking sharp and detailed photos on-the-go, it's a solid choice.
If you're looking for an even smaller interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera, take a look at the Canon EOS M200. While it lacks a dedicated viewfinder and handgrip and isn't as comfortable to use as the Canon EOS M50, its small size makes it easy to bring with you on-the-go in your bag or pocket. Its menu system is also very easy to navigate, and novice users can use its guide mode to learn about its settings and functions. It also has very good image quality, with an impressive photo autofocus system that can track moving subjects. It even offers good video quality in 4k, so your footage is clear and without a lot of visible noise. However, its battery performance also isn't very impressive.
Take a look at the M50 if you want a more comfortable to use, slightly better-built camera, but consider the M200 if you prioritize portability and superior video quality.
Mar 29, 2021: Minor updates to the text for accuracy; no changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best mirrorless cameras for travel for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras, ranked by their suitability for travel photography. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.