The 8 Best Compact Travel Cameras

With the advent of social media sharing comes a slew of camera phones that, for the most part, can do a decent enough, albeit basic job of taking pictures. The thing is, if you’re traveling, or if you’re out somewhere on a grand adventure around the world, then you need to get an upgrade. And yes, the newer compact cameras do perform far better than their camera phone contemporaries. It’s all because of competition. You see, now that camera phones have become as high-tech as they are, camera makers needed to create compact cameras that have more advanced features to trump their smart phone competition.

Don’t think for one second that these compact or point-and-shoot cameras are a waste of your time. Even if you’re a professional, you’d be pleasantly surprised at just how good these cameras are nowadays. Compact travel cameras are perfect for those who want to take eye-catching pictures but are concerned about traveling light. There is just something magical about a camera that fits in your pocket and is ready for action and adventure whenever and wherever you are.

These are the 8 best compact travel cameras you should consider bringing with you on your next adventure.

Ricoh GR IIIRicoh GR III

Ricoh is a Japanese company that specializes in producing consumer electronic and imaging products, such as printers, copiers, and cameras. The company was founded in 1936 by their parent zaibatsu – Riken. At first, between the 1930s and 1950s, “Ricoh” was still a line of cameras that the Riken company produced. It was only in 1963 that the company finally changed its name to Ricoh. Another great milestone to note happened in 2011. Ricoh acquired Pentax in a massive corporate buyout of all its shares. For a time, this merged company became known as PENTAX Ricoh Imaging Company but soon opted to drop the PENTAX name in August of 2013. To date, they’re known as the Ricoh Imaging Company. It is from this company that we get our first entry on the list.

Ricoh is not playing around with their only offering on this list of best compact travel cameras. The Ricoh GR III is a very strong contender that photographers of all levels tend to like. It has a high 24.23 Megapixel resolution from its APS-C size image sensor.

This 3rd iteration of the GR employs a 3 axis shake reduction feature that allows you to capture images and videos with more detail and stability even in not-so-perfect conditions. The GR III now has a 3-inch touch screen for more intuitive interface with its controls.

The lens is a 28mm equivalent F2.8, allowing for sharper images. To up your social media game, it also has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for sharing your adventures to loved ones and followers. As for video, it can record full HD 1920 x 1080 at up to 60p in MPEG 4 AVC/H.264 (MOV) format. Consider this very portable compact camera as an awesome upgrade to your regular camera phone.

For more cool devices like this, be sure to browse our list of the best instant cameras.


Sony RX100 VIISony RX100 VII

Sony, of course, is a tech giant from Japan that has its powerful zaibatsu fingers in a lot of industry pies. Mostly, they’re known for producing high-quality electronic consumer products like TVs, laptops, and cameras. Sony even has a line of professional level digital cameras for making movies. This brand isn’t only known for filmmaking hardware, though; they also produce and release movies all over the world through Sony Pictures. The products that Sony makes certainly become leading contenders in their respective field. Such is the case with the launch of the Sony Playstation. Overnight, Sony became the leader in home console gaming. With such an impeccable track record, it’s no longer a question if a Sony product is good; it’s now a question of how high the bar is going to be raised.

The first offering from Sony on this list is the RX100 VII. It’s one such product that raises the bar high. The small, compact size of this little gizmo belies the fact that the RX100 VII is a dream come true for many enthusiasts. At the price point it’s on, it may not be as friendly a choice for newbies, but if your beak is already wet, then dive right in to all the goodness it brings. It is worth every penny though.

With its 4K HDR resolution recording and mic-ready capability, it’s a prime camera for filmmakers and vloggers. With its super fast 0.02-second auto focus, fast-paced action shots won’t escape you, and you’ll get superior high-quality images with every snap with its 1.0 sensor capable of 20 megapixels. It’s simply a powerful behemoth in a compact package.


Panasonic Lumix ZS80 / TZ95Panasonic Lumix ZS80 / TZ95

Panasonic is another well-known Japanese brand that was established in 1955. The brand has always been an innovative leader in the field of consumer electronics worldwide. In fact, the first bread maker was one of its innovations. Today, they’re known for electric razors, DVD and Blu-Ray players, home stereo systems, laptops, and digital cameras, among others. If you’re a photographer researching your next big camera purchase, you’ve most likely come across the Lumix name. Lumix is the brand name for Panasonic’s line of digital camera.

There are a couple Lumix cameras on this list, and the first is the ZS80 AKA the TZ95 outside of North America. The name “TZ” actually is a more meaningful name since it stands for Travel Zoom. It’s so named because the TZ or ZS line of cameras has a vastly superior 30X optical zoom range.

The ZS80 has a 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor paired with an f/3.3-6.4 or 24-720 mm equivalent in 35mm lens. It’s capable of 20.3 Megapixels and is able to record 4K video at 30p. You’ll also love its 3-inch touchscreen capable of 180-degree rotation. It also comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for fast and easy sharing. You’ll also be happy to know that the Lumix ZS80 has a lens control ring that enables you to make precise focus adjustments. This feature is mostly absent in similarly priced competitors.

Overall, this is a nice reliable camera that has a lot to offer active travelers looking to immortalize precious moments.

You may also be interested in some of the top mirrorless cameras under $500 from our list. Don’t miss them.


Olympus Tough TG-5Olympus Tough TG-5

Olympus is a Japanese company that specializes in precision optics, medical imaging systems, and reprography machines. They pretty much have a narrow focus of products, which makes them excel in their field. Oddly enough, the brand was first named “Takachiho,” which in Japanese mythology is the mountain abode of the gods. Their first products were high-performance optics for medical use. The first was their Asahi microscope. The success of this product led to more innovations through the years, and one of their most important milestones was their creation of the world’s very first gastrocamera used in endoscopy. In 1949, in an attempt to improve their brand name, Takachiho was renamed Olympus. This rebranding actually seems more like a translation than anything else since in Greek mythology, the name “Olympus” refers to the mountain home of the gods, much like its original name, Takachiho, in Japan.

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is an awesome addition to this list of great compact cameras for traveling. With its many features, it may just seem like a gift from the gods. The Tough TG-5’s main hook is that it is tough, just as advertised in its name. It’s waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof, crushproof, and shockproof –whew- that’s a lot of “proofs.” It has a 1/2.3 BSI-CMOS sensor capable of 12 Megapixels. It has 4.5-18mm lens equivalent to 25-100 mm on the 35mm and max aperture at f/2.0 wide to f/4.9 tele. With this setup, it’s capable of 4X optical zoom. It has a 3-inch rear LCD screen, which you can use to frame your 4K videos. Everything about this camera just screams adventure! It’s practically begging you to take it with you the next time you pack your suitcase.


Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark IICanon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

Canon is a Japanese camera company that many professionals and enthusiasts tout as the best. While this claim by their loyal fans is by no means an objective truth, their producing great cameras consistently makes the claim rather believable. The company was formed in 1933 as Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory. The company produced cameras under the Kwanon name. This name was borrowed from the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. In 1937, when the company was starting to establish itself as a company of world-class standards, they changed the name to Canon, which means “standard.” This choice of name was a sort of Anglicization of their previous name to have a more global appeal. That is what the company has become, after all, a global standard for digital cameras.

The Canon PowerShot G9 Mark II is a reliable companion for all situations. Take it with you on special occasions and keep precious moments forever, or travel the world with it and create a gallery full of your adventures. It really lives up to the hype surrounding its brand. It’s no doubt a compact camera with a whole lot of advanced features to offer.

It comes equipped with a 1-inch CMOS sensor employing a DIGIC 7 image processor. The lens is a 28-84 mm on a 35mm equivalent with an f/2-4.9. This setup allows the PowerShot G9 X Mark II to achieve 3X optical zoom and 4X digital zoom. The picture quality is 20.1 Megapixels and is able to record MP4 videos at Full HD 1080 resolution up to 60p. It’s also ready for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This Canon point and shoot certainly earned its way onto this list of best compact travel cameras.

For the most affordable option, check out our list of the best-rated digital cameras under $100.


Sony Cybershot HX99Sony Cybershot HX99

The Sony zaibatsu strikes again with another spectacular package on this list. This time, the HX99 takes the stage. The Sony Cybershot HX99’s claim to fame is its extreme compact size. In a list of compact cameras, the HX99 apparently takes the cake. Go big – err – Go small or go home, I guess.

Sony’s tiny camera is the smallest one on the market that uses a 24-720 mm zoom lens. This lens has a lens barrel ring for more precise setting of the zoom. Its zoom capability can then further be pushed up to 1440 mm with the help of the Clear Image Zoom digital zoom technology. This digital magnification technology retains the sharpness of the image achieved through its optical zoom. Even when used handheld and zoomed to its limit, you will still be able to capture sharp images because the HX99 features a proprietary image stabilization mechanism that effectively negates camera shake, retaining image sharpness.

The camera uses an 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor and has an electronic viewfinder that pops up. It comes with a 3-inch LCD screen that tilts up 180 degrees. This feature is awesome for those of you who have caught the vlogging bug. It’s especially useful when you’re out traveling the world. The LCD screen also features touch focus for both still images and video recording. This little Sony vlogging camera is able to record video in a big way. It’s the first in the HX line of cameras to record in 4K.


Leica Q2Leica Q2

Leica is a renowned brand of cameras from Germany. The use of the brand name is not limited to cameras since Leica produces other optical products, such as microscopes, binoculars, telescopes, rifle scopes, laser rangefinders, and even corrective ophthalmic lenses. The company was established in 1914 and was so named as a combination of the first 3 letters of the name of the founder and the first two in the word “camera.” This naming decision is proof that the Leica brand intended to be a manufacturer of superior performance cameras right from the get-go. It is no surprise then that they have such a strong offering in the form of the Leica Q2.

The Leica Q2’s features make it an awesome choice for the discerning professional or enthusiast. It employs a full frame 47.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, a stabilized fixed 28mm lens f/1.7 ASPH lens. This configuration perfectly captures sharp picture quality whether your inclination is toward still images or video recording.

The Leica Q2 is capable of recording 4K video up to an impressive ISO 50,000. Also, with this camera, you shouldn’t be afraid to get wet. It’s rated to withstand a dust and water spray without any problems. So, it certainly is rugged enough to capture your adventures wherever you may find yourself. With an autofocus that puts others to shame and full 47.3 Megapixel resolution burst speed of 10 frames per second, the Leica Q2 is a perfect choice for getting that action shot just right.


Panasonic Lumix LX100 IIPanasonic Lumix LX100 II

The brand that all shutterbugs love is once again on the list of the best compact travel cameras with another Lumix offering. The camera brand without a single DSLR under its name will once again try to wow you with the Lumix LX100 II. True to form, the LX100 II is a point and shoot camera that is loaded with great features, making it an awesome travel companion. First things first, though: while this is a compact camera, it is aimed at the more experienced photographer since it is capable of producing so many effects through the use of many different shooting styles.

The LX100 II has a 20 Megapixel M4/3 CMOS sensor and a 24-75mm Leica f/1.7 -2.8 lens that produces images of up to 17-megapixel resolution. The video capabilities make it a strong contender on this list. It is able to record 4K and has an impressive video autofocus that handles tracking pretty well. It has a fixed rear touch screen for controls, setting shots and for precise focus control. You can use it to create high-quality monochromatic images as well as capture beautiful macros.

The Lumix LX100 II has tangible external controls for most of its more crucial features. These include the lens ring, shutter speed dial, and the aspect ratio switch. These thoughtful additions make the LX100 II such a beaut for enthusiasts and professionals who prefer the feel of operating their cameras manually. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then don’t hesitate to get this Lumix for your next vacation.