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The Best Compact Travel Cameras to Take on Your Next Adventure

These tiny point-and-shoot digitals cameras can capture high-resolution photos and videos, and they won't weigh you down on your travels. They're also reasonably affordable.

a collage of three among the best travel cameras

A new wave of compact digital cameras has been hitting the market steadily over the past few years, with each new release getting closer to pro-level DSLRs in terms of optics quality and resolution. Pocket-sized and powerful, these compact cameras are changing the way in which consumer and prosumer photographers capture moments while on the road. Before you head out on your next adventure, consider leaving the DSLR behind and opting for one of the more sensible options below.

Unlike "DSLR" or "Mirrorless", the term "travel camera" is a bit murky. So, for the sake of this article (and our advice to you) let's say that we're looking for a lightweight camera (DSLRs: out), preferably with a fixed lens but potentially interchangeable if things don't get too bulky. It should be attractive, too. We want to be able to plunk this thing on a cafe table and not look like a total neckbeard.

Otherwise, it should be pretty user-friendly, sure the Leica M11 is a fantastic travel camera, but we don't have the time or money to get into manual focus rangefinder systems. Let's stick to snappy autofocus cameras with the ability for some quick artistic controls (nix the ultra-cheap point and shoots) like aperture. Good phone connectivity is a huge plus.

Generally, you should be able to see a cool fleeting moment, capture said moment and have it on your phone within a pretty short amount of time, and you shouldn't have to look like a dork while doing it.

What to Look for

leica q2
Henry Phillips

Sensor size: Generally, bigger is better when it comes to sensor size. A bigger sensor can gather more light — and thus more detail — and so it's able to create a higher-quality final image. A bigger sensor can help with things like background blur and low-light performance, too.

Lens: Most travel-sized cameras don't support interchangeable lenses — although there are exceptions — meaning that the lens it comes with is the only lens you get. So the lens's "zoom range" and "aperture" are very important.

Size and weight: The whole point of a travel camera is for it to be compact yet still be able to shoot better quality photos and videos than your smartphone. The smaller the camera, the more portable and travel-friendly it is. However, the smaller the camera, the smaller its sensor tends to be. So there tends to be a fine line between size and image quality.

Video Chops: If you're in the market for a travel camera to shoot video, keep a close eye on the video specs. Not all smaller cameras have 4K (or even 8K) video, especially if they're several years old. Also, a lot of manufacturers make cameras at similar price points, but one is better for video and one is better for stills (Fujifilm and Sony are notorious for this).

How We Tested

tech roundup
© 2022 Bruce Nauman / SIAE Courtesy l’artista; Sperone Westwater, New York, e Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milano Foto Agostino Osio

We've been writing about and reviewing cameras and photography gear for near-on a decade. We also work with major brands and talk to professional photographers and other experts within the industry. The below selections of travel cameras are a combination of products that we've had hands-on experience with as well as products that are made by brands trusted within the space. When reviewing, we test each camera's photo and video shooting capabilities, as well as their ease of use, size and general durability.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 VII

The Do-It-All Travel Camera

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 VII


  • Time tested, refined design
  • Ultra compact
  • Feature rich

  • Can take some time to get the hang of
  • Smaller 1" sensor won't feel quite as "special" as something bigger
  • Sensor: 20.1MP 1-inch Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor
  • Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar f/2.8-4.5 Lens, 24-200mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Year released: August 2019

    Sony’s RX100 line of compact shooters has long been a fan favorite and the VII is the latest and greatest model — it’s really just a great all-around travel camera. It's packing a solid (if a bit petite) 20.1MP 1-inch sensor behind a quality zoom lens and a very cool pop-up viewfinder. Plus, with 4K HDR video capabilities, terrific advanced tracking and autofocus features, a flip-around viewfinder and an external mic port (a first for a Sony RX100), the VII is really the perfect camera for amateur (and even serious) bloggers.

        Ricoh GRIIIx

        The Purist Smartphone Upgrade

        Ricoh GR IIIx


        • Everything you need, nothing you don't
        • RAW image quality is fantastic

        • No viewfinder
        • Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
        • Lens: 40mm f/2.8 Lens (35mm Equivalent)
        • Year released: 2021

          The normal GRIII is a great little camera and the GRIIIx is an even greater little camera. The GRIII line is basically defined by having a honking big 24.2MP APS-C sensor, a fast, non-zoom lens, and nearly nothing else. It's a purist camera that does one thing very well: taking photos. Though technically personal preference, we like the GRIIIx more because of its tighter 40mm focal length, which is right in the middle of what people would consider normal, instead of the original GRIII's 28mm lens (wide). Generally, the 40mm focal length is gonna feel more special/different when compared to your phone camera.

              Fujifilm X100V

              The Enthusiast Fixed-Lens

              Fuijifilm X100V


              • Awesome hybrid viewfinder
              • Very good looking
              • External controls

              • You're paying extra for that viewfinder
              • Getting a bit long in the tooth
              • Sensor: 26.1 APS-C X-Trans
              • Lens: 35mm f/2 (35mm equivalent)
              • Year released: 2020

                The Fujifilm X100V is just so. dang. good. It's got a fast, 35mm f/2 lens projecting onto fuji's omnipresent (see below) and fantastic 26.1MP APS-C sensor. It's got classic looks and intuitive external controls for key settings, but what really sets this camera apart is the viewfinder. It's this super trick/weird hybrid setup where you've got the option to either look at a very high-quality electronic viewfinder or a real-deal optical finder with all sorts of cool info overlaid. If you think it sounds like a gimmick…you're mostly right, but it's a very fun experience to shoot around in the optical viewfinder mode (even if you'll spend most of your time in the EVF mode).

                    Leica Q2

                    The Fixed Lens Grail

                    Leica Q2


                    • Lens is God's gift to man
                    • Sensor is Germany's gift to man

                    • Price is devastatingly high
                    • Your phone will hate dealing with 47 megapixel raw files
                    • Sensor: 47.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
                    • Lens: Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. Lens
                    • Year released: 2019

                      The Leica Q2 is the company’s fixed-lens full-frame digital camera and it looks basically identical to the company’s original Q, which was a smash hit amongst photographers who valued portability, fast speeds, minimalism and, most importantly, could afford the Q’s immense price tag. Like its predecessor, the Q2 once again proves that a Leica can have autofocus, an electronic viewfinder and a fixed lens – and still be a real Leica. The new model is more durable (and splash-resistant) and has better connectivity, but more importantly, a significantly upgraded sensor, with almost double the resolution (47.3 vs 24.2).

                      The Leica Q2 will likely be a grail item for most people. If money is no object (or you just want to splurge), however, this is a travel camera to buy if you want to be the envy of all your friends. For bonus points, track down the ultra-cool "Reporter" edition.

                          Fujifilm X-T30 II

                          Compact Interchangeable Mirrorless

                          Fujifilm X-T30 II


                          • Compact size
                          • Affordable, excellent lenses

                          • Small-ish viewfinder
                          • No sensor stabilization
                          • Sensor: 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 Sensor
                          • Lens: multiple X-mount lenses available
                          • Year released: 2020

                            Best to think of Fuji’s X-T30 II as the sensible upgrade from a fixed lens system. It's not necessarily more expensive, but you'll be lugging around some extra lenses. The interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera is a pretty perfect travel camera for those that want to do the photo deep dive and have the ultimate flexibility that you can only get by having multiple lenses. It’s small and lightweight, plus it’s not terribly expensive, but the performance levels you get with this thing are off the charts. It has a huge APS-C image sensor, fast processor, incredible autofocus (on par with Sony’s APS-C offerings) and shoots 4k video at 30 frames per second.

                            You'll get some top-notch design and Fujifilm's X-mount lenses - particularly the non-zoom lenses - are top-notch and not too expensive. If you've got this body, a 23mm f/2 and a 50mm f/2 in your bag, you're golden.

                                Read Our Full Review

                                Sony A7C

                                Small-But-Mighty Full Frame System

                                Sony A7C


                                • Huge performance in a tiny package
                                • E-mount lens ecosystem is massive

                                • Aging internals
                                • Some user interface quirks that require a learning curve
                                • Sensor: 24.2MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI Sensor
                                • Lens: Sony E-Mount
                                • Year Released: 2020

                                  It's best to think of Sony's full-frame A7C as an A7III in a new housing with smarter autofocus. That is to say, it's an absolute unit. Its main selling point is cramming a huge, 24.2MP full-frame sensor into a tiny body with an interchangeable lens mount. Autofocus is snappy and it somehow manages to fit a 5-axis sensor stabilization in there too. The performance-per-cubic-inch of this camera is incredibly impressive and the fact that you get access to Sony's massive (and very good) line of full-frame E-mount lenses is just gravy.

                                  Other Cameras to Consider

                                  Our recommendations are based on real-world testing and hands-on experience. Here's a snapshot of new and unreleased cameras our testers are considering for future updates to this guide.

                                  Fujifilm X-T5 ($1,699+): Released in November 2022, the Fujifilm X-T5 is the company's new flagship compact camera. It's smaller, lighter and less video-focused than the X-T4. And it has many of the same hardware — including the same 40-megapixel APS-C sensor and X Processor — as Fujilfim's higher-end X-H2.

                                  Canon PowerShot SX740 HS ($599): This little point-and-shoot is a fan favorite. It's a few years old — released in mid-2018 — so you often find it heavily discounted, but it also over-delivers in a couple key ways. It has great zoom capabilities (up to 40x optical zoom), can shoot 4K video and has a flip-up viewfinder. The main downsides? It lacks a touchscreen and its 20.3-megapixel sensor is a bit dated.

                                  Nikon Z50 ($995+): Released in late 2019, the Z50 is Nikon's first APS-C mirrorless camera. It comes with a 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor and works with Nikon's Z-mount ecosystem of lenses (same as the company's flagship full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and Z7). Yet it's also truly a compact camera that's easy enough to wield one-handed.

                                  Fujifilm X-E4 ($849+): The Fujifilm X-E4 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera that was released in early 2021. It's the company's smallest camera that works with its X-series of lenses. It has a 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, a super snappy processor and a convenient LCD touchscreen that opens up a range of photo- and video-shooting options.

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