5 Best Compact Cameras for Travel: Your Easy Buying Guide (2019)

best compact camera

Getty Tourists use a newly installed camera platform to take a picture on Enoshima Island in Fujisawa, Japan. / Getty

It can be overwhelming to pick the best compact camera. There are so many options out there, so many photography terms to sort through, and so many of them are high-quality and seem to take great photographs–so how do you pick?

We sorted through them for you, picking our favorites in five different categories. Whether you’re willing to spend for quality, are looking for a nice budget option, prefer the all-around best in a midrange price, are curious what the mirrorless craze is all about, or just want a simple pocket camera to snap some memories, we found the best compact camera for travel for you.

Most of these are great for everyone from beginners to advanced photographers, as they can be set on automatic or used in manual mode. They also each have unique features that fit different travel needs.

Travel photos are some of the best souvenirs you can bring home from a trip, as they help your vacation memories last forever. Don’t let not owning a compact camera for travel be what prevents you from making memories that last a lifetime.

What Are the Best Compact Cameras for Travel Right Now?

panasonic lumix Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High-end zoom
  • Crisp images
  • Compact
Price: $697.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sony DSC Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Widest aperture on the market
  • Large sensor and great lens
  • Has full manual mode
Price: $1,198.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
panasonic travel camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Manual and automatic mode
  • Major zoom
  • Affordable for quality
Price: $350.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mirrorless travel camera Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Small and lightweight
  • Lots of scene and video features
  • Image stabilization
Price: $799.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
canon powershot Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Very affordable
  • Very small and lightweight
  • Easy to use
Price: $143.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Best Overall: Panasonic Lumix ZS200

    Pros:
    • High-end zoom
    • Compact
    • Numerous features
    • Crisp images
    • 4K video mode
    Cons:
    • More expensive than some
    • Some users wanted even more zoom
    • Not as high-end as some cameras

    This is a high-end zoom camera in a compact body, giving you the best of botht worlds. The large 1.0-inch sensor provides high image quality, and the 15x zoom on a 24-360mm lens allows you to get a wide range of shots. It has a F3.3-6.4 aperture that allows for defocused backgrounds.

    As one of the best compact cameras for travel out there, it also has 4K video recording and 4K photo mode so you can capture moments in motion. It also has a variety of scene and filter modes, which help you get creative with your travel shots.

    The body has a three-inch touchscreen and an electronic viewfinder. The camera does a lot, but is easy to use, making it great for beginners to more intermediate users. Reviewers loved the camera for its size, zoom, and ease of use. It’s one of the best compact cameras for travel and a great all around option.


    VideoVideo related to best overall: panasonic lumix zs2002018-10-15T20:09:25-04:00
  2. 2. Best Splurge: Sony RX100

    Pros:
    • Widest aperture on the market
    • Large sensor and great lens
    • Works in raw format
    • Has full manual mode
    • Fast auto-focus
    Cons:
    • No touch screen
    • Expensive
    • Too advanced for some

    If you’re looking for the best compact camera for travel and don’t mind paying for it, go with the Sony RX100 VI 20.1. It has a 24-200mm F2.8-F4.5 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens and the world’s fastest hybrid AF system at 0.03 seconds. The lens is the widest aperture on the market.

    Sony called it “game changing” when it released the camera, and tech review sites agreed. It’s the closest thing you can buy to a DSLR without actually buying a DSLR, so it’s a great travel option if you’re really into photography but don’t have the space to carry a larger camera with multiple lenses.

    It has customizable buttons and works in raw format, which is rare for compact cameras but great for those who want the best editable versions of photos. The large sensor provides great images, and it also shoots in full manual control mode, another rare feature for compact cameras.

    The camera autofocuses as quickly as 0.13 seconds, though it’s slightly slower in darker settings. It also has full HD video recording and a variety of automatic scene features. One downside is that it does not have a touch screen.

  3. 3. Best Budget: Panasonic Lumix ZS50

    Pros:
    • Affordable
    • Major zoom
    • Manual and automatic mode
    • Electronic viewfinder
    Cons:
    • Flash in inconvenient area
    • Not as compatible with Macintosh
    • Not as high-end as some

    At just under $300, this a fantastic budget option if you’re looking for a compact camera for travel that will take great photos, but not cost more than your trip.

    It has a 30x zoom range, which is huge, making it great for travel as you can get a wide variety of shots with one lens. It has both automatic or manual options, great for beginners to intermediate users, and a long battery life, too.

    Panasonic is credited with starting to make compact cameras for travel before other brands, so you know they’re reputable in this area. This camera gives great image quality and has a built in electronic viewfinder, which makes it easy to take photos you’ll want to save as memories. The viewfinder also eliminates glare on bright days.

    Users generally love the camera for its compact size, ease of use, and extensive zoom. Some reviewers had issues with the flash, which they said was in an inconvenient location and easily covered by fingers. Mac computer users didn’t like that Mac and Panasonic are not compatible, so you can upload the photos to  your library, but settings were lost.


    VideoVideo related to best budget: panasonic lumix zs502018-10-15T20:55:13-04:00
  4. 4. Best Mirrorless: Olympus OM-D Mirrorless Compact Camera

    Pros:
    • Mirrorless
    • Small and lightweight
    • Lots of scene and video features
    • WiFi capabilities
    • Image stabilization
    Cons:
    • More expensive than others
    • Too advanced for some
    • Not point and shoot

    A mirrorless camera doesn’t have a reflex mirror, which DSLR cameras do require to reflect light to the viewfinder. Without a viewfinder in the camera, the image sensor in a mirrorless camera is instead exposed to light at all times. The lack of a mirror makes them more compact and great for travel.

    Unlike other compact cameras for travel, mirrorless options often do come with separate lenses. The Olympus OM-D is no exception here. The basic lens is a 14-42mm EZ lens that attaches to a lightweight body with a three-inch monitor.

    It has a 16 megapixel live MOS sensor and TruePic VII image processor, plus offers 4K video and image stabilization for blur-free stills and videos. The touchscreen is intuitive and overall the camera is easy to use for beginners, but also has manual features for more advanced photographers.

    There’s an auto mode and plenty of scene modes, great for getting an array of travel shots. Connect the camera to WiFi and easily sync your photos to your phone–your vacation Instagram just got better. Users love this camera, though some find it expensive.


    VideoVideo related to best mirrorless: olympus om-d mirrorless compact camera2018-10-15T20:57:30-04:00
  5. 5. Best Point and Shoot: Canon PowerShot

    Pros:
    • Very affordable
    • Image stabilization
    • Great auto settings
    • Fun scene features
    • Easy to use
    • Very small and lightweight
    Cons:
    • Not as high-quality as others
    • Limited capabilities for professionals
    • Shorter zoom than others

    If you’re not that into photography, but want to capture memories on your travels and are looking for something extremely compact and lightweight, opt for the Canon PowerShot. This tiny, handheld camera takes great photos for the price and fits easily in any bag.

    It has an 8x optical zoom and image stabilizer, so you can take a decent range of photos. The 200 megapixel CCD sensor and DIGIC 4+ image processor helps deliver beautiful photos for a point and shoot camera.

    Don’t know what the best settings are for the light or scene? No worries, the smart auto mode intelligently selects the best settings for the situation. It also has fun scene modes like fisheye effect, toy camera effect, and monochrome to add a little style to your travel photos.

    Users found it to be a great pocket camera, though said it would be limiting for more advanced photographers.

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