The ideal travel cameras are lightweight, versatile, and captures great shots. Point-and-shoots are the smallest and least expensive option, but they have some limitations in terms of image quality. Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have big sensors and are more compact than digital SLRs—any traveler should give serious consideration to going in this direction. DSLRs are the bulkiest and heaviest option but capture professional-grade photographs and offer the widest selection of lenses.
Below are our top picks for the best travel cameras.
Point-and-Shoots for Travel
The only truly pocketable travel cameras are point-and-shoot (mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have a noticeably larger profile). Point-and-shoots have come a long way in recent years, offering larger image sensors and popular features like built-in Wi-Fi and in-camera panorama mode and HDR. They also are the most economical choice and the lowest liability should something happen on the road.
Canon PowerShot G9 X (INR 32995)
- Weight: 7.4 oz
- Zoom: 28-80mm
- Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 20.2
- What we like: Super light and the same sensor as the pricier G5 X
- What we don’t: We like a little more zoom
Sony used to dominate the advanced point-and-shoot market, but Canon has come on strong with its PowerShot G Series cameras. The G9 X isn’t the fanciest of the bunch—the G5 X and G7 X Mark II have faster lenses and slightly more zoom—but it’s compact and lightweight for travel and a great value at under $500. You don’t get features like an optical viewfinder or articulating LCD screen, but the G9 X boasts the same 1” CMOS sensor as the other two pricier models and weighs only 7.4 ounces. If you’re choosing between the G9 X and Sony RX100 above, the two cameras have identical sensor sizes and megapixels, but the Sony has 20mm of extra zoom. On the other hand, the G9 X has built-in Wi-Fi.
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 (INR 56600)
- Weight: 29.3 oz
- Zoom: 25-400mm
- Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 20.1
- What we like: Incredible zoom
- What we don’t: Heavy and not great in low light
For the versatility of a DSLR or mirrorless camera without the hassle of carrying around and changing multiple lenses, some travelers decide to go the superzoom route. In this category we like the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 best, which has the same large 1” sensor as the Sony RX100 series but a whopping 25-400mm of zoom. It also shoots 4K video, which is a nice perk. What are the downsides of this camera? It’s large and heavy at 29.3 ounces, which is on par with many interchangeable-lens cameras. But you just can’t beat the convenience and versatility—the FZ1000 is a true all-in-one camera with substantially more reach than any other point-and-shoot on this list.
Mirrorless Cameras for Travel
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras were built entirely for digital, fitting DSLR-like image sensors into compact bodies. This class of digital camera is arguably the best for travel, offering outstanding image quality in a lightweight set-up. Below we’ve picked three of the best options for travel from the a6300 up to the new full-frame Sony a7R II.
Sony Alpha a6300 (INR 70000 with 16-50mm lens)
- Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 24.3
- Weight: 14.3 oz
- What we like: Weather sealing is a huge plus for travel photography
- What we don’t: Now double the cost of the a6000
Sony just keeps knocking it out of the park with their industry-leading mirrorless cameras. Released last year, the a6300 takes the already-popular a6000 and makes a handful of notable improvements that will cement its place among the top of the mirrorless heap. On the latest model Sony added 4K video and weather sealing, both of which are features usually saved for professional-grade cameras. The a6300 also has more focus points than the a6000 and one of the fastest and most accurate autofocus systems around. What’s not to like about the Sony a6300? Honestly, there’s not much to write about here. Sony did have some past issues with 4K video and cameras overheating on their full-frame A7S, but we expect they have worked through that by now. If anything, the price of the a6300 at around $1,150 with a kit lens is significantly steeper than the Sony a6000 at $648 with the same 16-50mm kit lens. Feel free to grab the older model and save, but we love the features and functionality on the model.
Fujifilm X-T10 (INR 95499 with 18-55mm lens)
- Weight: 13.5 oz
- Sensor size: 368 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 16
- What we like: Fujifilm’s awesome color rendition and overall image quality
- What we don’t: Video is sub par compared to Sony
We were among the first in line to buy the Fujifilm X-T1, which represented the camera manufacturer’s first real jump into mirrorless (past models like the X-A2 were interesting but not competitive with the likes of Sony and Olympus). The X-T10 takes the same 16-megapixel image sensor and processor as the X-T1—which create fantastic images—but is available in a smaller size and a more approachable price point. For travelers, the major sacrifice is that X-T10 is not weather sealed, which can come into play if you plan on shooting outdoors in tough conditions or just don’t want to worry about your camera on the road. Both are terrific cameras but we prefer the lower price point and weight of the X-T10. Video shooters should keep in mind that this camera and others from Fujifilm definitely trail Sony in video quality (the new a6300 shoots 4K). But for stills, they just can’t be beat.
Digital SLRs for Travel
Digital SLRs have the largest sensors, the most precise lenses, and capture the highest overall image quality of any type of camera. They also are bulkier than mirrorless cameras or point-and-shoots and come with a higher price tag. For travel, many of the entry-level DSLRs are lightweight, offer great image quality along with features like built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. Almost all professionals use full-frame cameras that are heavy and expensive but capture exceptional images.
Nikon D5500 (INR 52950 with 18-55mm lens)
- Weight: 14.2 oz
- Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 24.2
- What we like: Nice and light for a mid-range DSLR
- What we don’t: Built-in Wi-Fi but not GPS
The major announcement from Nikon to kick off last year was the release of the D5500. All in all, this is an excellent mid-range DSLR with more features than the D3300 above. You get a flip-out screen with touchscreen functionality, superior autofocus, and better low light performance. For travel, we love the improved ergonomics that make the D5500 lighter in the hand than its predecessors and easier to grip. Despite all the features, the camera body weighs only 14.2 ounces, which is lighter than the D3330 and just an ounce or two heavier than some of our mirrorless camera choices above. The D5500 is about $250 more expensive than the entry-level D3300, but video shooters and those who want the jump in image quality will appreciate the differences.
Canon EOS 6D (INR 144,000 with 24-105mm Lens)
- Weight: 26.8 oz
- Sensor size: 856 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 20.2
- What we like: A great value for a full-frame camera
- What we don’t: Only 11 cross-type focus points
For those who want professional-grade image quality at a reasonable price point, give the full-frame Canon EOS 6D a serious look. This camera was released in 2013 and therefore is a little long in the tooth, but the price at around $1,500 makes it one of the best values on this list (you can get the 6D with the 24-105mm f/4L lens for about $2,100 total). We still haven’t heard an official announcement on a successor, but that may drive the 6D down even further. What do you sacrifice with the Canon 6D compared to a pricier full-frame DSLR like the Nikon D810 below? You get fewer megapixels at 20.2 than just about any newer full-frame camera, and the autofocus isn’t as advanced with fewer cross-type focus points. This may create a challenge for action photographers, but for travel photography the 6D offers all of the image quality and functionality that most people need.
Nikon D810 (INR 194,995 with 24-120mm VR Lens)
- Weight: 31.1 oz
- Sensor size: 861 sq. mm
- Megapixels: 36.3
- What we like: The best Nikon DSLR on the market
- What we don’t: Two years old and counting
If you’re willing to throw out size and weight considerations and focus solely on image and video quality, the Nikon D810 is one of the premier full-frame DSLRs on the market. Last year Canon released the 5D Mark IV with 30.4 megapixels of resolution, but that camera still lags behind the 36.3-megapixel D810 and costs about $1,000 more (the 5D Mark IV does shoot 4K video and the D810 does not). If you’re deciding between the Nikon D810 and Sony a7R II above for travel, keep in mind that the D810 weighs 9 ounces more and has a larger form factor but also has a much larger selection of lenses to choose from. Nikon’s FX lenses dwarf Sony’s FE collection in both number and quality, although Sony is catching up as of late. It’s a tough call between mirrorless and DSLRs at the high end, but you certainly won’t be disappointed with the D810.