The best travel cameras in 2023

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Travel photographer equipment with beautiful landscape on the background, Traveling and Relax Concept.

Travel photos can not only tell a story, but also remind us of the extraordinary beauty of places in the world. “As a biologist and wildlife photographer, I am always amazed at the diversity of life on the planet, ” says Jen Guyton, photojournalist and National Geographic researcher. “ Traveling to see and photograph the richness of nature allows me to learn new things and appreciate the abundance of this planet . ”

With this in mind, the National Geographic team has once again chosen compact cameras (meaning compact size) that they are ready to recommend for travel.

Fujifilm X-T5

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Why? Overall performance and ease of use. With professional-grade controls and vintage styling, the Fujifilm X-T5 APS-C sensor camera is ideal for a wide range of photographers, from hobbyists to professionals.

Fujifilm’s XT series – often our top pick – has been given a major makeover this year with the introduction of the X-T5. It can compete with professional full-frame mirrorless and digital SLR cameras in terms of performance, autofocus, image quality and control. Although the X-T5 is a bit smaller than the X-T4, it has adopted the 40MP sensor from the X-H2, making it the champion of today’s travel cameras.

One of the most impressive features of the XT series is that it provides shooting pleasure for amateurs and professionals alike, combining vintage dials with modern pro-level controls, weather protection and video or photo capture interfaces.

Ricoh GR III and GR IIIx

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RICOH GR IIIx (top) and GR III (bottom) compact cameras 

Why? Portable and easy to use. The Ricoh GR III and GR IIIx offer professional performance in a compact package.

The Ricoh GR III delivers serious performance in a compact size. It features a stabilized 24MP APS-C sensor, dual-type autofocus, a responsive touch screen, and user-friendly menus. Suitable for casual point-and-shoot photography or more controlled handheld shooting. If the effective focal length of 28mm f/2.8 seems too wide for you, you can consider the Ricoh GR IIIx , released in 2021, identical to the GR III except for a 40mm f/2.8 equivalent lens.

Cons: The camera’s battery doesn’t have much capacity, but the built-in USB-C port makes it easy to charge the battery with a phone charger.

Fujifilm X100V

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Why? Great for street photography while traveling. The shutter of the Fujifilm X100V is silent and can sync with the flash at high speed.

The first X100 model, released in 2011, made a splash in the digital camera industry, bringing forth a retro style of camera design.

The latest X100V received several significant changes. The lens has the same parameters as its predecessor (35mm f/2 full-frame equivalent), but new developments have significantly improved corner-to-corner sharpness both wide and closed.

The camera received near-total weather protection, a flip-up screen and a slightly modified grip, as well as improvements in the layout of the controls (including the joystick). Fujifilm cameras have JPEG modes with amazing film simulations. The X100 line of cameras is often the choice of photojournalists. The built-in Neutral Density (ND) filter helps combat strong sunlight.

Cons: When photographing with the Fujifilm X100, always carry the hot shoe thumb rest, lens hood, and wrist strap with you. This eliminates the need for a camera bag and lens cap.

Sony RX100 VII

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Why? Speed ​​and precision in a tiny package. Thanks to new technology, this Sony model can shoot at 20 frames per second with virtually no image distortion.

Although the 7th generation RX100 line has been around for more than three years, it remains one of the most versatile ultra-compact cameras around. This autofocus version is from Sony’s professional lineup, giving photographers very reliable eye/face AF that now also works with animals. No other camera of this size has autofocus or shooting speed close to this little wonder.

The Sony RX100 VII features a 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens that, while not as bright as we’d like, covers a wide range for the traveller. Is the price too high (~$1300) for such a small camera? Yes, but it delivers outstanding performance.

Leica Q2 and Q2 Monochrom

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Leica Q2 

Why? Performance and luxury. Leica offers simplicity and first-class image quality.

Although very expensive, the Q-series cameras are exceptional to use. The Q cameras include a full-frame sensor with a 28mm f/1.7 fixed lens and built-in stabilization. Since the first generation Q and QP have been discontinued, we recommend the current Leica Q2 and Q2 Monochrom, which have a 47.5 MP sensor, a large battery, and weather protection.

The Q2 Monochrom is almost identical to the Q2, except that it only shoots in black and white and has a smooth black finish. Removing color filters (or Bayer array) produces striking black and white images; it also improves sharpness and high ISO performance as more light enters the pixels. If you prefer color, you will like Q2 more.

OM System OM-1

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Why? Ideal for wildlife and creative landscape work. Professional OM-1 weather protection , quick setting switches and a small sensor help you capture unique shots.

OM System has released the flagship OM-1 camera, a major upgrade to the beloved Olympus E-M1 series.

The OM-1 has a similar layout to the E-M1 series, but features an ultra-fast multi-layer sensor for high-speed photography at up to 10fps with a mechanical shutter and an incredible 120fps with an electronic shutter. The updated sensor provides better low-light performance. AF algorithms with object detection (cars, planes, animals and people).

This model also has a high-res shooting mode (you can capture 50-megapixel images from a burst of 16 shots) and a Live-ND filter that mimics a neutral density filter. In addition, handheld computational photography simulates long exposure photography on a tripod (such as a blurry waterfall).

The Pro lenses have a high-quality assembly, built-in lens hoods, smooth zoom and focus rings, and outstanding bokeh.

The park optics for the OM-1 make it ideal for bird photographers and wildlife watchers. The new 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO lens offers you a lightweight 300-800mm focal range and a built-in teleconverter. providing up to 1000 mm when shooting handheld. Tom tested this lens/camera combination and enjoyed photographing the birds in his area without the fatigue of heavy lenses.

Tip : The best lenses include the M.Zuiko Digital 12-100mm F4 IS PRO (24-200mm in 35mm equiv.), 12-40mm F2.8 II PRO (24-80mm equiv.), 40-150mm F2. 8 PRO (80-300mm equiv.), 300mm F4 IS PRO (600mm F4 equiv.), 7-14mm F2.8 PRO (wide zoom), 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO (300 equiv. –800 mm).

Fujifilm X-S10

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Why? For the price, the Fujifilm X-S10 is the best all-around lens camera for travel.

With a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor and stabilization, the X-S10 has impressive ergonomics despite its small size. It also has modern controls and a mode selector unlike other retro-styled Fujifilm cameras.

What are you giving up for affordability and compact size? It has a smaller battery, one memory card slot, a smaller viewfinder, no weather protection, and a slightly slower maximum shutter speed.

Cons: With an ergonomic grip, this camera pairs well with a versatile zoom lens. The Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is ideal as a single lens travel kit.

Nikon Z30

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Why? Suitable for budget travelers who travel light and have uncompromising video demands.

The new Nikon Z 30 is the third version in the company’s Z-Mount APS-C line of cameras. The compact size makes the camera stand out. This is partly due to the lack of an electronic viewfinder and a 30-minute recording limit.

While the Z 30 is considered an entry-level camera, it can record 4K 30p crop-free, which cannot be said of its larger full-frame sister, the Z 5. Its photography performance is also impressive: same amazing low-light performance, 11-frame mechanical shutter per second with AF tracking, high performance AF.

More importantly, it’s lightweight, easy to carry around all day, just take it off. It pairs perfectly with the compact Nikkor DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens and is great for documenting your adventures.

Tip : If range is more important than camera size, consider adding the Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR to your camera bag. With an effective focal length of 375mm at the long end and five stops of stabilization, you’ll have no trouble capturing distant subjects.

Canon EOS R7

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Why? Suitable for shooting wildlife and shooting on the move.

The EOS R7 is one of Canon’s first RF mount APS-C cameras (announced in May 2022 with the EOS R10 ). The biggest camera on this list lives up to its size with impressive specs, including one of the best APS-C sensors on the market at 32MP (the X-T5 now has the crown).

Additional features include built-in stabilization that can automatically level the horizon, a 15 fps mechanical shutter, a 30 fps electronic shutter, two UHS-II card slots, and a comfortable grip that accepts the same LP-E6NH batteries as the full-frame cameras, which ensures very good battery life.

We were also impressed by its automatic focusing on objects – using the same deep learning algorithms as the flagship EOS R3. Its weather protection means you can feel comfortable taking it almost anywhere.

Tip : Pair this powerful body with a good lens. We recommend purchasing a Canon EF-RF mount adapter so you can take advantage of the many inexpensive used EF lenses for SLR cameras on the market.

Sony α7C

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Why? Compact full-frame camera with interchangeable lenses for travel.

Last year, the Sony a7C lost out to the Canon EOS RP (the first full-frame interchangeable lens camera to make our list). But the a7C offers some notable features. This is an amazingly compact full-frame camera.

Despite its small size, the a7C is equipped with Sony’s fast and reliable autofocus system. Pair this camera with one of Sony’s ultra-compact prime lenses such as the Sony 24mm f/2.5, 35mm f/2.8, 40mm f/2.5 or 50mm f/2.5. This will give you an amazingly compact travel camera with a full frame sensor.

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