New: Best cameras for travel: Digital Photography Review

Travel can expose you to once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences, and a good camera can be the perfect way to preserve those memories. We’ve looked at a range of models that offer great image quality, good autofocus and excellent video, so that you can capture whatever you encounter on your travels. We’ve also tried to select relatively small cameras so they don’t interfere with your trip.

Our selections include relatively compact cameras with fixed lenses, perfect for just documenting what you saw on your trip, it also includes Micro Four Thirds and APS-C models that allow smaller camera/lens combinations, if you’re looking to travel light. Full-frame cameras open up the potential for even better image quality but the lenses can get pretty big, so it’s worth checking how big the total package is, before committing to a large-sensor model.

Our recommendations

Best pocketable travel camera: Ricoh GR III

24MP APS-C sensor | 28mm equiv. F2.8 lens | Wi-Fi + Bluetooth

The Ricoh is a pocketable compact with a large APS-C sensor.

Photo: Barney Britton

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What we like:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Good controls and ergonomics
  • Truly pocketable

What we don’t:

  • Short battery life
  • No built-in flash
  • Sluggish AF in low light

The Ricoh GR III is the latest in a series of classic compact cameras with a large APS-C sensor and an 28mm equivalent lens. It’s not the most flexible camera but it’s one of the most pocketable and has built up a dedicated following of photographers who find it a joy to shoot with.

The GR III handles well, despite its size, thanks to well-placed controls, flexible customization options and a responsive touchscreen. The grip is just the right size for easy one-handed operation.

The GR III focuses swiftly and accurately in good light, but it slows significantly as light levels drop. There’s also a Snap Focus option, where the user can preset a focus distance the camera ‘snaps’ to with a full press of the shutter button. The GR III’s battery life is disappointing, at a rated 200 shots per charge.

“Offers direct control and excellent image quality in a pocketable camera”

Our only concern, in terms of using the GR III for travel are that some users have found dust can get into the lens. So it’s worth trying to find some sort of protective bag to keep it in.

The Ricoh GR III offers direct control and excellent image quality in a pocketable camera. Its short battery life and fixed focal length lens mean this camera certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s a compelling offering for travel, street and casual photographers alike.

There’s also the GR IIIx, a variant with a longer, 40mm equivalent lens on it. This may be a little tight for documenting your travels, but it’s historically a popular focal length.

The classic choice: Fujifilm X100V

26MP APS-C X-Trans sensor | 35mm equiv. F2 lens | Hybrid viewfinder

The Fujifilm X100V makes an excellent travel companion, if you can find one.

Photo: Dan Bracaglia

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What we like:

  • Fujifilm’s latest sensor is excellent
  • Tilting, touch-enabled screen
  • Remarkably strong video features
  • Excellent build quality

What we don’t:

  • Lens’s AF speed on the slow side
  • No stabilization of any kind
  • Arguably too many dials

The Fujifilm X100V is a classically styled fixed lens camera with a 26MP APS-C camera sited behind a 35mm equivalent F2 lens.

The X100V isn’t the smallest or most inconspicuous camera, but its fixed focal length means you develop an ‘eye’ for the photos it’ll take, essentially making it a better quality, more engaging alternative to snapping away with your phone.

It’s worth noting that, despite being one of our picks, supplies have been limited for a while: we wouldn’t recommend paying significantly over the $1399 list price.

Controls and handling are excellent. The addition of a tilting touchscreen is welcome, and it doesn’t add much in the way of bulk. The combination of dedicated and customizable control dials gives users a number of options for how they want to control the camera, but some may find it overwhelming. Adding a filter adapter lets you completely weather-proof the body.

“The X100V continues the series’ tradition of providing excellent image quality in a compact package.”

Overall performance is good for this type of camera, though the redesigned lens isn’t much faster to focus than the older models. It can shoot 20 fps with autofocus, there’s no appreciable operation lag and battery life is above average. Autofocus subject tracking is reasonable, low light autofocus is dependable, and face/eye AF is improved as well (though unavailable in optical viewfinder mode).

The X100V brings a level of polish you would expect from a fifth iteration of a camera. Fujifilm has done a great job keeping the X100-series up to date without messing with the formula that’s made it so popular. No surprise, this is the best X100 yet, and is the best prime-lens compact camera currently on the market.

Truly compact mirrorless: OM System OM-5

20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor | 4K/30p video | In-body stabilization rated to 6.5EV (7.5 with some lenses)

Photo: Brendan Nystedt

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What we like:

  • Attractive JPEG output
  • Selection of clever photo features
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • IP53 rating supports claims of weather sealing

What we don’t:

  • AF tracking is disappointing
  • Image quality is behind larger sensor cameras

The OM System OM-5 is a compact interchangeable lens camera with a 20MP Four Thirds sensor in a compact body with plenty of external control.

That relatively small sensor means it can remain fairly small, even with a lens attached, and the Micro Four Thirds lens system provides extensive options in that regard, from compact zooms to small prime lenses.

The OM-5 has a compact body but a decent number of control points and offers a high degree of customization. Its menu system is quite cluttered by the camera’s extensive array of features. Viewfinder and rear screen are typical for the price.

It has good phase-detect autofocus with face detection, but tracking for other subjects is distinctly unreliable. Using a single point or zone of focus and trying to keep up with the subject yields best results, but is somewhat awkward due to the lack of an AF joystick.

“Its combination of IP-rated weather sealing, image stabilization and compact size helps the OM-5 offer something different”

The OM-5’s 4K video isn’t the most detailed, but this is made up for by some of the best image stabilization on the market, making the OM-5 a competent hand-held video option. Video AF tracks faces and people decently, but can struggle with other kinds of subjects.

The OM-5 offers strong all-round capability with excellent image stabilization in a compact IP53-rated weather-sealed body and access to one of the largest mirrorless camera lens systems.

All-round compact capability: Sony a6700

26MP BSI CMOS sensor | 4K/60p video capture | Fully articulating screen

Photo: Richard Butler

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What we like:

  • Front and rear command dials
  • Excellent AF in stills and video
  • 4K/120p capture (with crop)

What we don’t:

  • No AF joystick
  • JPEG sharpening can be aggressive

The Sony a6700 is built around a 26MP APS-C-sized sensor. Its excellent autofocus performance means it excels at both stills and video capture. There’s a good choice of relatively compact lenses available, too. We’d suggest avoiding the really small 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 though: it’s not the lens to get the most out of this camera.

The a6700 has a thumb-and-forefinger dial interface missing from Sony’s less expensive models. It’s just slightly larger than previous models in the line, but in exchange, you also get a fully articulating display. However, it lacks the AF joystick found on many cameras in its class.

Fast, dependable autofocus with a selection of subject recognition modes means the a6700 will help maximize your chances of capturing the unexpected moments on a trip.

“Excellent photo and video quality with best-in-class AF in stills and video make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts.”

The camera produces very detailed 4K video up to 60p with 10-bit color, with good rolling shutter performance. There’s also a 4K/120p mode, albeit with a 1.58x crop. Autofocus performance is top-notch, with a well-designed touch interface. It’s a strong option both for videographers and vloggers.

Excellent photo and video quality, best-in-class AF in stills and video, and a deep set of features to support both make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts. Sony’s E-mount also includes a good range of available lenses.

The great travel kit: Fujifilm X-S20 with 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS

26MP X-Trans APS-C sensor | Up to 6.2K/30P 10-bit video | In-body image stablization

Photo: Brendan Nystedt

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What we like:

  • Excellent still and video quality
  • Long battery life
  • Comfortable, simple ergonomics

What we don’t:

  • AF tracking still lags behind peers
  • Small electronic viewfinder
  • Micro HDMI instead of full-size

Fujifilm’s X-S20 is also worth considering. Like the a6700, it’s built around a 26MP BSI CMOS sensor and is strong at both stills and video. Its autofocus isn’t as simple and powerful as the Sony’s, but its JPEG color modes produce really attractive results, and there’s a wide choice of lenses including compact prime and the well-priced, supremely useful 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS, which is a great travel option.

The camera has an approachable layout with two customizable dials set into a large hand grip. The camera is well-built and feels robust thanks to its partial metal construction. The EVF is a little small, though.

“The X-S20 delivers a long list of options to still shooters and vloggers alike, all while offering solid battery life.”

Overall image quality is very good. JPEGs have pleasing color, and Film Simulation modes make it easy to change the style of your photos. Some cameras capture more detail at low sensitivities, but the X-S20 is more competitive at high ISOs. The camera’s sensor gives you plenty of latitude when processing Raw images.

The X-S20’s video specs are impressive, with 10-bit 4K capture at up to 60p. Videographers will appreciate its F-Log capture, while the Eterna color profile is attractive if you want a simpler workflow. An optional fan extends record times but autofocus isn’t especially dependable.

The X-S20 takes Fujifilm’s higher-end still and video features and puts them into a simple, cleanly designed body with built-in image stabilization. Image quality is great, autofocus is good in most situations, and the breadth of video features is impressive.

The stylish travel companion: Nikon Zf

24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor | Full-width 4K/30 video, cropped 4K/60 | Stabilization rated to 8EV

Photo: Richard Butler

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What we like:

  • Distinctive design with direct controls
  • Effective subject recognition
  • Strong stills and video features

What we don’t:

  • Weight and minimal grip can become uncomfortable
  • Slow MicroSD second slot
  • Few custom buttons

The Nikon Zf is a classically styled full-frame camera built around a 24MP full-frame sensor that’s used by many of its peers. The angular 80s-style body isn’t the most comfortable to hold in your hand for extended periods, but the lack of stick-out grip makes it smaller than many of its rivals, making it a tempting travel companion.

At least in its all-black form, there’s a chance of it being mistaken for a film camera, which may help avoid the wrong kind of attention, when you’re out and about in an unfamiliar setting.

The Zf gives the choice of using the dedicated control dials or customizable command dials. In most respects it copies its well-polished control system from other recent Nikons. Not everyone will enjoy the angular early 80’s handling but it handles just as well as the cameras it resembles.

The Zf’s autofocus is impressive, with both subject recognition and AF tracking both working well. It’s perhaps not quite as confidence-inspiring as the latest Sony cameras, but it’s not far off. It’d be nice to have an AF joystick but the rear control pad does a decent job.

“The Zf’s looks may date from 1981, but its performance is completely contemporary”

The Zf has a very solid video feature set. Oversampled 4K/30 and cropped 4K/60 is standard for this sensor, but the Zf also adds a waveform display that’s especially useful for exposing its 10-bit Log footage.

The Zf uses a very familiar 24MP BSI sensor that has underpinned numerous cameras in recent years, and the results are predictably good. There’s plenty of dynamic range and enough detail capture for all but the most demanding applications.

The Nikon Zf’s performance lives up to its looks. It’s not as comfortable to hold for long periods as more modern designs, but it’s also distinctive and engaging in a way they’re arguably not. We’re still completing our testing, but it hasn’t disappointed yet.

Portable full-frame: Sony a7CR

61MP BSI CMOS sensor | 4K/60p video with 10-bit color | Dedicated ‘AI’ processor for AF system

Photo: Richard Butler

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What we like:

  • Big camera features in a small body
  • Outstanding AF performance
  • Auto Framing video mode

What we don’t:

  • Small, low-res viewfinder
  • No joystick control
  • No fully mechanical shutter

The Sony a7CR is a relatively compact full-frame camera with an image-stabilized 61MP CMOS sensor. You sacrifice the convenience of an AF joystick and get a pretty small and basic viewfinder to keep the camera’s size down, but there’s little else that delivers this much image quality in such a compact package.

You’ll need to pick your lenses carefully to keep the camera portable but the a7CR’s autofocus means it can respond rapidly to just about anything you encounter on your travels.

The a7CR is impressively small for a full-frame camera. The addition of a front control dial improves handling significantly. Notably, there’s no joystick for positioning the AF point, and the viewfinder is small and very low resolution for a camera costing this much.

Autofocus performance on the a7CR is very good and is helped by a dedicated processor for crunching complex machine learning-trained algorithms. Subject recognition is quick, and the AF system tracks subjects tenaciously around the frame in either stills or video. 8 fps burst shooting with continuous AF results in a dependably high hit rate.

“If you’re looking for maximum resolution in a travel-sized body, the a7RC is tough to beat.”

The a7CR captures 4K video at up to 60 fps. The most detailed, oversampled footage results from a 1.2x crop of the sensor, which makes it challenging to maintain wider focal lengths. Auto Framing mode uses AI algorithms to mimic the way a camera operator might punch in on subjects, keeping them framed and in focus.

The a7CR’s 61MP sensor can capture a lot of detail, putting it ahead of most full-frame rivals; though it is a little noisier in low light. JPEG colors are pleasing, and excellent sharpening makes the most out of the 61MP sensor. Raw files provide plenty of latitude to pull up shadows at base ISO.

The a7CR delivers impressive results for its size. It essentially provides the same level of image quality, and most of the same features, as Sony’s a7R V, but in a smaller package. In exchange for the small size, you make a few compromises, like no AF joystick, but if you’re looking for maximum resolution in a travel-sized body, the a7CR is tough to beat.

Why you should trust us

This buying guide is based on cameras used and tested by DPReview’s editorial team. We don’t select a camera until we’ve used it enough to be confident in recommending it, usually after our extensive review process. The selections are purely a reflection of which cameras we believe to be best: there are no financial incentives for us to select one model or brand over another.


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