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. For many people, the best travel camera will be the one they're already carrying around in their pockets—that is, their smartphone. If you're looking to up your photography game, however, there are a ton of suitable options to choose from. Picking the right camera for your needs will depend on several factors, including its portability, autofocus performance, battery life, and price.
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. That said, for the sake of consistency and simplicity, we currently test our cameras with their standard kit lenses. 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 70 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 best travel camera that we've tested with a compact fixed-lens design is the Sony RX100 VII. This premium point-and-shoot is remarkably portable and can easily fit into a small travel bag or coat pocket. It has a pop-up viewfinder, but it's very small, so in most cases, you'll want to use the screen to compose your shots. Thankfully, the screen is bright enough to overcome glare, and it can flip up for selfies and vlogs.
The camera takes sharp, detailed photos thanks to its 20-megapixel sensor, although it's less suited to low light because of its small size and mediocre noise handling at high ISO values. Still, it has a built-in lens with a 24-200mm equivalent focal length, allowing you to zoom in on far-away subjects and giving you more control over framing without having to move. Its autofocus system also does an amazing overall job of tracking and keeping moving subjects in focus.
That said, the small size of the camera makes it less comfortable to shoot with since it lacks a handgrip and may feel a bit cramped for those with larger hands. You also can't use the touchscreen to navigate the menu, which isn't the most intuitive. As with most compact cameras, it also has a limited battery life, though this can vary depending on your settings and shooting habits. Overall, the dense feature set this camera offers in an incredibly portable package makes it one of the best cameras for travel that we've tested.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with an optical viewfinder, consider the Fujifilm X100V. Unlike the Sony RX100 VII, it has a hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder that can give you an unfiltered and uninterrupted view of your subjects and their surroundings. If you prefer to preview your photos before you take them, you can switch the viewfinder into an EVF with the flip of a switch on the front of the camera. It also has a larger APS-C sensor, yielding better overall image quality and less visual noise at higher ISO levels in low light. However, its built-in lens has a fixed 35mm focal length (full-frame equivalent), so you can't zoom in on subjects that are farther away, as you can with the Sony. Its autofocus system isn't as accurate or consistent, either, although it still does a good job, particularly with moving objects. Also, while it's still small enough to carry with you without fatigue while traveling, it's not quite as portable as the Sony.
Get the Sony if you want a more compact camera with a zoom lens. Go with the Fujifilm if you prefer to shoot through a viewfinder, and image quality is a priority.
The best mirrorless camera for travel that we've tested is the Sony a6400. This APS-C camera has a lightweight, portable body that's easy to pack up and take on the go. It feels comfortable to shoot with thanks to its large handgrip, and it's also weather-sealed against elements like moisture and dust. It also has a good battery life, so it can last for long days of shooting, depending on your usage habits.
This camera has an excellent autofocus system. You can set it to track human subjects or animals, with integrated eye-tracking, so your subjects stay in focus even when moving around the frame or popping in and out. It delivers impressive overall image quality out of the box, and if you shoot in RAW, it has good noise handling as you raise the ISO in low light. While the camera lacks in-body image stabilization, it still does a good job of reducing camera shake when using its optically stabilized kit lens.
That said, Sony's menu system can be hard to navigate, with more advanced settings being harder to find and no touchscreen navigation. Also, while the camera shoots at a quick 11 fps in its burst mode, it takes a long time to clear its buffer once you fill it up. Despite that, this is still one of the best cameras for travel, and it offers a ton of value for its price, making it our top mirrorless pick for most people.
If you want a full-frame camera that's well-suited to travel, the best travel camera that we've tested with a full-frame sensor is the Sony α7C. This mirrorless model from Sony's Alpha series is very similar to the popular Sony a7 III, except it has a more compact body, almost the same size as APS-C models like the Sony a6400. It's also weather-sealed to protect against moisture and dust.
This camera delivers fantastic image quality thanks to its 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, and its noise handling capability is superb, so you can raise the ISO in dimly lit conditions without introducing much visual noise. It has a fully articulated screen to help you take selfies or shoot vlogs, and its video quality is fantastic, even in low light. The camera's autofocus does an excellent overall job of keeping moving subjects in focus. It also has in-body image stabilization to reduce camera shake when shooting handheld.
That said, it isn't the most comfortable to shoot with. It has fewer command dials and customizable buttons than the a7 III, and its electronic viewfinder is small. Sony's menu system can also be somewhat confusing to navigate. Still, this camera has a remarkable battery life that should last for long days on the go while traveling. All in all, it's one of the best mirrorless cameras that we've tested.
While they're bulkier and heavier than mirrorless alternatives, DSLR cameras offer one big advantage when it comes to travel: battery life. So if you don't want to deal with switching out batteries or rechargeable battery packs, the Nikon D5600 is one of the best DSLRs we've tested for travel, thanks in part to its incredible battery life, which is advertised to last for about 970 photos. In real-world usage, you can easily make a full charge last across multiple days, depending on how frequently you use it.
It's also one of the more portable DSLRs we've tested. Though it takes up some space and you'll likely need a dedicated camera bag, especially if you're bringing more lenses, it doesn't weigh a ton and is pretty easy to carry around your neck or across your shoulder. It also feels comfortable to shoot with and has a highly intuitive menu system. The optical viewfinder gives you a lag-free view of your subject through the lens, and its high-resolution APS-C sensor delivers impressive image quality out of the box.
That said, if you're looking for an all-in-one photo and video camera, you should look elsewhere. It isn't meant for videographers or travel vloggers, and it can't compete with current mirrorless offerings in this respect since it's limited to 1080p video recording with disappointing video quality and autofocus performance. Still, it's a great beginner DSLR that's well-suited to travel photography if you don't mind putting up with a little more bulk.
If you're on a tighter budget, consider the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, which is one of the best value cameras you can get. This mirrorless APS-C camera is lightweight and portable, has a fully articulated touchscreen for selfies and videos, and feels comfortable to shoot with. Its simple design is well-suited to beginner users, who can also take advantage of its mirrorless technology to see exactly how adjusting exposure settings will affect the image directly through the EVF or on the screen in Live View.
On top of having an easy-to-use menu system and touchscreen navigation, the camera also delivers great image quality right out of the box, thanks to its 24-megapixel sensor. Though visual noise will creep in at higher ISO settings, it still has decent noise handling for more dimly-lit conditions. It also has a good autofocus system that does a decent job keeping track of moving subjects. While the camera doesn't have IBIS, most of Canon's EF-M lenses, including the kit lens, include optical stabilization to help reduce camera shake when shooting handheld.
However, if you're interested in shooting video while you're abroad, this camera doesn't have the most advanced video features. Though it supports 4k video recording, it can only shoot 4k video at 24 fps with a severe 1.5x crop. The stabilization and autofocus also perform poorly in 4k. That said, it's still very capable when shooting in 1080p. Considering the features you do get for the price, whether you're just interested in photography or also want to shoot FHD video, this camera is a great option for beginners or those on a budget.
If you want a more portable system, consider getting a Micro Four Thirds option like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. This camera is even smaller and lighter than the Canon EOS M50 Mark II by a little bit, and in general, Four Thirds lenses also tend to be smaller and more affordable, so your entire kit will be easier to transport when traveling. On top of that, it has in-body image stabilization, so you can minimize camera shake when shooting handheld regardless of whether or not you use an optically stabilized lens. It's also the better option for travel vloggers for that reason and because it can shoot uncropped 4k video. That said, it doesn't have a fully articulated screen, doesn't feel as comfortable to shoot with, and has a clunkier menu system and user interface.
Get the Canon if you want a budget camera with better ergonomics and a more intuitive user interface. If portability and stabilization are priorities, the Olympus is a great bargain.
Feb 10, 2022: Added the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as 'Best Budget Camera For Travel' with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as a 'More Portable Alternative'.
Jan 14, 2022: Renamed the Fujifilm X100V from 'Rangefinder-Style Alternative' to 'Alternative With Optical Viewfinder'.
Dec 17, 2021: Renamed the Sony a7C from 'Full-Frame Alternative' to 'Best Full-Frame Camera For Travel'.
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.
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.