A good camera can make for an indispensable travel companion, allowing you to capture your adventures to share with friends and loved ones, but it can be hard to pick the right camera for your needs when there are so many options to choose from. Picking the right travel camera depends on several factors, including its portability, autofocus performance, battery life, and type of camera.
It's important to remember that the lens you use with an interchangeable lens camera can significantly affect your ability to adjust exposure settings. Your lens affects aperture, focal length, depth of field, autofocus, stabilization performance, and maximum zoom capability, meaning camera performance can differ significantly depending on your chosen lens and settings. For these reasons, we test our cameras with their standard kit lenses to help with consistency. As a general rule, however, it's better to invest in a less expensive camera body and higher-quality lenses than to invest in an expensive camera body and cheap lenses.
We've tested over 65 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for travel photography depending on their performance, available features, and price. You can also check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel, the best point-and-shoot cameras, and the best cameras.
The Sony RX100 VII is the best camera for travel that we've tested with a compact fixed-lens design. This camera is incredibly lightweight and portable but still manages to fit in a pop-up EVF if you prefer to shoot through a viewfinder as well as a pop-up flash. It has a relatively large screen as well, which is bright enough to overcome glare and tilts out to help you shoot from different angles or flip up for selfies.
The camera's built-in lens has a 24-200mm full-frame equivalent focal length, allowing you to zoom in on subjects that are farther away or take wider-angle landscape shots. It delivers excellent overall image quality with superb dynamic range and relatively good noise handling capability, though it's less suited to shooting in low light due to its small sensor size. The camera also has a remarkable autofocus system with over 350 detection points, and it reliably keeps moving subjects in focus.
Unfortunately, like most compact cameras, it has a limited battery life, though battery performance can vary with different settings and usage habits. It may also overheat and shut down when recording video continuously using its highest quality settings. On the upside, though, you can keep using it while it charges over USB, which is handy if you have a portable battery pack. All in all, this is still one of the best point-and-shoot cameras we've tested.
If you'd prefer a camera with an optical viewfinder, consider the Fujifilm X100V. Unlike the Sony RX100 VII, its built-in lens has a fixed focal length, making it less versatile for zooming in on subjects that are farther away, but it has a hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder that can give you an unfiltered and uninterrupted view of your subjects. If you prefer to preview your photos before you take them, you can switch the rangefinder into an EVF with the push of a switch on the front of the camera. It also has a larger APS-C sensor, so it yields better overall image quality and less visual noise at higher ISO levels in low light. That said, its autofocus system isn't as smooth or consistent, though it still does a good job overall, particularly with moving objects. It's also a bit larger and less portable, though it's still small enough to carry with you while traveling.
Get the Sony if you want a more portable camera with a zoom lens, but if image quality and having an OVF are priorities, the Fujifilm is a great alternative.
The Sony α6400 is the best camera for travel that we've tested in the mirrorless category. It's impressively portable for an interchangeable lens camera, with a well-constructed rangefinder-style body, comfortable handgrip, and well-spaced controls. Its screen can also tilt out if you want to compose shots from lower angles or flip up to face you for selfies. Depending on your settings and usage habits, it also has good battery life.
It delivers impressive overall image quality, with excellent dynamic range to bring out a wider array of detail in high-contrast scenes, and its 24.2-megapixel sensor has good RAW noise handling capability at higher ISO settings, so it performs well even in low light. Its autofocus system has 425 advertised detection points and does an amazing job of keeping moving subjects in focus in photos, and it's even more consistent when shooting video. Overall, the video quality is great if you want to shoot travel vlogs as well as photos.
Unfortunately, the camera lacks in-body image stabilization, meaning you have to rely on your lens' optical stabilization. With its kit lens attached, it does a good job of stabilizing photos and reducing camera shake in 1080p video when shooting handheld, but it works poorly when shooting 4k video. Despite that, this is still one of the best cameras for travel that we've tested, and most people should be satisfied with it.
If you'd like a camera with a full-frame sensor for better low-light performance, check out the Sony α7C. It's considerably more expensive than the Sony α6400 and just a tad bigger, but it manages to fit a full-frame sensor into a relatively compact body. It has a fully articulated screen that makes it easier to shoot from unconventional angles or make vlogs. It delivers fantastic image quality and has exceptional RAW noise handling capability, making it well-suited to shooting in low light. Its autofocus system is also incredible and consistently keeps moving subjects in focus, whether taking photos or shooting video. It also has a remarkable battery life that should last throughout a day, and it features in-body image stabilization. However, it still does a disappointing job reducing camera shake when shooting video in 4k.
Go with the α6400 if you have a smaller budget and portability is your priority. If you want better overall image quality and low-light performance, the α7C is a great alternative.
If you're looking for a DSLR, the best DSLR camera for travel photography that we've tested is the Nikon D5600. This APS-C camera feels comfortable to use thanks to its textured handgrip, well-spaced controls, and easy-to-navigate menu system. It's not the most robust camera, but it's lightweight and fairly portable for a DSLR camera. Going with a DSLR is also a good choice if you prefer to have an optical viewfinder to get an unfiltered view of your subjects.
The camera has a fully articulated screen to help you compose shots from different angles, and the screen is more than bright enough to overcome glare in sunny conditions. While it doesn't support USB charging, the camera also has an exceptional battery life advertised to last for approximately 970 photos, so a full charge should last you for a day on the go, depending on your settings and usage habits. Overall, it delivers great image quality, with excellent dynamic range and relatively minimal noise. However, you may notice luminance noise at moderate ISO levels, so it's better suited to daytime shooting.
Unfortunately, this isn't the best choice if you're interested in shooting video. It doesn't support 4k video, and while it offers a few frame rate options in 1080p, its autofocus system performs poorly, especially when it comes to tracking and keeping moving faces in focus. Video quality is also disappointing. Still, this is a good option if you're looking for an entry-level DSLR that's well-suited for traveling.
Nov 17, 2021: Verified accuracy and availability of picks; no change to recommendations.
Oct 27, 2021: Verified that picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given categories.
Oct 06, 2021: Replaced the Sony a7 III with the Sony a7C as the 'Full-Frame Alternative' to the Sony a6400.
Sep 15, 2021: Reviewed picks for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best travel cameras 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 of our camera reviews, 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.