As people slowly discard their bulky DSLR cameras for the more svelte and lightweight mirrorless versions, you’d think all of the new breed can be used for travel purposes. In theory, any camera can be used as a travel imaging device if it’s not bolted to the ground.
But for travel purposes, we generally want to move with the least mass possible and with a device that is still capable of very high resolution. Thus, our reason for digging into the best mirrorless cameras for travel.
As with any camera choice, there are several options to choose from, so it generally comes down to your chosen budget. Full-frame sensors generally give the best resolutions, but APS-C versions are still highly capable.
If video is more your thing then you may need something that offers 4K recording. Do you need Wi-Fi for quickly transferring images? And will you be happy with a fixed lens camera or one where you can swap out the lenses? With all these factors in mind, we will run through some of the most likely candidates that are a nice balance between cost and features.
2. Sony a7 III
Sony definitely gave the rest of the camera industry a good kicking with the release of its first mirrorless cameras for travel (and for everything else, as well). The Sony Alpha a7 III follows suit, offering all the features from a fully-fledged DSLR in a very compact package and with the option of lots of high-quality lenses.
The Sony a7 III is wrapped around a 24.2MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor which can rattle off 10 fps and you be won’t be short of AF areas with 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points. The camera also has a very capable ISO range of 100-51,200, which can be expanded to 50-204,800.
The five stops of compensation image stabilization system is one of the calling cards of this camera, with the ability to shoot 4K and HD video with advanced features. The list of what this camera can do is a mile long, but suffice to say it’s a Swiss army knife for everyday shooting, with lots of lens options to cover the wide to very telephoto focal lengths. We cover more of these options in our Sony a7 III review.
3. Canon EOS R6
Canon seemed a bit late to the game with their first mirrorless cameras, but the EOS R6 quickly stepped in, offering a full frame sensor in a lightweight package. The camera offers a 26.2MP CMOS sensor, 4K video shooting, and an extremely wide sensitivity range of ISO 100-40,000.
You will never be short of selectable focus areas with 4,779 phase-detection points. With other features including a vari-angle LCD screen, built-in Wi-Fi, but no built-in image stabilization. Older EF lenses can also be used with an adapter, which is a massive plus point for all existing Canon owners.
Considering the price point of this camera, it provides all the professional touches in a relatively lightweight package. If you’re interested in going up a tier, you can read our review of the Canon EOS R5.
4. Nikon Z 6
Just as Canon owners were screaming out for their own lightweight mirrorless solution, so were the Nikon users, who were eventually treated to the Nikon Z 6 and more expensive Nikon Z 7. The Z 6 weighs in at just 595g, featuring a 24.5MP FX-Format BSI CMOS sensor, 4K video, and 273 phase-detection AF points.
As you’d expect from a high-end Nikon camera, the Z 6 is feature-packed with an ISO 100-51,200 range, a very capable 5-axis Vibration Reduction system, and a crystal-clear viewfinder. The body is also weatherproofed for all conditions and, with an adapter, can take the now older F Mount lenses.
For existing Nikon users, this camera is a no-brainer, equally capable as a travel solution or for regular use. See how we review the Nikon Z 6 next to the Z 7 for more information.
5. Canon EOS M100 (Budget Winner)
The camera offerings above are more professional solutions and so have higher price points. The Canon EOS M100 is designed as the most lightweight offering, while still providing top quality. The EOS M100 is wrapped around a 24.2MP APS-C sensor with the ability to take Canon EF-M mount lenses with a total weight of 302g.
The EOS M100 is very low-light capable with a ISO range of 100 to 25,600. And although you cannot shoot 4K video, it’s capable of full HD 60 fps video with 49 phase-detection AF points. The camera may also not have image stabilization, but as an all-around package it’s extremely good value for money, while still providing excellent results. Get more specs in our Canon EOS M100 review.
A Closer Look at Mirrorless Cameras for Travel
With the latest crop of mirrorless cameras for travel, even the most high-end versions can arguably be classed as good travel solutions. This means the ultimate decision will be down to your own particular budget and how compact a solution you need.
We have leaned mostly on the high-quality versions, which will allow you to grow as your skills develop rather than providing you with a lot of point-and-shoot cameras. A point-and-shoot may be smaller and cost less, but it will not have a variety of capabilities or the more extensive features.
For instance, the Fujifilm X100V may not be the cheapest camera out there, but it is an excellent mix between auto and manual features, retro looks, and high-end image quality, which is expected from the latest camera models.