Choosing the best travel camera should make it easier to capture high-quality pictures during your next trip. In this article, we’ll examine our top picks along with their most essential features and things to consider when comparing cameras.
What’s the Best Travel Camera?
The best travel camera should be easy to use, lightweight, and capable of taking stunning photos. With a quality camera, you can snap unforgettable photos almost everywhere that you go without needing to rely on your smartphone.
However, if you’ve never owned a camera before, you may not know where to start when searching for the right option. You’ve got hundreds of choices from dozens of manufacturers.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up our top 7 picks for the best travel camera.
Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Travel Camera:
- Best Overall: Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 4K Camera
- Best Point and Shoot With NFC: Canon PowerShot SX620
- Best Action Camera for Travel: GoPro HERO10 Black
- Best Travel DSLR Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL3
- Best Mirrorless Travel Camera: Nikon Z50 DX-Format
- Best Instant Camera for Travel: Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
- Best Budget Choice: Kodak PIXPRO Digital Camera
Why You Need a Travel Camera
Bringing a camera on a trip is a great way to create mementos of the places you visit. A travel camera also offers several advantages over using the camera on your smartphone to snap pictures on a trip.
With a separate camera, you avoid draining your phone battery. You may also decrease the risk of dropping or losing your phone, as you don’t need to pull it as frequently.
You can also take better pictures with a travel camera. Most cameras include larger image sensors compared to the sensors used in smartphones. The larger sensors provide greater clarity, especially in low-light environments.
You may also find that it’s easier to take pictures with a travel camera. You don’t need to unlock a phone and open a camera app.
You simply take your camera out, turn it on, and start taking photos. The camera should include a variety of settings to suit any setting. Keep reading to learn how to choose the best travel camera for your next trip.
The 7 Best Travel Cameras in 2023
We’ve got seven top recommendations for travel cameras. To choose the best options, we examined a variety of features, including autofocus, maximum resolution, portability, and ease of use.
Let’s start reviewing the best travel cameras so you can narrow your selection.
1. Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 4K Camera: Best Overall
The Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 is the best travel camera thanks to its lightweight, compact design and superb image quality. It measures just 1.74 x 4.35 x 2.54 inches with the lens retracted.
The camera is equipped with a 25mm zoom lens with 10X zoom. However, the image quality suffers at full zoom. Yet, you can still capture unbelievable images at lower zoom levels. You’re also unlikely to need to use the maximum zoom level.
The Panasonic LUMIX also includes a fixed LCD screen instead of a flip-up or flip-out design. This may make the screen difficult to view from certain angles but shouldn’t pose a problem in most settings.
It’s easy to use. You simply point and shoot. You also benefit from an advanced autofocus system and optical image stabilizer (OIS), which help you take steady, clear pictures. Along with photos, the camera includes 4K video capture and WiFi connectivity.
2. Canon PowerShot SX620: Best Point and Shoot with NFC
- Easy to use, lightweight design
- 25X optical zoom for long-distance shots
- WiFi and NFC transfer
- Uses a fixed LCD screen
- Includes 1080p video capture instead of 4K
The Canon PowerShot SX620 is another point-and-shoot camera and a close runner-up to the Panasonic LUMIX. It’s about the same size as the LUMIX and includes a fixed LCD screen. However, it offers 25X optical zoom and supports NFC transfer.
NFC transfer allows you to easily upload photos and videos to compatible smartphones and tablets without dealing with WIFI or Bluetooth settings. It’s another easy-to-use camera that you can fit in a pocket.
The PowerShot from Canon also takes great photos in almost any environment. The built-in DIGIC 4 Plus Image Processor helps ensure that your images look stunning, even when taken in low-light settings. You can also take about 300 shots on a single battery charge.
3. GoPro HERO10 Black: Best Action Camera for Travel
- Is waterproof up to 33 feet
- Includes a rugged, durable design
- Captures 5.3K Ultra-HD video
- Short battery life
- No live preview on connected devices
The GoPro is credited with creating the “action camera” category. The GoPro HERO 10 is the latest model and is built for use anywhere, including underwater. It’s waterproof up to 33 feet and includes a rugged body to protect the camera when dropped.
The GoPro HERO 10 provides 5.3K video recording at 60 frames per second (fps) and 4K video at 120 fps. You can also stream live at 1080p. While the GoPro is mostly used for video, it takes stunning images with its 23MP sensor.
It also has a feature called “hindsight,” which captures 30 seconds of video before you hit record. This ensures that you never miss anything. Earlier models offered a live preview when recording using a connected smartphone or tablet.
Unfortunately, the feature has been removed from the newer GoPro HERO 10. You can still record using a connected device but can’t see a preview until you’re done recording.
4. Canon EOS Rebel SL3: Best Travel DSLR Camera
- Exceptional image sharpness and clarity
- One of the lightest and smallest DSLR cameras
- Excellent battery life
- Has limited autofocus system and no image stabilization
- Is larger compared to most other travel cameras
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is the top choice for those who want the reliability and versatility provided by a DSLR camera. It comes equipped with an EF-S 18-55mm lens, but you can swap it out for a lens of your choice.
It also features built-in WiFi for image transfer and a large flip-out LCD screen. The variety of buttons and menu options can be confusing for new users. However, you can also take amazing photos with this DSLR camera.
It includes a dual-pixel CMOS sensor with an upgraded DIGIC 8 image processor. The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is one of the lightest and smallest DSLR cameras available. However, it’s still larger compared to the rest of the options in this list.
5. Nikon Z50 DX-Format: Best Mirrorless Travel Camera
- Is lighter and smaller compared to DSLR cameras
- Offers superior image quality
- Includes a flip-down touch LCD screen
- It is one of the more expensive options
- It may not fit in your pocket
With the Nikon Z50, you get a lighter, smaller camera compared to the typical DSLR. It measures 5 x 3.7 x 2.3 inches and weighs just under a pound. However, it has a relatively bulky design that may keep it from fitting in a pocket.
Mirrorless cameras come the closest to matching the image quality offered by DSLR cameras. The Z50 includes a state-of-the-art image processor and a 20.9MP sensor to capture clear, vibrant photos.
It can also record 4K UHD video and transfer videos and photos to your phone using WiFi or Bluetooth.
The camera comes equipped with a 55mm lens, which should work well for most travel photography situations. However, you can also use any Nikkor Z lenses and Nikkor lenses with an F mount.
6. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: Best Instant Camera for Travel
- Is an affordable alternative to standard cameras
- Allows you to produce instant photos
- Is compact and easy to carry
- Has no screen or internal storage
- Is not great for landscapes or wide shots
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the best choice for those who want instant photos. It’s an instant camera that prints a photo within seconds of snapping the shutter button.
You also get everything needed to start taking pictures, including two packs of instant film, batteries, and a storage bag. The automatic exposure and one-touch selfie mode make taking photos easier.
You can point and shoot without worrying about any settings. However, the camera doesn’t include an LCD screen. It has a basic viewfinder. It also lacks internal storage.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 only prints photos instead of allowing you to store digital photos and upload them to a computer. While you can’t take digital photos, the Instax Mini 11 is convenient for taking photos on a trip. It’s about the size of a credit card and weighs less than 300 grams (0.66 pounds).
7. Kodak PIXPRO Digital Camera: Best Budget Choice
- Is one of the smallest, lightest options
- Offers long battery life
- Is a cost-effective travel camera
- Is not the highest-quality digital camera
- Comes with a limited selection of accessories
The Kodak PIXPRO is the best choice for those with a tight budget. It’s the most affordable option on this list, but it’s not a low-quality camera. It includes a 16MP sensor, 4X optical zoom, and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. It can record 720p HD video or snap high-quality photos.
It’s also one of the smallest options, measuring just 1.05 x 3.67 x 2.37 inches. It weighs about 4.2 ounces and is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. While it doesn’t take the highest-quality photos, it’s a better option compared to cheap, no-brand digital cameras.
Finding the Best Travel Camera for You
Comparing travel cameras can be overwhelming due to the variety of options and features. To make your search a little easier, here’s a closer look at the most important features to look at in a travel camera.
Type of Camera
One of the first considerations is the type of camera you want. Most travel cameras belong to one of the following categories:
- DSLR cameras
- Mirrorless cameras
- Point-and-shoot cameras
- Action cameras
- Instant cameras
A DSLR camera is a digital update to the traditional single-lens reflex (SLR) camera used by consumers and professionals for decades. A DSLR camera uses interchangeable lenses and offers access to more features and accessories compared to other types of cameras.
However, DSLR cameras are also often bulkier and less durable. Mirrorless cameras replace the optical viewfinder and reflex mirror with a single image sensor.
This results in a lighter camera with fewer moving parts, which makes it less prone to damage. The lack of a mirror also helps improve image stabilization. Point-and-shoot cameras are among the top choices for travel cameras, due to their size and ease of use.
These cameras include a fixed lens instead of a removable lens. You’ll get less zoom and fewer settings but can quickly snap a pic or record a video. Action cameras are designed for recording the action.
They often include rugged cases to shield the internal parts from damage or exposure to the elements. You can use an action camera when skiing, boating, or capturing images of any fast-moving subjects.
Instant cameras have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Instead of storing images digitally, the camera instantly prints a photo each time you click the shutter. However, the paper needed for printing photos is often costly.
The maximum resolution of a camera doesn’t always indicate the quality of the photos that it takes. However, it’s a good starting point for comparing cameras.
The main two considerations include the megapixel count of the image sensor and the max resolution of the video modes. Some of the highest-end cameras have CMOS sensors with over 50 megapixels.
However, a 12-megapixel camera should be good enough for most situations. A 12MP image has a resolution of 4247×2826 pixels and can produce clear prints in sizes up to 12×16 inches.
You should also look at the max resolution when recording video, which is typically 1080p, 2K, or 4K. Choosing the highest resolution can produce sharper videos, even if you scale the final video down to a lower resolution during editing.
For example, footage captured in 4K and scaled down to 1080p will likely look better compared to footage originally shot in 1080p.
Autofocus also influences the quality of photos and videos. An autofocus system uses a sensor to detect which areas of the photo are blurry and out of focus. It then automatically adjusts the lens to focus on the subject.
The latest autofocus (AF) systems include hundreds of focus points. Some cameras also allow you to set autofocus points yourself. Autofocus is more important when photographing moving objects.
For example, if you’re taking photos of wildlife, you’ll likely want a camera with a good AF system.
Autofocus is also useful for street scenes and any other setting with a lot of objects or people at different distances. The AF system can ensure that objects up close and far away are as clear as possible.
Image stabilization helps prevent blurry pictures when you can’t keep the camera steady. When taking photos from moving vehicles or standing in a crowded area, you’re less likely to keep the camera level.
Image stabilization involves the use of a gyroscope to detect movement and adjust the lens or sensor accordingly. Luckily, image stabilization is a feature that you’re likely to find on most travel cameras.
However, instant cameras and disposable cameras don’t typically include image stabilization, autofocus, or any of the other electronic features found in other options.
Camera lens size is measured in millimeters (mm). 35mm is the standard lens size and is perfect for most situations. However, 50mm is the go-to option for travel photography.
This is because it’s better suited for wider shots such as landscapes or large structures. Many cameras also include adjustable lenses, which gives you greater versatility.
A compact camera that you can easily fit in a pocket or purse is more convenient when traveling. Some of the lightest options include mirrorless cameras and point-and-shoot cameras, as DSLR cameras include more components, which require a bigger, heavier frame.
WiFi or Bluetooth Connectivity
Some of the latest cameras include WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect the camera to a compatible device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and upload your videos or photos to the cloud.
WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity is helpful for travel bloggers and anyone who wants to quickly share their videos and photos with friends and family. Depending on the camera, you may be able to easily upload content to a connected social media account.
If you’re planning on taking photos in rough environments, you need a durable camera. Some travel cameras include protection against water, shock, and impact.
These cameras are also sometimes called “sports cameras” or “action cameras”, as they’re designed for capturing fast-moving action in any setting. Point-and-shoot cameras and mirrorless cameras are also relatively durable compared to the typical DSLR camera.
A point-and-shoot camera has a fixed lens and a compact design, making it less likely to break. Mirrorless cameras also have fewer internal parts, which means that fewer things can go wrong when they are dropped.
Ease of Use
You’ll likely want a travel camera that’s easy to use so you don’t need to waste time fiddling with controls to take a quick picture. Luckily, most cameras include default settings and automated features. You can stick with the default settings in most situations and still take great photos.
However, if you want the simplest camera available, you should consider getting a point-and-shoot camera. These cameras include very few menu options, allowing you to take photos quickly.
The cameras we picked cover a wide range of prices, ensuring that everyone has an option that fits their budget. Quality travel cameras can cost anywhere from $100 to $1000 or more.
Cheaper cameras tend to have autofocus with fewer focus points, which may be an issue when taking photos of moving objects. A budget camera will also likely include fewer settings in the control panel and may offer a lower resolution compared to the highest-end options.
Frequently Asked Questions
After reviewing the features of the best travel cameras, you may still have some questions. Here are answers to the most asked questions about travel cameras:
How Do You Carry a Travel Camera When Traveling?
If the camera is small enough, you can stuff it in a pocket or keep it in your hand luggage, such as a purse or travel bag. You can also purchase a camera strap for most types of cameras, allowing you to wear it around your neck for easier access.
Is it Safe to Put a Travel Camera in Luggage?
You can store a camera and accessories in check luggage or carry-on luggage. However, as some cameras are fragile, you may want to keep them with your carry-on luggage.
You should also keep in mind that extra batteries typically need to go with your carry-on gear, as most airlines don’t allow spare lithium batteries in checked luggage.
Do I Need a Tripod for Travel Photography?
A tripod isn’t an essential accessory, but it can help you take better pictures. No matter your age, you can’t hold a camera entirely still as you take a picture. Image stabilization and autofocus help, a small tripod that you can fit in a pocket may provide a steadier shot.
Do Professional Travel Photographers Use DSLR or Mirrorless Cameras?
Many professionals use both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, depending on the situation. DSLR cameras tend to offer longer battery life and a wider selection of lenses. Mirrorless cameras are lighter and more compact, making them more portable.
Are Travel Cameras Waterproof?
While most cameras aren’t waterproof, you can find action cameras and accessories designed for underwater use. For example, the GoPro HERO is waterproof up to 33 feet.
The Best Travel Cameras: Final Thoughts
Our list of cameras includes options with distinct features for different situations, but the Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 is our pick for the best travel camera. It’s lightweight, durable, and takes great photos.
At less than 1.75 inches thick, it’s also slim enough to fit a pocket. However, any of the 6 other options on our list are also great choices that we think are worth considering.