This guide is intended to help globe-trotting shutterbugs pick the perfect camera for traveling with. Perfect is a tough word to live up to and it’s also very subjective, so the perfect camera will be different for every photographer. While some travelers are content with a camera that takes great photos while requiring the least amount of photography knowledge, others want a camera that can go far beyond the typical travel snapshot. Some travel enthusiasts just want a tiny camera that can fit into the pair of shoes packed in their luggage, while others would rather leave that pair of shoes at home in favor of bringing a bigger camera. Whether your idea of travel is a trip to Paris or an expedition into the rainforest, you will want some kind of digital camera to capture your memories with as you explore. From small digital compact cameras to slightly larger mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras to larger still DSLR cameras, we’ve got something on this page for everyone and every kind of travel. Be sure to take a look at our tips for travel photography too before you venture off!

 

Advanced Compact Cameras

For travelers who don’t have much room for a big camera but still want to take great photos, one of the best space and weight saving options is an advanced compact camera. While a compact camera doesn’t offer the versatility of interchangeable lenses, creative control is still simple with these very full featured cameras that can take photos rivaling the quality produced by many larger cameras.

If you’re traveling to a place where theft is common, carrying around a big camera bag filled with lenses and gear can be like painting a big target on your back. Compact cameras are small enough to fit in pockets and purses and in tiny backpack pouches — they don’t make you immune to thieves, but they’re easier to keep track of and don’t attract as much attention as a DSLR does.

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30

 

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Waterproof to 33 feet, the lightweight Sony TX30 is a stylishly designed camera with impressive optical performance even in low light. The TX30 looks more like a traditional compact camera than a waterproof camera built for the outdoors and underwater, but it’s shock proof from drops of up to 5 feet and can operate in temperatures as low as 14° F. For travelers headed to destinations off the beaten trail, the TX30 is a great camera to bring along for the adventure.

 

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Canon Powershot S120

 

Canon Powershot S120

 

The 12.1 megapixel Canon Powershot S120 is a pocket sized compact digital camera with a f/1.8-5.7 24-120mm equivalent lens. The Powershot S120 is equipped with a 3 inch touchscreen LCD and  uses a DIGIC 6 image processor and offers the high ISO speed of 12,800. An intelligent optical image stabilization system reduces the effects of camera shake depending upon the current shooting situation. Full HD video capture is possible and this camera even allows you to record super-slow motion clips with 120 fps video capture at 640×480 resolution. Manual control options and RAW image capture make this a great compact camera that you can bring anywhere you go.

 

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Nikon COOLPIX P7800

 

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An advanced compact camera for the serious photographer, the 12.2 megapixel Nikon P7800 is Nikon’s flagship compact. Its 28-200mm equivalent focal length zoom lens is fast, with a f/2 maximum aperture that offers great low light performance. A variable angle LCD screen allows for creative handling of the camera to photograph difficult scenes, and the electronic viewfinder performs well. Camera shake is combatted using vibration reduction to prevent blurry shots. Full manual control with RAW capture is possible and for those who want to let the camera do the exposure work, there are 19 scene modes covering multiple shooting situations.

 

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Sony RX100

 

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The 20.2 megapixel Sony RX100 is a very compact digital camera, but it features a larger than average sensor size resulting in high quality images. Capable of shooting in RAW, the Sony RX100 features an innovative focus ring around the 28-100mm (equivalent) f/1.8-4.9 lens which allows photographers to easily exercise manual creative control by quickly adjusting aperture. Fast autofocus and a shooting rate of up to 10fps makes this a serious tool for capturing fast moving action! Expansive landscapes can be captured automatically by sweeping vertically or horizontally while shooting — the camera stitches the images together into a seamless panorama. For photographers who want an amazing advanced compact digital camera with a variable focal length lens, the Sony RX100 is the ideal camera.

 

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Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Cameras

 

Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras are a relatively new breed of camera that form a sort of missing link between the small, fixed lens compact cameras and the large DSLR cameras. For photographers who want the creative control that comes with being able to select the perfect lens for every situation without having to carry around the bulky camera body of a DSLR, mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILCs) are the ideal solution.

Sony NEX-7

 

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The 24.3 megapixel Sony NEX-7 is an incredible mirrorless camera offering DSLR performance and image quality from an APS-C size sensor in a tiny package. Object tracking autofocus locks onto a moving subject, following it even while zooming. A tiltable 3 inch LCD screen and electronic viewfinder make composing shots easy and a hot shoe system allows you to use a powerful external flash on the camera. A Sweep Panorama Mode allows photographers to capture expansive landscapes and scenes automatically by pressing the shutter and sweeping vertically or horizontally while the camera stitches them together — an impressive feature that will appeal to travel and landscape photography enthusiasts. A auto HDR mode combines multiple exposure to produce an image with more scene contrast and a 6 image layering feature allows the data from 6 frames shot in a fraction of a second to be combined to reduce blur.

 

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Panasonic DMC GX7

 

panasonic-gx7

 

The 16 megapixel Panasonic Lumic GX7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that’s designed to be easy to use while producing outstanding photos and videos. Equipped with Contrast AF, the GX7 is quick to focus on even subjects moving quickly. Accurate focus is even achieved in low light conditions, especially when paired with a fast lens. An adjustable angle electronic viewfinder and a tiltable 3 inch touchscreen LCD makes composing and reviewing images simple. The GX7 is lightweight but durable, constructed using a magnesium alloy body like many high end professional DSLR cameras, making it a great choice for serious photographers who need a rugged but compact mirrorless system.

 

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DSLR Cameras

For the photographer who wants nothing but the very best in image quality to immortalize their travels with, a DSLR is the preferred choice. While bulkier than compact cameras and mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras offer some of the most impressive features for shooting stills and recording HD video using a wide assortment of lenses. While no DSLR will fit in your pocket (unless you’ve got exceptionally large pockets), these selections are some of the smaller and lighter DSLR cameras.

Canon EOS Rebel SL1

 

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The 18 megapixel Canon SL1 is the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR. Similar in features to the Canon T5i but 6 ounces lighter, the SL1 doesn’t feature a swivelling touch sensitive LCD screen, saving space and weight. While the T5i features 9 cross point AutoFocus sensors, the SL1 has 9 auto focus sensors, but only the center one is a cross point sensor. While cross point sensors are more accurate, this isn’t a major deal breaker for most people who typically use the center AF point to focus their shots. The Canon SL1 also has a high maximum ISO of 25,600 for impressive low light performance and also features continuous autofocus in movie mode with subject tracking. Still compatible with the full range of Canon lenses, the SL1 is a great choice for photographers who want outstanding image quality and want a small DSLR that can fit into many purses and small bags easily making it one of the best DSLR cameras for travel.

 

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Pentax K-50

 

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Even though Pentax accounts for only about 7% of global DSLR camera sales, they’ve got the best customer satisfaction rating according to the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates report for DSLR Online Buyer Report. The 16 megapixel Pentax K-50 is weather-sealed and built for serious outdoor use and is a great choice for travelers headed into the wild. While most modern DSLRs can handle a little bit of light rain without dying, the Pentax K-50 is weather sealed, making it a great camera for adventure travel. Designed with ergonomics in mind the K-50 also features a very impressive ISO range that goes up to 51,200 ensuring great photos in very low light. A fast burst mode allows shooting at 6 frames per second, and the Pentax K-50 can record 1920 x 1080 Full HD video. A shake reduction mechanism reduces blur from camera shake, useful for shooting in low light conditions or with long telephoto lenses. While the Pentax K-50 doesn’t have the high megapixel count that some cameras on this list do, it’s one of the best values for photographers looking for high end performance in a rugged camera body.

 

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