BEST Travel Camera 2024 (Beginner’s Buying Guide)

Best Travel Camera (Top Cameras For Every Budget)

These are the best travel cameras in 2024 — tested and used by professional travel photographers. Compact, DSLR, and mirrorless cameras for every budget!

In this complete buyer’s guide, we show you how to choose the best travel camera for you!

Best Travel Camera 2024

Wondering which camera travel photographers use? While working as a professional photographer over the last 15 years, I’ve scoured the internet and tested camera gear in order to find the perfect travel photography kit. 

When readers and members of our Instagram community ask us what camera we use, I always tell them that what works best for us won’t necessarily be the best fit for them. Choosing the best travel camera is more about finding one that allows you to shoot the photographs you want.

Finding the best camera for travel photography is different from choosing a professional camera for things like wedding photography and portrait photography, or even just everyday use at home. With so many camera options on the market, it can be a little intimidating when you start your new camera search.

In addition to this post, I recommend also reading our guides to the best compact camera, the best camera lenses, and the best cameras for hiking and backpacking.

Travel Camera Buying Guide

Quick Recommendations

Here’s a quick look at our TOP picks for the best travel cameras on the market today or check out our full reviews below. 

  • Best Compact Travel Camera: Canon G7 X Mark II, a top choice for its easy-to-pack size and exceptional image quality.
  • Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel: Sony A7 II, an excellent mirrorless camera known for its versatility and high-performance features.
  • Best DSLR Camera for Travel: Canon Rebel, a reliable DSLR camera that offers great image quality and user-friendly controls.
  • Best Smartphone for Travel Photography: iPhone 13 Pro Max, a powerhouse smartphone with advanced camera capabilities, ideal for capturing stunning travel photos.
  • Best Underwater Camera for Travel Photography: GoPro cameras are perfect for adventurous travelers, providing ruggedness and waterproof capabilities for capturing memorable underwater shots.

Best Cameras For Travel 2024

There are several types of travel cameras on the market — Point and Shoot (compact cameras), Advanced Compact Cameras, DSLR, Mirrorless — and each one has its own list of benefits.

First, and most importantly, you should consider what is most important to you — size, weight, price, ease of use, etc. Below, I’ve listed the benefits and limitations of each type of camera as well as the top cameras in each of those categories.

How To Choose a Travel Camera: Travel Camera Buying Guide

Sensor Size
When it comes to sensor, the larger the size the more light it can capture. Sensor size is especially important when considering whether you’ll be taking a lot of low light shots, as if it has a small sensor size you’ll generally get a grainy photo.

For example, smart phones usually have a very small sensor size, and thus tend to not take awesome low-light pictures. Sensor sizes tend to increase as the size of the camera does, and in the DSLR realm, the sensitivity is measured as ISO.

The aperture controls the brightness of an image, and the number that correlates to it refers to the size of the hole that lets light into the sensor. Apertures are shows as f-numbers (for example, f/2.8, f/4, etc.), and the larger the number, the smaller the hole.

Generally speaking, if you’ll be shooting in low-light, look for smaller numbers, as these will let more light into the sensor.

The megapixel number on your camera refers to the size of image the camera can produce. One megapixel means one million pixels, and as the number goes higher you’ll get clearer resolution in your photos. This is especially important if you plan on making prints.

While megapixels are important, if you truly want excellent-quality photos then be sure to take into account sensor size and aperture as well.

Optical & Digital Zoom
With point and shoot cameras, zooming in on faraway objects with your optical zoom essentially allows you to magnify the image and make the objects in the frame appear closer without reducing quality. So, if you have 8x optical zoom option, that means you can make object appear 8x larger in the frame.

Digital zoom, on the other hand, is when your camera zooms in on a frame and crops what isn’t shown on your screen. This only reduces the quality of the image, so steer clear.

Focal Length
When picking out a lens for your DSLR, focal length refers to optical zoom, and is the distance between the sensor and the lens when the subject is in focus. Measured in millimeters, a lower focal length means the lens can be used for wider shots.

EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) are image stabilizers that correct small movements when taking a photo and eliminate blur.  OIS is great for improving low light photography, while EIS is primarily a video stabilizer.

What to Look for When Buying a Travel Camera

Ergonomics & Navigability
Before you purchase, think about your travel habits and what features will suit your needs. Do you need a small, light camera for easy shots, or are you looking for a more professional DSLR? Comfort, size, and weight of the camera will all factor into this. Also consider if the camera is easily navigable, and if it has easy accessibility to common functions.

What about your WiFi needs? If you’re someone who likes to import straight to your smartphone or computer after you’ve taken a shot, then purchasing a camera with WiFi capabilities will be handy.

Lens Selection
Also consider the lens selection that your camera can support, as you won’t be able to swap out different brands lenses due to the unique mounts. Most of the main lines will have many of the same lens options, but it’s something to look into if you have specific requirements.

Almost all cameras on the market today shoot video, but there are certain aspects to pay attention to depending on what quality you’d like to achieve. Frame rate is the most important, with 24 – 30 frames per second being in a normal range, while up to 60fps will give you smoother playback.

How to Choose the Best Travel Camera

Which Type of Camera is Best for Travel Photography?

Are mirrorless cameras better for travel? This really depends on your preference, but working as a professional travel photographer for the past 15 years, I’ve personally found mirrorless cameras give me the most versatility — specifically, the Sony A7 II.

There are newer versions of this camera, but I honestly don’t think they are necessary for most people’s needs. If you do want to get the newest versions, there’s the Sony A7 III and Sony A7R III.

However, I do also carry a GoPro for water photography and a Canon G7X Mark II compact camera for hiking and those times when lugging around a lot of gear just doesn’t make sense. (This camera is also amazing for video!)

I’ve found that if I don’t carry this more compact camera option, then I end up using my phone and then I’m not able to shoot in RAW mode and the quality is just not there compared to this particular point and shoot. Plus, there are some great portable camera options on the market these days!

You can learn about my full gear list here: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Compact Digital Cameras (Point & Shoot) For Travel Photography

If your main concern is price, weight, and purchasing a travel camera that is easy to use, then you will want to look at purchasing a Compact Digital Camera as these are the best cheap cameras for travel photography. These portable cameras won’t weigh down your luggage and it will easily fit in a small backpack or purse. 

Compact Digital Cameras are the perfect small cameras if you don’t want to be hassled with too many controls and you want the least expensive option. Nowadays, you can still find a Point and Shoot camera that takes great photos. That’s not to say you should pick just any Point and Shoot because they are not all created equal. Here are the best compact travel cameras under $450.

Best Compact Camera For Travel

Best Travel Cameras - Canon PowerShot SX720

Canon PowerShot SX720 – Check Prices Here 

Details: Built-in Wifi, 20.3 megapixel, 40x optical zoom, 3″ LCD, 1080p Full HD video

Pros: High-resolution images, powerful zoom, Full HD video.

Cons: Not as advanced as some other options, limited manual control.

Best Travel Cameras - Canon PowerShot G9 X

Canon PowerShot G9 X – Check Prices Here 

Details: 20.2 megapixel, outstanding low light performance, 12,800 ISO, ultra slim, 1080p Full HD video. This is one of the best small size cameras on the market.

Pros: Very clear images, outstanding low light performance, slim design, high-quality videos.

Cons: Limited zoom range compared to other options.

Advanced Compact Digital Cameras (High-End Compact) For Travel Photography

Advanced Compact Digital Cameras are similar to Point and Shoot cameras, but they come with a few more bells and whistles. They are the high end of compact cameras with built-in lenses.

Advanced Compact Cameras are similar in size to the above mentioned ones and they offer full manual mode in addition to auto mode. (Note: Both of the cameras listed in the above section offer manual mode as well.) They also usually have the ability to capture photos in RAW format — which is important if you plan to make any edits to your photos once you upload them to your computer.

These cameras tend to be slightly more expensive than the regular compact cameras, but less expensive than DSLR or mirrorless cameras. See below for the best point-and-shoot travel cameras.

Best Compact Cameras for Travel

What is the Best Compact Camera to Buy?

These are the best compact cameras for travel — my personal favorite being the Canon G7X Mark II.

Best Compact Travel Cameras - Canon G7 X Mark II

Canon G7 X Mark II – Check Prices Here

Details: This small camera has built-in wifi, 20.1 megapixel, full manual mode option, captures RAW & JPG, ISO 100-12800, 24-120mm equivalent F2-3.9 lens. We’ve used the Canon G series for over 7 years now and absolutely love this line of cameras! It’s perfect for those times when we don’t want to lug around our heavier equipment. This camera is also comes highly recommended for video — and is one of the best cameras on the market for vlogging because of the sound quality!

Pros: Full manual mode to adjust your shots, excellent for video and good sound quality.

Cons: Limited zoom range.

Best Travel Cameras (And How To Choose One)

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 – Check Prices Here

Details: 21.1 megapixels, 4K video, Leica 16X f2.8-4.0 zoom lens. We own a mirrorless Panasonic camera and have been very happy with its performance. Panasonic gets great reviews for their compact and mirrorless models.

Pros: High-quality videos and sharp zoom capabilities.

Cons: Bulkier than other compact cameras.

Best Travel Cameras (And How To Choose One)

Sony RX100 VII – Check Prices Here

Details: 20. 1MP 1. 0 Type stacked CMOS sensor, Zeiss Vario Sonnar 24-200mm lens, continuous shooting up to 20 FPS, mirrorless. Sony has come a long way with their camera technology in the past few years. Their mirrorless cameras are extremely popular and this has many of the features that people have come to love with those (like low noise at high ISO). This camera is not cheap, but if you’re looking for the best compact camera for travel, this one is definitely compact with many of the features of a larger camera  

Pros: Wide aperture lens helps capture more light and make the pictures look brighter and more vibrant. Great for capturing fast-moving action, which is perfect for sport and wildlife photography.

Cons: The price. It’s not a budget camera.

Mirrorless Cameras for Travel Photography

If image quality, size, and weight is the most important factor, you will want to look at purchasing a mirrorless camera.

What is a mirrorless camera, you ask? Unlike a Digital SLR, this type of camera does not have a mirror reflex optical viewfinder — hence, the name mirrorless.  This type of camera is perfect for people who still want interchangeable lenses without the weight of a DSLR.

Another plus for mirrorless is the electronic viewfinder because you can view the real-time effect of aperture and ISO adjustments, unlike a DSLR. If you want to take some of the guesswork out of your photography and you’re looking for a good lightweight camera, then mirrorless is the way to go. Below, you’ll find our recommendations for the best mirrorless travel cameras.

How to Choose the Best Travel Camera

Best Mirrorless Travel Camera

Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel - Sony A7II

Sony A7 II – Check Prices Here

Details: 24.3 megapixels, enhanced fast hybrid AF and 5 fps burst, world’s first 5-axis in-body image stabilization in a full-frame camera, ISO 100-25600. Almost every travel photographer I know that owns a mirrorless either has the Sony A7 or the Fuji X-T1 (below). The A7 II touts a 30% faster auto focus than the older version and is one of the best low light cameras on the market. If you are considering purchasing this camera, read our full review of the Sony A7ii here.

You can get the A7 II body for about $1298 new or buy it with a 28-70mm lens for just a few hundred dollars more. If faster auto focus or in-camera image stabilization is not as important to you, the slightly older version (Sony A7) is a fraction of the price.

Pros: 24.3 megapixels, 5-axis image stabilization, excellent image quality and low-light performance.

Cons: Higher price range, limited lens selection compared to DSLRs.

Best Mirrorless Travel Camera Fuji XT-3

Fuji X-T3 – Check Prices Here

Details: 26.1 megapixels, water and dust resistant, up to 20 FPS continuous shooting, 3″ tiltable LCD. Travelers love this camera. It’s lightweight and takes amazing photos. Purchasing the Fuji X-T1 with the 18-135mm lens makes this the ultimate travel camera.

Pros: Very lightweight, water and dust resistant.

Cons: Limited lens options, higher price range.

Digital SLR Cameras for Travel Photography

Mirrorless cameras have come a long way and many professional photographers have decided to ditch their bulky DSLR cameras for this lighter option — including me! As someone who sells large prints of their photography, I’m amazed at the high-quality images these cameras can produce.

DSLR cameras are better suited for sports, wildlife, and other types of action photography. If these types of photography don’t interest you, then you will probably be fine with a mirrorless. I often travel to photograph wildlife and I need a capable zoom lens, which is why I hesitated about switching completely to mirrorless.

However, there are a few zoom lens options out there for mirrorless cameras, just not as many. I currently use the Sony 70-200mm with my Sony a7ii and it gets the job done in most cases. I opted for the F4 instead of the Sony 70-200mm F2.8 in order to keep my kit light.

Choosing a DSLR means you will have more lens options, faster focus (although mirrorless is following close behind), and a slightly longer battery life. Eventually, I’m sure DSLR cameras will become obsolete, but we are still a little way off from mirrorless replacing traditional DSLR cameras entirely.

How to Choose the Best Camera for Travel Photography

Best DSLR Travel Camera

The following DSLR camera is great for entry level or intermediate photographers who still want the benefits of more lens selection, longer battery life, great low light capabilities, and faster focus.

Best DSLR Cameras for Travel Photography

Canon Rebel T7 – Check Prices Here

Details: Perfect for beginner photographers! 24.1 megapixels, compact, 3″ touch panel LCD, ISO 100-12800. I’m a huge fan of Canon Rebels. I have owned two Rebels over the years and the only reason I upgraded to a Mark II was because I wanted a full frame camera. For the average photographer, a Canon Rebel is a wonderful camera. The Rebel T7 is as small as DSLR cameras come and it’s extremely affordable.

Pros: High quality images at 24.1 megapixels, compact size, great for beginners.

Cons: Limited advanced features, lower image quality in low light.

Best Travel Camera Under $500 

Best Travel Camera Under $500

Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 4K – Check Prices Here

Details: 18.1 megapixel, 60X zoom 20-1200mm lens, F2.8-5.9 aperture, 3 inch LCD, wifi, 4K video, and 30 fps burst feature. This highly portable point and shoot travel camera is great for beginners and anyone looking for a budget option that’s very compact!

Pros: Sophisticated zoom,very compact and portable for on the go photography.

Cons: Limited low-light performance, slightly lower image quality compared to high-end cameras.

Best Travel Cameras (And How To Choose One)

Nikon D3400 With 18-55mm Lens – Check Prices Here

Details: 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor,  Wifi & Eye-Fi Compatible, ISO 100-25,600, Continuous shooting up to 5 fps, and Snapbridge Bluetooth Connectivity. This camera is a steal for under $500!

Pros: Very good image quality, affordable price.

Cons: Bulkier than mirrorless cameras.

Best Travel Camera for Underwater Travel Photography

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention underwater photography. If you are anything like us, then you love to play in any body of water and who doesn’t want to get the best underwater photos on vacation?

We’ve tried a handful of point and shoot underwater cameras, which have taken decent photos, but ever since GoPro came out with their Hero9 Black with LCD screen, this is now our favorite underwater camera for travel. The issues I had with their previous versions (fogging, no LCD screen, ultra wide angle lens) have all been fixed on the newer Hero cameras. It’s great for action selfies on land too!

Best Travel Cameras (And How To Choose One)

Best Smartphones For Travel Photography

When it comes to capturing stunning travel photographs on the go, having a smartphone with an excellent camera can make a world of difference. Here are three top contenders for the best smartphones for travel photography.

iPhone 13 Pro Max – Check Prices Here 

Details: The iPhone 13 Pro Max is equipped with a powerful camera system that takes mobile photography to new heights. Its triple-camera setup includes a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 12-megapixel wide lens, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. With features like Night mode, Deep Fusion, and ProRAW support, the iPhone 13 Pro Max excels in low-light conditions and offers extensive editing capabilities perfect for serious travel photographers.

Pros: Powerful triple-camera setup for excellent mobile photography.

Cons: Higher price compared to other phone options.

Google Pixel 7a – Check Prices Here 

Details: The Google Pixel 7a is a fantastic phone for travel photography. It has a high-quality camera that takes clear and detailed photos. With a 64-megapixel main camera and 13-megapixel wide-angle camera, you can capture beautiful landscapes and close-ups. It has features like Night Sight for low-light photography and Portrait mode for artistic shots. The camera also has stabilizers to prevent shaky pictures.

Pros: Features like Night Sight and Portrait mode enhance photography options.

Cons: Not as many advanced editing features as other models.

Samsung Galaxy S23 – Check Prices Here 

Details: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera phone has a powerful camera system with impressive specifications. It has a 200 MP main camera that captures detailed photos, along with telephoto lenses for zooming in on distant subjects. The phone also has an ultrawide lens for capturing wide-angle shots. It comes with useful features like LED flash and panorama mode. When it comes to video recording, it can shoot in 8K resolution and offers various recording options.

Pros: One of the highest resolution phone-cameras on the market, impressive zoom capabilities, great for video recording.

Cons: Higher price range.

FAQ: Buying a Travel Camera

Are mirrorless cameras better for travel?

Mirrorless cameras have gained a reputation as the ultimate choice for travel photography due to their exceptional picture quality and versatile features, coupled with their lightweight and easy-to-carry design in contrast to DSLR cameras.

What is the best camera to start travel photography?

A perfect introductory camera for travel photography would be either a compact camera or a mirrorless camera. Which model you choose would depend on your budget and preference for the flexibility of having multiple lens choices.

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  1. Elizabeth Higgins says:

    This is such an informative post, Christy and Scott! I am in the market for a new camera as my old one broke. Well, it really is not as modern and we have used it for years; guess it just really is time to let it go and buy a new one. Thanks for sharing, we’d definitely be looking into these cameras.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      So happy to hear the post was helpful! Congrats on your new camera purchase. 🙂 It’s so fun getting new equipment!

  2. Jamie DeMonaco says:

    Thank you very much for this post; I found it helpful. Can you recommend a camera for me? I was thinking of finally upgrading my cell phone so that I would have a better camera on hand but I am not pleased with the clarity once I zoom in on many cell phone pics. I am looking for a travel camera that takes great nature photos (I love to photograph flowers, trees, nature walks, insects, kayaking, etc) but will also need to take pictures of active children and animals (limited lag) in all light settings. I do not plan to purchase a camera in which I would interchange lenses. Preferably a lightweight camera that I can carry in my purse. Preferably no more than the $400-$500 range but I am open to something that works best for my needs listed above. I greatly appreciate your input.

  3. Ima Block says:

    How about Nikkon DS5300? is it good for travel and selfie?

  4. Ordinary Traveler says:

    Thank you!

  5. Sarah Saxon says:

    Absolutely love this post! Thank you. I’ve spent the last few weeks drowning in information and agonising over which camera will be the best for me. As a complete beginner who wants to capture great images but wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to start with changeable lens this guide is ideal. I think I’ve decided on a bridge camera – the Canon PowerShot SX60 which I think is similar to the SX720 you’ve mentioned in this article!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      That’s so great to hear! What made you choose the SX60 over the 720?

      1. Sarah Saxon says:

        Mainly recommendation, I know quite a few people who have (or have had) the SX60 and they basically said that for the extra £70-100 it was worth it. I want it mainly for a safari I have planned later this year too so I think the better zoom on the SX60 may come in handy!

  6. ExpertBond says:

    oh! after 3 hours wasting I have found some best travel camera review. I will buy Sony A7 ii . What is your recommendation about that?

  7. Piotr Kulczycki says:

    This is a great post! But you should include also smartphones. They are great for travel.