8 Best Compact Cameras for Travel

As wandering souls who live for adventure, we know that travel is so much more than pretty postcards. It's about immersing yourself in new cultures, making friends halfway across the world, dancing under starlit skies, and collecting memories that you'll cherish forever.

Of course, we want to capture all those special moments too. But hauling around heavy photography gear kind of kills the vibe when you'd rather be spontaneous and free. That's why we're jazzed to share our roundup of the 8 best compact travel cameras that you can just toss in your bag and take on all your nomad adventures without weighing yourself down!

These small cameras come packed with features that'll help you get Instagram-worthy shots, even when the lighting isn't ideal (hello night markets!). Plus, they have tough builds to withstand all the action. And did we mention how perfectly pocket-sized and portable they are?

So, if you need a travel buddy that can capture stunning images of your wildest travels without cramping your style, these are our top recommendations! Let's take a look, shall we?

What Are the Best Compact Cameras for Travel?

  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/olympus-om-d-e-m10-mark-IV-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
  • Description: Best Overall Compact Camera for Travel
  • Target: 1-olympus-om-d-e-m10-mark-iv
  • Price: 799.99
  • Link: https://amzn.to/3H9t6I6
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/sony-rx100-VII-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Sony RX100 VII
  • Description: Best Small Camera for Travel Vlogging
  • Target: 2-sony-rx100-vii
  • Price: 1,065.00
  • Link: https://amzn.to/3HbOlsR
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/panasonic-lumix-zs200-tz200-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200
  • Description: Best Budget Small Camera for Travel
  • Target: 3-panasonic-lumix-zs200-tz200
  • Price: 650.00
  • Link: https://amzn.to/48s2PRo
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/ricoh-gr-III-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Ricoh GR III
  • Description: Best Small Travel Camera for Large Sensor
  • Target: 4-ricoh-gr-iii
  • Price: 1,027.70
  • Link: https://amzn.to/48KjEXx
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/fujifilm-x100v-small-camera-for-travel-.webp
  • Title: Fujifilm X100V
  • Description: Best Small Travel Camera for Vintage Styling
  • Target: 5-fujifilm-x100v
  • Price: 1,894.95
  • Link: https://amzn.to/3NVMlJj
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/hero12-black-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: HERO12 Black
  • Description: Best Small Action Camera for Travel
  • Target: 6-hero12-black
  • Price: 349.00
  • Link: https://amzn.to/48IB8Uj
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/olympus-tough-tg-6-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Olympus Tough TG-6
  • Description: Best Small Waterproof Camera for Travel
  • Target: 7-olympus-tough-tg-6
  • Price: 479.99
  • Link: https://amzn.to/3tQwvZm
  • Image: /content/images/2024/01/panasonic-lumix-fz1000-II-small-camera-for-travel.webp
  • Title: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II
  • Description: Best Travel Camera for Reach
  • Target: 8-panasonic-lumix-fz1000-ii
  • Price: 797.99
  • Link: https://amzn.to/3SaO1Rw

1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Best Overall Compact Camera for Travel

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, a small and compact camera for travel

Our number one pick is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. Now, just look at this stylish little beauty. For a small camera, it totally delivers when it comes to performance. It's got fantastic image quality even in dim lighting, built-in stabilization, 4K video capability...oh, and did we tell you the photos are absolutely gorgeous?

You will love using it to snap candids of the locals when wandering through bustling markets. And thanks to the super fast autofocus, you will always be able to capture their smiles, not blurry blobs! It also charges via USB, so no scrambling for outlets in hostels (major plus!) Sure, it doesn't have a microphone input or weather sealing. But overall, it's our top choice for blending quality, portability, and affordability.

Key Features

  • 20.3MP 4/3” Live MOS Sensor
  • 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization
  • Flip-Down Touchscreen
  • 4K Video Recording
  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Captures fantastic photos even when the lighting isn't ideal
  • Super easy to use for selfies and vlogs
  • Decent battery life and convenient USB charging
  • Sleek style and comfortable grip
  • Budget-friendly price
  • No microphone jack
  • Plastic build lacks weatherproofing
  • Autofocus can struggle in tricky situations

2. Sony RX100 VII

Best Compact Camera for Travel Vlogging

Sony RX100 VII, a small and compact camera for travel

Alright vloggers and TikTokers, meet your new soulmate! When you're creating travel content, you need a camera that can keep up with all the action, are we right? Well, then, you should absolutely check out the Sony RX100 VII.

This little powerhouse was practically made for video with its flip-up screen, mic input, and stellar image stabilization. Plus, it has auto-tracking focus to keep you in sharp focus, even if you're walking backward through a gorgeous landscape or busting out some dance moves. And even if you're not vlogging, it still takes jaw-dropping photos and videos in just about any situation. Sure, it doesn't have the longest zoom or battery life. But if you need speedy performance and pro-level quality on the go, this one has your back.

Key Features

  • 20.1MP 1” Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • 3-Inch Tilting Touchscreen
  • 4K Video Recording
  • Fast Autofocus
  • High-Speed Continuous Shooting

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Stunning image quality in low light
  • Excellent stabilization makes videos buttery smooth
  • Handy flip screen and mic input take vlogging to the next level
  • Lightning-fast autofocus
  • Shoots bursts of shots to capture fleeting moments
  • Premium price tag
  • Battery life leaves something to be desired
  • Small size makes handling tricky for some users
  • Zoom range is limited
  • Overheating can be an issue in long 4K recording

3. Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200

Best Budget Small Camera for Travel

Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200, a small and compact camera for travel

Traveling on a budget? Don't sweat it. The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 (known as the TZ200 outside of North America) fits neatly into both your pocket AND your budget! For an affordable compact, this little cam pulls off some pretty sweet feats. It packs a decent sensor, 15x zoom, 4K video capability, and even a flip-up screen to help you nail those selfies and TikTok dances. Impressive right?

We'll be honest, it does have a few limitations, like battery life and potential overheating. But overall, it punches well above its weight. So, if you want excellent bang for your buck without compromising too much on features or image quality, this one is for you.

Key Features

  • 20.1 Megapixel 1-Inch Sensor
  • 24-360mm Equivalent Zoom Lens
  • 3-Inch Tilting Touchscreen
  • 4K Video Recording
  • Fast and Accurate Autofocus
  • High-Speed Continuous Shooting

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Fab image quality for a compact
  • Huge 15x zoom range has you covered
  • Intuitive controls for easy selfies and vlogging
  • Reliable autofocus locks onto subjects
  • Big features on a budget
  • Battery life could be better
  • Small size sacrifices some comfort
  • Zoom has a variable aperture
  • Prone to overheating when recording 4K video
  • Lacks built-in ND filter and headphone jack

4. Ricoh GR III

Best Compact Travel Camera for Large Sensor

Ricoh GR III, a small and compact camera for travel

If gorgeous travel images make your heart race, then we can't recommend the Ricoh GR III enough! This itty bitty camera packs a wallop with its large sensor, delivering absolutely sublime image quality wherever your adventures may take you.

With the fixed 28mm lens, it's fantastic for all those atmospheric street shots and sweeping landscapes. And it practically fits in the palm of your hand. The touchscreen interface makes it super user-friendly, too. It is a smidge pricier than some others, and the battery life leaves something to be desired. But if your top priority is superior image quality in a pocketable form, this one takes the cake!

Key Features

  • 4.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Fixed 28mm Equivalent F2.8 Lens
  • GR Engine 6 Processor
  • Hybrid Autofocus
  • ISO Range 100-102400
  • 3-Inch Touchscreen LCD
  • 4K Video Recording

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Incredible image quality, especially in dim light
  • Chic, compact design that fits anywhere
  • Effective stabilization for blur-free shots
  • User-friendly touch controls
  • Swift and precise autofocus
  • Premium price (for premium performance)
  • Battery life leaves something to be desired
  • Small size makes handling tricky for some
  • Non-zoom lens limits flexibility
  • Overheating issues in 4K recording

5. Fujifilm X100V  

Best Compact Travel Camera for Vintage Styling

Fujifilm X100V, a small and compact camera for travel

Style mavens and Instagram babes, gather around! When it comes to cameras that blend old-school charm with new-age tech, it doesn't get cooler than the Fujifilm X100V.

This beauty sports classic analog-style controls paired with a modern 24MP sensor and 4K video recording. Honestly, it just feels so satisfying to use. And it works as good as it looks, delivering gorgeous photos and crystal clear footage in pretty much all lighting scenarios. Plus, that hybrid viewfinder lets you switch between optical and electronic modes. How rad is that? We do wish it had slightly better battery life and weather-sealing at its price point. But if you like traveling in both comfort and style, you can't go wrong with this stunner!

Key Features

  • 24MP APS-C Sensor
  • Fixed 28mm Equivalent F2.8 Lens
  • Retro Design with Classic Controls
  • 3-Inch Tilting Touchscreen
  • 4K Video Recording
  • Fast and Accurate Autofocus

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Gorgeous images and videos across lighting conditions
  • Retro style looks fab + intuitive analog controls
  • Great stabilization for smooth shots
  • Handy flip screen and mic jack for vlogging
  • Swift autofocus for spontaneous shots
  • Higher price due to premium build and sensor
  • Battery life could be better
  • Compact size can be awkward to handle
  • Non-zoom lens limits flexibility
  • Overheating risks during extended 4K filming

6. HERO12 Black

Best Small Action Camera for Travel

HERO12 Black, a small and compact camera for travel

When you want to document white-knuckle thrills and crazy-awesome moments on the fly, look no further than the GoPro HERO12 Black. A jewel in the action cameras market.

With its boosted stabilizer and unreal 27MP clarity, you can strap this puppy on during mountain biking, surfing, parasailing, and more to capture every epic instant in crisp detail. It might have some overheating issues, but game-changing features like wireless audio support with AirPods and fantastic High-Dynamic Range recording capabilities more than make up for that. If you really want to push the limits on your travels and have the exploits to prove it, this power-packed action cam should be your first pick.

Key Features

  • 27MP 8:7 Sensor
  • Wide-Angle Lens
  • HyperSmooth 6.0 Stabilization
  • HDR Video and Photo
  • Wireless Audio Support
  • Rugged and Waterproof Design

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Fantastic image and video quality
  • Crazy good HyperSmooth stabilization
  • HDR adds insane vibrancy and detail
  • Wireless audio support for seamless vlogging
  • Burst speeds to catch epic action sequences
  • Durable enough for any adventure
  • Flagship tech commands flagship pricing
  • Battery life depends heavily on settings
  • Small form factor challenges some users
  • Typical action cam zoom constraints
  • Overheating and time limits in 4K
  • No ND filter or headphone jack

7. Olympus Tough TG-6

Best Small Waterproof Camera for Travel

Olympus Tough TG-6, a small and compact camera for travel

Perched atop glaciers or braving undersea marvels? Well, we can say with confidence that the Olympus Tough TG-6 can withstand even your most extreme adventures with ease. After all, this is one tough cookie of a camera.

It's waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, freezeproof...you name it! No matter how rowdy your travels get, this hardy beast can both endure and beautifully capture all of it. It may be pricier than some compacts and have a fairly average battery life. But that durable build paired with terrific image quality through its lens makes it more than worth the investment for thrill-seekers in our opinion.

Key Features

  • 12MP 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS Sensor
  • 25-100mm Equivalent F2.0-4.9 Lens
  • Waterproof, Shockproof, Crushproof, Freezeproof, Dustproof
  • 4K Video Recording
  • Fast Autofocus System
  • High-Speed Continuous Shooting
  • Environmental Sensors

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Rugged enough for any adventure
  • Great image quality given its durable credentials
  • Versatile lens
  • Dependable autofocus even in rough conditions
  • Tracks environmental data
  • Premium price point
  • Battery may need a recharge after heavy use
  • Tough small build can be tricky to handle
  • Zoom range is relatively limited
  • Prone to overheating in 4K mode

8. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II

Best Travel Camera for Reach

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II, a small and compact camera for travel

Sometimes, on our journeys, we come across incredible sights that are just too darn far away to do justice with a regular camera. That's when having a powerful zoom comes in ultra-handy. And that's exactly why we're so psyched about the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II.

This exemplary travel zoom camera packs a 16x optical zoom lens that lets you get up close and personal with distant sights, be it wildlife, architecture, or sweeping landscapes. Its 20MP sensor also ensures your images stay crisp and vibrant at even the most extreme zoom levels. It may not have weather sealing or in-built ND filters. But if you want extensive reach without sacrificing compact convenience, this camera should definitely be on your radar.

Key Features

  • 1-inch 20.1 Megapixel Sensor
  • 16x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens
  • 4K Video Recording
  • 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S.+
  • High-Speed Autofocus & Burst Shooting
  • Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
  • High-Resolution Live View Finder

Pros and Cons

Pros and cons:

  • Stunning detail and color in photos
  • 16x zoom brings far-off sights up close
  • Intuitive controls and customizations
  • Nice quality viewfinder and responsive touchscreen
  • Solid 4K video + external mic jack
  • Respectable battery even after heavy use
  • No weather sealing
  • Lacks a headphone jack
  • No built-in ND filter
  • Some image buffer/processing issues
  • Zoom distortions and aberrations at max range
  • Noise can be noticeable at high ISOs

Which Small Camera Should I Buy for Traveling?

Male digital nomad holding a travel camera in Chiang Mai, Thailand

So, we have seen all the best picks when it comes to small travel cameras out there. But if you are still reading, it means you are probably still undecided. Let us clear up a few doubts you might still have, starting with how to pick the best compact camera for travel.

When picking out a compact sidekick to capture all your wildest travel moments, in fact, there are a few key factors to keep in mind before swiping that credit card.

Size Matters

Above all, you'll want the smallest, lightest camera you can find that still delivers eye-popping shots. Hauling around a heavy beast defeats the whole point of traveling light. So go for the most portable package that still has the performance you need. Your shoulders will thank you!

Low-Light Chops

It ain't always sunny out there. You'll likely be shooting tons in funky lighting scenarios - street markets, restaurants, trains, mysterious alleyways, and spooky castles. Choose a camera with top marks in image sensor and lens quality to beautifully capture those dim magical moments.

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Battle Tested Build

Let's face it - travel is tough on gear. Between getting crammed into backpacks, exposed to the elements, and just generally dragged along on adventures, your camera needs to handle some punishment. Look for models touting exceptional toughness and durability to withstand all the madness with ease!

Connection is Key

And then there is connectivity. Gotta share those pics instantly with the 'gram after all, right? Ensure your travel cam offers breezy device connectivity through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cables etc. for seamless transfers and uploads on the fly. The socials wait for no world wanderer!

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By now, you should have a clearer idea of what compact camera for travel best suits you. But, before you go, we want to go the extra mile and answer a few key questions you might probably have before, including a few tips on how to use your camera. If that sounds cool to you, keep reading!

Can Small Travel Cameras Go Through Airport Security?

Digital nomad packing tech essentials including travel cameras

Lugging cameras and gadgets through airports can be a hassle, but pocket cams ease the pain. Security just wants to verify it's a legit device and not something sketchy, so keep it accessible in your bag and charged up, to show it to officers if needed. No sweat!

And not to worry - small compact cameras pose no safety risk, so you'll sail right through the checkpoint with your trusty photographic sidekick. Just have it powered on and ready to show TSA it's the real deal if they ask.

Are Small Cameras Allowed on Airplanes?

Absolutely! There's no need to worry about being parted from your trusty portable camera while soaring above the clouds. Small cameras are perfectly fine to bring on airplanes.

However, remember to keep your camera safely stowed during takeoff and landing. Most airlines allow electronic devices like cameras to be used during the flight, but they’ll ask you to switch them off or put them in airplane mode during critical phases of the flight. It’s always a good idea to check with the airline’s specific regulations, as rules can vary slightly from one carrier to another. Or you can check out some common airline rules in this very detailed article.

So, rest assured, your small camera can be by your side, ready to snap the start and end of your amazing journeys. Just be mindful of the usual airport protocols, and you'll be all set for a hassle-free flight, camera in hand, ready to document your next adventure.

How to Travel with Camera Gear: Our Top Tips

Female digital nomad holding a travel camera on a cruiseship

As frequent travelers, managing our camera gear while being constantly on the move can be a bit tricky. But don't worry, we've been there and got some straightforward tips to share. These are the kind of simple, no-nonsense pointers we wish someone had told us when we started traveling with our cameras.

1. Pick a Comfy Camera Bag

Your camera bag is your gear's best friend. Find one that’s comfy to carry around all day and has enough pockets for all your stuff. It should protect your gear, sure, but you also want something that won’t make your shoulder feel like it's carrying bricks by the end of the day. We love the Peak Design Everyday Backpack and that's the best pick we've included in our dedicated article for the best nomad backpacks.

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2. Throw in Some Silica Gel Packs

Moisture is a camera’s enemy, especially in those humid places. Those little silica gel packs you find in new shoes or electronics? Well, it turns out they’re great for keeping your camera dry. Toss a couple in your bag, and they’ll handle the moisture, so you don’t have to worry about it. Here's our pick for the Silica Gel Packets if you don't know which one to choose.

3. Extra Batteries and Memory Cards are a Must

Running out of battery or memory is a total bummer, especially when you’re right in the middle of something awesome. Always pack an extra battery and a spare memory card (or two). Better safe than sorry, right?

4. Keep Your Gear Clean

A simple lens cleaning kit can also be a lifesaver. Dust, fingerprints, or water spots can ruin a great shot. A quick wipe now and then keeps your pictures looking sharp. Check out the ones we recommend.

5. Use Your Camera Strap

It might seem obvious, but using your camera strap is a game-changer. It keeps your camera safe from those ‘oops’ moments and helps you keep your camera ready at all times. Plus, it's way more comfortable than holding your camera all day.

6. Don’t Forget About Insurance

This one's a bit of a downer, but it’s important. Getting insurance for your camera gear can save you a lot of headaches. If something goes wrong, you’ll be glad you have it.

Compare the best insurance for frequent travelers below:

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about small cameras

Are compact cameras worth it?

Absolutely! Compact cameras are a fantastic choice for frequent travelers who want quality photos without the bulk of larger cameras. They’re easy to carry, usually have better image quality than smartphones, especially in low light, and offer more creative control with settings.

What are the disadvantages of a compact camera?

The main drawbacks are usually related to sensor size and lens flexibility. Compact cameras typically have smaller sensors than DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, which can affect image quality in very low light. Also, you're stuck with the built-in lens, so there's less flexibility compared to interchangeable lens cameras. But for many frequent travelers, the convenience and portability far outweigh these issues.

Is a compact camera better than a smartphone?

In many ways, yes. Compact cameras generally offer better image quality, especially in challenging lighting. They also have optical zoom, which is superior to the digital zoom on smartphones. Plus, their physical controls and settings offer more creative control over your photography. Smartphones win on connectivity and convenience, but for pure photography, compacts often have the edge.

Why would you rather buy a pocket camera and not a DSLR camera?

It's all about size and convenience. Pocket cameras are much easier to carry around, making them ideal for travel and everyday photography. While DSLRs offer superior image quality and more control, they're bulkier and heavier. If you're after something that's low-fuss but still takes great photos, a pocket camera is the way to go.

Do professional photographers use compact cameras?

Yes, many do! Compact cameras have come a long way in terms of quality and features. Professionals often use them as a backup to their main camera or in situations where a larger camera is impractical. They're great for street photography, candid shots, or just when you want to travel light.

What is the difference between a compact camera and a SLR camera?

The main difference is size and complexity. SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) cameras are larger, with interchangeable lenses and bigger sensors. This usually means better image quality and more control over your photography. Compact cameras are smaller and easier to use, with a fixed lens and simpler settings. They’re more about convenience and portability.

Why are compact cameras still so expensive?

Despite their size, compact cameras pack a lot of technology. They often have features like high-quality lenses, advanced image sensors, image stabilization, and sometimes even weatherproofing. Developing these compact yet powerful features isn’t cheap, which is reflected in their price. But for many, the blend of quality, size, and functionality is worth the cost.

Ready to Collect New Awesome Memories with Your New Camera?

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