This year, our trusty point and shoot camera bit the dust, and now it’s time to replace it. It was a small Canon PowerShot that we took pretty much everywhere. We loved the small, slim size, and it took great photos which is just what a good travel camera should be.
Now that we’re back in the market, we’re pleasantly surprised by the amount of great travel cameras out there. These days, most will shoot in RAW, have large sensors for capturing great photos, work well in different kinds of light, and have fast and accurate auto-focus. Some of the higher end models have features that rival that of even their equally-priced DSLR counterparts!
After digging through the reviews and features, we’ve narrowed down our list of what we think are some of the best travel cameras out there. If you’re in the market for a small but capable camera for your next vacation, take a look at our list. We think you’ll find something that will fit the bill.
Choosing the Best Travel Cameras
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Table of Contents - The Best Travel Cameras for 2018
1) Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70
2) Sony Alpha a6500
3) Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000
4) Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
5) Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10
6) Sony DSC-RX100M III
7) Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
8) Fujifilm X100F
9) Panasonic LUMIX ZS100
The Best Travel Cameras At A Glance
Finding the best travel cameras – what to look for
A good camera should take good photos period. There are several considerations that go into this equation, but for me it comes down to optics, RAW capability, and a sensor that’s quick and accurate.
Sometimes it’s hard to sift through the marketing jargon and camera features which is why I always rely on third-party reviews and real-world examples when I can. If a camera is waterproof, indestructible, comes with a 10 year warranty, and only costs $200, but takes crummy photos, I’m not interested. For most families, you only get one chance at capturing that perfect moment, so get a camera that’s up to the task and won’t disappoint you down the road.
Price is a factor (but not the largest one)
While there are expensive compact cameras and also cheaper DSLR cameras available, there has to be a balance when travelling. Most families aren’t going to be traveling around Universal Orlando Resort with a huge DSLR slung around their neck and a bunch of expensive lenses in the stroller bag. At the same time, I want a fast, capable camera that’s easy to manage and takes great photos.
Most of the cameras on this list are less than $1000 (some much more) and even fall around the $300-$400 mark, which I think is a good range. Just because I can buy a similarly priced DSLR, they have a different use and don’t necessarily make for a good travel camera. Save the DSLRs for sunrise at a National Park. If you’re looking for good cameras for beginner photographers, you might want to consider a camera that is similar to a DSLR but smaller like the Sony a6500 or the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000. Think of these as sort of the cross-overs of cameras.
Too big or heavy are dealbreakers
Travel cameras have to be easy to manage, and that means lightweight and compact. If we’re walking around a city, and I want to take a candid photo of one of the kids, the camera has to be ready when I am. Phones can also be good at this, but can also be a little clumsy and don’t always focus very quickly.
Remember, the best camera is usually the one you have with you! If you aren’t’ comfortable carrying a camera around because it’s too bulky or heavy, then it’s not a good travel camera.
Quick auto focus matters
When you’re on vacation, you will be shooting in a variety of light, at different times of day, indoors, outdoors, and everything in between. Not all cameras handle this very well – particularly in low-light situations. Make sure you get a camera that has quick, accurate focusing so you can get your shot. Your kids aren’t going to wait for your camera to decide where to focus when they’re too busy having fun.
Other features found in the best new travel cameras
There are several other features that I would now consider standard when shopping for a compact travel camera. This first is RAW shooting. As someone who likes to edit and process photos in Adobe Lightroom, I want to be using the RAW file and not a JPEG. Fortunately, most small cameras these days will shoot in RAW and memory cards are cheap, so space isn’t an issue.
Connectivity via Bluetooth or WiFi makes it super-easy to share photos straight from the camera to all of your other devices. Many even let you control the camera with your phone. WiFi is a must have for us, but if you want some of the other features, look for NFC (Near-field communications) capability and/or Bluetooth.
1″ sensors with at least 20 megapixels in resolution is becoming the norm, and all of the cameras on our list hit the 20 MP mark. We shoot with a Canon 6D Mark II DSLR as our ‘good’ camera, and it doesn’t even have that type of resolution, so there’s no reason not to invest in the future with one of these compact models.
Reviews of the Best Travel Cameras
Winner: Best long zoom travel camera that fits in your pocket.
If you’re looking for a long zoom in a compact camera, this is a fantastic option and is probably its best feature. It has a whopping 30x 24-720mm zoom lens that will get you close to your subject with ease.
Other features include a 20 megapixel sensor, 4k video shooting, and a tilting 3″ screen. Panasonic has packed all this into a camera weighing only .76 pounds and can easily fit into a purse, backpack, or pocket. If you want a long zoom, this is the best compact camera for travel. Awesome.
Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70.
Winner: Most advanced travel camera.
Sony is leading the way with its mirror-less cameras these days. These cameras are much lighter, and because of the simpler design, no internal mirror to worry about keeping clean. With a 24 megapixel sensor, the Sony takes incredibly detailed photos which is a hallmark of the newer Sony cameras.
The a6500 also shoots in 4k if capturing awesome video is important to you. It’s not as slim as other cameras in this round-up – you won’t be putting this in your pocket. Another drawback could be the price for some, as this is a higher-end model, and you will need to by a lens to go with the body. However, with superior optics, quick focus with hundreds of focus points, and huge list of prosumer features, the Sony Alpha will not disappoint.
Click here for the latest prices on the Sony Alpha a6500.
Panasonic makes a great travel camera. It seems that everywhere I look, everyone loves them, from Amazon reviews to other travel bloggers. They take quick, sharp photos and they make several different models to chose from, so you’re sure find one that suits you.
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 is a larger camera, so if you need something super-slim, you’ll want to look elsewhere. It does have a long zoom 25-400mm lens that will help you get nice and close to your subjects. It has a 20 megapixel sensor, fully articulating 3″ screen which is convenient for shooting video, which it can shoot in 4k.
Because of the size of this camera and its SLR-like body, it is a bit heavy (relatively) at 1.83 pounds, but with its host of features and mid-range price, it’s a great option. It also took top honors in the enthusiast long zoom category from dpreview.com and is one of their best rated cameras, so it’s worth a look.
Our last travel camera was a Canon PowerShot, and we really loved it. It was compact, had a great zoom, and took great photos. Canon extends that tradition with the G7 X Mark II.
This camera has a 20 megapixel sensor and also performs pretty well in low light. It will shoot video in 1080p, but not 4k, so be aware of that. It’s got a 24-100mm lens, shoots in RAW, weighs less that a pound, and can fit in your pocket. These feature in a smart, compact design make this Canon one of the best digital cameras for travel.
Winner: Best overall compact travel camera.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10 is another winner from Panasonic. It falls into the enthusiast compact category, as it has enough bells and whistles to keep even avid photographers happy.
The LX10 has a 20 megapixel, 1″ sensor for capturing sharp pictures, a 24-72mm lens to give you a little bit of reach, and only weighs .68 pounds. One drawback is that it does not have a viewfinder, so you must use the 3″ screen to frame your shot. If this doesn’t bother you, then the high marks from dpreview.com and Amazon should prompt you to give this camera a look.
Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX LX10.
Compact with high performance – this is what a good travel camera should be, and the Sony delivers. Viewfinder and focusing is fast, and the 20 megapixel sensor delivers great images. Focusing accuracy and loads of features make this compact camera a favorite by nearly all reviewers.
With all of this functionality comes a slightly higher price of course, but if you’re looking to capture the best possible images in one of the smallest packages, this is your camera. Wireless NFC make it easy to share photos and control the camera with your phone which adds to the cool factor of this camera.
Winner: Sleekest design
The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II definitely gets our vote for the coolest design in this roundup, but don’t let the looks fool you, this is a very capable travel camera. (It also comes in black if that suits you better)
It has a 1″ 20 megapixel sensor for sharp photos, 24-84mm lens for some zoom capability, and a 3″ screen. It’s also one of the most affordable travel cameras in our roundup. It weighs less than half a pound and can go anywhere.
Check here for the latest prices on the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II.
This is the only entry on our list from Fuji. That doesn’t make this camera any less impressive though, as this is an awesome piece of technology.
The Fujifilm X100F boasts a mirrorless design and a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor – one of the best in this roundup. Also unique to this camera is the hybrid viewfinder and 3″ LCD screen. Keep in mind that this is a fixed length 35mm lens with no zoom capability. With no zoom, it’s not for everybody. It will, however, reward you with great photographs, and its sleek design helps make this travel camera one to look at.
Panasonic delivers again with a great compact travel camera in the ZS100. It is a great size with capable features that can go anywhere.
It features a 1″ 20 megapixel sensor, a sharp Leica lens with a respectable 25-250mm zoom, electronic viewfinder, and shoots in 4k video. It also has a unique feature that lets you grab 8MB still photos right out of your 4k video. With a pocketable design and a median price, this is a great option.
Check here for the latest prices on the Panasonic LUMIX ZS100.
Hopefully this gives you a good head start on finding your next travel camera! Don’t forget to show us your photos!
What’s your favorite travel camera?
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