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The 5 Best Compact Cameras For Travel - Black Friday 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Compact Cameras For Travel
71 Cameras Tested
  • Store-bought cameras; no cherry-picked units
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Compact cameras are a natural choice for travel thanks to their portability and built-in lenses, allowing you to capture your travel adventures without carrying around a bulky camera kit. Image quality, sensors, and autofocus have continued to improve on premium point-and-shoots, too, so it's easier than ever to invest in a compact model without giving up on key features and quality. When picking a camera for travel, look out for portability and ergonomics, but also image quality, autofocus, and stabilization performance since you'll most likely be shooting on the go without a tripod. Above all, though, a camera should fit your budget and shooting preferences.

We've tested over 65 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras for travel depending on their performance, available features, and price. Also, check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel, the best point-and-shoot cameras, and the best cameras.


  1. Best Compact Camera For Travel: Sony RX100 VII

    7.7
    Travel Photography
    Body Type
    Compact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The best compact camera for travel that we've tested is the Sony RX100 VII. This lightweight point-and-shoot is remarkably portable and can easily fit into a bag or pocket, so it's perfect for traveling. It has a bright touchscreen that can tilt out for lower-angle shots or flip up to face you for selfies, and if you prefer to shoot through a viewfinder, it even has a small pop-up EVF. It has a built-in zoom lens with a decently long focal length, meaning you can zoom in on subjects farther away.

    This camera has an incredible autofocus system with 357 advertised detection points across a fair coverage area, and it reliably keeps moving subjects in focus, whether you're taking photos of moving subjects or shooting video. It also has a 'Subject Detection' mode that you can set to track people or animals. Its overall image quality is excellent, with a ton of dynamic range to bring out a wider array of detail, though it doesn't perform as well in low light at higher ISO settings.

    Unfortunately, the camera has a disappointing battery life, although this can vary depending on your choice of settings and usage habits. It may also overheat and shut down when recording video continuously for longer sessions. Still, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges over USB if you have a portable battery pack. Overall, this is a versatile little camera and one of the best travel cameras we've tested for most people.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

    Body Type
    Compact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    If you're looking for something a little cheaper, check out the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. It doesn't have a pop-up viewfinder like the Sony RX100 VII does, and its autofocus system isn't as reliable, but it's just as portable and costs less. It feels well-built and even has a small handgrip, making it a little easier to maintain a secure hold on the camera. Its screen can tilt and flip up to face you for vlogs or selfies, and it has a pop-up flash. That said, its noise handling capability isn't as good, making it a bit less suited to shooting in dimmer lighting conditions. This camera is aimed at vloggers and is a bit better suited to video recording. It can shoot video in 4k without a crop, and its stabilization feature does a better job reducing camera shake when shooting handheld. If you want to livestream your travel adventures, it also has a built-in livestreaming feature that's advertised to let you livestream directly to YouTube via a Wi-Fi connection.

    If you prioritize image quality and autofocus performance, get the Sony, but the Canon is a solid alternative if you're looking for something more affordable.

    See our review

  3. Best Rangefinder-Style Compact For Travel: Fujifilm X100V

    7.7
    Travel Photography
    Body Type
    Compact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The Fujifilm X100V is the best compact camera for traveling that we've tested with a rangefinder-style design. This premium point-and-shoot is very portable and comes with a built-in 35mm equivalent lens that should be suitable for a range of travel photography styles, from landscape to street photography. It also feels well-built, with aluminum top and bottom plates, and its dedicated exposure and ISO dials make it easy to adjust settings on the fly. 

    It features a unique hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder offset from the lens, letting you view your subjects without interruption. You can also toggle quickly between an OVF and EVF to preview how the final image will look directly through the viewfinder. Its screen can also tilt up if you prefer to shoot from lower angles. Overall, it delivers excellent image quality thanks to its 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, and its noise handling capability is impressive at higher ISO settings in low light. 

    That said, its battery performance is just okay. Its advertised battery life in photos is decent, but shooting high-quality video will drain it much quicker. It may also overheat and shut down when recording video continuously for longer periods, though battery life and overheating risk can also vary depending on your choice of settings and usage habits. All things considered, this is one of the best compact cameras for travel thanks to its premium retro-inspired design and amazing image quality. 

    See our review

  4. Best Long Zoom Compact For Travel: Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II

    7.3
    Travel Photography
    Body Type
    Bridge
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    If you'd prefer something with a longer zoom, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is the best compact camera for travel that we've tested with a superzoom lens. This bridge camera combines a comfortable DSLR-like shooting experience and long focal reach with the convenience and relative portability of having a built-in lens, making it a good choice for traveling when you don't want to compromise on zoom. 

    Its built-in lens has a 25–400 mm equivalent focal length range, so you can zoom in on far-away subjects or take close-ups and landscapes if you prefer. It feels very comfortable to shoot with and has a remarkably easy-to-use menu system. It also comes with a fully articulated screen, so you can compose shots from unconventional angles, or flip it around for selfies. Its overall image quality is great with a fantastic dynamic range, though it doesn't perform as well in low light due to its smaller sensor. 

    It's also not the best option if you want to shoot 4k footage of your travels. While it can shoot in 4k at up to 30 fps, shooting in this resolution incurs a significant 1.45x crop. Its autofocus system also struggles to keep moving subjects in focus when recording in 4k. That said, it's more effective in 1080p. Despite its shortcomings, this is still a great option if you want a long zoom range in a relatively compact package. 

    See our review

  5. Best Compact Camera For Travel Vlogging: Sony ZV-1

    7.5
    Travel Photography
    Body Type
    Compact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    If you're a travel vlogger or just want to shoot high-quality videos of your travels, the best compact camera for travel vlogging that we've tested is the Sony ZV-1. This portable, lightweight model is designed with vloggers in mind, with a fully articulated screen that's easy to flip around and monitor yourself while you record, as well as a detachable windscreen for its microphone to reduce noise from the wind. It also feels comfortable to use, thanks to its small handgrip and thumb rest.

    This camera can shoot 4k video at up to 30 fps with just a slight 1.12x crop, and it shoots 1080p video at up to 120 fps, giving you a range of frame rates and resolutions to shoot everything from more cinematic-feeling video to capturing smooth fast action that you can use to generate slow-motion footage. It delivers excellent 4k video quality when shooting in brighter lighting conditions and decent 1080p video quality, though video is more grainy and soft when shooting in low light. Still, it has a fantastic autofocus system with specialized autofocus modes and a 'Background Defocus' button that quickly toggles between a deep and shallow depth of field.

    That said, its batter performance is sub-par, though this is typical of compact point-and-shoot cameras. Battery life can also vary drastically with real-world use and depending on what settings you use. While shooting a lot of high-quality video drains the battery quicker and may even cause overheating, the camera does support USB charging, and you can use it while it charges. Despite its shortcomings, this camera is well-suited to travel vlogging, and most users should be happy with it.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a good compact travel camera that feels more comfortable to use than the Sony RX100 VII. Its overall image quality isn't quite as good, and its autofocus system isn't as consistent. See our review
  • Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II: The Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II is a good compact travel camera for enthusiasts, thanks to its physical controls and dials. It delivers excellent image quality, but its autofocus and image stabilization features aren't as effective as those on the Sony RX100 IV or the Fujifilm X100V. See our review
  • RICOH GR III: The RICOH GR III is a good compact camera with a very minimalist design aimed at street photographers. It delivers excellent image quality, but it's less versatile for traveling due to its poor battery life, limited video features, and middling autofocus performance. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Nov 10, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.

  2. Oct 26, 2021: Verified that picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given categories.

  3. Oct 05, 2021: Added the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II and the RICOH GR III to Notable Mentions.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best compact cameras for traveling 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 U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our compact and bridge camera reviews. 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.

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