June 21, 2024

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Best Travel Cameras 2024 – Forbes Vetted

9 min read

No matter how great your smartphone is, its camera can’t quite compete with a great dedicated camera. Travel cameras allow you to take excellent photos using a compact device that easily fits in a bag or even a pocket, so it doesn’t weigh you down on a trip. We think the OM System OM-5 is the best travel camera overall because it has excellent image stabilization and can take interchangeable lenses.

There are great models for amateurs and professionals alike, ensuring anyone can take their travel photography to the next level. After testing and extensive research, we’ve narrowed down hundreds of options to recommend quality models for every shooter in a variety of price ranges and with a variety of features.

Dimensions: 4.9 x 2 x 3.4 inches (body only) | Sensor size: Four thirds | Image resolution: 20 megapixels | Video resolution: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps | Display: 3 inches | Memory card slots: 1x SDXC UHS-II | Built-in flash: No

Best for: Getting the best travel photography in a compact package.

Those looking for a high-end travel camera in a compact body with versatile functionality should buy the OM System OM-5. The camera is a particularly good choice for photographers who want the flexibility of interchangeable lenses—of course, adding one or multiple lenses makes it slightly less portable than some of the other options on this list. The camera boasts a huge range of features, including things like in-body stabilization and interesting computational photography modes. In particular, this camera boasts great in-body stabilization, ensuring crisp and detailed images even for longer exposures.

The camera is a little more expensive than some might want, especially amateurs who only want something to use on vacation. Additionally, the camera has a slightly older processor, and it charges through a Micro-USB charging port instead of the USB-C charging port we would expect in 2024. Those, however, are relatively minor issues considering the stunning image quality for the price.

What the reviews say: Reviewers on Amazon are particularly impressed with the image stabilization. “Excellent camera for vacations and general photography. Sharpness and image quality is very good. Image stabilization is outstanding. I can hand-hold 1/2 second exposures and get a sharp image.”

Pros:

  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Cool retro design

Cons:

  • Less compact with interchangeable lenses
  • Micro-USB charging port
  • Slightly aging processor

Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.3 x 2.6 inches | Sensor size: Four thirds | Image resolution: 20 megapixels | Video resolution: 4K at 30fps, 720p at 120fps | Display: 3 inches | Memory card slots: 1x SDXC UHS-II | Built-in flash: No

Best for: Top-tier travel photography at a reasonable price.

It’s worth paying a little for a decent camera if you want something better than your phone, but you don’t necessarily have to pay more than $1,000 or so. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a perfect example of this. It’s not necessarily cheap, but it is more affordable than many of the other options on this list, while still offering an excellent image quality and solid video quality. The camera has five-axis stabilization for more crisp photos, and it has a three-inch display that can flip down for easier viewing depending on your positioning. It’s very compact, too, and it supports hundreds of relatively affordable, compact lenses.

There are some trade-offs when you buy a more affordable camera. This camera also has a Micro-USB port, and there’s no microphone input to be able to sync audio from an external microphone. Some may consider the 4K 30fps video to be a little low, however it’s to be expected for a camera in this price range. However, the camera still gets the basics right—like a solid image quality with good stabilization. As an added bonus, it has an awesome retro design, too.

What the reviews say: Reviewers on Amazon found the camera to be high-quality, while being highly portable. “I bought this for a month-long trip through Europe and it served me well. The pictures are high quality and clear, while the camera is lightweight and durable.”

Pros:

  • Hundreds of affordable lens options
  • Reasonable price
  • Great image and video quality

Cons:

  • Micro-USB port
  • No microphone input

Dimensions: 5 x 3 x 2.2 inches | Sensor size: APS-C | Image resolution: 40 megapixels | Video resolution: 6.2K at 30fps, 4K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps | Display: 3 inches | Memory card slots: SDXC | Built-in flash: Yes

Best for: Excellent image quality in an ultracompact camera that can fit in your pocket.

Those who want something ultracompact should buy the Fujifilm X100VI. You may note that the dimensions of this camera are similar or even slightly larger than some of the other cameras on this list, but this camera does not have interchangeable lenses, and instead has a relatively slim lens fixed to the body. Thankfully, the camera still boasts an excellent image quality with good depth, and it can capture high-resolution video, at up to a 6.2K resolution. It has good in-body stabilization too, which helps produce crisp images.

Unfortunately, the camera is more expensive than many of the alternatives, but since you have to buy separate lenses for other options, that gap closes a little. Additionally, the focus on the camera isn’t super fast, but thankfully it’s not overly slow either.

What the reviews say: Reviews by customers on B&H note that the camera is a worthy upgrade from other Fujifilm models. “The camera is awesome. I was afraid it wasn’t worth upgrading. But it is such an improvement from the X100F.”

Pros:

  • Compact build
  • High-resolution video
  • Good image stabilization

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Lens focus isn’t super fast

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VII Camera

Dimensions: 4 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches | Sensor size: 1 inch | Image resolution: 20.1 megapixels | Video resolution: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 100fps | Display: 3 inches | Memory card slots: SDXC | Built-in flash: Yes

Best for: Quick photography when you need it.

Those looking for a super compact point-and-shoot camera to take on their travels should buy the Sony RX100 VII. This camera is small but mighty, offering a host of high-end features and the ability to take excellent photos despite its small size. Notably, it has some of the best autofocus tech in the game, meaning that you can take photos faster than ever. While it has a built-in lens, it’s relatively versatile and can zoom to up to 8x. The camera offers digital-stabilization tech that’s generally good for shooting casual video.

Be a little careful when using the camera, as it isn’t the most rugged, and there’s no waterproofing. Additionally, the camera is a little more expensive than other options, even those that offer more features and versatility. However, if you’re looking for ultracompact and don’t mind spending a little to get it, then the Sony RX100 VII is the way to go.

What the reviews say: Reviewers on B&H note that the camera is a powerhouse for its size. “This little camera is truly remarkable. I’m a professional photojournalist and own a number of mirrorless alpha bodies; I bought this camera for hiking and skiing because it fits easily into almost any pocket.”

Pros:

  • Highly versatile lens
  • Very portable size
  • Sleek design

Cons:

  • Not the most rugged
  • A bit expensive

Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7 inches | Sensor size: 1 inch | Image resolution: 20 megapixels | Video resolution: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps | Display: 3 inches | Memory card slots: SDXC | Built-in flash: No

Best for: Vloggers who want solid video and audio on the go.

Vloggers or videographers who want something high-end to take on the go should buy the Sony ZV-1. This camera offers a range of features to make vlogging even easier, plus it has a compact build that makes it easy to pack it in a bag or pocket. Perhaps the best feature is the side-flipping camera that allows you to see your shot when you’re filming yourself. Video quality is excellent, and the camera is able to capture bright, vibrant video all the time. Additionally, the camera has a hot shoe and 3.5mm microphone port, so you can easily set up external microphones for better audio.

The camera is able to capture 4K video at up to 30 frames per second, which may be too low for videographers who rely on slow-motion shots but still want 4K footage. Thankfully, it does support up to 120 fps when shooting at a 1080p resolution. Additionally, while colors are bright and vibrant, the video stabilization isn’t as great as some more expensive options. But it’s still not terrible, especially given the price of the camera.

What the reviews say: A reviewer on Amazon noted that the camera is perfect for their content creation needs. “As a content creator and vlogger, this camera has become an indispensable tool for capturing high-quality videos and photos. The image and video quality is outstanding, with crisp details and vibrant colors that make my content pop.”

Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Excellent video quality
  • Side-flipping screen for self-video

Cons:

  • 4K maxes out at 30fps
  • Video stabilization is only fine

GoPro Hero12 Black Action Camera

Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.0 x 1.3 inches | Sensor size: 1/1.9 inch | Image resolution: 27 megapixels | Video resolution: 5.3K at 60fps, 4K at 120fps, 2.7K at 240fps | Display: 2.27-inch rear, 1.4-inch front | Memory card slots: MicroSD UHS-III | Built-in flash: No

Best for: Capturing the action other cameras wouldn’t survive in.

GoPro has long offered the best action cam experience, and the GoPro Hero12 Black is the best one yet. This camera offers a massive range of features for those who want to capture the action, including the ability to capture footage at a hefty 5.3K at 60 frames per second or 4K at 120 fps. Downgrade to a still-solid 2.7K and you can capture footage at 240 fps—perfect for those ultra slow-mo shots. The camera has a display on both the front and the back, making it a great choice for those who want to capture themselves.

It’s a little hard to compare this camera with others on this list and talk about image quality. It’s true to say that the Hero12 Black has the worst image quality of any camera on this list. But it’s also a totally different type of camera—built for high-frame-rate video. And, to be fair, it offers among the best image qualities of any action camera out there. It also has a compact body and the ability to survive almost anything. It takes a little time getting used to the menu system, and it costs more than many of the other action cams out there, but it’s worth the price and the time you spend learning how to use it.

What the reviews say: One reviewer on Amazon was particularly impressed with the number of accessories available to the camera. “Video and picture quality is awesome and, with so many accessories available, the options for use and function seem limitless.”

Pros:

  • Very portable
  • Tons of video options
  • Works with a large range of accessories

Cons:

  • Slightly tricky to navigate
  • A bit pricey for an action cam

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

At Forbes Vetted, we’re proud of our large library of tech and camera articles. We offer dozens of guides about all kinds of cameras, including mirrorless cameras and dash cams.

  • This guide was written by Christian de Looper, who has over a decade’s worth of experience writing about consumer technology.
  • All picks in this guide were approved by Rebecca Isaacs, Forbes Vetted’s tech editor, a consumer technology expert who has years of experience writing about and covering all the latest gadgets.
  • The world of tech and camera equipment moves fast, so we make every effort to keep our content accurate and up-to-date. This article was last updated in May 2024.

How We Chose The Best Travel Cameras

In building this list of the best travel cameras, we leveraged our own expertise and years of experience covering the consumer technology and camera industries as well as reviews from users.

  • We identified the different categories of travel cameras, and narrowed our list down to the top products that we’ve tested that are consistently recommended in those categories.
  • Factors we considered included things like image quality, video features, portability and when relevant, water-resistance.
  • We also pored over reviews from real buyers to make sure others’ experience aligned without own. We didn’t include any options that weren’t top-rated by reviewers.

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