Best Cameras for Travel (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Capture your best travel moments with a camera made for it.
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON July 2, 2021
Most travelers enjoy photographing their adventures, and often a cell phone camera doesn't capture the moment as well as a dedicated travel camera. If you want professional-looking images, a high-tech camera is a better alternative. However, you need to find one that fits your budget and isn't too heavy or bulky. The good news is that there are plenty of high-quality, small, and lightweight cameras packed with the latest technology, including options such as WiFi and high-speed lenses. There are also cameras designed for specific activities, such as riding a motorcycle or capturing underwater shots. If you're not sure what camera will suit your needs the best, we're here to help. Our buying guide features some of the best travel cameras currently available.
This camera has both an all-manual option and automatic settings. It shoots in megapixels and RAW. Several accessories are available.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Zoom lens
- Focuses quickly and accurately
- Wi-Fi capable
- Dust may seep into the lens
- Audio quality isn’t the best on videos
This camera is designed for action-oriented users. It's good for vlogging and features 5K Ultra HD video, 20-megapixel photos, and 1080p live streaming.
- Clear photos
- Anti-glare screen
- Good stabilization
- Battery life isn’t the best
- Lags when processing photos
This mirrorless 30.3-megapixel camera has built-in Wi-Fi and a flip-out LCD screen. It's compatible with EF/EF-S lenses.
- Crisp and clear images
- Small and lightweight
- No need to micro-adjust the lenses
- Has a lag while processing images
- Switching from photo to video is a hassle
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of a Camera for Travel
- Shoot hundreds to thousands of photos. The great thing about travel cameras is that you can shoot numerous pictures and video clips and then pare them down to the ones you like best.
- Take professional-looking photos. Advancements in technology have enabled camera companies to make devices for the average person that produce high-quality images. As long as you know how to use the settings correctly, you can take pictures that look like they were shot by a professional.
- Easily share images with friends and family. The best travel cameras are designed so that you can share photos and videos on social media and in other ways. And often, you can do it instantaneously.
Types of Cameras for Travel
DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex. This type of camera permits interchangeable lenses on a single camera body. You see what you're shooting in the optical viewfinder through a reflection of light from a mirror. These cameras have different sized sensors with a much higher number of megapixels than a smartphone camera.
Instead of using a reflex mirror, in mirrorless cameras, the light goes directly through the lens to the digital sensor, and the image appears on the LCD screen. These cameras tend to be a little smaller and more lightweight, making them a good option for traveling. You can also adjust settings such as exposure and contrast before taking a photo.
Compact cameras are much smaller and lighter weight than DSLR and mirrorless cameras. However, they usually have smaller sensors as well. As a result, their images will be of lower quality. They also have fixed lenses, which limits the focal length. Some examples of compact travel cameras include GoPro cameras or point-and-shoot cameras.
Most people are familiar with the Canon brand, which opened its New York office in 1955. It started mass producing its VT model the following year and is one of the world's top camera companies. Aside from high-quality cameras, Canon also makes binoculars, camcorders, scanners, and more.
While Panasonic is recognized for its audio equipment, it also makes cameras. The Japanese company started using the name in 1955, but it was previously known as Matsushita Electric Industrial. We recommend the Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K.
Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, the predecessor of Sony, got its start in 1946. In addition to cameras, the company produces various electronic products, including video game consoles and smartphones.
It should be no surprise that Nikon is another successful camera company from Japan (which got its start in 1917). It also makes lenses, binoculars, lasers, and other items. We recommend checking out the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 16.7 Digital Camera.
Camera for Travel Pricing
- $400-$800: Compact cameras are much less expensive than their DSLR or mirrorless counterparts. Many professional photographers use these cameras as a backup when they don't want to carry bulkier equipment. They may not perform as well, but they are a good alternative for significantly less money.
- $1,000 and up: Professional-level DSLR and mirrorless cameras are a little pricey, but they are packed with features. These cameras are designed to take high-quality images that are vivid, crisp, and clear. They make great travel cameras but are not designed for entry-level users.
Size and Weight
When you're traveling, the fewer items you have to haul around, the better. Good quality travel cameras don't have to be very big—you can thank technological advances for that. Choose a camera that's relatively small and lightweight, so it doesn't become a burden when you're exploring a new city or hiking up a mountain on your bucket list.
Sure, you can choose a point-and-shoot camera to record your journey, but if you really want to set up a high-quality shot, you need one that provides manual control. That way, you can change the settings based on the light, subject, etc. It's okay to experiment with the settings because you will learn how to use them effectively over time—and the results will be worth it.
The number of megapixels is important when choosing a travel camera. More megapixels aren't necessarily better because sometimes the pixels are tiny. Instead, make sure the megapixels are part of a large sensor. That way, you will get more detail, which helps you decide to crop images at a later date.
One function that many cell phone cameras lack is a proper zoom function. When you choose a travel camera, the zoom helps you "zoom" in closer to a subject, such as a honeybee on a flower petal. Many cameras include built-in zoom lenses. Just keep in mind that a bigger zoom often equals a bulkier device.
- Aperture. If you plan on taking photos in low-light conditions, make sure you have a camera with the proper lens aperture, which is delineated by the letter "f" and a number. A lower aperture means the camera will do better in low-light scenarios. However, this can also drive up the cost.
- HD/4K Video. These days, cameras perform double duty: they take photographs as well as record video. Some, however, do this better than others. Most high-quality cameras record in HD 1080p, while others are more advanced with 4K recording. This drives up the cost and is more geared toward professional use.
- Weather-Resistant. If you plan on taking photographs in a damp environment, it's a good idea to choose a device that can tolerate a little bit of moisture. It's also a good idea to consider dust if your travel plans include a beach, desert, or other types of environments.
Best Cameras for Travel Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Practice using your new camera before taking a trip. Even better, enroll in a photography class to learn some tips about taking top-notch photos.
- Consider investing in a lightweight tripod. This puts your camera in a fixed position, which allows you to adjust the settings and take your time with the photograph. Plus, you can use slower shutter speeds to photograph the night sky, waterfalls, etc.
- Don't rush. For the best photos, you may need to wait until the clouds clear or the light hits the subject at just the right angle.
Q: Which camera is best for travel videos?
Several cameras do an excellent job of shooting video during travel adventures, and we include many of those options in this list.
Q: What cameras do travel bloggers use?
Travel bloggers use all types of cameras for their websites and social media platforms. Do your research, determine which camera has the top features you need, and check the reviews to see what others say about its performance.
Q: What camera should I buy for traveling?
Travel cameras are available in various styles in a wide price range, and there are several excellent options in this article depending on your skills and needs.
Our pick for the best camera for travel is the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera. It's not too pricey, and you can shoot in manual or automatic modes, which makes it a versatile selection. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the GoPro HERO9 Black.