Traveling is hands-down on the best things that anybody can do. Seeing the world, exploring new cultures, and getting out of your comfort zone are things that can greatly benefit you. When we travel, something we all want to do is take photos and videos. After all, if you save up your money to travel to an exotic location, chances are you’ll only go there once in your life. The best way to preserve these memories is with photographs, or even videos.
Your smartphone might work in a pinch, but let’s face it, most smartphone cameras won’t provide the high quality you want in your travel keepsakes, and when it comes down to it, no smartphone is going to rival a high-quality camera when it comes to getting those awesome pictures to last a lifetime.
Mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly popular, especially when compared to older DSLR cameras. Mirrorless cameras are lightweight and compact, yet still produce stunning results, thus making them ideal for travel. Let’s get right to it and help you find the best mirrorless camera for travel. We have some great tips and info to get you started, and we’ve also reviewed the top 5 best mirrorless cameras for travel currently available on the market.
What is a Mirrorless Camera?
Before we get into talking about the benefits of mirrorless cameras and reviewing specific models, it would probably help if we clarified what a mirrorless camera is and what it means to be mirrorless. Mirrorless cameras are also known as mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, or just DLSM. As you might be able to tell, the lenses on these cameras are interchangeable, as long as they are compatible with the camera in question.
If we compare mirrorless cameras vs DSLR cameras, the main difference is that DSLR cameras feature reflex mirrors which bounce light up to an optical viewfinder. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras do not have this mirror.
With these cameras, light goes right through the lens to the image sensor. Instead of an optical viewfinder like DSLR cameras; mirrorless cameras generally have an electronic viewfinder or an LCD monitor. For a touch of old-school familiarity, many mirrorless cameras have integrated OLED optical viewfinders into them, although strictly speaking, this is not necessary. Let’s move on and find out why exactly you might want to invest in a mirrorless camera for travel.
Advantages of the Mirrorless Camera
DSLR cameras are familiar and trusted, and they work just fine and can produce some stunning results. However, with that being said, DSLR cameras simply are not all that good for travel. If you want a great camera that is travel-friendly, you might want to consider the mirrorless variety. Let’s take a quick look at all of the various benefits that you can reap by investing in a decent mirrorless camera for travel. There are also many mirrorless cameras under $1000.
Compact and Lightweight
Something that really stands out about mirrorless cameras is how lightweight and compact they are, especially when compared to a DSLR camera. Simply put, a mirrorless camera that performs more or less the same as a standard DSLR camera can weigh half as much and be half as large, if not even smaller.
Of course, this is convenient when it comes to travel. You obviously don’t want to be lugging around a cinderblock to take pictures and videos on your travels, which makes the mirrorless camera the perfect choice.
Although lower-end mirrorless cameras may not have this, the higher-end models usually come with 5-axis image stabilization, which in this sense makes them on par or even better than DSLR cameras.
Most standard DSLR cameras do not come with a high-quality 5-axis image stabilization feature, which means that they don’t perform as well to mitigate lens shake and shaky hands. If you need to take quick pics on the go and you need them to be sharp and crystal-clear, it’s a high-quality mirrorless camera you want to go with.
Yet another benefit that stands out with mirrorless cameras, especially when compared to DSLR cameras, is that they are able to shoot images much faster. Because mirrorless cameras do not have a mirror, the transmission of light happens faster, and moreover, mirrorless cameras tend to have faster shutter speeds. This allows for much faster continuous shooting in mirrorless cameras, thus allowing you to fire off quick fire bursts of shots in a very short amount of time.
The simple fact of the matter is that more or less any and all mirrorless cameras can shoot video in 4K quality, or ultra HD at the very least. Due to various components and technical specs, only the high level DSLR cameras can do this.
The 2 Advantages of the DSLR
There are a couple of areas where the DSLR camera is preferable when compared to mirrorless cameras. First off, a DSLR camera will usually have more available lenses and accessories than mirrorless cameras.
Second, because mirrorless cameras use an LCD or electronic viewfinder, they require a lot of power, or in other words, the battery life on mirrorless cameras is much lower than with DSLR cameras.
However, other than that, everything about the mirrorless camera makes it ideal for travel, especially its small size and low weight. If you are looking to travel, it is the mirrorless variety you want to stick with.
The Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel: Reviews
1. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
The Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a small, compact, and lightweight mirrorless camera designed for convenience and travel. This option comes at a more than reasonable price, yet still comes loaded with some fairly impressive features and specs. It may not be the most expensive mirrorless camera around, but it gets the job done, especially when you’re on the move.
The Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera features an excellent ISO range of 100-25,000 combined with an Exmor CMOS sensor and a BIONZ X processor. The result is an excellent looking image in low-light conditions, with up to 20% higher sensitivity than similar models such as the NEX-7. This model has great sensitivity for low-light results, and in case that isn’t enough, it also features a pop-up flash.
Going back to the processor, this camera comes with the BIONZ X processor which is able to recreate textures and details very accurately for great detail, tonal gradations, lower noise, and a realistic look overall. Let’s not forget that all of this is done in real time as this is quite a high speed processor. On a side note, it features Wi-Fi connectivity so you can connect this camera to your phone or computer to share images and videos.
What is also impressive about the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is that it features a hybrid autofocus that uses 25 contrast detection points and 179 focal plane detection points for fast and accurate autofocusing in most conditions. Speaking of the autofocus, it is used when doing continuous shooting, and this camera can pound out up to 11 frames per second in the continuous shooting mode.
Let’s keep in mind that this is a 24.3 megapixel camera, which is actually quite impressive considering that the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera doesn’t cost all that much. It also comes complete with a 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots, a screen that can tilt to make viewing your photos and videos easier, plus it helps getting that high quality shot a bit easier too. This camera also allows for full HD video recording in cinematic 24P as well as high-paced videos with up to 60P and a 60i frame rate.
This Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a mirrorless camera, and yet it still has an old-school viewfinder. It’s a neat feature which many people are going to love, a feature which most modern mirrorless cameras just don’t have. The other thing worth mentioning is that it is much smaller, more compact, and lighter than any DSLR, and it’s even quite lightweight for a mirrorless camera. It even comes with a carrying strap, all things which make it ideal for travel.
- Lightweight and compact
- Travel friendly
- User friendly layout
- Great price
- Hybrid auto focus
- Good low-light results
- High speed video shooting
- Tilting LCD screen
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Has an OLED viewfinder
- Battery life is not overly impressive
2. Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera
This is another mirrorless camera from the Sony brand, this one coming in at a few dollars more than the other one we just looked at. One thing that we can say right off the bat about the Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera is that it’s travel-friendly, and beside that, it’s got some great specs and features loaded into a super compact package.
The Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera is one of the most travel-friendly mirrorless cameras around right now, if for nothing else but its compact size and lightweight design. This camera comes in at just over half a pound with dimensions of 4.33 x 1.42 x 2.48 inches, making it highly portable and ideal for any small travel bag or backpack. It has the quality of a DSLR, but with about half the weight and size.
The Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera also features a one-hand zoom lever and an overall user-friendly layout designed to allow you to operate it with a single hand, thus leaving your other hand free. The fact that this camera can connect to your tablet or smartphone using its built in Wi-Fi connectivity is pretty convenient.
Here you get a 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor which is capable of producing some truly stunning images with great resolution, way better resolution than most standard DSRL cameras, especially at this price point. Image resolution on this camera is quite impressive, and even better, this model features an ISO range of 100-25,600 for excellent low-light results.
This is combined with an Exmor CMOS sensor and a BIONZ X processor for accurate and high-speed processing. Just as with the a6000 reviewed above, the processor on this model is very high speed and able to produce great detail, tonal gradations, lower noise, and a realistic over all look. Considering the decent price which this model comes at, the processing power of the Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera is impressive.
Just in case the ISO is not enough, this camera also features a pop-up flash to add a bit of extra light. Let’s not forget that the Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera can shoot full HD 1920 x 1080 in cinematic 24P and it can capture fast action video at 60P with 60i frame rates. Thanks to the 179 point autofocus, tracking moving subjects and getting the best shot possible without having to focus yourself is made as easy as can be.
- Extremely lightweight and compact
- Super portable and travel friendly
- Suitable for one handed operation
- Decent price considering the features
- High quality and high speed video shooting
- Excellent processor
- Performs well in low-light conditions
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- High-quality auto focus
- Durability is limited
- Battery life is not the best out there
3. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera Kit
This model from Olympus is a full camera kit that comes at a very reasonable price. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera is a mirrorless camera with pretty good features and specs. Now, it’s not quite as high-quality as the two cameras from Sony we looked at, but it is very cost-effective, it provides a lot of value for the money, you get a few extras with it, and it is fairly travel-friendly.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera comes with a 16 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor, which is pretty decent. The results it produces are up there with the best of them, at least for this price point. The image quality may not be quite as good as with the 24.3 MP cameras we reviewed above, but considering the low price, there’s really not much to complain about.
The same can be said for the TruePic VIII Image Processor that this camera comes with. For travel and basic photography, this processor gets the job done. It’s fast enough to accurately recreate detail and tonal gradations with ease. Now, it’s not the best camera for filtering out noise out of all the options out there, but it still holds its own.
The built-in artistic filters and other settings are very easy to choose here. One of the main aims of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera is to be extremely intuitive, user-friendly, and ideal for beginners who don’t know much about photography.
Moving on, the base ISO of this camera is 200, which is good enough for most low-light conditions, and once again, good enough considering the price. Now, it won’t produce the best low-light shooting results of all cameras, but that said, the pop up flash will come in handy here. Speaking of light conditions, the 3-inch LCD screen can be tilted for easier viewing no matter the light conditions.
Something you may appreciate about the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera is that it comes with in-body 5 axis image stabilization for smooth and clear shots. What is quite impressive about this model is that it can shoot 4K video at 30P, plus it can shoot high speed videos at 120 FPS, both not being too bad for this camera. When it comes to continuous shooting, this camera can move at up to 8.6 frames per second, also not too bad.
Let’s not forget that the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera comes with a bunch of accessories included, hence why it is called a kit. This kit comes with a really high-quality camera bag and travel case. On that same note, although it’s not the lightest or smallest camera among our selections, it’s still lightweight and compact enough for travel, and of course the carrying case doesn’t hurt in this sense. It’s also worth noting that this camera also comes with a 16 GB memory card included, as well as a 14-42mm EZ Lens, not to mention that the camera is Wi-Fi enabled.
- Comes with a lens, travel bag, and memory card
- Very good price, all things considered
- High speed video shooting – 4K video
- Decent resolution
- Decent processor
- Comes with a pop up flash
- Good ISO for basic needs
- Quite travel-friendly
- Nice tilting LCD screen
- ISO range could be a bit better
- Not the most ergonomically friendly to hold
4. PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera
Here we have another reasonably priced camera that comes with features and specs which should cost much more. This is a very affordable mirrorless camera that comes with a lens bundle. This lens bundle includes 2 lenses, which is a steal considering the price of the PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera. It’s a pretty impressive camera altogether and it’s compact enough to make it travel friendly.
The PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera comes in with dimensions of 4.8 x 2.78 x 1.73 inches and weighs just over 1 pound. It may not be the very smallest or lightest camera on the list today, but it’s still more than lightweight and compact enough to be considered portable and travel friendly. Something that is worth noting here is that this camera comes with a 2-32mm lens and a 45-150mm lens, which once again, for the reasonable price here, is a very good deal.
Moreover, the PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera is very easy to handle, as it comes with an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold and maneuver. It also comes with easy-to-navigate controls and simple thumbwheel controls. What is really cool about this model is that even though it is a mirrorless camera, it still comes with a 2764 Dot eyelevel electronic viewfinder, for a bit of an old-school touch on a modern camera.
The PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera features a 16 megapixel micro four thirds sensor which produces high-quality images. It may not be the best resolution on the market right now, but seeing as the camera’s price is quite low, there’s not much to complain about in this sense. Moreover, something that it does not come with is a low pass filter, which here is a good thing because it has nearly 10% more fine detail resolving power than other 16 MP cameras.
In terms of the ISO, here you get an ISO of 200-25,000, which is good enough for basic needs, although the low-light sensitivity could be a little better. That said, the base ISO can be extended to 100 if need be, although it will cost you. Something else you might like is the 3-inch LCD display that is rear touch enabled and can tilt for your convenience. What’s also convenient is how this camera is Wi-Fi enabled.
Next, the PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera has the ability to shoot 4K video, which in itself is impressive enough, and even for 4K video, it features 5 axis image stabilization for some truly fantastic results. The other awesome feature is how the PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 4K Digital Camera can shoot photos at up to 30 FPS, and you can then even set the focus after the picture has been taken using the post focus feature.
- Fairly compact and lightweight
- Ergonomic designed
- Easy to use interface and control
- 4K video
- Post focus for high quality 30FPS picture shooting
- No low pass filter
- Electronic eye level viewfinder included
- Comes with 2 lenses
- Extendable ISO
- Tilting LCD display
- Wi-Fi control
- Base ISO is not the best
- Battery life could be better
5. Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera
This model from Sony may be the most expensive mirrorless camera on the list. The Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera is quite expensive, but it comes loaded with awesome features and big-time specs that will take your photo and video shooting to a whole new level. Realistically speaking, you get what you pay for, and no, this camera is not cheap, not in the least, but it delivers results like nothing else we looked at today.
First off, the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera is actually quite portable and travel-friendly. It’s not the smallest or lightest camera on our list, but that said, it is compact and lightweight enough to be considered portable and travel-friendly. It is still much smaller and lighter than a standard DSLR, and considering that this model comes loaded with features, we have no problem with it being slightly on the chunkier side.
The Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera features a great 24.2 MP APS-C Exmore sensor, which can produce excellent picture results with great attention to detail, high image quality, and much more. It is also worth mentioning that this camera comes with the BIONZ X image processor, which is one of the fastest in the world, plus it can lower image noise, produce stunning colors, and overall clear and crisp images.
Next, the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera has what is known to be the fastest auto focus system in the world. It comes with the 4D FOCUS system which can focus on a subject in a mere 0.05 seconds, which is insanely fast. With a whopping 425 focus points, the auto focus is one of the best in the business. One of the most impressive features on this camera is the eye tracking feature, which automatically detects and tracks the eyes of a moving subject.
To help produce great videos and images, the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera comes with 5 axis in body image stabilization and it can more or less do away with any of the effects caused by shaky hands.
This camera can shoot full HD video at 120 frames per second, something that comes in handy when you want to shoot slow motion; this camera can handle up to 5x slow motion videos. Moreover, the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera can collect as many as 2.4 MP as your standard 4K camera, which is of course about as good as it gets, especially for this price.
Let’s not forget that the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera has a base ISO of 100 to 25,600, which is very nice. Even better is that this is expandable to ISO 51200. Simply put, the images produced by this camera when shooting in low-light conditions are unmatched by anything else we have looked at today.
The Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera comes with a decent LCD screen, better than most other cameras, so you can easily locate subjects and shoot. However, to provide you with a bit of an old-school feeling, this camera also comes with an eye level OLED viewfinder, an old school feature which many are going to appreciate.
What’s also worth noting is that this camera actually has a pretty decent battery life, something which most cameras lack. Finally, this camera also features Wi-Fi with NFC or QR code connectivity for super quick and easy file transfer to smartphones and tablets.
- Excellent image quality
- Great high speed shooting
- Great ISO range for low-light conditions
- Somewhat portable and lightweight
- Multiple modes of connectivity
- User friendly interface
- Very strong processor
- Great image stabilization
- Eye tracking feature
- Insanely fast auto focus
- Has an OLED viewfinder
- Big time price tag
- A bit bulkier than some others
- Camera overheats when shooting video for extended periods
DSLR cameras may have some advantages when compared to mirrorless cameras, such as better battery life for one. However, with that being said, mirrorless camera tech is getting better by the day, and it is a true godsend for amateur and professional photographers alike.
The fact of the matter is that you can get a great mirrorless camera for a low price. Just because these mirrorless cameras are quite affordable, for the most part, doesn’t mean that they are low quality.
Modern mirrorless camera comes with most, if not all of the great features you would expect any camera to have, such as a DSLR, yet is generally much lighter, smaller, and more compact. When it comes to traveling with a camera, so you can capture all of your favorite moments during your travels, a lightweight and compact mirrorless camera loaded with all the bells and whistles is always a safe bet.
Remember that you do get what you pay for, and the Sony a6500 Mirrorless Camera is the most expensive mirrorless camera for travel on our list today, and its specs and features, and its overall high-quality build just can’t be beaten. All that said, at the end of the day, the choice is totally up to you.