In 2018 the market for the best compact travel camera market has become incredibly competitive with the advances in smartphone photography and compact mirrorless DSLR technology. Now, there are smaller more compact travel cameras that can easily slip into your pocket but still offer virtually the same capability as full-sized DSLRs. So what is the best compact travel camera whether you are a travel blogger, Vlogging Youtuber or just looking to snap the perfect Instagram food snap or selfie to document your trips? We review and compare the top available options to make your decision an easy one.
The Best Compact Travel Camera – 2018
1. Canon EOS M50
The Canon EOS M50 is easily our top contender for the best compact travel camera 2018. If you are looking for the ultimate Travel camera for Vlogging look no further, Canon is well known for being one of the top camera manufacturers so its no surprise the new EOS M50 came out on top. It’s with great excitement that this new Mirrorless model comes with 4K video, unlike many of the top DSLR cameras.
It is packed with 24MP and comes standard with an EF-M15-45mm lens kit. If you are looking for an additional lens you can also use your existing lens or get the smallest lens Canon have made to date as a great addition to your travel kit.
The M50 feels great in your hands, its still small and compact yet feels like I’m holding a large DSLR. This could be Canons most well-rounded compact mirrorless camera to date. Not only shoot video in 4K, its the first canon to get the new DIGIC 8 processor so you can now shoot up to 24fps for those high-quality slow mo playbacks.
For the Travel bloggers, Canon has packed in an Eye AF, which will lock on to the subject’s eyes making it perfect for that Instaworthy Selfie or Vlogging. Transfering your memories has never been easier with built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth connections, it can be sent to your iPhone/Smartphone in seconds in either compressed or original format.
The Ultimate 4K Travel Camera for Vlogging
- 24.1 megapixels
- 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen LCD
- Wi-fi and Bluetooth
- Compact and lightweight
- 4K video capture
- Lightweight and Compact
- Short battery life
2. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is the brand’s true entry to the 1.0-inch sensor compact camera land. For quite some time, Sony held this arena on its own with its RX100 series. Although Canon has released 1.0-inch sensor cameras in the past, they were not as compact the as the PowerShot G7 X Mark II. With this camera, we can always use and show off our photography skills in all our travels since it was easy to carry and convenient to bring anywhere.
In terms of performance, we really love what this compact camera can do. It offered us with quicker burst shooting that its predecessors lacked. When we took burst shots, it was able to do so in 8fps even when in Raw mode. It also did well when we took burst shots in JPEG or JPEG and Raw combination. The previous models of the same line were only capable of shooting in burst mode in 1fps, which was rather sluggish. It was also awesome that this camera has better subject recognition and tracking, which its predecessors struggled with.
Another reason the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II made the cut for best compact travel camera is its new feature called “Dual Sensing IS”. This feature helped in reducing blurs caused by shaking the camera. Therefore, even if we were shooting in an unstable manner, causing the camera to shake, the shots were a lot better than before. This feature tries to compensate in reducing the blurs to provide better images. This feature was very useful when shooting videos especially if we don’t have a stabilizer. In a way, it stabilizes the shots on its own, creating a more fluid video transition. In technical terms, Canon claims that this camera can reduce shakes in four stops. Its panning IS mode adjusts the shutter speed to make sure that the subject is frozen so that blurring is reduced.
This camera boasts to have the new Digic 7 processor. Therefore, it comes with an improved sharpening of the images and it works well in reducing noise, thanks to its built-in noise-reducing algorithms.
When it came to its build, we were happy with the changes on the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. Now, it came with a grip that prevents the camera from slipping. For those who have tried its predecessors, you probably know how slippery its body is. The grip is a huge help and without wouldn’t be in our best compact travel camera for 2018. Canon moved the hinge of its tilting LCD on the bottom. Therefore, the screen can now also tilt downwards instead of just tilting upwards, making it more versatile when shooting in weird angles. Another design change is its control ring on its lens. Users who are torn between having it clicky or smooth can now toggle with one or the other with just a push of a switch.
It was good to know that Canon improved this camera’s battery. However, we still found it a bit behind its competitors for the title of best compact travel camera 2018. When we tested it out, we noticed that it lasted 25% less than the likes of Sony RX100 cameras or Panasonic Lumix ZS100.
A huge improvement on the previous Canon compact camera
- 20 megapixels 1.0-inch BSI CMOS sensor
- 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen LCD
- Wi-fi and Bluetooth
- Compact and lightweight
- Click/click-less front dial
- 1080/60p video capture
- Short battery life
3. Panasonic Lumix ZS200
The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is one of the most sought-after compact travel cameras. This camera is a league above the rest because of its amazing sensor. It arrives with a 1.0-inch sensor sporting 20.1 megapixels, which is about four times better than most cameras in the same range of best compact travel camera. Due to this, it provided us with better zoom photos with better image quality and great detail.
Although this is not the first time that Panasonic is coming out with one of the best compact travel camera’s of 2018 with a sizable sensor, it is great to know that the Lumix ZS200 offers better zoom range of up to 15x. Older Panasonic compact cameras offer only up to 10x. We were so amazed how they were able to squeeze in its compact body such sizable zoom range. With this capability, this camera surely enabled us to easily capture panoramic shots of the scenery and detailed cropped shots.
At the back of the camera, its large, 3.0-inch display came in handy. This made it easy for us to get a preview when we capture photos but when we wanted to feel more like a “pro” it was great that it came with a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). However, although the resolution of its EVF is a notch higher than the model before it, peeping through it still felt a bit cramped for us. We often used the EVF when shooting photos in bright sunlight but most of the time, its rear display was more than enough.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 may feel like it was designed for experienced travel photographers but it offers a slew of auto modes for newbie users looking for the best compact travel camera. Still, it has advanced controls too for seasoned users such as its options for aperture priority and shutter priority. It also came with a full manual option, in case we wanted to fully use our photography skills.
Since we enjoy post-processing our photos every now and then, we were happy to know that this camera can save raw shots. This way, we were able to obtain the best quality results from the images that we took. We were able to amplify the amazing qualities to end up with a single image that captures as close as what our eyes saw.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 was designed with ergonomics in mind. Its buttons and dials are located in the best positions to make it easy for us to access them. All the controls were easy to reach in case we wanted to make last minute adjustments on the settings to enhance the way we took photos.
This camera allowed us to capture 4K videos in 30p. It came with its own 4K PHOTO mode, which is an in-house technology of the brand, that allowed us to extract single still frames from the 4K content. We were able to save the still frames in 8-megapixel photo format.
Apparently, the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is one of the most expensive yet easily one of the best compact travel camera for 2018. However, not a lot of cameras can match its 1.0-inch sensor and 15x zoom range that is compressed in a pocketable unit.
Compact camera boasting 1.0-inch sensor and 15x optical zoom
- 20.1 megapixels 1.0-inch BSI CMOS sensor
- 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD
- UHD 4K video at 30p and 24p
- Wi-fi and Bluetooth
- USB charging
- Compact and lightweight
4. Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera
The Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera is one of the first compact cameras to come out with a 1.0-inch sensor. With sensor so huge, we were amazed how Sony was able to squeeze it into a tiny body. Yet, here we are, using one of the best compact cameras for travelers like us.
We noticed that since Sony is also a smartphone brand, it often tries to up the ante in its series of cameras to go beyond what its smartphones can offer. With newer and better smartphones coming out all the time, Sony tries its best to incorporate newer and better technology to build the best compact travel camera with more punch than even what hybrid smartphones can offer.
When we got our hands on the Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera, we were instantly impressed and couldn’t wait to see how this compares with the best compact travel camera list of 2018. We really liked that it offered a great maximum aperture at the wide end of the f1/8 zoom. This was very useful since we often took picturesque landscape shots with it during our trips. Unfortunately, its focal range is not really that large compared to other compact cameras, but it was not a deal-breaker. It offered 3.6x optical zoom with Carl Zeiss optics.
After using it for quite some time, we can say that the RX100 is one of the kings of bokeh shots. Its lens has a 7-blade aperture diaphragm, which allowed us to take amazing bokeh or background blurred images. Its aperture diaphragm is complemented by a series of zoom increments that are easy to adjust to, which gave quick access to changing focal ranges.
What makes the Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera stand out from the competition for best compact travel camera is its extremely large 1.0-inch 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor. Although its competitors are not far behind, this camera provides better image resolution so we were able to take more detailed shots and cropping into the shots still produced amazing quality photos. The latest variant of this camera may have the same size and resolution as its predecessor but it comes with a different chip that now offers back-illumination technology, which helps decrease the noise even in higher ISO settings.
The RX100’s large sensor paved the way to shooting videos in varying modes with ease. We were able to record videos in full HD at 24/25p or 50/60p and store them in AVCHD or MP4 formats. There was minimal blurring on our output, thanks to its Optical SteadyShot system.
We really appreciated that on this compact travel camera, we can capture images in Raw files alongside JPEG files. This was useful especially when we wanted to do some hardcore post-processing of the images. When we were feeling a tad lazy, the JPEG images will do. We also liked it that this camera comes with an Auto mode and offers a wide selection of filters when we simply wanted to instantly upload a few of our photos on social media.
When it comes to connectivity, the Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera is capable of connecting via Wi-fi. Moreover, it is the first Sony compact camera to come with NFC connectivity. Hence, transfer of files has become easier even when we wanted to do it wirelessly. Aside from file transfer, these connectivity options allowed us to use our smartphones as a remote control, which allowed us to take group photos without us having to run around from behind the camera.
The first in the 1.0-inch sensor travel camera arena
- 20.2 megapixels 1.0-inch BSI CMOS sensor
- 3.0-inch tilting LCD
- Wi-fi and NFC
- Compact and lightweight
- 1080/60p video capture
- LCD display not touchscreen
- Short zoom range
5. Ricoh GR II Digital Camera
The Ricoh GR II Digital Camera is an update from the original GR camera, which employed an APS-C sensor back then. Apparently, upon launch, it was one of the first compact cameras to use the said sensor. With its updated version, the biggest improvement that Ricoh is implementing is the addition of Wi-fi connectivity in this camera. Therefore, it can seamlessly connect to a smartphone or tablet for instant file transfer or to use the other device as a remote control.
At first, handling this camera made it feel a bit dated. However, with a little getting used to, it performed really well and made it a top contender for a spot in the best compact travel camera on the cheaper end of the spectrum. We just needed to work a little for it to figure out which is which and make it quicker for us to operate it later.
Shooting on the Ricoh GR II Digital Camera, we were able to produce high-quality images. However, we noticed that it did not produce amazing shots straight from the camera. The images are not really bad but they required some post-processing to bring out the best in them. We did not mind that since we often post-process all our images anyway. We just made sure we saved the Raw files. Its Raw files are really easy to work on so the post-processing that we did never felt like a burden.
Its fixed 28mm lens worked pretty well for us. Although it produced a little fringing, the images remained sharp without looking like there was a vignette effect used.
When it comes to shooting videos with the Ricoh GR II Digital Camera, the 1080p footages at 30fps looked a little soft and they tend to be blurry at times because the camera does not have a built-in stabilizer. To correct this, we made sure to use it with an external stabilizer and it resolved the issue. It does not have manual movie controls so we’d say that its video shooting capability is designed more for newbies who simply want to point at something and then record. Professional videographers may find it lacking.
Overall, the Ricoh GR II Digital Camera is performed well with minimal lags. It starts up quickly when turned on, which we found amazing since its competitors are a bit slow in the beginning. Its fixed focal length may be a disadvantage for some but this allowed it to work a lot quicker upon startup because its lens does not need time to extend. Its sequential shots take somewhere in between 0.4 and 0.5 seconds, which is at par with others for best compact travel camera of 2018.
An improvement of the first compact camera that uses an APS-C sensor
- Cheaper than others
- Amazing depth in still shots
- Compact and lightweight
- Slow autofocus in low-light
- Poor video quality with no manual controls
6. Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera
The Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera is the fourth iteration of the X100 camera lineup, which is why we only have high expectations for it. Since Fujifilm seemed to have mastered the compact camera market by now, we expected nothing less from this travel camera. Although it looks almost the same as its predecessors, sporting that rustic and leather-like exterior, it seemed like everything beneath it was changed and improved.
Among the improvements, the biggest one Fujifilm has done is the use of a 24-megapixel X-Trans sensor. We were already amazed at the past sensors that Fujifilm uses so we were even more amazed when we tried this one that offers a much bigger sensor, which also meant higher pixel count, leading to better image quality.
As we mentioned before, the X100F has an exterior that looks the same as its predecessors. Its body and build are also similar to the past variants. Its hybrid viewfinder is also virtually the same. However, we don’t see this as something that Fujifilm lacks. Actually, we are more than impressed with how the engineers behind its design were able to preserve its iconic appearance. Although they were trying to make small updates on its design, they did really well in keeping its spirit just the same.
Visually, this camera looks like the past X100 cameras. However, some of the buttons have moved and a joystick controller was added to reduce the buttons on the left side of the screen, which promoted improved handling. This may seem like a tiny change but we benefited a lot from this especially since we often use the camera with just one hand.
We took the camera for a spin in one of our latest adventures to find the best compact travel camera of 2018. We liked that it performed amazingly on both daytime and low-light shooting. The camera has a Lighting button that switches between daytime and low-light shooting. When in daylight shooting mode, the camera adjusted to give more neutral grays. When in low-light shooting, it also adjusted automatically to compensate for it. We liked that it helps correct Raw files, which made it easier for us to post-process later.
When it came to shooting videos, this camera performed fairly. In video mode, even in photo mode, it offered a way to have a bit of manual control over exposure. However, it does not offer control on autofocus. The closest we can get was to use Face Detection. Unfortunately, unlike the Canon EOS M50 the Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera is not capable of shooting in 4K. The closest it can offer is to shoot in 1080p which don’t forget is still as good as it gets for many of the top DSLR cameras let alone for the best compact travel camera.
The Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera is a product of continuous improvements and it was done in an amazing way. This compact camera carries a lot of changes for the better that is more than just a firmware update. It allowed us to take better shots, which its predecessors struggled with. If you ask us, we can truly say that it is one of the best upgrades in the X100 lineup.
Fourth iteration turning it to one of the most well-loved Fujifilm travel cameras
- 24 megapixels X-Trans CMOS sensor
- Compact and lightweight
- Amazing ergonomic improvements on its build
- Bigger battery
- No 4K video shooting capability
- Face Detection feels unreliable
7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Digital Camera is a mirrorless camera that takes the amazing features of its predecessors and squeezes them into one of the best compact travel camera with an affordable price tag to boot. Underneath the surface, it carries a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor that performed really well in our test. At the back, it has a reliable viewfinder for professional shooting. It boasts a Wi-fi connectivity for quick file transfer from the camera to any smartphone or tablet.
This camera has an SLR-style body. So, if you are used to using an SLR, this one is easy to get used to. It is a smaller version of the EM-5 and offers fewer buttons in a non-weatherproof body. After using it for quite some time, we can say that its build quality is fair with three dials on top of the camera for quick access. However, its thumb grip and memory card door feel a bit cheap because they are made of plastic.
Still, it offers amazing handling. With properly positioned buttons, operating it even with a single hand is possible. Its buttons and controls are placed on the right spots but its Fn1 button will need you to stretch your fingers a bit to reach it.
At the rear, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera carries an LCD display similar to its predecessors. The 3-inch touchscreen display can be tilted upwards to a maximum of 85 degrees and downwards to a maximum of 45 degrees. This allowed us to shoot easily with good preview even when we were position in awkward angles.
It felt nice that this camera came with a new and improved electronic viewfinder (EVF). It provided a better way to peek at the subject for improved magnification and resolution. This allowed us to shoot with ease even in a super bright environment. It is great that Olympus employed a technology called optical viewfinder (OVF) that allowed for a dynamic range of scenes. With it, the preview we had looked as real as it can get.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera features a 5-axis image stabilization, which most of its competitors lack. With this feature, the camera can instantly swoop in and correct the pitch, yaw, rotation, horizontal translation, and vertical translation. This is extremely useful when shooting videos without an external stabilizer. The videos are less blurry despite the user moving a lot.
When it comes to connectivity, its Wi-fi capability is topnotch. It comes with two levels of access. The first one is a private connection for the owner. The second one is for the guests. Essentially, there is a one-time connection allowed for guests, which allows friends to connect to the camera even without downloading the Olympus app. With this connection, they can access content that is specifically set in the camera.
The Wi-fi connection through the app gives another device (a phone or a tablet) the moderate capability to access its settings remotely. Hence, with the app, you can adjust certain settings as you see best.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera offers a plethora of options when shooting photos and videos. Hence, it can cater to the basic needs of a new photographer and the intense demands of a professional user. The newbie looking for the best compact travel camera can choose to use the semi-manual setup while the professional photographer can customize everything on the camera. Hence, we can say that this camera is fun to use for almost any purpose that we have. Since it is very handy, it was a nice camera to have during our trips to scenic places.
In the end, we can say that this mirrorless camera is a great choice for any type of travel photographer. As with any Olympus camera, it was successful in getting the best out of the other variants and putting it in a budget-friendly option. It offers a lot for a fraction of the cost, which makes it worth considering.
Brings the best from Olympus cameras in a budget-friendly mirrorless camera
- Compact and stylish
- More affordable than the competition
- Reliable 5-axis stabilization
- Responsive and accurate
- 4K time-lapse option
- Wi-fi with two options for connection
- Options can be complicated
- No 4K video
- Struggles with moving subjects
8. Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera
The Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a more compact and lighter option from this famed camera brand. Just when we thought that the previous X-T cameras were already the best, Fujifilm astounds us with the X-T20. This micro four-thirds camera is built with the new 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor. Hence, it provided us with an amazing shooting experience with excellent outputs that we can say brings out the best in almost all aspects compared to the competition. It has faster burst shooting capability, an improved autofocus system, and 4K video shooting capability.
In a way, the Fujifilm X-T20 can compete on both the mirrorless camera arena and the compact SLR arena. Most people who find themselves stuck in choosing one or the other, can go for this camera instead and enjoy the best of both worlds.
This camera is focused on providing the great things in the entire package instead of just focusing on one or two features that can excel. The 24-megapixel sensor has already proven what it can do with the previous X-T models but the X-T20 comes with a more refined AF system. We found the electronic viewfinder (EVF) fun to work with, especially when we were shooting in broad daylight and its LCD display just won’t cut it. Its LCD display comes with a few touch functions but they are a bit lacking.
In terms of looks, the Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera carries its trademark appearance with a classic DSLR-style. It still works for us and we really liked how durable its build quality felt on our hands. Even if its appearance is just the same as the previous Fujifilm compact cameras, it is still eye-catching.
Shooting with this camera is fun. It produced excellent image quality whether in daylight or low-light. Even in shots with higher ISO settings, the noise performance is still good and there is minimal detail loss to be concerned about. Although we can save Raw files, the JPEG shots are a strong suit for this camera. It sharpens them without too much sophistication and there is no halo effect. It also strikes a good balance in terms of saturation and fine-tuning.
When it comes to shooting videos, the Fujifilm X-T20 carries almost the same performance as its higher-end siblings. However, it is still on the soft side. It can capture videos in 4K to up to 10 minutes. It offers amazing video controls such as focus peaking, manual audio adjustment, and clean HDMI output. We were also able to adjust the exposure while shooting whenever we had to. Moreover, its touchscreen display allowed us to adjust the focus by tapping on the subjects on the screen.
The Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera is one of the best compact cameras around that is designed for travelers. It is lightweight, which makes it convenient to carry anywhere. Ergonomically-designed, which allowed us to shoot anytime and anywhere with great ease and even permitted one-handed operation. It is a powerful camera that offers a lot of amazing features that made shooting photos and videos easy and fun. The content it produces is of great quality that is tough to match even by other mirrorless cameras in the search for the best compact travel camera. Price-wise, it is pretty reasonable with its tons of offerings and sturdy, compact build.
The best of the best in mirrorless cameras
- Classic and stylish,Compact
- Excellent JPEG quality
- 4K/30p video recording
- Charges via USB
- A bit expensive
- Fn button is hard to reach
- Memory card is inaccessible when camera is on a tripod
9. Sony a7R III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera
The Sony a7R III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera is the newest compact camera from this brand. It carries all the amazing features from its past selections such as having high-quality resolution even at high-speed and fast autofocus capabilities that is unmatched by others. Under its sturdy body, it carries a 42-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, which allows it to shoot at 10fps.
This new mirrorless camera has the genes of Sony professional sports camera, the a9. Therefore, it provided us with faster image processing, better autofocus capabilities, better handling, and a bigger battery capacity. Even from the get-go, we can say that it is one of the best and best compact travel camera out there as well as making it one of the most powerful.
This camera arrives with a touchscreen display at the back for an easier photo and video preview. It also has a dedicated joystick for AF point positioning. In terms of ergonomics, it has a deeper grip for better handling and it comes with improved customizations. Moreover, its bigger battery capacity is something that we really liked since we bought this camera in long road trips.
Since the Sony a7R III carries a new and improved sensor, its video shooting capability was greatly improved as well. We can say that it is a well-equipped camera even in terms of capturing videos. It can shoot in 4K quality either from the full width of the sensor or from a Super 35 region of the sensor. The 4K video output is pixel binned while the Super 35 output provided better details.
It is great that this camera has a 5-axis stabilization feature, which we benefited greatly when shooting videos. This feature minimized the blur even when we were shooting videos while moving quickly. It kept the video transitions smooth.
In terms of photo quality, the details using this camera are superb. It was able to capture even the littlest of details on almost any subject. The noise performance on this camera is also exemplary. It was an improvement from its predecessors. Hence, capturing images even in low-light with higher ISO settings was still amazing using this camera.
In conclusion, the Sony a7R III Full-frame Mirrorless Camera provided as the best combination of features from the past. It provided with lots of resolution, excellent burst speeds, amazing autofocus, and impressive video capability. In short, Sony provided all the needs of a traveling photographer and placed them in one amazing camera.
It is just fair to call this camera one of the best compact travel cameras options for almost any type of travel photographer. It provides almost all the features we wanted that we can take in any country that we visit. Although its customization options seem complex at the start, it provided us with more choices and we appreciated these options in the long run.
A huge leap on the right direction among mirrorless cameras
- Compact and stylish
- 42.2-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
- Improved speed and responsiveness
- Dual SD card slots
- Bigger battery capacity
If you are one of those adrenalin adventure travel junkies like us, why not check out the best 360 Degree Cameras.