Best travel cameras 2023

Best travel cameras 2023

23 mins read

Traveling is always an exciting time. You’re setting out to see the world and make some new memories. Of course, you’ll want to keep something on your to capture some of those memories, so you can look back on them later. That means a camera. For cameras, you can travel with, you have so many options that it’s enough to make your head spin.


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So, here are the best travel cameras that we could find. We included a good mix of handheld, mirrorless, action, full-frame, and even a selfie camera for good measure. Regardless of whether it’s out in the wilderness or a big city somewhere far away, we think at least one of these cameras will work during your travels.

GoPro Hero 12 Black

GoPro Hero 12 Black

1. Best travel camera overall

It’ll go anywhere you want it to go

$350 $399 Save $49

The GoPro Hero 12 is an obvious choice for a travel camera. It’s small enough to fit in almost any luggage, takes great photos and videos, and is waterproof, so it’ll work even if your trip is outside.

Pros

  • Waterproof means you can take it almost anywhere with you
  • Shoots high-quality 5.3K video and 27 MP photos
  • Surprisingly good stabilization
Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • While it is versatile, other devices can take better photos

The GoPro Hero 12 is a great first choice for a travel camera. It’s an action camera, which means it comes with features you don’t find in mirrorless cameras or even most selfie cameras. It can take a bit of a beating without breaking down and is water-resistant. That means it can go almost anywhere, whether in a big city or in the wilderness.

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It is capable of taking excellent 5.3K video along with 27MP photos. That’s a nice combination if you want to have a mix of both while you’re on your travels. The battery life could be better, and it’s not the best pure camera on the list, but it does everything well and costs under $500. That’s a hard collection of features to get at this price point.

Nikon Z FC

Nikon Z fc

2. Best retro-style travel camera

It looks cool and shoots great photos

The Nikon Z fc is a retro-inspired mirrorless camera that is compatible with all of Nikon’s latest lenses along with their old ones if you have an adapter. At less than $1,000, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for mirrorless cameras.

Pros

  • Takes excellent photos
  • Fully articulating screen means you need fewer accessories
  • Less than $1,000 for a mirrorless camera is a decent price
Cons

  • Better at photography than video, but it can do 1080p at 120 FPS
  • The camera is body only, so you’ll need to buy a lens to go with it

There are several great mirrorless cameras out there. The Nikon Z fc is one of them. It offers great photo quality, good video options, and a plethora of lenses to choose from. The selection grows if you get the FTZ adapter, which opens you up to a number of older, less expensive, and third-party lenses for Nikon cameras. This thing is compact, easy to use, and less expensive than many of its competitors. Plus, the articulating screen makes it semi-decent for selfies.

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The only real downside is that there are dozens of great options in this space, especially if you can afford a more expensive camera. Despite smartphones taking over the photography space, mirrorless and DSLR cameras are highly competitive since they still technically take better pictures and have more photography options. Additionally, we have a list of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy if you want to browse further.

DJI Osmo Pocket 3-1

DJI Osmo Pocket 3

3. Best selfie travel camera

About as good as it gets for selfie cameras

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is a stick-style selfie camera that works well as a vlogging camera. It takes pictures along with video and has a state-of-the-art gimbal that’ll keep you in the center of the frame no matter what.

Pros

  • 3-axis stabilization makes footage smooth
  • Records up to 4K at 120 FPS
  • The high-tech head can track you at all times
Cons

  • It’s very expensive
  • Not waterproof

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is among the best selfie cameras on the market. It’s a stick-style camera that you hold in your hand and point the camera at your subject, which can be you or something else. The unique gimbal-style head also has three-axis stabilization that helps you take steady video and sharp photos. Additionally, it’ll keep you in frame while you shoot with it for nearly flawless vlogging.

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It’s quite expensive, and that’s honestly its biggest detractor. Fortunately, this thing is good enough and versatile enough to justify the price, but we totally understand if it’s not for you. The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is also a bit more fragile than a lot of other cameras, thanks to all the moving parts. It shoots 4K video at 120 FPS, which is more than most selfie-style cameras. We just don’t recommend roughhousing with it too much.

Sony Alpha 7C

Sony Alpha 7C

4. Best mirrorless travel camera

Best you can get for under $2,000

$1598 $1800 Save $202

The Sony Alpha 7C is recommended by our very talented videographer and YouTube lead, Cam Bunton. It’s a compact, full-frame, mirrorless camera that should fit in your luggage and take great photos.

Pros

  • Compact for a full-frame mirrorless camera
  • Under $2,000 is very reasonable
  • Better than the legendary Sony a7III
Cons

  • Not the latest camera in the series
  • Price is body only, so you’ll need to buy a lens

The Sony Alpha 7C, also known as the A7C, is an excellent mirrorless camera from a company that is known for making great cameras. It shoots photos at 24.2 MP along with 4K 30FPS video. Add to that Sony’s excellent selection of lenses and processing acumen, and you have a camera you can take with you just about anywhere. It’s also more compact than many of its contemporaries, allowing you to carry it in your luggage fairly easily. It’s a higher quality camera than the Nikon Z fc we mentioned earlier, but you will pay for it because it’s roughly twice as expensive.

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There are only two downsides worth discussing. The price above is for the body only, so you’ll need to buy a lens. Sony often runs deals where you can get this plus a 28-60mm zoom lens and still keep the price under $2,000. This was also recommended by our head YouTuber and general camera expert, Cam Bunton, so, of course, we’re going to recommend it to you, too. If this isn’t for you, we have a list of great mirrorless cameras you can also check out.

Canon EOS Rebel T7

Canon EOS Rebel T7

5. Best budget DSLR travel camera

A great option for under $500

Cameras can get expensive, but they’re not all that way. The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a bit older, but it still takes great pictures and decent video for a much more palatable price than most modern cameras. Plus, Canon has a metric ton of lens options for your situation.

Pros

  • Takes very good pictures for its price point
  • It also does reasonably good 1080p video
  • Inexpensive camera with lots of lens options
Cons

  • Doesn’t have all the features of more expensive cameras
  • Doesn’t have the ruggedness of similarly priced action cameras

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is the least expensive full-size camera on the list, and it’s still a great option. At under $500 for the body, that makes it half as expensive as the Nikon Z fc listed above and less than one-third of the price of the Sony. What you get in return is a reasonably competent camera that takes great pictures and reasonably good 1080p video. Canon has a wealth of lenses available, so you can get the one that’ll work best for the types of photos you want to take.

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It is missing some of the features of higher-end cameras. The screen doesn’t articulate at all, and it’s a lower resolution than you’ll find on newer, more advanced cameras. It requires a microUSB cable instead of the more modern USB-C. If you don’t mind a feature set from yesteryear, you can get a very good camera for a pretty low price. Plus, it’s a great starter camera if you’ve never had something like this before.

Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1

6. Best analog camera for travel photography

Perfect for refrigerators and photo albums

Sometimes retro is the way to go, and the Canon AE-1 is a big name in the analog camera space. It uses 35mm film, which you can develop into photographs just like in the old days.

Pros

  • One of the best analog cameras around
  • 35mm film isn’t all that expensive
  • Great for physical photos
Cons

  • Digital photography has come a very long way
  • Camera is a bit expensive for what it does

There is a reason so many people my age remember the phrase “it’s a Kodak moment”, and it’s because people really enjoyed taking photos and having them printed out. You can still buy cameras that do that exact thing, and the Canon AE-1 is one of the best. It’s compact, solid-feeling, and takes reasonably good pictures. You do lose out on all the advancements made in camera tech, but this also costs less than 10% of some of those more advanced cameras.

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Otherwise, what you see is what you get. You buy this, some 35mm film, load it in, take the pictures, remove the film, and have it developed. Anyone alive in the 1990s has gone through this process before. Once the photos are developed, you can copy them, send them to your friends, put them in a photo album, or even just hang them on the fridge. This is how people captured memories back in the day, and it’s a fun retro method to do so today.

DJI Mini 4 Pro for mini drones

DJI Mini 4 Pro

7. Best drone for travel photography

Sometimes aerial is the way

Sometimes, the best photos are taken from above. Drone photos can get you shots you can’t get with a normal camera. DJI makes a good drone, and the Mini 4 Pro is a decent mix of functionality and affordability, considering these things can cost thousands of dollars.

Pros

  • You can take photos with drones that you can’t with normal cameras
  • DJI makes some excellent drones, and this one is easy to carry
  • Shoots excellent video as well
Cons

  • It’s very expensive
  • Please make sure to check local laws before flying

Aerial photography is becoming a bigger and bigger deal now that drones are more available to the masses. DJI is one of the top makers of consumer-level drones, and the DJI Mini 4 Pro is a good drone. It’s still quite expensive, at around $750, but that’s a lot cheaper than the company’s other drones, including the Mavic and Air models. You still get 4K 60FPS video along with the capability of taking some breathtaking photographs from a place where normal cameras can’t go.

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Other than its price, the only downside remains within the law. Countries and even different U.S. states have laws about drone flying. Please remember to check the rules and register your drone accordingly before flying. It can take a bit to learn everything, but it’s worth it not to cause any problems later on down the line. Drone cameras are surprisingly good, and DJI has a history of making good cameras.


Or, just use your smartphone

pixel 8 magic edit

A lot of people use their smartphones as their main cameras now. In fact, smartphone cameras have wiped out the compact camera market almost entirely. That’s part of the reason the list above is stocked with higher-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras, along with action cameras and drones. We can’t recommend a point-and-shoot camera that’s going to match the versatility and image quality of the camera that’s sticking out of the back of your phone.

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Smartphone manufacturers compete heavily over camera quality, especially Apple, Google, and Samsung. Their flagship devices take outstanding pictures. Midrange devices from OEMs like OnePlus and Motorola can also shoot pretty good photos as well. You can save yourself hundreds, or in cases over $1,000, by just learning how to use the device in your pocket a little better.

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Bottom line: What are the best travel cameras?

For the most part, it really depends on what you’re looking for. However, we think that the GoPro Hero 12 is the best option for most people. It’s waterproof, it takes good videos and reasonably good photos, and it’s compact enough to take almost anywhere. The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is another great option, even if it’s a bit more fragile, thanks to its many moving parts. You can do far worse than those two, even if they are a bit pricey.

GoPro Hero 9 Black

GoPro Hero 12 Black

Editor’s Choice

$349 $399 Save $50

The Nikon Z fc, Sony Alpha 7C, and the Canon EOS Rebel T7 are great options for regular cameras at varying price points. The DJI Mini 4 Pro covers aerial photography, and the smartphone in your pocket is the best budget option since it already has a camera, and you already own one. Fans of retro-tech can take the Canon AE-1 with them along with some 35mm film and do it up old school. In short, you have plenty of choices.

How did we choose these travel cameras?

To start, I’ve been tech blogging for 15 years and used several cameras throughout my career. I also used to make YouTube videos, so I know a thing or two about how cameras work. Plus, the list was run by Pocket Lint’s YouTube guru, Cam Bunton, who vetted the list along with editor Christina Darby. This list passed through a total of three people before it was written. In terms of picks, a few of them were obvious. For example, people use their smartphones as their main cameras. That’s just a fact of life. The rest were judgment calls based on the subject, and we think we did a good job.

How to choose a travel camera

The most important thing to know is what you plan to shoot. If you plan on going out into the wilderness, then you should probably take a camera that can handle water and a bit of rough use. Those going to big cities should take a camera that can take great photos of still objects like buildings. In any case, make sure your camera fits in your bag and is in a safe place, like a case of some sort. The nice thing about cameras is that they’re all good at specific things, so choosing a specific camera for the task is just a matter. Also, smartphone cameras are good at just about everything, so if you want to take multiple cameras, having your smartphone as a backup is always a good idea.

Can you carry a camera on an airplane?

Yes, you can fly with a camera either on your person or in your checked luggage. You’ll have to show it at security checks; otherwise, you’re allowed to have them.

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