The best camera is the one you have with you - or so the saying goes. When you’re travelling you may not want to take your DSLR or CSC - here are some compact alternatives.
There are several ways to approach purchasing a travel compact camera. Maybe you want something which has a huge zoom, which can offer you something that your mobile phone can’t. On the other hand, maybe you want something that can produce very high image quality, but slips into your pocket. If you’re going to be spending a week on the beach, or on the slopes, you may want something that can handle all manner of tough conditions. Finally, a bridge camera can be a good way to go for travellers, since it provides high image quality, a flexible zoom length – but still has the look and feel of a more advanced camera.
In this feature we’ve chosen some of the best travel compact cameras currently on the market to inspire you with your next holiday purchase.
Olympus Stylus TG-4
Street price: £265
If you’re looking for a camera which can withstand difficult conditions, but still want the images you take to be good, then the Olympus Stylus TG-4 offers a lot.
It has a 16 million pixel backlit sensor, with a lens which has a maximum aperture of f/2, and offers a 4x optical zoom. It’s also got GPS and Wi-Fi built in. It’s even capable of shooting in raw format, which is pretty unusual for cameras of this kind.
Perhaps most crucially however, are its rugged credentials. It’s waterproof down to 15 metres, shockproof from a height of 2.1metres, crushproof to 100kg and freeze proof to minus 10 degrees celsius.
Street price: £315
There’s plenty to like about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80. It’s a generously featured and highly flexible compact that ticks all the relevant ‘travel camera’ boxes. It also benefits from a number of key upgrades over its predecessor, the TZ70, especially in terms of its video-recording abilities and speedier image processing.
It’s got a 18.1 million pixel sensor, and a three-inch LCD screen. It’s pretty solid all round – and it all fits snugly inside your pocket.
Street price: £310
Taking its design cues from the popular RX100 series, here’s another camera with a 30x optical zoom lens – covering a focal range of 27-720mm, which gives you great flexibility to shoot a range of different subjects at different focal lengths.
The rest of the camera’s features are perfectly suited to the travel photographer, and there’s no doubt that the HX90V is well set in the competitive travel compact market.
Street price: £550
Panasonic’s new TZ100 introduces a new segment into the travel compact camera market. A camera with a large sensor but also a reasonably lengthy zoom. Although a 10x optical zoom isn’t as long as the 30x optical zooms on the market, when you consider that most one-inch compact cameras have 3x or 4x optical zooms, you begin to see why this is such an appealing prospect.
With that larger sensor, along with manual control and raw format shooting, you should have something which produces very high image quality. It’s also travel friendly thanks to its small size, and the 10x optical zoom gives you a good degree of flexibility.
Canon G7X Mark II
Street price: £549
Featuring a 1in 20MP sensor and giving you the equivalent of a 24-100mm lens, the Canon G7X Mark II is a great contender for a travelling partner for the enthusiast. At the widest point of the lens, the maximum aperture is f/2.8, which is handy for low light shooting, too.
Sony RX100 IV
Street price: £749
They get this reputation because despite being incredibly small, they feature a one-inch sensor which has been proven to get fantastic results. The lens, offers a classic 24-70mm length, with a maximum aperture of f/1.8-f/2.8.
Other excellent features of the RX100 IV include the ability to shoot at super fast 1/32000 speeds, an inbuilt electronic viewfinder, and 4K video recording. Basically, if you want something for your travels that you can slip into your pocket, without compromising on image quality, you can’t go far wrong with a camera like this.
If your budget can’t stretch to the £749 asking price, take a look at some of the older versions of the camera – the RX100 III is still excellent, but is cheaper at £569, while the RX100 II is even cheaper at £479. You could even pick up the first generation Sony RX100 for less than £250 at the moment.
Street price: £775
Despite having a lot of limitations – namely the fact it has a fixed length lens, the Fuji X100 range has won a lot of critical and audience acclaim. The X100T, the third version of the camera, is arguably ideal as a travel camera as you get super high image quality in a pretty small body.
Let’s make no mistake, this is not the most budget friendly compact camera on the market, or a choice for beginners, but if you’re in the market for something sophisticated, then it’s a beautiful choice.
It’s got a hybrid viewfinder, a 16.3MP APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS II sensor and a raft of manual controls, dials and raw format shooting. The drawback here is that you only have one focal length, but at a classic 35mm, it will bring a touch of elegance to your travel shots and force you to zoom with your feet.
Street Price: £519
Panasonic has a pretty hefty chunk of the travel market covered. The LX100 deserves a special mention because it provides you with a lot of features for your money.
First up there’s a large (Four Thirds) sensor, but there’s also the ability to zoom – the lens covers the almost classic 24-75mm length, and offers a f/1.7-f/2.8 maximum aperture. It’s small enough to fit in your bag, and maybe your pocket if it’s large enough, and also has an electronic viewfinder.
You’ve also got manual control, raw format shooting, and some great control dials and wheels that make using it a great experience. If you want something which covers a lot of bases, but doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase, then the LX100 is arguably one the most flexible choices available.
Street Price: £495
With a stylish, compact and well-made body that offers a host of body-mounted controls and customisation, pretty good AF performance and a well-proven sensor, the Fuji X70 is an excellent enthusiast’s compact camera that you’ll always want by your side – whether that’s as a partner to your DSLR or CSC, or simply if you want to travel light and need a camera that can deliver high-end results but fit in your pocket at the same time.
The lens is very good and paired with the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor, will deliver images with excellent levels of detail and well-controlled image noise. That’s not forgetting the excellent colour output from the X70’s JPEG files and a host of decent film simulation modes.