Need a top-notch travel camera so you can capture gorgeous photos of your next adventure? You’ve come to the right place.
Picking the best camera for travel photography can be hard work, considering the array of options on the market. Fortunately, I’ve spent decades traveling with dozens of cameras (film, instant, and digital), and below, I share my top 12 favorite models.
Note that I’ve offered a variety of choices, including models for beginners, professionals, and everyone in between – as well as cameras at every price point, from affordable point-and-shoot models all the way up to pro-level full-frame cameras. (In other words: No matter your requirements, we’ve got you covered!)
So if you’re ready to find the perfect camera, then let’s dive right in, starting with our top choice:
1. Nikon Z fc
Looking for solid image quality in a portable, easy-to-use camera? Then check out the Nikon Z fc, which offers plenty of handy features, not to mention a retro-style, streamlined camera body.
The Z fc boasts a high-quality APS-C sensor, so you’ll have no problem capturing beautiful images of landscapes, cities, and any other subject you might encounter on your travels – yet the camera is relatively small and inconspicuous, so you won’t need to worry when photographing in busy areas or carrying the camera for long hours on buses, planes, or trains.
The film-type dials on the top of the camera promise a tactile shooting experience, and the articulating screen makes it easy to capture photos and videos of all kinds. Speaking of video, the Z fc does offer 4K recording, so if you also like to vlog or shoot cinema-type footage while traveling, you’ll be thoroughly impressed by the results.
And did I mention that you can grab the Z fc for under $1000? In other words, it’s a great option for travel photographers on a budget!
- Great image quality
- Reasonable price
- Beautiful design
- Retro style doesn’t suit all photographers
- Not as small as point-and-shoot options
2. Sony RX100 VII
Sony keeps improving the RX100 line, and the RX100 VII is its best model yet. It may have a smaller sensor than the Nikon Z fc featured above, but the RX100 VII is still a powerful performer. It boasts impressive autofocus, a flip-screen for vlogging and selfies, a mic socket, and a huge zoom range (equivalent to 24-200mm in full-frame terms).
The RX100 VII also borrows tech from Sony’s flagship models, which is why it can shoot up to 20 frames per second with no viewfinder blackout.
If you’re a watersports fan, there’s an added bonus: the RX100 has underwater housing available for surfing, diving, and snorkeling photos. At around $1300 USD, the RX100 VII is on the pricier side, but for serious travel photographers, it’s an excellent choice.
- Impressive autofocus
- Handy zoom range
- Up to 20 frames-per-second shooting
- Mic jack
- Expensive for a compact camera
- Smaller 1-inch sensor
3. Fujifilm X-T30 II
The X-T30 II is the latest model in Fujifilm’s midrange APS-C lineup, which successfully packs high-level features into smaller, lighter bodies. The X-T30 II boasts a capable 26-megapixel APS-C sensor (so you won’t struggle to capture printable images even in low-light scenarios), and it can shoot up to a whopping 30 frames per second (so you don’t need to worry about capturing those split-second moments on your travels). Like other Fujifilm cameras, the X-T30 II has face- and eye-detection autofocus, which is a big help for travel portraits and street shots. It also includes Fujifilm’s renowned film simulations.
When you buy into the Fujifilm system, you’ll gain access to dozens of great travel photography lenses; in fact, the hard part is actually deciding which is right for you! My personal go-to lens for travel photography is the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens. While the X-T30 II doesn’t include in-body image stabilization, the technology is included in several of Fujifilm’s best travel lenses, so as long as you choose your lenses carefully, you won’t have problems handholding indoors or at night.
The X-T30 II offers a uniquely tactile shooting experience thanks to a shutter speed and exposure compensation dial, so if you’re a fan of film-camera ergonomics, this camera will make you feel especially at home. It offers surprisingly great value, too; at the time of writing, you’ll pay just $900 for the camera body (though you will need to buy a lens separately).
- Excellent lens lineup from the affordable XC lenses to enthusiast and professional XF lenses
- Stunning image quality with a range of JPEG film simulations
- Many amazing features
- Not as robust as Fujifilm’s higher-end models
4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Olympus may not be the world’s most popular camera brand, but that’s okay – especially if the company continues to develop outstanding models like the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV.
In many ways, the E-M10 Mark IV is an ideal travel photography camera. It offers amazing image quality – thanks to a 20 MP Four-Thirds sensor – yet it’s remarkably compact, so you can literally slip it in your pocket or handbag while traveling and only pull it out as needed. And the lenses are designed with portability in mind, too; a perfect choice for a lightweight setup is the 14-42mm EZ lens, though if you want more range, take a look at the 14-150mm.
Other features include a tilting 3-inch screen (so you can capture low-angle shots as desired), a 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder (for a DSLR-like shooting experience), and in-body image stabilization (so you can work handheld even in low-light travel scenarios). Plus, the price is incredible; you can grab the E-M10 Mark IV for just $700, and if you want to add a capable kit lens, you’ll pay just $799. How’s that for a bargain travel camera?
- Compact and light
- Excellent image quality
- Good range of lenses
- Smaller sensor
5. Sony a7 IV
If you’re an advanced travel photographer in need of a do-everything camera, consider the Sony a7 IV, a full-frame, pro-level model that combines incredible autofocusing, beautiful image quality, and capable video into one reasonably priced package.
The a7 IV isn’t designed specifically for travel, so while it’s not big, it’s not especially compact, either. But you can comfortably travel with it in a backpack or even around your neck, and for serious shooters, the bevy of top-notch features will make up for the extra bulk.
The a7 IV’s incredible sensor and in-body image stabilization allow you to capture sharp handheld photos indoors (e.g., at museums and churches) and at night. And thanks to the 3.68M-dot electronic viewfinder, you can expect a lifelike shooting experience (along with other cool perks like exposure simulation), while the fully articulating screen makes it easy to create unique low- and high-angle shots of popular landmarks. Finally, the 4K/60p recording capabilities make the camera a top option for hybrid shooters; you can vlog, shoot video, and capture beautiful images all on the same day.
- Astonishingly good image quality
- Great video features
- Fully articulating screen
- Beautiful EVF
- Pricey compared to other models on this list
- Larger than other options
6. Nikon D5600
This next model needs no introduction; Nikon SLRs were favored by many famous travel photographers in the 1980s and beyond. The D5600 is the latest camera in Nikon’s midrange APS-C series, and it’s a perfect choice for beginners and enthusiast photographers alike.
The D5600 boasts Nikon’s excellent ergonomics, and the camera feels reassuringly comfortable in your hand, although it’s not as compact as other models on this list. Image quality is superb and low-light shooting is very impressive. Plus, you get a fully articulating screen (for selfies, vlogging, and tough compositions) along with excellent battery life.
These days, you can purchase a new D5600 for a great price, and it’s even cheaper if you buy it used – so if you’re in need of a reasonably high-level camera with a bargain price tag, it’s definitely a model worth checking out.
- Excellent image quality
- Good ergonomics and handling
- Good battery life
- No 4K video
- On the larger side
7. Ricoh GR III
Ricoh has been producing super-compact GR cameras since the film heydays of the late 1990s. Those classic point-and-shoot GR models were known for their sharp wide-angle lenses and minimalist controls, and the digital line of GR cameras is no different.
The Ricoh GR III is a perfect mix of portability, optical quality, and impressive features. You get a fixed 28mm full-frame equivalent f/2.8 lens capable of producing great images, and four-stop shake reduction that ensures sharp files even in challenging light.
The GR III is often compared to another camera in this list, the Fujifilm X100V, but I’d encourage you to grab the Ricoh if you prefer a smaller camera with a wider angle of view.
- Truly pocketable
- Four-stop shake reduction
- Fantastic wide-angle lens
- The straight-out-of-camera JPEGs are not as good as Fujifilm’s
- Battery life could be better
8. Sony a6600
It’s easy to see why Sony has grabbed a big share of the mirrorless camera market in recent years: The company produces an impressive range of cameras that appeal to professionals and enthusiasts alike.
The Sony a6600 may not have a full-frame sensor like some of its stablemates, but its compact body and impressive specs make it a strong candidate for the best enthusiast travel photography camera on the market. The a6600 features a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, Real-Time Eye AF for photography and video, and five-axis optical image stabilization. The 180-degree flip screen also makes the a6600 handy for vlogging and selfies. I do think that the layout and controls could be improved, but it’s one of the only drawbacks to an otherwise excellent product.
Quick note: If you like the look of the a6600 but you’re on a tighter budget, also consider the a6400. It may not be as impressive as the a6600, but it offers excellent value for money.
- Small and light
- Great lens lineup
- Real-Time Eye AF
- Handling and ergonomics could be improved
9. Olympus Tough TG-6
Going on an extreme adventure? The Olympus Tough TG-6 could be the best travel camera for you. This compact point-and-shoot model can withstand a lot of punishment, thanks to its shockproof, dustproof, and crushproof body.
The TG-6 can also work in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius), and it’s fogproof, even during sudden changes in temperature. As I found out on a recent trip to Indonesia – where I was frequently moving from an air-conditioned hotel room to the outside heat and humidity – a foggy camera can be a real inconvenience.
For snorkeling and diving fans, the Tough TG-6 will love being underwater almost as much as you. It’s waterproof up to 49 ft (15 m), and it boasts several nifty underwater modes, including a microscope mode that can focus on objects 0.39 in (1 cm) away.
- Super tough
- Only 12 megapixels
- More suited to adventurers than enthusiast photographers
10. Fujifilm X100V
I’m a huge fan of the Fujifilm X100 series cameras (I’ve owned three of the five models released over the last decade). In fact, many photographers loyal to other brands buy an X100-series camera as their “take-everywhere” body.
The X100V is small and light, yet it boasts an incredible 35mm f/2 fixed lens. Other useful features include its leaf shutter (good for photographing in quieter places like museums and churches) as well as a built-in neutral density filter (perfect for beautiful long-exposure landscapes and wide-aperture shots in bright light). And of course, you get a range of stunning JPEG film simulations that are ready to go as soon as you turn on the camera.
While the entire X100 series is great, note that the latest model, the X100V, does have an important improvement over its predecessors: it’s weather-resistant. This makes it an excellent choice for photographers who shoot in sand, rain, snow, and more.
- Excellent lens
- Built-in ND filter
- Fujifilm JPEGs
- Fixed lens
- No in-body image stabilization
- More expensive than its predecessors
11. Panasonic Lumix LX100 II
For travel photographers, there’s a lot to love about the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II. First of all, the camera sports a stylish design and excellent ergonomics; thanks to an aperture ring on the lens and a shutter speed dial on top of the camera, you can change settings on the fly, even when your camera is powered down.
The Lumix LX100 II also boasts a fast lens with a handy 24-75mm zoom range, so you can shoot in pretty much any travel photography scenario; optical image stabilization, so you can work handheld even indoors; and 4K/30p video, so you can capture high-quality, detailed footage of scenery, city streets, and building interiors.
Although it does have a smaller Four-Thirds sensor, the Lumix makes up for it in other ways: It can focus as close as 1.2 in (3 cm), it offers a focus-stacking feature, and it even includes the ability to change focus in an image after you’ve hit the shutter button.
- Excellent image quality
- Fast lens
- Small and compact
- Fixed rear screen
- Smaller sensor
12. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is the third iteration of a popular point-and-shoot series from Canon. It’s sleek, it’s stylish, and it almost looks like a mini DSLR.
Many compact cameras have a tiny sensor – one inch or smaller – but the G1 X Mark III is an exception; it boasts an impressive APS-C sensor, which is one of the biggest sensors offered in such a portable camera. It also features a handy zoom range of 24-72mm and an optical stabilizer for shooting in low light, so you’ll be ready to handle any travel photo scenario you encounter.
The G1 X Mark III is easy to use and produces images with high clarity and outstanding colors. The only downside is the price tag: At around $1000 USD, it may be on the high end for some enthusiast photographers, but for intermediate shooters, it’s certainly worth the extra cash.
- Large APS-C sensor
- Compact size
- Articulating screen
- Premium price
What is the best camera for travel photography?
Choosing the perfect travel photography camera is a difficult task, one that depends on many factors. Before you hit that “Buy” button, try to determine what you value most, then evaluate the different cameras I’ve discussed based on those criteria.
So what is the best camera for travel photography? Only you can answer that question! Read my list carefully, think about what matters to you – and, if you’re still struggling, go to a camera shop, where you can talk to the staff and hold each camera in your hands.
Then, when you’re ready, grab a camera and hit the road!
Now over to you:
What travel photography camera do you plan to buy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!