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Best travel camera 2021: the 16 finest choices for your next adventure

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Included in this guide:

Sony RX100 VII
(Image credit: Future)

Looking for the best travel camera you can buy? This is the guide you need. From pocketable compacts to lightweight mirrorless models, we’ve tested all of the top travel cameras. So whether you’re staying local, flying far away or planning an action-packed adventure, you’ll find you ideal travel camera down below.

Which is the best travel camera you can buy? We think the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 is the top travel camera for most people. It’s small enough to go unnoticed, yet features a large 1-inch sensor which dwarfs your smartphone’s snapper. It’s also equipped with a versatile 15x zoom range to get you closer to the action, plus manual control options for extra creativity on the road. It’s not the newest travel camera you can buy, but it’s still top of the list.

That said, there might be a better travel camera out there for you. Which model suits you best will depend on your specific expectations and budget. If you want something super portable for quick and easy travel clips, for example, an action cam like the GoPro Hero 10 Black might most suitable.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to focus on street photography while you travel, you could find that Fujifilm’s X100V is right up your alley. It’s a niche but brilliant compact with a fixed 23mm, f/2 lens that’s ideal for capturing candid snaps while you’re out and about.

Whatever type of travel camera you’re looking for, you’ll find a great option featured here. Each model in our list has been recommended because it offers a fantastic combination of features for travelers, whether that’s a lightweight, compact body, a huge zoom range or the versatility to shoot steady 4K footage. There are cameras here to suit every type of traveller, and we keep our buying guide regularly updated so you can always find the perfect choice for your next trip.

Best travel camera in 2021:

The best travel zoom camera you can buy right now

Specifications
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-360mm, f/3.3-6.4
Monitor: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,240K dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner/Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Large 1.0-inch sensor+Decent 15x zoom
Reasons to avoid
-EVF still feels pretty cramped-Expensive for a compact

With the rise of high-end compacts like the excellent Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V stealing the thunder from compact travel zooms, Panasonic's response has been to keep the camera body about the same size as its earlier ZS/TZ-series cameras but to squeeze in a much larger sensor. We saw this with the Lumix ZS100 (known as the Lumix TZ100 outside the US), and Panasonic has continued this with the newer Lumix ZS200 / TZ200. 

This physically larger 1in sensor enables much better image quality than would otherwise be the case, but the slight downside is that the zoom range from the lens isn't quite as extensive as some others with smaller sensors. That said, The ZS200 / TZ200 still sports a very versatile 15x zoom, while there's also a handy built-in electronic viewfinder, which makes it easier to compose images in bright light. It's a bit pricey, but this is still the best travel zoom compact camera available right now.

Sony RX100 VII

(Image credit: Future)

Sony's pocket powerhouse gets another upgrade

Specifications
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-200mm, f/2.8-4.5
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921K dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 90fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Blistering performance and AF+High-quality EVF
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life -Pricey for a compact

Sony revolutionized premium compact cameras with the original RX100 as it was the first pocket-sized camera to feature a large 1.0-inch sensor. They were always great for travel, but thanks to a relatively limited zoom lens, were perhaps sometimes overlooked in favour of other models. Things changed when we got to the RX100 VI, which paired a much longer lens than ever before - and now we've seen some refinement of the model for the latest, the RX100 VII. 

The sacrifice for making the lens longer is losing the super wide aperture of previous generations, but if you're mainly going to be shooting in sunny climes, it may not be such a big deal. There's also a heck of a lot of power under the hood of the RX100 VII. It houses features that you might not ever use, such as a ridiculous 90fps burst mode, as well as those that are more commonplace, such as 4K video. The big downside of this model is its super-high asking price, but if you want the best of the best for your travels - it could just be the one for you. If your budget doesn't quite stretch to the asking price of the RX100 VII, take a look at older models throughout the range for better prices.

The Nikon Z fc camera on a park bench

(Image credit: Future)

A capable travel camera with stunning retro style

Specifications
Sensor: 20.9MP APS-C
Lens: Nikon Z mount
Monitor: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360K dots
Continuous shooting: 11fps
Movies: 4K at 30fps
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Stunning retro design+Vari-angle touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of native lenses-Grip a little for large lenses

Travel photography is all about capturing memories and Nikon’s Z fc fully embraces the concept of nostalgia: it’s a stunning homage to the 30-year-old Nikon FM2 – complete with retro styling, dimensions and dials. Despite the throwback design, it’s a very modern camera inside, sharing many of its specs with the capable Nikon Z50. While serious photographers might wish for a full-frame sensor, the Z fc’s APS-C number does a stellar job of capturing stills and 4K video, aided by reliable tracking auto-focus. 

Its vari-angle touchscreen is also a brilliant addition, making it easy to frame travel selfies – or folding away completely for a leather-back look that lets you pretend its the Eighties. The Nikon Z fc isn’t as sturdy as the camera that inspired it (there’s no weatherproofing, for example), but it’s still a beautifully unique camera for casual use. And with dedicated dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure, plus a customizable lens ring, it’s also an easy one to control on the go.

The Olympus PEN E-P7 with its 14-42mm kit lens

(Image credit: Future)

A small, old-school travel camera

Specifications
Sensor: 20MP Micro Four Thirds
Lens: Micro Four Thirds
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Viewfinder: N/A
Continuous shooting: 15fps
Movies: 4K at 30fps
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Attractive retro design+Small and lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-No viewfinder-Screen not fully articulating

The Pen E-P7 draws on the spirit and specs of previous Olympus models to create a fresh, travel-friendly mirrorless camera. Its tried-and-tested TruePic VIII engine won’t make headlines, but the combination of attractive retro styling, a streamlined build and effective five-axis image stabilization make it a compelling choice for beginners and journey-makers. 

Vloggers won’t be blown away by its video specs, while the lack of a viewfinder will be a deal-breaker for some. It’s also a shame that the touchscreen only tilts, instead of fully articulating for framing flexibility. But the trade-off is a sleek, stylish body which hits the scales at just 430g (with the kit zoom lens). Stills are bright and punchy, and the fact that it can almost fit in your pocket makes the E-P7 more appealing than many full-frame rivals for street shooting – even if its price means some older Olympus models offer better outright value.

Fujifilm X-S10

(Image credit: Future)

A superb, travel-friendly mirrorless all-rounder

Specifications
Sensor size: APS-C
Resolution: 26.1MP
Viewfinder: 2.36m dots
Monitor: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Autofocus: 425-point hybrid AF
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps (mechanical), 20fps (electronic shutter)
Movies: 4K at 30p
User level: Beginner/intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Superb image and video quality+IBIS in a small body+Great handling
Reasons to avoid
-Not weather-proof-Not very compact

Sometimes a mirrorless camera really hits the sweet spot of size, price and features for most people – and that's the case with the Fujifilm X-S10. It's not an entry-level camera or as small as a premium compact, but you get an awful lot for your money. And if you combine the X-S10 right lenses, it's an excellent, versatile travel for most types of trip.

While the X-S10 doesn't official have weather-proofing, its magnesium alloy build quality is excellent and will certainly handle life in a backpack. Thanks to its large grip, the handling is also excellent, whether you're carrying it around one-handed or attaching a longer zoom lens.

Most importantly, the X-S10's APS-C sensor produces the best image quality available in this size of camera – and it's great for 4K video too. The autofocus is edged out by Sony's Real-time tracking AF, but remains very solid in most situations. And the secret weapon is the in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which is a real bonus for handheld shooting – particularly when you pair it with a small, unstabilized prime lens. The Nikon Z50 might be a little hardier, but overall the X-S10 is the mirrorless camera we'd like to have in our travel bags.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

(Image credit: Future)

An excellent stills camera, particularly for beginners

Specifications
Sensor: Four Thirds, 20.3MP
Lens: N/A
Monitor: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
Viewfinder: 2.36M-dot OLED EVF
Continuous shooting: 15fps
Movies: 4K/30p
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Impressive image stabilization +Useful flip-down screen+Great ecosystem - lots of lenses available
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer video specs than others in the list-No USB-C port

With its small, compact and light body, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a fantastic option for both travellers and those new to photography. As it’s in its fourth iteration, the E-M10 has been carefully refined over the years, making it one of the best options around for travel and everyday photography.

The E-M10 Mark IV’s power is in its simplicity, which also means that you need to compromise on some advanced specs – such as 4K/60p and microphone/headphone inputs, which are lacking here. If you’re somebody who's mainly concerned with stills shooting, though, you’ll get a bargain by not paying for something you don’t need. 

As well as offering a small body size, the Micro Four Thirds lenses that are compatible with the E-M10 Mark IV are also handily neat and compact, so you can grab a few different optics for your travels and not take up too much room in your luggage. 

Other useful specifications include the tilting 3.0-inch touchscreen, in-body image stabilization for keeping your shots steady, and a handy 2.36m-dot OLED viewfinder.

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

A feature-packed travel camera for budding content creators

Specifications
Sensor: 24.1MP APS-C CMOS
Lens: N/A
Monitor: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Movies: 4K/25p
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Vertical video option+Excellent stills
Reasons to avoid
-Heavily cropped 4K video-Limited native lens selection

On paper, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a feature-packed APS-C camera with plenty to offer for traveling content creators. Its 24.1MP sensor is capable of producing great stills, with good dynamic range, decent noise control and a 10fps burst speed. The odd reality is that the original M50 also offered these things: what’s new with the Mark II is not hardware, but software. That means it still suffers from the same heavy 1.5x crop on 4K video and ships with a slower phase-detect autofocus system. 

But there are also advantages. It gains eye-detect autofocus for both stills and video, as well as the option to shoot vertical videos – ideal for would-be influencers. Added to that are a video-recording button available on the touchscreen, a movie self-timer and the option for YouTubers to wirelessly live stream – provided they have more than 1,000 subscribers. So it’s far from a total overhaul and existing M50 owners should stick with what they’ve got. But for new users, the M50 Mark II is a versatile entry-level option for capturing travel stills and video.

Canon G5X Mark II

(Image credit: Future)

This great all-rounder could be the perfect enthusiast compact

Specifications
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-120mm, f/1.8-2.8
Monitor: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 20fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner/Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Large 1.0-inch sensor+Shoots 4K movies
Reasons to avoid
-Limited 10x zoom lens-Fixed rear display

What the G5X Mark II loses in zoom, it makes up for in other areas. With a wide maximum aperture throughout the focal length, this is a camera which is well-suited to a wide range of lighting conditions. Besides which, having up to 120mm (in 35mm terms) available is still pretty flexible. Elsewhere, there's a high-performing 1-inch sensor, great 4K videos and a pop-up electronic viewfinder which pairs well with the tilting LCD screen. There are undoubtedly more advanced cameras on the market, but not many combine a good range of features like this in one competitively-priced package.

Fujifilm X100V

(Image credit: Future)

A niche but polished compact that’s perfect for the street

Specifications
Sensor: 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS
Lens: 23mm, f/2
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1.62m dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps (mechanical), 30fps (electronic)
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Tilting touchscreen+Improved sensor and autofocus+4K video
Reasons to avoid
-Not weather-sealed-Quite expensive

A premium compact camera with a design inspired by 1950s analogue cameras and a fixed 23mm f/2 lens? Sounds like the very definition of niche. And yet, far from an anachronism, Fujifilm’s X100V is one of the best travel cameras you can buy.

For a start, it takes the small form factor that made the X100F before it so convenient to carry and adds a supremely useful tilting touchscreen. The advantages are gesture support and easier shooting at tight angles.

Inside, a new 26.1MP sensor and X-Processor 4 translate into improved autofocus, image quality and high ISO performance, building on what was already a fantastic shooting experience with the fixed aperture lens. Add in the option to shoot 4K/30p footage on the fly, as well as a higher resolution hybrid EVF, and you’ve got a properly capable pocket performer – provided you’re happy to pay a premium.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black action camera sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Future)

The ultimate action camera for adventure travel

Specifications
Weight: 158g
Waterproof: 10m
4K video: up to 60fps
1080: up to 240fps
720: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 20MP
Battery: 1720mAh
Sensor: 23MP 1/2.3in
Lens: N/A
Monitor: 2.27-inch touchscreen (rear), 1.4-inch LCD (front)
Viewfinder: N/A
Continuous shooting: 30fps
Movies: 5.3K at 60fps
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+5K video captures lots of detail+Slick performance all round+Class-leading stabilization
Reasons to avoid
-Same small sensor as before-Still not the best in low light

GoPro cameras have long put rugged video versatility in your pocket. The Hero 10 Black doesn’t reinvent the action cam formula, but instead delivers the most polished iteration to date. Equipped with the same 23MP 1/2.3-inch sensor as the Hero 9 Black, it harnesses the power of a GP2 processor to shoot 5K at 60fps and 4K slow-mo at a silky smooth 120fps. It also uses that same chip to deliver a slicker interface that’s snappier to navigate with the rear touchscreen. 

It’s still not the best in low-light conditions, but it’s a winner for recording during the day: the combination of HyperSmooth 4.0 image stabilization and upgraded horizon-leveling means footage stays steady even if you tilt to 45 degrees. Whether your travels take you hiking, kayaking, mountain biking or just strolling around a market, the properly compact Hero 10 Black will help you shoot great footage in all conditions.

Sony A6100

(Image credit: Future)

A compact yet capable mirrorless camera with plenty of jet-set skills

Specifications
Sensor: APS-C CMOS, 24.2MP
Lens: N/A
Monitor: 2.95-inch tilt-angle screen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Rapid and reliable autofocus tracking+Compact, all-purpose camera
Reasons to avoid
-Low-res EVF and LCD display-No IBIS for video

If you don't mind carrying something slightly larger than a pocket camera on your travels, the Sony A6100 arguably offers the best balance of size, shooting power and value right now. It isn't without its flaws, but it does tick most boxes for globetrotting photographers. Despite its compact size, this entry-level mirrorless camera offers a fleet of useful features – from customizable buttons and a microphone input to the flip-up touchscreen that, though limited in functionality, is ideal for framing far-flung selfies. 

Paired with a good lens, the 24.2MP sensor serves up decent images with plenty of detail, while the AF system – shared with the flagship A6600 – ensures reliably sharp focus and excellent continuous tracking, even on the move. The A6100 can capture 4K footage at 30fps, too, though there’s no IBIS when shooting travel vlogs. Battery life is also pretty solid, as is the Wi-Fi, which works well with the partner app for rapid sharing of holiday snaps. Less impressive are the relatively low-res EVF & LCD and the Auto ISO, which can struggle with quick-moving subjects – so it’s best to go full manual for street action shots. It’s not perfect, then, but the A6100 comes close to travel perfection, offering good value, strong specs and a satchel-friendly form.

Panasonic GX9

(Image credit: Future)

A sleek and stylish rangefinder-style camera that's well-suited to travel

Specifications
Sensor: 20.3MP Four Thirds
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,240,000 dot
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 9fps
Movies: 4K 30fps
User level: Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Great touchscreen+Lots of compatible lenses
Reasons to avoid
-Some awkward controls-Body not weatherproof -Limited battery life

The Panasonic GX9 is an older model now, but that means that it’s currently available at a cracking price. It uses the Micro Four Thirds mount to give you access to a huge range of lenses – ideal for traveling with lots of different options. 

Using a flat, rangefinder-style design, it’s ideally suited to travel and street photography, being both compact and stylish – a great addition to your carry-on luggage. It uses a 20.3MP sensor which performs well, particularly in good light, and boasts other useful features such as 4K video, a 3-inch tilting screen and a very usable viewfinder. 

Battery life is a little on the limited side, so you might want to pack a spare if you’re traveling extensively, but otherwise, this is a great little all-rounder for those who want something light and powerful.

Olympus TG-6

(Image credit: Future)

An intuitive travel camera that’s tough as boots

Specifications
Sensor: 12MP 1/2.3-inch
Lens: 25-100mm, f/2-4.9
Monitor: 3.0-inch, 1,040K dots
Viewfinder: N/A
Continuous shooting: 20fps
Movies: 4K/30p
User level: Beginner/intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Intuitive to use+Raw shooting and 4K video
Reasons to avoid
-Inconsistent image quality-Small sensor at its heart

Olympus arguably started the hardcore camera trend with its Tough series, and the TG-6 doesn’t break the mould. Innovation might have slowed, but the Tough TG-6 is still one of the best rugged travel cameras you can buy – and there’s no questioning its freeze-proof, shockproof and waterproof credentials. Its industrial design is reassuringly rugged, with fiddly catch mechanisms that protect the ports. Large buttons make it convenient to operate beneath the waves, while the improved 3-inch LCD display also offers decent visibility in most conditions. 

Image quality is reasonable for a camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor, with nice, rich colors – although there is a tendency to overexpose and blow out highlights. An equivalent zoom range of 25-100mm is fair, plus the inclusion of 4K video and raw shooting enhance flexibility. It’s not a major upgrade from the TG-5, but the Olympus TG-6 is nevertheless a stellar option for all-action travelers.

Sony RX10 IV

(Image credit: Future)

Expensive, but in a league of its own - this is possibly the ultimate travel companion

Specifications
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.2MP
Lens: 24-600mm, f/2.4-4
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1.44m dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 24fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate/Expert
Reasons to buy
+Great lens+Cracking 4K video quality
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey for a fixed lens camera-Menus somewhat awkward

In terms of offering something for everybody, the RX10 IV ticks a lot of boxes. It's like having a bag full of lenses, but with the benefit of never having to change them. There's a very long zoom, while the maximum aperture is pretty wide throughout the lens. The sensor might not be as a large as the ones you'll find on a DSLR/CSC, but Sony's 20.1MP one-inch device has proven itself to be very capable regardless. You also get 24fps shooting, cracking 4K video quality and handling to rival a DSLR. The major downside? The high price – if your budget is tighter, don't forget about this camera's predecessor, the RX10 III.

Sony ZV-1

(Image credit: Future)

A superb travel vlogging camera

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor size: 1-inch
Resolution: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: None
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 24fps
Movies: 4K/30p
User level: Beginner/Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Excellent autofocus+3.5mm mic port and hotshoe
Reasons to avoid
-MicroUSB rather than USB-C-Touchscreen a bit limited

If you're looking to mainly shoot travel video rather than stills, then the Sony ZV-1 is the best pocketable option around. It combines the best video-focused features of Sony's RX100 series and adds its latest autofocus system, which is comfortably the best you can find in a compact camera. The lack of an electronic viewfinder means the ZV-1 is less convenient for stills shooters than the RX100 VII (see no.4), but it's still a capable smartphone backup thanks to its 20.1MP 1-inch sensor. It's video where the ZV-1 really shines, though, with its bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens and Real-time Eye AF perfect for shooting professional, smartphone-beating vlogs. A 3.5mm microphone jack also means you can get audio quality to match the video too, while a built-in hotshoe is on hand to help you mount accessories. 

(Image credit: TechRadar)

An entry-level camera with video skills and a viewfinder

Specifications
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Lens: N/A
Monitor: 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 2.78m dots
Viewfinder: 2.36m OLED EVF
Continuous shooting: 8fps
Movies: 4K/30p
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Excellent color and dynamic range+Sharp 3.5-inch rear touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-Low buffer depth-Unreliable eye sensor

Fujifilm’s second entry-level X series model is a major improvement to its predecessor. While it might not quite rival the pricier X-T30 (see above), the pared-back X-T200 is a versatile and accessible option for jet-setters. Both the APS-C CMOS sensor and processor have been upgraded, unlocking 8fps continuous shooting and the option to capture 4K footage at 30fps. There’s also a new ‘digital gimbal’ which deftly stabilizes video, but only up to 1080p. Physically, the X-T200 retains the retro style of the X-T100, while offering a beefier, more comfortable grip. The touchscreen has grown to a generous 3.5 inches, too, though at the expense of convenient joystick placement. 

Viewfinder fans will welcome the sharp OLED EVF, even if an unreliable eye sensor often makes the screen a more appealing option for framing. As for image results, dynamic range is good and color reproduction excellent, aided by a 256-zone metering system, with plenty of detail and decent noise handling. Subject tracking isn’t available for video, but the hybrid AF system performs well when shooting stills, with spot-on face detection. Easy to use yet capable of delivering marvelous results, the X-T200 ticks a lot of boxes for travelers.

Great value option: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

It's getting on a bit, but this RX100 model still packs a punch

Specifications
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm, f/1.8-2.8
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,229K dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner/Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Large and capable sensor+Built-in viewfinder
Reasons to avoid
-Limited zoom range-No touchscreen

If none of the cameras in our best travel camera list above quite fit the bill, there is an alternative that is a few generations old but still packs a punch. The RX100 III from Sony is a couple of years old now and was originally selling for near $1,000/£1,000, but with the arrival of newer models (including the RX100 VII), it's dropped massively in price. Downsides? Well, the zoom is pretty short compared to other rivals here, but otherwise there's a lot to like. There's a decent 20.1MP 1-inch sensor, a pop-up electronic viewfinder and 4K video recording, while it's packaged in a premium, metal body. Definitely worth a look if the zoom range isn't your main concern.

How to choose the best travel camera for you

Need a bit more guidance on how to decide the right type of travel camera? Have a think about the following options:

Travel Zoom Compact

These small pocket-friendly cameras give you great scope for shooting lots of different kinds of subject, with a zoom lens that gets you close to the action, as well as giving you the opportunity to shoot nice and wide. The trade off for having all of this in a neat compact size is generally a smaller sensor which is less useful for shooting in low light. 

Premium Compact 

If you want to stay pocket friendly, but you’re happy to lose the ultra long zoom, think about a premium compact. These generally pack a one-inch sensor for better image quality, but will normally have a shorter zoom. Some may give you both - but you’ll pay a very high price for it. 

Bridge Camera

A bulkier option than a standard compact camera, but with better scope for zooming, a bridge camera is also ideal for those who like more intuitive and comfortable handling. They’ll usually have a solid grip, decent electronic viewfinder and a flexible screen. You get many of the benefits of having a bag full of lenses, but without the extra luggage.

Mirrorless / Compact System Camera 

This is the option if you want the best possible image quality and you’re prepared for a little bit of hassle. With lots of different lenses to choose from, you can pack different optics depending on the type of trip you’re on, or pack a good all-round lens and not worry too much about swapping optics. You’ll have the best possible handling, too as well as plenty of advanced options. 

Many of the current compact system cameras on the market have been specifically designed with travel in mind - and are as small as possible. We’ve included some of the best options here.

If you’re still unsure about which kind of camera you need, check our step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy? Alternatively, if you’re going to be by the pool or on the beach, you might want something a bit more rugged – in which case, take a look at our best waterproof camera and best action camera guides.

What is the best mirrorless travel camera?

Mirrorless cameras are great for travel. While they’re larger than premium compact cameras, the best mirrorless travel cameras still feature relatively small shells which are easy to manage on the move. They also offer larger sensors than smartphones or compacts, which means they perform better after dark. And although interchangeable lenses are less portable than an all-in-one zoom barrel, they unlock greater creative flexibility.

We think the Fujifilm X-S10 is the best mirrorless travel camera you can buy right now, hitting the sweet spot of size, price and performance. Equipped with a 26.1MP APS-C sensor, it’s can capture superb stills and video with the help of in-body image stabilization. It’s also a lovely camera to handle, with a large grip on a small body.

Looking for something more accessible? The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a fantastic option for those who are new to travel photography. While you don’t get advanced specs such as 4K/60p footage, you do get a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, in-body image stabilization and a handy 2.36m-dot OLED viewfinder. Its compact body is easy for beginners to handle, while the Micro Four Thirds lens mount means there’s a wide catalogue of compatible glass.

Content creator? Take a look at Canon’s EOS M50 Mark II. Despite heavily cropped 4K video, it benefits from a range of software shooting tricks that make it great for traveling influencers – including the option to shoot vertical videos and the ability to wirelessly live stream to YouTube (if you have more than 1,000 followers).

That said, there might be a better mirrorless travel camera for your specific requirements. The Sony A6100, for example, is pocket-friendly and packs rapid autofocus tracking for shooting on the move. Be sure to check out every mirrorless model in the list above before deciding which to buy.

How we test travel cameras

Buying a camera these days is a big investment, and travel cameras are no different – so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. For travel cameras in particular, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera's performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.

To start with, we look at the camera's design, handling and controls to get a sense of how suitable it is for life on the road, and any particular features that might be particularly useful for globe-trotters. When we take it out on a shoot, we'll use it both handheld and on a tripod to get a sense of where its strengths lie, and test its startup speed.

When it comes to performance, we use a formatted SD card and shoot in both raw and JPEG (if available). For burst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to see if it lives up to its claimed speeds. We'll also look at how quickly the buffers clears and repeat the test for both raw and JPEG files.

In various lighting conditions, we also test the camera's different autofocus modes (including Face and Eye AF) in single point, area and continuous modes. We also shoot a range of photos of different styles (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up) in raw and JPEG to get a sense of metering and its sensor's ability to handle noise and resolve fine detail.

If the camera's raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we'll also process some test images to see how we can push areas like shadow recovery. And we'll also test its ISO performance across the whole range to get a sense of the levels we'd be happy to push the camera to.

Battery life is tested in a real-world fashion, as we use the camera over the course of the day with the screen set to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we'll then count the number of shots to see how it compares to the camera's CIPA rating. Finally, we test the camera's video skills by shooting some test footage at different frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.

We then take everything we've learned about the camera and factor in its price to get a sense of the value-for-money it offers, before reaching our final verdict.

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Mark Wilson

Mark is the Cameras Editor at TechRadar. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won the Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.