Published Sep 20, 2019
Whether you’re piling the family into the minivan for a trip to Disneyland or backpacking through Southeast Asia, you’ll probably want a camera that has a larger-than-average sensor, a versatile lens and wireless features for beaming your images back home.
Our selection includes a variety of cameras, including pocketable compacts, larger bridge cameras, a few mirrorless models and a fixed prime lens compact. For our main recommendations, we’re sticking with small.
Long reach, fast action: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII
The RX100 VII is a pocketable long zoom camera that does just about everything right, though it doesn’t come cheap. Its 24-200mm equivalent lens offers most of the reach you’ll need for a wide variety of shooting situations, while its maximum aperture of F2.8-4.5 means it’s pretty flexible.
It features probably the best autofocus systems we’ve ever encountered in a compact camera, meaning the little Sony can turn its hand to almost anything you might come across on your travels. There’s also a fairly easy-to-use Wi-Fi system to send images to your phone.
Video is also good – thanks to the camera using the full-width of the sensor – and rolling shutter is minimal. Also, the lack of an ND filter means having to use higher shutter speeds than is ideal in bright conditions, potentially leaving your footage looking less professional than it might. Overall, though, the RX100 VI is the most capable travel camera on the market: nothing matches its combination of size, capability and image quality.
Better in low light: Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
If you like the RX100 VII but want a faster (but shorter) lens that will perform better in low light and allow for shallower depth-of-field, then the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is worth considering. This pocketable camera is well-built, fits well in the hand and has a sensible user interface. Its flip-up LCD makes it ideal for selfies, and a pop-up viewfinder is very helpful for shooting outdoors. Battery life is below average though, and the camera is picky about which USB chargers are compatible.
Image quality is very good, with pleasing colors and a good amount of dynamic range. Autofocus is responsive, but the camera cannot track while shooting bursts. The G5 X II has the ability to shoot Raw images at 30 fps, with a pre-capture option. The camera’s 4K/30p video has no crop and quality is decent. Unfortunately, there’s no 24p option, nor is there a mic socket. The built-in ND filter allows for using faster shutter speeds.
Overall, the G5 X II is a pleasure to use and produces great results – and is reasonably priced given its feature set.
We considered all of the cameras in this class when picking our winners, and even though we think the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII and the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II are the best all-rounders, the cameras below are also worth looking at.