It’s summer, and if you can afford to put gas in your car’s tank, you might go on an excursion someplace. If you do, you probably want to take a camera with you—one that’s particularly good for travel—to capture the experience.
What makes a camera good for travel? In my opinion, it has to be small and lightweight, so that there are no issues taking it with you wherever you go—it doesn’t get in the way—yet it has to be able to deliver good image quality, so that when you get back home you can hang a picture you’re proud of on your wall to remember your great adventure.
If you’re not sure which cameras are good for travel, I have five suggestions below. These are just my opinions—if you ask five photographers which cameras they recommend for travel, you might get five very different answers. My perspective is that I prefer simplicity—less is often more—and I don’t like to edit my photographs anymore (instead, I use Film Simulation Recipes), so it has to deliver solid results straight-out-of-camera. If that resonates with you, perhaps take this advice seriously, and if it doesn’t, take all of this with a grain of salt.
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1. Fujifilm X100V
The Fujifilm X100V (full review) is my top recommendation for travel photography. It’s my all-time favorite camera, but it’s especially great for travel, as if that’s its intended purpose. The X100V has a fixed 23mm (roughly 35mm full-frame-equivalent) focal-length lens, which is a very useful focal-length. You cannot change the lens (it’s permanently attached), which is a limitation that you have to be willing to embrace. While the X100V is pocketable, it’s only barely so, and more than likely you’ll carry it in a camera bag or around your neck and not in a pocket. If you don’t mind those things, this is the camera for travel photography, and you’ll definitely want to consider buying a Fujifilm X100V.
Unfortunately, the X100V is nearly impossible to find, and you’re very lucky if you can get your hands on one. As alternatives, consider a used X100F, or even an X100T, which are easier to get ahold of and less expensive. If a used camera doesn’t interest you, perhaps consider the Ricoh GRIIIX, which is probably the X100V’s closest competitor.
2. Fujifilm X-E4
The Fujifilm X-E4 (full review) is very similar in size and design to the X100V, yet it’s an interchangeable-lens camera, which makes it more versatile. It’s a minimalistic model, and pairs especially well with the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens. If the X100V’s fixed-lens won’t work for you, the X-E4 might be the right alternative. This camera doesn’t have quite as many buttons, switches, and knobs as other Fujifilm cameras, which you might prefer or you might not appreciate, so keep that in mind. This is currently my most-used camera, travel or otherwise.
Like the X100V, the Fujifilm X-E4 can be very difficult to find. As alternatives, consider a used X-E3, or even an X-E2, which are easier to get ahold of and are less expensive. If a used camera doesn’t interest you, perhaps consider the slightly larger X-T30 II.
3. Ricoh GRIII
What’s great about the Ricoh GRIII is that it’s very small and pocketable, yet it delivers excellent image quality similar to bigger cameras. Oh, and like Fujifilm, I have JPEG recipes for it, too! If the X100V and X-E4 are too big, this is a must-try option—even if you own those Fujifilm models, you might consider adding this one, too, to take with you on your adventures. The GRIII has a fixed 18.3mm (28mm full-frame-equivalent) lens, which is a good wide-angle focal-length, but it also means you need to be close to the subject, which can be a challenge.
If the Ricoh GRIII is too expensive, as alternatives you might consider a used Ricoh GRII, Ricoh GR, Fujifilm X70, or Fujifilm XF10.
4. Instax Neo Classic Mini 90
If you are looking for something different, the Fujifilm Instax Neo Classic Mini 90 is one to consider. Really, any Instax camera will do, as they’re a lot of fun, and you get rewarded with an immediate print. I only suggest this particular model because I own it and have experience with it. Of all the cameras recommended in this article, this is the largest, which means it is the least travel-friendly, but instant film photography brings so much joy, and is especially great if you have kids, so it might be worthwhile anyway.
If lugging around an Instax camera is just too much, as an alternative consider an Instax Mini Link Printer instead, which might actually be better than using an actual Instax camera.
5. iPhone (or any cellphone)
Of course, the best camera is the one that’s available to you in the moment when you need it, and sometimes that’s your cellphone. I have an iPhone 11, which does the trick well enough. I also have my very own iPhone camera app, called RitchieCam—if you have an iPhone, download it from the Apple App Store today! If you don’t have an iPhone, I’m sure whichever make and model you do own is plenty good enough (although you can only use RitchieCam on an iPhone). I don’t recommend using only your cellphone for photography when you travel (although I’m sure many people do), but it’s a decent tool to supplement your other cameras while traveling, especially during those times when it’s what you have available to you in the moment you need a camera.
What alternative can I suggest to your cellphone? There’s a line in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, where this photographer, Sean O’Connell, is in the Himalayas in Afghanistan waiting with his camera for a snow leopard to appear. When the cat finally shows itself, Sean O’Connell doesn’t do anything with his camera, so Walter Mitty asks, “When are you going to take it?” The photographer replies, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”