What is the Best Travel Camera or Best Camera Generally?

I get this question a lot. The best camera is one you’ll find easy and convenient for carrying throughout your trip, so check the size, weight, and features. Also, the best travel camera is one that performs well in your favorite situations.

  • For adventure sports, a waterproof / shockproof camera would probably be best.
  • For city photography, but don’t want to risk getting mugged with a big camera then a smaller camera like a snap-and-shoot or mirrorless would likely be best.
  • For photographs that you can print with excellent quality (maybe you want to sell your photography), then a DSLR or high-end mirrorless would be best.

 

What is the Best Compact Camera?

The best compact camera is one that’s lightweight and fits in your pocket. You’ll want to review the Point and Shoot cameras, the waterproof cameras, and the mirrorless cameras listed below.

A number of people have asked me about the lens I have for my iPhone. It’s the Olloclip 4-in-1 and I really love it. The wide angle lens is great for small spaces, like hotel rooms and narrow back alleys in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, the macro lenses are really good with a few limitations, mainly that a lot of light is needed, so it’s best for bright daylight. Also, it takes a bit of practice to hold your phone perfectly still for an outdoor flower shot. Click here to check the price for your iPhone. Moment is considered to have some of the highest quality phone lenses.

Olloclip 4-in-1 phone camera lens

They’re all excellent value for the money. I’ve listed the weight for each, and you can see the size in the photos of them.

 

Camera Comparison Charts for the Traveler

Here is a comparison of all the best cameras at each level, from snap-and-shoot to professional level gear. The links may provide a small commission at no additional cost to you.

 

Point and Shoot

I highly recommend these cameras if you’d like an alternative to your phone, so you don’t run through your phone battery when re-charging is not easily available or if your phone camera is not ideal. (Here are some tips on saving your smartphone battery.)

These cameras do not have built-in WiFi, and the digital screen is fixed to the back of the camera, similar to a phone camera.

CameraClickable
Image
Current PriceWeightZoomNotes
Canon PowerShot ELPH 180Click for Today's Price4.445 oz / 126 g8x1/2.3" CCD Sensor
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9Click for Today's Price12.8 oz / 362.9 gNoneFilm camera
Nikon COOLPIX L32Click for Today's Price5.785 oz / 164 g w/ battery + memory card3x1/2.3" CCD Sensor
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800Click for Today's Price4.7 oz / 133.2 g5x1/2.3" Super HAD CCD Sensor

 

Waterproof

Great for caves, crossing rivers, or just being outdoors in all weather. All of these cameras have built-in WiFi, meaning you can send images directly from the camera to your phone for editing and upload to the internet world.

CameraClickable
Image
Current PriceWeightMPNotes
Fujifilm FinePix XP80, 5x zoom Click for Price 6.314 oz / 179 g ** 16.4JPEG only. Sensor 1/2.3" CMOS
Nikon W100, 3x zoom Click for Price 6.243 oz / 177 g 13.0JPEG only. Sensor 1/3.1" CMOS
Olympus Tough TG-5, 4x zoom Click for Price 8.819 oz / 250 g **12.0JPEG / RAW. Sensor 1/2.3" CMOS

 

Mirrorless

All of the cameras listed here have WiFi connectivity and shoot in both RAW and JPEG formats. RAW provides increased editing capability in Lightroom and Photoshop. Also, lenses are interchangeable on all of these cameras, offering flexibility and increased focus capability over a zoomed out snap and shoot or even some entry-level DSLRs.

Many people are moving towards these cameras if they won’t be printing images to large hardcopy sizes for framing or sale. These cameras are much more lightweight than DSLRs but have similar functionality. For example, they will perform much better than a snap and shoot in low-light and fast action situations.

CameraClickable
Image
 WeightMPSensor Type
Size
Fujifilm X-T1Check Price15.52 oz
434 g **
16.3APS-C CMOS
Fujifilm X-A5Check Price12.73 oz
361 g **
24.2APS-C CMOS
Olympus OM-D
E-M10 Mark II
Check Price13.757 oz
390 g **
16.1MOS
17.3 x 13 mm
Panasonic Lumix
DMC-GX85
Check Price15.027 oz
426 g **
16.0MOS
17.3 x 13.0 mm
Sony Alpha
a6000
Check Price12.13 oz
344 g **
24.3CMOS

 

Entry Level DSLR

These cameras offer most of the capabilities of a medium level DSLR along with similar sensor sizes, but at a lower price point. This is a great option if you aren’t sure you want to spend a lot of money on a DSLR.

CameraClickable
Image
Current PriceWeightZoomMPJPEG
RAW
Conn-
ectivity
LCD Screen
Canon PowerShot SX620 HSCheck Current Price6.4 oz
182 g
25x20.2JPEGWiFiRear
Nikon D3400Check Current Price13.9 oz
395 g
Interch-
angeable
lens
24.0BothBlue-
tooth
Rear
Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70Check Current Price11.4 oz
322 g
30x20.3BothWiFiTilt

 

Medium Level DSLR

I went straight from a mirrorless camera to a medium level DSLR. At that time mirrorless cameras had much less functionality than they do now, so coming up to this level was life-changing for my photography. I suddenly had 3 lenses and full control over my camera, with a much wider range of aperture and shutter speed.

On this camera, I have been able to shoot everything from ants (macro) to the night sky (astrophotography). The major downside of a good DSLR is the weight. Initially, it doesn’t seem like much, but my camera is my heaviest item on multi-day backpacking trips these days. However, if you’ll mostly be doing city and town walks, these cameras are fantastic and highly recommended.

CameraClickable
Image
Current PriceWeightMPSensor Type / SizeLCD Screen
Canon EOS 80DCheck Current Price1.61 lb
730 g
24.2CMOS
22.5 x 15 mm
Vari-angle
Nikon D7500Check Current Price1.41 lb
640 g
20.9CMOS
23.5 x 15.6 mm
Tilt
Sony Alpha a68Check Current Price1.53 lb
696 g
24.0CMOS
23.5 x 15.6 mm
Tilt
Sony Alpha a77 IICheck Current Price1.6 lb
726 g
24.3CMOS
23.5 x 15.6 mm
Swivel

 

Professional Level DSLR (Full Frame)

Professional level DSLR cameras have full frame sensors, and what really comes into play is the wide range of aperture, ISO, and shutter speeds. All of this put together allows for printing images of very high quality at very large sizes. Art gallery photography is typically shot on a full frame camera in RAW, not a snap and shoot camera and not in JPEG format.

These cameras have interchangeable lenses, which are also of extremely high quality. Some of these lenses may function with a medium level DSLR. Although one of these might be the best camera for you in terms of quality, the cost could be prohibitive. Also, keep in mind the weight of the camera, lenses, and other gear.

** The weight of these cameras includes battery and memory card.

CameraClickable
Image
Current PriceWeight **MPSensor Type / SizeLCD Screen
Canon 1D X Mark IICheck Current Price3.366 lb
1530 g
20.0CMOS
36 x 24 mm
Rear
Nikon D5Check Current Price3.113 lb
1415 g
21.0CMOS
35.9 x 23.9 mm
Rear
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark IICheck Current Price1.263 lb
574 g
20.4MOS
17.4 x 13.0 mm
180-degree
Sony Alpha a99 IICheck Current Price1.868 lb
849 g
42.0CMOS
35.9 x 24.0 mm
Tilt

 

What’s the Difference Between Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras?

Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR). The camera has a small flap (reflex) that raises up, allowing light and the image, to reflect onto the sensor immediately via a mirror when you press the shutter button. There is no lag time, like in a point and shoot camera. Because the camera operator has control over this flap, as well as other functionality, there is a lot more control. Meanwhile, a snap and shoot is fully, or nearly-fully, automated, and provides the user less control.

Mirrorless cameras have begun competing very well with DSLRs in the past few years. However, they don’t have a mirror, like a DSLR. The viewfinder is electronic, while the DSLR viewfinder is exactly what the lens sees.

What does control of the camera give you? It allows you to decide how much blur an image should have, as well as adjust the camera to various lighting conditions exactly how you want it to. Perhaps the light is dim at a dinner party, but you want to provide more light to your image. You can do this with a DSLR or mirrorless camera nowadays.

Used and Refurbished Photography Gear

Have a look around. You may have to settle for older models, but you never know!

 

What I Carry

I travel with a Canon DSLR for my landscape and street photography. The vari-angle LCD screen is fantastic, as I can still see through the screen while holding the camera over my head or at my waist for the best possible angle.

I also take my iPhone everywhere. The camera is excellent on bright sunny days, so I use it a lot when hiking or wandering the streets in Spain, Myanmar, or anywhere else.

 

More Questions?

Let me know! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. A camera is a great investment, in my opinion. Especially if you can take a few minutes to learn the functionality. Click here and check out the Learning section.

 

Read More – Photography

Everything from photography gear packing lists for Machu Picchu to learning the Rule of Thirds in 10 Minutes. Click here for everything photography related! 

Understand how to use your camera, so that you love your photos. Click here to read about photography tips and more!

Buying your first flying camera? Check out Introduction to Drones!

Done reading about photography and ready to see photos from my month in Mongolia? Start here!

Comparison chart for selecting the best travel camera.

Comparison chart for selecting the best digital travel camera. Includes convenient links to buy.Comparison of best compact camera for travel. Includes point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and more!Comparison of best compact cameras for travel. Includes point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and more!