Bags packed for your next adventure? All you’re lacking is the best travel camera for your buck. The best travel cameras fuse lightweight with durability and plenty of features. No one wants to haul around a separate bag for lenses and camera bodies for a family vacation. Unless you’re me and are completely obsessed with camera gear.
Some will think you have a camera in your pocket. Your smartphone. That’s true but stick with it for the selfies and quick pictures you’ll take on your travels. For better image quality, you can’t go wrong with a dedicated camera – be it a point-and-shoot, mirrorless or DSLR.
Smartphones do everything. Cameras stay in their lane and do one thing (or two) extremely well – pictures and now video.
Below are our picks for the best travel cameras of 2019. We have you covered, no matter what you’re looking for. Need the best compact travel camera? How about vlogging? Or a budget option that gives you the best bang for your buck? Check out the links below to jump straight to the camera that fits your needs.
It will depend on your use case and budget, but some of the best compact cameras for travel photography include:
Sony RX100 VII (Amazon / B&H) / Adorama)
Canon PowerShot G7 Mark II (Amazon / B&H) / Adorama)
Sony RX100 VI (Amazon / B&H) / Adorama)
Sony a6600 (Amazon / B&H) / Adorama)
In terms of features and value, the Sony RX100 VII is the best small camera for travel. It’s compact with features and specs that rival full-frame cameras.
It’s a variety of cameras. Many use the Sony RX100 series, while others will defer to the Canon PowerShot series. It comes down to budget and what you’re comfortable with. Some vloggers even head towards full-frame setups on gimbals. If you have the budget, the sky is the limit when it comes to cameras.
Yes and no. The GoPro is an excellent action camera that can take a beating. Where it falls a bit is on the audio side. You’re also not going to have the image quality you’ll get out of a dedicated camera. Now, if your travels include a lot of hiking, swimming, diving, or a lot of activity in general, it’s a fantastic second camera. It can grab the shots you wouldn’t dare use another camera for thanks to its ruggedness. The GoPro or the Osmo Action can take a beating, shrug it off, and keep filming. If you’re heading to a spot where you need durability, then a GoPro or similar action camera is a must-have.
The Best Compact Travel Cameras
These are the only cameras on the list which truly fit in your pocket. While not as feature-packed as a mirrorless or DSLR camera, the point-and-shoot market has stepped up its game in recent years, packing an insane amount of features into the perfect size. You won’t be swapping out lenses, and if you need a grab-and-go setup, these won’t steer you wrong.
The Sony RX100 VII is the best travel camera of 2019
Out of all the compact point-and-shoot cameras, the Sony RX100 line is head and shoulders above the competition. The latest is the Sony RX100 VII, which combines technology seen in the company’s mirrorless cameras into a camera that fits into your pocket.
It’s the most expensive point-and-shoot at $1200, but it packs features normally reserved for cameras hitting the $4000+ mark. It has the fastest autofocus at 0.02 seconds, real-time tracking, real-time eye AF, 4K image stabilization, and a 24-200mm zoom lens. Yes, it’s that feature-rich. The industry has taken to calling the camera a baby a9 due to its laundry list of features.
If you’re looking for the best travel camera for vloggers, you’ll be hard-pressed to find arguments against it.
What You’ll Love: Almost everything. It has 4K video with no recording limits. An autofocus system normally found in full-frame cameras. A burst rate that rivals the most expensive sports and wildlife cameras. All in the palm of your hand.
What You Might Not: The price. $1200 is steep. It gets you close to a full-frame body like the Sony a7 III. However, the $1200 is your only cost. You’re not shelling out more cash for lenses. It’s a one-stop-shop. If you know your end goal is travel and perhaps some vlogging, there’s not a better option on the market in terms of compact cameras.
Sony RX100 VI
Want one of the most feature-packed cameras with a point-and-shoot footprint? The Sony RX100 VI fills that role and then some. It’s the successor to the RX100 V and is on its way to claiming the mantle as the best all-around travel camera. If you’re not a photographer, you can make the argument it is the best camera for the average person.
Whereas the RX100 V kept within the 24-70mm (35mm equivalent), the RX100 VI stretches out with a 24-200mm equivalent zoom. You lose a bit on low light, but for travel purposes, it won’t show.
Like the camera before it, the RX100 VI has a blistering fast AF system, shoots 4K video (adding HDR in this generation) and bursts up to 24fps for 233 shots. It starts to show some strain on the processor and AF if you’re looking to push the camera to its limits.
Weight: 10.7 oz.
What You’ll Love: While surpassed by the RX100 VII, the VI is still a monster of a compact camera. 4K video with HDR. Extremely fast burst rate. All in the palm of your hand.
What You Might Not Like: It’s expensive. The RX100V is just as capable for a couple of hundred dollars less. However, if you’re looking for a travel camera, the 200mm zoom is one hell of a selling point.
Sony RX100 V
Now the older sibling, the RX100 V comes complete with 4K video, a burst rate of 24 frames per second and a 315-point phase-detection autofocus system.
For comparison, all previous RX100 models used contrast detection. You are getting professional-level features in a camera that fits in your pocket. It’s paired with a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm lens and an electronic viewfinder. All of this comes with a price tag of nearly $900, but the Sony RX100 V is the best point-and-shoot travel camera on the market in terms of value.
Weight: 10.6 oz.
What You’ll Love: It’s similar to the RX100 VI, and enjoys the older generation pricing.
What You Might Not Like: While cheaper than the new RX100 VI, it still hits $900 placing it out of reach for budget travelers. In the $1000 pricing area, you are edging close to affording a mirrorless or DSLR. The flipside of the argument is you want a point-and-shoot for a reason. No dealing with extra lenses and it fits in your pocket.
The counterpoint to the Sony RX100 V is the first-generation RX100. If you don’t need 4K video and all the latest technology, it gives nearly the same image quality in a package under $400. The six hundred dollar difference does have a lot of features being left on the table.
There is no electronic viewfinder, and the autofocus is orders of magnitude inferior to its latest successor. But, it does feature a Carl Zeiss 28-100mm lens giving it a slight edge over the RX100 V. Not bad for a camera showing its age against the current generation of point-and-shoots.
Weight: 10.5 oz.
What’ll You Love: It’s a fantastic deal at sub-$400 and is one of the best budget travel cameras out there.
What You Might Not: It lacks 4K video, the burst rate and there’s no electronic viewfinder.
Canon Powershot G-Series
Three cameras at varying price points. The budget Canon is the Powershot G9 X. It lacks some of the features and zoom of its pricier siblings, but at $429, you’re getting the same image sensor as the pricier G5 X. What you’re not getting in the Canon PowerShot G9 X is an optical viewfinder or articulating LCD screen.
Canon has been coming on strong of late with its point-and-shoots to counter Sony’s mad rush into the market. They may not have the absurd features of the RX100 V, but don’t sleep on Canon. It’s a stalwart in the photography industry for a reason.
Sony RX10 IV
Rounding out travel point-and-shoots is Sony stretching the definition to a breaking point. If you like the feel of a pro-style DSLR or mirrorless ILC, but don’t want to buy one, I present the RX10 IV.
Imagine the RX100 VI went cannibalistic for a minute and ate two of its pals. That’s what the Sony RX10 IV. 200mm not enough zoom for you? No problem, because here’s a 600mm equivalent.
If you know without a doubt this is the camera for you; then it has everything you like about a pro-style camera without the downside. 4K video, high burst fps, a Zeiss 24-600mm f2.4-4 lens, and a 315-point phase-detection AF system. Priced at $1700.
Weight: 38.6 oz.
What You’ll Love: The ultimate travel camera. While it’s hard to call it a point-and-shoot, it technically is making it the most feature-packed on the list. The zoom is incredible, and if you want one camera without the stress of adding lenses, the RX10 IV is that camera.
What You Won’t: It’s the same size as most DSLR or mirrorless ILC cameras. And for some, more expensive. And only having a one-inch sensor hampers it when you start talking image quality. It’s my inner photographer screaming, but there are other options. But my wishlist isn’t yours. The RX10 IV is the complete travel camera.
Want more than a point-and-shoot? A DSLR fills that void and offers an array of options for any budget. Like a mirrorless camera, you will need lenses, so it’s best to find a prime and zoom to fill out your kit. You want to maximize weight and versatility.
Most DSLRs at even the lowest price points come with built-in WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and the manufacturers own app to easily port pictures to your phone or laptop.
The flagship APS-C camera from Nikon. Imagine the D3400 went off to college as the ugly duckling and came back a swan. There’s that much difference between the two. It’s award-winning and is on par with the Nikon D5, the flagship full-frame for a fraction of the cost.
It is simply a dream to shoot. Dual memory card slots, including one for XQD memory, excellent battery life, a continuous shooting speed of 10 fps, 4K video and incredible low light capability. It’s pricier, but more than worth the cost. You are getting everything in the D5 crammed into the D500.
Weight: 1.9 pounds
What You’ll Love: Everything. It’s my favorite camera. Well, you may hate life with snapbridge, but Nikon is working on getting it fixed.
What You Might Not: Snapbridge. Honestly, I’m used to popping the SD card out and heading for a laptop, but I see the benefits of having all the images transferred via Bluetooth to my smartphone. It makes for easy sharing on social media. And I wish it had a better LCD screen, but that’s the argument for every camera.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II shoots at 20.2 megapixels and matches the D500 on continuous shooting at 10fps. While it doesn’t shoot 4K video, it does have the Dual Pixel CMOS AF to allow for crisper video at 1080p. It’s a bit of bummer Canon continues to lag in the race towards 4K.
The 65-point cross-type AF makes for a great travel companion, and the price tag does include an 18-135mm IS STM Lens. There are some tradeoffs between it and the Nikon D500, but once you get into these prices, it becomes about brand preference over features.
Weight: 2.01 pounds
What You’ll Love: The speed of firing off ten frames per second is great. It never gets old.
What You Might Not: No 4K and the AF system is not as good as the Nikon D500. Seriously Canon, where is the 4K?
Travel Mirrorless Cameras
What about fusing the best of a point-and-shoot and a DSLR. That’s what you’re getting with an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. We enjoy the compact design and the versatility of adding lenses to fit whatever situation we run across. Be sure to check out our best mirrorless camera guide.
Sony a7r IV Will Light up Travel Landscape Photography
The megapixel monster on the list. Sony’s a7r IV is the followup to the a7r III, and thankfully the price held at $3500. Its headline feature is the 61-megapixel sensor. If you plan on taking it on an extended trip, make sure you pack plenty of high-capacity SD cards. You’ll need it when snapping up to 10fps.
If you don’t want the full resolution, you can take advantage of the APS-C mode which crops in at 26.2 megapixels. Unless you’re into the fine details, that resolution is plenty and gives the added bonus of acting as a bit of a zoom lens.
4K video is capped at 30fps with no recording limits. The overheating issues which plagued Sony in older generations are gone. It’s a slight redesign with better ergonomics. Those used to older DSLR cameras will appreciate the beefier grip.
Human and animal eye AF are both represented here and are continually praised by critics. With a full-frame mirrorless camera, you will need lenses. You can opt for the Sony G Master line, or save quite a bit of money with the new Tamron lenses like the 17-28mm f/2.8 and the 28-75mm. Comparable lenses from out of the Sony G line hit over $2000 each. Compare that to $900 each for the Tamron lenses, and you can extend that vacation with excellent image quality.
Sony a7 III
It’s in our mirrorless camera guide, but right now, there’s not a better full-frame mirrorless on the market in terms of value. It’s a sub-$2000 full-frame camera with features borrowed from Sony’s flagship, the a9. It hits all the right notes and more than outstrips its competition.
Sony refers to it as the basic model, but the list of features is anything but basic. It may not have the obscene MP count as the a7r III, but the new 24MP sensor handles itself quite well in the sharpness, detail and low light categories. And it launched at the perfect time. Sony’s E-mount system is enjoying a surge in third-party support. Sigma announced its entire Art line would be available as native E-mount lenses. Granted, it looks like Sigma just attached the adapter to it permanently, but it does work.
Those in the market for a great camera at an even better price can’t go wrong. Now you have to find one in stock.
Nikon Z6 & Z7
Nikon’s first serious foray into the mirrorless camera world resulted in two cameras. The Nikon Z6 and Z7. Think of the two like this. The Z6 is a direct competitor of the Sony a7 III, while the Z7 is targeting the a7r III. Do the cameras match the specs of its competition? Yeah, you know it’s coming. It depends.
If you’re a Nikon user already and have a stack of lenses, the answer is yes. The adapter is for F-mount lenses offers near-native AF support. Nikon is promising quite a lens lineup with its new Z-mount, but that’s in the future. Most travelers will not be inclined to carry around the massive f/0.95 Noct lens when it releases. Especially with it being manual focus.
However, if you have a few Nikon lenses lying about our can get your hands on some, the new Nikon Z series is worth considering.
Sony a7r III
Before the launch of the a7 III, Sony’s a7r III was heralded as the best mirrorless ILC on the market. And for some, it still retains the title. The megapixel count is outstanding, and while it didn’t grab the AF system from the a9, the a7r III did borrow the battery tech from the a9, and its AF is no slouch. It’s a bit more expensive than the a7 III, but considering its competition the price range, it is one of the better values.
A few negatives on both Sony cameras are the lack of weather sealing and its odd resistance to making use of its touchscreen. On the weather sealing, there is some, but not on par with what you find on Canon and Nikon. The touchscreen? I honestly have no idea why Sony doesn’t use the feature for its cumbersome menu system. Maybe one day. Neither issue is a deal-breaker, but something to know before you decide which camera earns a spot in your suitcase.
Want to make new friends on your travels? Have a stylish camera. Fujifilm wins that race every time with the X-T3 camera. It’s actually mind-boggling how many features the camera has. And Fuji kept it the same price as the previous generation, the X-T2. It can be forgiven for lacking IBIS when it handles 4K at 60 frames, enough color profiles to make the next camera blush, and Fuji’s color science.
Want the options of a full-frame camera without the bulk? The answer lies with the Sony a6600. It adds a bit of size over the a6500, but you want the extra room in the grip. It houses Sony’s new Z-battery which more than doubles the battery life over other Sony APS-C cameras. That alone is enough to justify the $1400 price tag.
It comes complete with a new 24.2-megapixel sensor alongside an autofocus system that borrows heavily from Sony’s flagship full-frame cameras. Unlike the a6400 and a6100, the a6600 comes with IBIS, allowing for handheld 4K video. It’s not perfect, so for ultra-smooth footage, you’ll want either a tripod or a gimbal if you plan on moving around.
On the lens front, Sony finally gave APS-C fans some love with a new 16-55mm f/2.8 G Master lens and a 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 for those looking for the ultimate zoom lens. The 16-55mm fills the void of a 24-70mm normally found on full-frame cameras.
If you’re on a tight budget that precludes you from grabbing a full-frame camera, or you prefer the APS-C footprint, the a6600 is the latest flagship with all the technology found in more expensive camera bodies.
It’s the former flagship crop sensor mirrorless out of Sony. With prices nearing sub-$1000, it’s feature-rich with IBIS (in-body image stabilization), 4K video, excellent image quality, and the list goes on. If you want something portable which packs a punch, it’s hard to go wrong with an a6500.
Canon EOS M6 II
Canon’s answer to Sony’s deluge of compact mirrorless cameras is the EOS M6 II. It one-ups Sony in the sensor department with a 32.5-megapixel CMOS sensor paired with the company’s DIGIC 8 image processor. The included kit lens comes in under the price of the a6600, but the EOS M-series of cameras suffers from a lack of lenses.
Still, the EOS M6 II marks a shift from Canon in supporting its mirrorless APS-C line. The second-generation M6 marks a change in the company away from nerfing its cheaper bodies in favor of its flagships. For the longest time, finding Dual Pixel AF was near impossible unless the camera was well north of $2000. The same was true of 4K video. With the rise in competition, Canon has shifted towards improving the baseline specs of cheaper, more compact travel cameras. You can now get the topline specs found in their flagships at a discount.
It’s still not comparable to Sony, which has a release schedule that dwarfs all other companies, but the specs are right there with the models that are released.
Canon EOS R
Canon didn’t want to be left out of the mirrorless craze and released its own in 2018. The Canon EOS R is one of those odd camera announcements. Tons of intriguing features and more than its share of ‘why Canon?’ additions. The flip-out screen is great for those digital nomads among us. It borrowing the sensor off the Canon 5D IV is a bit of a head-scratcher. It adds to the cost and doesn’t add much to the equation.
One area the EOS R hit it out of the par was the lens lineup. Everything at launch is solid and worth snapping up. It’s either that or those with Canon lenses sitting in a box can opt to use the adapter for near-native performance.
That’s a Wrap on the Best Travel Cameras of 2019
The options are as limitless as your destinations of choice. Do you pick the point-and-shoot or opt for the versatility of a mirrorless or DSLR? There is something for every budget above. But remember, it all comes down to you. Learn how to use it, and the images will be as stunning as the memories you create on the road. Be sure to check out our other guides on the best mirrorless cameras, drones for sale and DSLRs.