Published May 18, 2021
Whether you’re piling the family into the minivan for a trip to Disneyland or backpacking through Southeast Asia, you’ll probably want a camera that has a larger-than-average sensor, a versatile lens and wireless features for beaming your images back home.
We’ve split our selections into two categories: one for people who want to capture memories on their trip, and the other for whom photography is the main reason for their trip. For the former, portability and zoom range are important. We chose small-to-midsize interchangeable lens cameras for the latter category as well, but with more of a focus on image quality.
Best for family trips: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII
The RX100 VII is a pocketable long zoom camera that does just about everything right, though it doesn’t come cheap. Its 24-200mm equivalent lens offers most of the reach you’ll need for a wide variety of shooting situations, while its maximum aperture of F2.8-4.5 means it’s pretty flexible.
It features probably the best autofocus systems we’ve ever encountered in a compact camera, meaning the little Sony can turn its hand to almost anything you might come across on your travels. There’s also a fairly easy-to-use Wi-Fi system to send images to your phone.
Video is also good – thanks to the camera using the full-width of the sensor – and rolling shutter is minimal. Also, the lack of an ND filter means having to use higher shutter speeds than is ideal in bright conditions, potentially leaving your footage looking less professional than it might. Overall, though, the RX100 VII is the most capable travel camera on the market: nothing matches its combination of size, capability and image quality.
Best for travel photography: Sony a7C
The Sony a7C is a lot larger than the RX100, but it’s the smallest option available if you want image stabilization and full-frame image quality.
It builds on well-known technology and includes an AF system that’s as easy to use as it is powerful. Add in competent 4K video and an impressively long-lasting battery and it becomes a package that can take excellent photos pretty much regardless of what you encounter on your travels.
The 28-60mm F4-5.6 kit lens is conveniently small but isn’t especially bright and has a rather limited range. Adding better lenses makes the package rather less portable. The Nikon Z5 is a little larger but offers comparable image quality at a lower price but, other than the lack of a built-in flash, the Sony a7C would be out choice if you want a travel companion capable of excellent image quality.
Other cameras to consider for family trips:
Other cameras to consider for travel photography:
* These cameras have not yet been reviewed and are not eligible for an award.