A Good Travel Camera?

I just got back from my trip to France and Morocco! I’m so eager to tell you about it, but I need to get over jetlag, go through and edit my photos, and of course cobble together a few cohesive thoughts on the whole thing. So today, can I ask for a recommendation? I’d love a good camera for traveling. Something between my iPhone and my DSLR.

I brought my Canon 7D with two lenses (a wide angle 10-22mm, and my favorite, the 35mm f/1.4L prime) in a leather camera bag from ONA. Altogether, my camera gear was at least 10 pounds which I’m normally happy to carry for the sake of better quality photos. While six months pregnant though? I was jealous of my travelmates with small lightweight cameras. And really, I’ve been looking for a good travel camera for a couple of years now — it just took this trip to really make it seem like I ought to finally find something.

Traveling With My Camera Bag

I’m aware of a few options… Jordan bought a Sony NEX on the recommendation of a friend, and coincidentally it was the same model that both Carol and Dave were using, though theirs were provided to them by Sony. I was sent a Samsung Galaxy Camera to review for Babble in 2012, and I had high hopes for it but it was buggy and not as great as I’d hoped. I liked the quality of the Canon G10 that I used to own (I gave it to my sister a couple of years ago, but it looks like the new G16 might work for me now), and I’ve heard great things about the Fujifilm X100S, but I worry that the fixed lens is limiting and it’s expensive.

Since I’m not a professional photographer and I don’t need to carry all of my heavy, expensive gear with me, I’m still looking for the magic camera I was two years ago. Good in low-level light, wifi or bluetooth connection with my iPhone (or maybe just Eyefi compatibility?), manual and a variety of automatic modes (shutter or aperture priority), nice depth of field, a wide optical zoom range, and of course, something that can take good quality photos. Do you have any recommendations, or an impartial review site to check out? Thanks in advance for your help!

76 Responses to “A Good Travel Camera?”

  1. Ali June 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    I use the panasonic lumix zs20. Its pretty awesome :)

  2. Asha June 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I second the panasonic lumix : ) i accidentally dropped it in a canal in amsterdam on a recent trip and am heartbroken without it : /

  3. krissy June 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    I don’t snap many pictures, but my sister uses a Lumix Lx7 and absolutely loves it (her blog is http://www.liveseasoned.com) and the most recent 2 posts were shot with her lumix. My dad has a slightly less fancy lumix, which works very well, but doesn’t have the manual features of the lx7 you may be looking for. Good luck finding what you want, new electronics are so exciting!

  4. Ashly June 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    I previously worked for a camera shop and while that does NOT make me an expert, I will say that the lumix line is a good trusty fall back. I have one from six years back that is my go-to when the thought of lugging my Mark II around makes me wants to cry. My next small camera purchase is a Fujifilm X100S.

  5. Lisa June 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Stay away from the Lumix. I was seduced by the Leica lens and picture quality. But it took buying FOUR of them for me to realize the product quality is lacking. Lenses were stuck in or out, would not take photos, etc. save yourself the aggravation.

  6. Tasha June 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    I like the Panasonic Lumix, but definitely read the reviews to find one that is good for low light.

  7. Kathryn June 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    The Hubbard Street company photographer recommended this camera to us years ago (this is the newer version, which I have). It’s excellent for both stills and movement, super light and we use it everywhere. You can borrow mine for a week or so if you want to try it out. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005MTME3U/ref=oh_details_o08_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  8. Mary June 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    We just picked up the Lumix after Christmas and I am loving it so far! I think we’re friends on FB, so check out my Road Trips album (a bit sparse but those are all from the Lumix)

  9. DWJ June 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    I actually bought a small Canon Powershot 2 years ago at Christmas because I didn’t want to carry my Canon DSLR around with me. It was the best purchase ever. It stays in my purse all the time, is super light weight, keeps a charge and takes excellent pictures. Plus they come with all these built in features and modes that they don’t address in the manual so you can get some crazy fun shots (here are some I took of the Cherry Blossoms in DC when I didn’t have my DSLR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/theartofaccessories/sets/72157645384945023/) Sometimes simple (and inexpensive) really does the trick.

  10. Samae June 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Yeah, you should so get a Samsung camera. Check out this review from one of my pro friends.

    http://laurawinslowphotography.com/blog/2013/12/30/confession-samsung-nx300-smart-camera-changed-way-capture-kiddos/

  11. Alice June 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I have a Sony NEX-5 and love it! I know it’s a DSLR so you might not be interested but it’s a compact DSLR that is great for traveling. The wifi sharing is great, the video is high quality and it’s lightweight and small for all that it can do. Highly recommend any of the cameras in this line.

    • Making it Lovely June 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Actually, I think I’d be OK with a compact version like that. I did like the small size with its kit lens, and the option to change it out is nice.

      • Erica B July 1, 2014 at 10:24 am #

        I also have a SONY NEX and I love it! Mine has the selfie flip screen which is very useful when travelling with partner and is also just straight up a great camera. Fits in my medium-small purse w/ wallet + sunglasses.

  12. Lindy June 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I have a Nikon 1 of the J series, I think it might be the J2. Now I will have to check. We’ve had it almost three years now. Anyways its amazing, once we had a child we put our big DSLR in the closet and never looked back. Its stylish and it came with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses. Its worked out great for us and I can even toss it in my purse and take it anywhere with us. I highly recommend it!

  13. DJ June 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    I swear by my Sony RX100. I have the first generation and they just came out with their third generation last week. This is my go to camera for everything. I travel a lot and this camera never disappoints … great in low light, excellent portraits and all the features you’re looking for and more. The Carl Zeiss lens is excellent. I also highly recommend the carrying case Sony makes for this camera.

    • dawn June 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      I second the Sony RX100! We went on a trip to Paris one year ago and I wanted to travel as light as possible. Not only did I not want to be burdened by keeping track of everything, but I also didn’t want to sacrifice any shots. After many, many hours of researching different types of cameras from DSLRs to point and shoots and everything in between, I chose the RX100 (I also have a Sony NEX but left it behind, at first unsure if I made the right decision). With a little adjustment of the settings in the menu for each shot and the inconspicuous size of the camera, I got some awesome shots…no regrets! It’s now my ‘steady’ and it’ll be going to London with me. If I bought another camera for travel shots, I think it would be an Olympus OM-D EM5 for its picture quality, light weight frame, and it has a more interesting lens selection that the NEX models.

      • Yarnie June 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

        I third the Sony RX100! I have the second generation and LOVE it. Best thing was the ability to transfer my pics to my computer/phone over wifi without cables. I have a Canon DSLR, but this has been my go-to camera for everything. And yes, get the Sony carrying case specifically designed for this camera…it is awesome.

  14. Darcie Bell June 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Leica D-Lux 6. Nothing else even comes close. I own their DSLR cameras and a Hasselblad- and I use my D-Lux more than any of them these days. They take insane photos, are lightweight, versatile and Leica service is unbeatable. I have done reviews for the Panasonic LX-7- people who claim that this is the exact same camera with different branding, have never personally done the side by side comparison. I have owned both- and the lumix is a great camera for your dollar, but it is a lot clunkier and honestly, not nearly as well constructed as the d-lux. There is often a lag just getting the the camera to start and you will NEVER have that problem with a Leica. You will never miss those moments… I had my D-Lux 4 forever.. I dropped it in a lake and it was so beat up and victimized by my many travels and adventures and it still took pictures like a champ. :)

    • Abby June 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

      I second this! I have the Leica D-Lux 5 and absolutely love it.

    • Yvette June 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

      I will third Leica D-Lux series. I have the 5 and it’s better than any of the mirrorless cameras I’ve tried and stands up great to my Canon 5DMII. I am in the same boat about an upcoming trip to Italy and am thinking I may just go Leica … I took it with me to Hawaii a couple years back and got the best sunset shot at the North Shore https://flic.kr/p/azpp6i.

  15. Alison June 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    On photography forums lately, I’ve been hearing rave reviews (from people I respect) for the fujifilm XE-2. An added plus is that the silver body version is really cute.

  16. Kelly June 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    I have had a series of Canon Elph digital camera which have never let me down. I now have a Canon S95 which I’ve been less than enamored by, but maybe that’s because I don’t know how to use it to the fullest yet.

  17. Gregory June 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I’ve been shooting with the Fujifilm X-E2 since switching from a Nikon D7000 DSLR and haven’t regretted it. The pancake lens makes the camera compact and light enough to carry anywhere, while the option to throw in a zoom or other prime makes it versatile for professional and personal work.

    That all said, I just convinced my better half to switch to the newly released Sony RX100III and the image quality is quite impressive. Sony has stolen the crown from Canon in the point-and-shoot category, with an extremely sharp and fast lens, all with a pop-up EVF which comes in handy in certain situations.

  18. Miranda June 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    I use the Sony RX100 for my traveling and it is nothing short of amazing. The image quality is amazing with basic shooting to fit a 16×20″ print which is huge for a point-and-shoot. It is so light weight and the quick shutter make it great to work with. I’d highly recommend it.

  19. Paige @ Lux Per Diem June 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    I just got back from two weeks in Paris not to long ago. I didn’t have any issues carrying my dslr, even when we walked those ten mile days. I carried the nikon d7100 (1.4 pounds) and the 35 mm lens (.6) pounds. The 35 mm lens worked great, and is awesome in lowlight. For anything where I needed a wider perspective I would shoot several photos to create a panormaic image in PS using the photomerge feature. That’s how I can carry only one lens but not sacrifice wide angle. I packed it in my jototes siena bag, along with a pocket guide, iphone, wallet, journal, and sometimes ipad mini and didn’t have an issue with weight. Your 7D has almost half a pound on the D7100 so you could also look into just getting a lighter DSLR. I’ve tried SO MANY of the more compact travels because sometimes my dslr can feel a bit bulky to pull out at dinner, but always regret not having it when I’m home editing the photos. The quality is always just so much more lacking.

  20. Jillian June 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    I have a Sony NEX 3N, which I purchased in January for a trip. I wanted an affordable camera with interchangeable lenses (I haven’t purchased any yet). I really like it and mostly just use the various automatic settings. I think it takes excellent photos overall. It doesn’t do macro as well as my G10, so I held onto that camera as well.

  21. Amanda June 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    I have this Panasonic Lumix:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/panasonic-lumix-sz8-16-0-megapixel-digital-camera-black/5822109.p?id=1219159698396&skuId=5822109&st=panasonic%20lumix&cp=1&lp=4

    It’s small, but there is a TON of flexibility with the settings. So much so that I got this Nikon Coolpix for when I want to fiddle less with settings on the fly and do more editing at home:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/nikon-coolpix-l820-16-0-megapixel-digital-camera-black/1308091721.p?id=mp1308091721&skuId=1308091721&st=nikon%20coolpix%20l820&cp=1&lp=1#tab=buyingOptions

    The zoom is FANTASTIC on the Coolpix. Can’t set specific settings on it, but the auto modes are super nice and there are quite a few “scene” type settings as well.

    Good luck!

  22. jess June 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Check out the Olympus PEN models. Mine is a couple of generations ago, but it takes really great photos, has interchangeable lenses and is SO much lighter than a DSLR.

  23. Jill June 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Here’s a comparison of some compact mirrorless camera systems with interchangeable lenses.

    If I remember from some other bloggers, offerings from Fuji and Olympus take it for this category.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364044,00.asp

  24. Mrs Limestone June 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    I’m curious to read what everyones suggestions are b/c I’m also looking for a magic camera.

    I will warn you against the Nikon1 series. They work perfectly fine but the shutterlag is so slow when you are used to a SLR that I never use it.

  25. sarah June 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    We have the Lumix and love it. This was the blog that convinced us to go with it and haven’t been sorry, even if pics of our kids and travels never come close to his : ) http://craigmod.com/journal/gf1-fieldtest/

  26. katie June 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Literally look no further. As a professional photographer THIS is the non-DSLR camera you will want. Low light sensitivity, crisp clean images, and sleek aesthetic design.

    http://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/digital_cameras/x/fujifilm_xf1/

  27. Sarah June 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I just bought a Canon G16 for our trip to St Petersburg. We leave Thursday!

  28. Janine June 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    The fiancé and I (he’s pictures above!)both have Nikon D70s’s, which we love, but we frequently need something that isn’t a DSLR. For years we’ve relied on our phones and a Canon G12.

    The Canon G12 has been fantastic. It’s more than a point ‘n’ shoot, but isn’t trying to be a DSLR. I know the G16 is out, so I would suggest starting there to see if that fits your needs.

    Downside: we wanted to edit the Canon G12 raw files in Photoshop and for some reason Photoshop didn’t have a “translator” for those files, so Photoshop wouldn’t work with them. I think that’s been fixed, but it was frustrating as hell.

  29. Eileen Kelly June 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I’ve used the Wirecutter for recommendations of various products and had good luck.

    http://thewirecutter.com/leaderboard/cameras/

    • Kimberly June 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Agreed, The Wirecutter is a great source for impartial gear reviews.

  30. Leah June 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    No recommendations – but a website for comparisons. I’ve found it very useful in the past. :) (And, would love to hear what you ultimately go with!)

    http://www.dpreview.com/

  31. Kristi June 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    I fully recommend the Sony NEX. I have the Sony NEX 3 and its pretty much a mini DSLR that’s slightly larger than a little point and shoot! Great for travelling! Fits in my purse! :)

  32. Di June 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    I have an old Panasonic TZ3 which I love but my brother just bought a Panasonic TZ60 – the latest upgrade – and I am tempted. The pictures are clear and the colour amazing, panoramic photos, and a 30 times optical zoom. The photos he took on our recent trip to shetland were amazing. I

  33. LeeAnn June 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    I just went through this whole process myself! After much research I decided that an “advanced point and shoot ” met all of these requirements.

    I purchased the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1. It meets all of your requirements listed here and has an incredible lens. I have always owned a camera with a Leica lens and people always think I the photos came from a DSLR camera. After using it for a month, it is everything I hoped it to be. I’ve printed many photos and the quality is amazing. I love that you can adjust many of the settings, like a fancy camera and even save these into custom preset settings. And the wide angle/ panoramic setting exceeded my expectations. So easy to use.

    Consumer Reports rated it highly as well as many independent photography sites.

  34. sarah b June 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    i second the recommendation for http://www.dpreview.com/. i have used it when buying all of my cameras and they have never let me down. it has been a few years since i bought a new camera, so i don’t have any current recommendations, other than to review the site.

    they have buying guides for camera categories (like best compact camera for travel, best waterproof, etc), plus individual reviews for specific cameras you want to research further.

  35. RebeccaNYC June 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    My husband is a professional photojournalist and this year he “forgot” to pack his cameras when we came to Europe for two months.. (he was focused on packing his bike…his other passion). The photos he has been taking with his iPhone? AMAZING. He says that actually, the iPhone camera is better than the cameras he first worked with when photojournalism went digital. I don’t know how he does it, and I know he has a few secret apps up his sleeve, and of course, his amazing eye…but his iPhone photos just blow me away. And he loves using it. He says it frees him up to be more creative. So save your money, and just explore the possibilities you already have on your phone. There’s my two cents, for what they are worth. If you want to see some of his photos, I follow you on Instagram….mybackstageopera Most of the photos are mine, but some are his, and I bet you can see the difference!

  36. Manette June 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    How about the Sony RX10? A little bit larger but it has 18-200 f2.8.

  37. bridget June 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    I have the CanonS95, and I’ve loved it. See some travel pictures here. It’s good at low light…but not great. Absolutely worth the price and size, however.

  38. Alison June 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    I commented earlier but had one additional thought for you… you could also simply consider the 40mm pancake lens for your 7D. It’s incredibly small and inexpensive (under $150). I have one that I use on my Mark iii, and it makes an otherwise big DSLR seem sooooo much smaller and easy to carry around… it’s almost like having no lens on at all so far as size goes. The image quality is actually very good. Personally I love this set up whenever I’m on the go with my kids and don’t feel like lugging around my normal stuff (35L is my favorite too!).

    • Katy July 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

      I was going to recommend the pancake lens as well! It’s all I ever take on vacation with me these days (on a 5D mark ii). So so light and easy and makes the big SLR body much less noticeable. It’s almost like carrying a compact camera. I am in love with my 40 pancake and I almost never photography my own family with anything else anymore. I save the expensive lenses for my clients :)

  39. Emily June 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    I have the Canon S95 as my portable camera and love it.

  40. Melbournite June 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Another vote for the Panasonic Lumix series here.
    And Snapsort is a really useful site for comparisons.

  41. Mackenzi June 30, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Get a Leica!!! I am NEVER let down by the photos and its small and sleek.

  42. Lisa June 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    I actually capture better shots with my phone, Samsung Galaxy 5S, than any point and shoot camera I’ve ever had. After many comparisons, I purchased it because of it’s camera function.

  43. Colleen June 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    I have a Canon point and shoot that fits in my pocket and so is always there for me at parties, brunches, etc. When I went on safari a couple of years ago, I bought a Canon G1X (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1x) that takes great pics and yet is easy to carry when traveling.

  44. Ali June 30, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I also recommend the Canon S95. I have one, my dad has one, my sister has one, and we all love it. My dad is a camera snob and I used to sell cameras and we both decided on this one.

  45. Allison July 1, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    I love the Canon S120. It was recommended to me both by some serious photo geeks and a professional photographer and it has turned out to be great and super teeny/light. Even though it’s not the latest model in that line, I was told that there are a couple features that make it better, like the way the flash works. Conveniently, that also makes it cheaper. For reviews, I always use the dpreview.com site.

  46. Kim July 1, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    I use a Nikon with those heavy lens. However I am very jealous of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Digital Camera that my wife recently purchased. It’s lightweight, and the lens are also hardly noticeable. Has some brilliant features as well.

  47. Corrin July 1, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    I used to love my G10, then I upgraded to the T2i but it’s so cumbersome for a non-profesh that I’m thinking about the G16.

  48. Julie July 1, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    I have an old Canon G11 (bought from ebay) I use for my portable camera (and often my main one too), I love it’s size and how much control you can have in manual mode. Also have a wide angle lens for it (from amazon). It’s so awesome! I’ll have to check out the G16 and see what they’ve changed.

  49. Sheila July 1, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I loved my G10 for years and replaced it with a G15 when it broke a couple of years ago. I think that series has always been a good point and shoot for DSL users.

  50. Noelle @ noelle mullins design July 1, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Looks like a few people have recommended this already but I just came from a page that was raving about the new Sony RX100 for it’s clarity, flexibility, and low-light skills and it’s also super compact. Link below.

    https://www.yahoo.com/tech/finally-sonys-rx100-m3-offers-incredible-photographic-89927881004.html

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