Best travel cameras

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Here are our tips to help you buy the best camera to suit your travel style.


Best travel cameras

(Credit: Panasonic)

For the ultimate in portability while travelling, a compact camera will be the ideal companion, as it will take up hardly any space. Lots of cameras have lengthy zooms in small packages, like the Sony HX50V with a 30x optical zoom. Most compacts on this list also have wide-angle lenses at 28mm or less; ideal for capturing landscapes and group shots.

For photographers who want a portable alternative to an SLR, we like the go-anywhere Canon PowerShot S200, Olympus XZ-2 and Panasonic LX7, which all have manual controls.


Nikon L120

(Credit: Nikon)

These cameras are typically bigger than their compact counterparts, with lengthy zooms in SLR-styled bodies. They have manual controls and heaps of features — perfect for a photographer who wants to tweak just about everything. Hotshoes and other SLR-like options may also be present.


Rechargeable lithium-ion, one-use AA or rechargeable AA? A camera that uses AA gives flexibility when travelling in remote areas without a power source, but the cameras that use these batteries are generally bulkier. Lithium-ion batteries are more environmentally friendly, but you may end up stuck somewhere without a power point when the battery runs out.

GPS and Wi-Fi


Geotagged images displayed in Picasa. (Credit: CBSi)

Another novel feature that has cropped up in travel-oriented cameras is GPS. These cameras append GPS location information to the EXIF data, allowing you to work out exactly where your photo was taken when sorting through snaps after your holiday. Check out our collection of cameras with GPS tagging built in for more.

Many cameras also have the ability to harness the data from your smartphone's GPS to tag images when they are imported using a dedicated app. You may also want to consider a camera with Wi-Fi and mobile capability, such as the Samsung Galaxy Camera, which also comes with a long zoom.


The last thing you want to do on your holiday is spend more time in a camera-repair shop than on the beach. Double-check whether your preferred camera is covered by an international warranty or if there's a service centre in the locations you're staying. Also, make sure to put your tech gear on your travel insurance, and make copies of all of your serial numbers and receipts, so if you need to claim them when overseas, you can.


(Credit: Lowepro)

Not only do you need to consider the perfect camera for your needs, you also need the bits and bobs that go with it. Rather than storing all of your memories on one card, consider several smaller capacity cards in case of loss or data corruption. Backing up your photos frequently on to a portable hard drive or laptop is also recommended.

While we don't normally recommend lugging around a big tripod on your holiday, there are more portable alternatives, such as the GorillaPod, that cling on to most surfaces and are sturdy enough for a light SLR.

Having the right camera bag protects your gear, too. Photographers wanting an inconspicuous way to tote around an SLR or lots of accessories might want to look at something like the Lowepro Passport Sling, which looks like a regular cross-body bag but is packed with extra pockets for camera accessories.

From surf to soiree

Fancy a spot of surfing with your swanky dinner party? Perhaps you're heading to the ski chalet via safari? You might want to look at a waterproof, rugged camera that can withstand the elements, or invest in a waterproof case for your existing compact. Check out our list of the best waterproof and tough cameras to see which one is right for you. Alternatively, if you are an action adventurer who wants to record your holiday thrills and spills, consider an action camera like the GoPro Hero3+.

As more travel-friendly cameras are reviewed, we'll add them to this list.

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TomA2 posted a comment   

For anyone interested in producing high quality videos as well as photos I'd recommend taking a GoPro (absolute essential when backpacking) and an SLR. I took my Nikon d3100 with me along with the kit lens and a 42mm prime which was really nice for portraits and closeups. Check out my travel videos here:


sng1_au posted a comment   

It is always such as dilemma. I generally always take my Canon 5D with 24-105 and a small back up compact.

But recently I have taken to the Fujifilm X100s. Only a fixed lens but superb OOC JPEG quality images with great viewfinder and the flash is particularly good (Not too harsh or weak - exposure is perfect). And it has all the controls in an easy to use format. Great general photography where a smaller package, low light and wider shots (cities and landscapes) and people shots.

A good zoom is great but I find that cropping and panorama lets me get the telephoto and wide end covered. And so I haven't missed a zoom it as much as thought.

But honestly there are so many good cameras out there - just work out what is important to you - read some reviews online and narrow down to 2 or 3 before trying out in store to check the features and performance.

And don't worry. Guaranteed a better and newer model is just around the corner.

Forget about it and enjoy the camera you have bought at the time.

One of my favourite cameras is a Canon ixus 75. Three times zoom, exposure compensation and simple scene modes but it is just so fun to use. Acceptable images but easy to carry and I still use it.


kneebs posted a comment   

Looking for a good compact travel camera. Having trouble deciding between the sony HX20V and the Lumix TZ30?? Decide for me people!!


rs1703 posted a comment   

I have a Nikon Coolpix S3100 but there are not too many reviews on it. I was wondering if CNET could review it


Lexy Savvides posted a reply   

Hi, I'll add this one to the review list. If you already have it though, feel free to leave your own thoughts on the product page:


ErinG2 posted a comment   

i want a small simple camera that takes great pics in auto, but i could play with the manual features with time. will definitely be using the video too. probably taking a lot of outdoors shots, candid portraits and open landscapes. sony hx20v or canon g12???


Lexy Savvides posted a reply   

Hi Erin,

Either camera will be fine for the sorts of shots you're planning, the HX20V obviously gives you more zoom which you might find valuable for outdoor shooting. The form factor of these two cameras is also quite different, the G12 is much larger but it definitely gives you a shooting feel that's much closer to an SLR than a tiny compact.


EvanK posted a comment   



DavidS10 posted a reply   

Check out this 55mm lens for great quality at a great price!

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