Best Mirrorless Cameras For Travel Photography

Discover the Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel 2019

Looking for the best mirrorless camera for travel photography?

Because this is exactly where you need to be if that’s the case.

Right now I’m going to show you nine of the best mirrorless cameras on the market. Three for beginners, three for intermediate and three for advanced photographers.

Let’s get to it.

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Finding the best mirrorless camera for travel photography in 2019

Of course, the best mirrorless camera for you is a personal choice. A camera that meets all of your needs might not be the best option for someone else.

And that’s fine, we are all at different stages in our photography journeys. Some of you might be thinking about becoming a professional travel photographer, others might just be doing it for fun.

We’ll be going over a range of options from different brands to help you decide.

In each section I will tell you which one I would personally pick from that category.

But first

What to consider when buying a new camera

Price

Price is probably the biggest factor that will influence your decision. While we might all want the latest and greatest camera, we can’t all afford it.

Most of us have budgets to stick to.

You should think about how much money you have to spend on a mirrorless camera, that way you can narrow the list down straight away.

Once you know your budget, you can start looking at the specs of the cameras that fit into it.

Sensor

For the purpose of this article, let’s say there are three, sometimes four, main sensors you need to think about when deciding which is the best mirrorless camera for travel photography.

The four different sensors are:

  • Micro Four Thirds (M4/3)
  • APS-C
  • Full Frame (35mm)
  • Medium Format

The difference between them is their size, M4/3 being the smallest and Medium Format being the largest.

The most common sensors found in mirrorless cameras though are the first three (Micro Four Thirds, APS-C and Full Frame), you’ll most likely end up with one of these three. Medium format mirrorless cameras are rare and aimed at professionals with a price tag to match.

The sensor is the part of a camera that captures light.

So, in general, a large sensor = ability to capture more light. Larger sensors generally perform better in low-light situations and also provide a larger depth of field (a blurry background).

That doesn’t mean smaller sensors are bad though. For example, the Fujifilm X-Series cameras use only APS-C sensors and are regarded as some of the best on the market.

Smaller sensors mean the camera and lenses can also be smaller and when we’re talking about travel photography, that can be a big plus.

Weight and size

As I just mentioned, size and weight are pretty important factors when choosing a mirrorless camera for travel.

If you are going to be carrying it around on your back all of the time along with all of the other things you need while on the road, you will soon notice a few extra ounces.

Airlines often have weight restrictions for carry-on luggage and you will probably have your camera with you on the plane in your cabin bag. So minimising your photography gear’s weight is essential if you don’t want any unwelcome surprises at the airport.

Weather sealing

Depending on your style of photography and how you like to shoot, weather sealing may or may not be important to you.

It will probably come as no surprise that weather sealing is often a feature of more expensive cameras so you will really need to consider if you’ll need it or not.

Having a weather sealed camera basically means it can get wet without causing any problems.

If you plan to shoot lots of landscapes in changeable weather, it might be something to consider. But keep in mind that even mirrorless cameras that aren’t weather sealed can get a little wet from light rain and should still be fine.

For medium to heavy rain though it is very important that your camera and lenses are weather sealed.

Upgradability

Whether it’s because you need a better camera as you become a better photographer, or your camera becomes outdated, at some point you’ll need to upgrade.

You need to consider two main things: sensor size and lenses.

The reason why sensor size becomes important is that each different size has its own range of lenses. For example, a lens designed for a Canon APS-C camera can’t be used on a full frame Canon camera.

So, if you buy a Canon APS-C mirrorless camera like the EOS M50, any lenses you get for it will be useless if you decide to upgrade at a later date to the Canon EOS R.

In this example you would either be locked into the Canon APS-C ecosystem or you would have to sell all of your gear and start over. Not very practical.

On the other hand, if you were to purchase the Fujifilm X-T20 and over time you collected a few different lenses, they would all work on Fuji’s top-of-the-range cameras. Since all Fujis use APS-C sensors (apart from the GFX range).

You could buy into the Fujifilm range of lenses and keep them as you upgrade the camera body.

Autofocus performance

Autofocus (AF) performance varies a lot from manufacturer to manufacture. Canon and Sony is widely regarded as having the best AF performance, even on their entry-level cameras.

But other brands have stepped their game up recently. Fujifilm and their new X-T3 for example.

Apart from maybe landscape photography, AF is pretty essential in most types of photography. And things like good eye-tracking AF and face detection can make or break a photo.

Dynamic range

Dynamic range refers to how well a camera can capture shadows and highlights at the same time. On a bright sunny day, there may be very bright skies and dark shadows created by objects in the frame.

A camera that can capture the sky without blowing it out and also capture detail in the shadows is said to have good dynamic range.

As a rule of thumb, larger sensors have better dynamic range because they capture more light. It’s that way because, well, physics.

But having said that, you can get full frame sensors that have great dynamic range and you can also get full frame sensors that have poor dynamic range. So if you compare a full frame sensor with poor dynamic range to an APS-C sensor with great dynamic range, the full frame might not come out on top.

Good dynamic range has a bigger impact on image quality than megapixels, especially if you are not going to make large prints of your work. Instead of getting hung up on megapixels, you should really focus on choosing a camera with good dynamic range.

It’s an important factor most people overlook.

Megapixels

Having said megapixels aren’t the most important thing when it comes to image quality, that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.

If you are going to be making large prints or cropping your images a lot then having a lot of megapixels is important. But if you only plan to make small prints (A4 or smaller) or only use your images online, then you really don’t need that many.

For small prints and online use, 20 megapixels is more than enough.

Range of lenses available

Some mirrorless camera manufacturers have a large range of lenses and other don’t. Only you can decide whether what they have on offer will meet your needs.

Think about what kind of photography you are likely to be shooting and the best lenses for making the images you have in mind.

Do some research and figure out if the lenses you would like to use are good and only then will you know if a certain system is good for you or not.

It doesn’t mean you have to buy them now, but at some point in the future, you are probably going to want to start building up a collection of lenses. By thinking about this now you’re future-proofing your setup.

Best mirrorless cameras for travel aimed at beginners

A budget mirrorless camera doesn’t have to mean a bad camera if you know what to look for.

The best thing you can do when it comes to choosing the right camera is to think of your needs. Not the features you’d like to have, but the things you’ll actually need.

Are you going to be making large prints? Are you going to be shooting a lot of video footage?

These are all things you should ask yourself beforehand to make the process easier. It might be nice to have an enormous 40+ megapixel sensor, but if you’re not going to get the most out of it then can you really justify the extra cost?

Sony a6000

If you want the most bang for your buck, then the Sony a6000 is the way to go.

Sony a6000
Sony a6000

You can pick one up with a kit lens for a really affordable price. It’s without a doubt the best mirrorless camera you can get for its price.

The a6000 isn’t new and, in fact, Sony has released a number of newer models designed to replace it since. It was first launched back in 2014 and even though it’s no longer the latest entry-level model, Sony are still manufacturing it.

It is however significantly cheaper than its successors. Sony packed as many top-of-the-line features into the a6000 as they could in 2014 which means it’s still a relevant camera now in 2019.

The higher price of Sony’s newer entry-level models puts some beginners off buying them. That, and the fact the a6000 is still a great camera today, is which is why I think Sony haven’t discontinued this model.

They simply don’t want to lose their grip on the beginner market.

It’s lightweight design (344g) and small size mean it will fit easily into your carry-on bag when travelling.

Some important specs

ProcessorBionz X
Sensor FormatAPS-C
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)344g
Megapixels24.3
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenNo
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range100 – 25600
Dynamic Range (approx)13.1 EVs
Duel Card SlotsNo
Autofocus Points179 phase detection points + 25 contrast detection points
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating8/10
4K VideoNo
Weather sealingNo

Click here for a great in-depth video review of the Sony a6000.

Canon EOS M50

The Canon EOS M50 makes for a great beginner mirrorless camera if you have a little more money to play with.

I was debating if I should include the cheaper entry-level mirrorless camera from Canon, the EOS M3. But to be honest it’s not a great camera, it doesn’t even have a viewfinder.

I did say that “a budget mirrorless camera” doesn’t have to mean “a bad camera” after all.

Read more about the Canon M50 and why it makes such a great travel companion for beginner photographers.
Canon M50
Canon M50

If the M50 is out of your price range and you wanted something around the price of the cheaper Canon EOS M3, then I would suggest getting the camera I mentioned above, the Sony a6000.

In other words, anything but the Canon EOS M3.

The Canon EOS M50 is very beginner-friendly. It even has an option to switch the menu into a beginners mode so that it doesn’t seem so confusing.

Perfect for learning all of the settings you need to learn without the confusion of all the photography jargon.

Some important specs

ProcessorDIGIC 8
Sensor FormatAPS-C
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)351g
Megapixels24.1
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenYes
Native ISO Range100 – 25600
Dynamic Range (approx)13.4 EVs
Duel Card SlotsNo
Autofocus Points143 phase detection points + 99 contrast detection points
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating8/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingNo

Click here for an in-depth video review of the Canon EOS M50.

Fujifilm X-T20

My personal mirrorless camera for travel was the Fujifilm X-T20 when I started out. Which is why it’s the model I recommend to beginners.

Despite it being the most expensive out of the three beginner cameras I’ve mentioned, it’s more than worth the extra money.

Fujifilm X-T20
Fujifilm X-T20

Fujifilm released an updated version of this camera, the X-T30, this year. But again, the improvement in specs doesn’t fairly reflect the huge increase in price.

At least not for beginners anyway.

Something that I love about all Fujis is the manual dials. They are all very tactile and easy to use without having to go into the settings menu.

Fujifilm also makes extremely good lenses and if you do eventually upgrade to one of their high-end X-Series mirrorless cameras, you won’t need to buy new lenses as you’ll still be able to use the ones you have.

All in all, I think the X-T20 is the best Fujifilm camera for travel.

Some important specs

ProcessorX-Processor Pro
Sensor FormatAPS-C
Sensor TypeCMOS III
Weight (with battery and without lens)383g
Megapixels24.3
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range200 – 12800
Dynamic Range (approx)12.5 EVs
Duel Card SlotsNo
Autofocus Points325
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating7/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingNo

Click here for an in-depth video review of the Fujifilm X-T20.

Check out this article about the best beginner mirrorless cameras for more help choosing your first camera.

Best intermediate mirrorless cameras for travel photography

If you’ve got a little more of a budget to play with then you’re in luck. The market for cameras that are a happy medium between features and cost has become very competitive.

The main brands have all been competing in this area which has lead to some really impressive cameras being released at a reasonable price.

Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm saw that the future was mirrorless before most did. And because of that, they have been perfecting their X-Series line of mirrorless cameras for quite some time now.

The Fujifilm X-T3 is one of their flagship models and for good reason.

Fujifilm X-T3
The Fujifilm X-T3

The X-T3 is the successor to the hugely popular Fujifilm X-T2. The X-T2 was a great camera when it was released, and it still is (you can pick one up at a reduced price now as it’s a ‘last generation’ model!). But the X-T3 raised the bar to a whole new level.

Not only has the X-T3 increased the image quality of stills with its brand new X-Trans IV 26.1 megapixel sensor with backside illumination (BSI), but it has also made its mark on the lucrative video/hybrid market.

The X-T3 is able to record 4k/60p video internally with a colour depth of 10-bit at 60fps. The only mirrorless camera currently able to do that. A huge step up considering previous Fujifilm cameras had, at best, average video qualities.

The all-new processor found inside the X-T3 means it can process data up to three times faster than previous generations.

Weighing in at only 507g (without a lens) it’s a great camera for travel.

Some important specs

ProcessorX-Processor 4
Sensor FormatAPS-C
Sensor TypeCMOS 4
Weight (with battery and without lens)539g
Megapixels24.3
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range160 – 12800
Dynamic Range (approx)12.8 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points425
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating8/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingYes

Click here for an in-depth video review of the Fujifilm X-T3.

Panasonic Lumix G9

Admittedly I don’t know too much about Panasonic cameras from first-hand experience, but I have a lot of friends who rave about them especially when it comes to video.

After being persuaded by a fellow photographer that the Panasonic Lumix G9 deserves a spot on this list, and after doing my research, I decided that I will include it.

Panasonic Lumix G9
Panasonic Lumix G9

One thing I do love about the G9 after picking one up and playing with it for a short time is the massive grip on it. I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras but one thing I miss about DSLRs is the ergonomics.

Sometimes mirrorless cameras can be so small and uncomfortable to hold, especially with large lenses attached. Not the G9.

The G9 weighs 658g without a lens, which is quite heavy for a mirrorless camera. Especially a micro four thirds one. Something to consider if you’re buying it for travel.

Some important specs

ProcessorVenus Engine 10
Sensor FormatMicro Four Thirds
Sensor TypeLive MOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)658g
Megapixels20.3
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenYes
Native ISO Range200 – 25600
Dynamic Range (approx)12.8 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points225
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating7/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingYes

For an in-depth video review of the Panasonic Lumix G9 click here.

Sony A7iii

The Sony A7iii is my personal choice out of the three intermediate cameras I’ve mentioned.

It’s the first full frame camera to feature in this article and, in my opinion, it’s one of the best mirrorless cameras for travel photography out there.

Could the Sony A7iii be the best mirrorless camera for travel?
Could the Sony A7iii be the best mirrorless camera for travel?

Look at that big beautiful sensor…

It’s predecessor, the A7ii, got photographers the world over excited. Packing a full frame sensor into a mirrorless body and producing stunning images, Sony really hit the ball out the park.

And the latest iteration only builds on that success.

The A7iii has become a mainstay for all types of photography. It has proven itself in the studio, in the field and just about anywhere else you can think of.

It is probably the top ‘prosumer’ camera currently on the market.

Some important specs

ProcessorBionz X
Sensor FormatFull Frame
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)650g
Megapixels24.2
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range100 – 51200
Dynamic Range (approx)14.7 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points693 phase detection points + 425 contrast detection points
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating8/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingYes

For an in-depth video review of the Sony A7iii click here.

Best mirrorless camera for professionals who travel

When money isn’t an issue, or a when you won’t let a mere price tag stand in between you and your passion, there are three mirrorless cameras that come to mind when the urge to travel strikes.

The next three cameras are expensive, very expensive, and by no means necessary if you want to become a good photographer. But if you are already pushing the boundaries and feel ready to take the next step, this is what I would recommend you think about.

You’re going to see a pattern forming.

I’m about to talk about two more Sony cameras. That’s because they really have cornered the market when it comes to making the best mirrorless cameras for travel photography.

I’m not biased, I personally shoot with Fujifilm cameras.

But every time I use a Sony mirrorless camera, especially one of the two below, I’m blown away.

Sony A7Riii

The Sony A7Riii would be my personal choice out of these 3 pro-level cameras.

Before Sony released the A7Riii people weren’t sure that its predecessor, the A7Rii, could be topped. Never ones to disappoint, Sony raised the bar to a whole new level with the 3rd generation of the A7R.

Sony A7Riii
Sony A7Riii

This beast is packing a huge 42.4-megapixel full frame sensor, an unbelievable 14.7 stops of dynamic range, 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, improved AF performance and a whole load of other nice extras that the A7Rii lacked.

Maybe one of the most notable upgrades that makes it usable by pros is the dual card slots. No pro is going put their trust in a single SD card and risk losing a day’s worth of work.

The Sony A7Riii
Check out this article about my thoughts on the Sony A7Riii.

Some important specs

ProcessorBionz X
Sensor FormatFull Frame
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)657g
Megapixels42.4
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range100 – 32000
Dynamic Range (approx)14.7 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points399 phase detection points + 425 contrast detection points
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating8/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingYes

For an in-depth video review of the Sony A7Riii click here.

Hasselblad X1D-50c

The exotically named Hasselblad X1D-50c isn’t just a mouthful to say, it’s painful on the wallet. You could buy the other two pro cameras on this list for the price of the Hasselblad X1D-50c and still get some change back.

Hasselblad X1D-50c
Hasselblad X1D-50c

Hasselblad saw how Sony had cornered the market by putting full frame sensors into mirrorless cameras, and proceeded to beat them at their own game by putting a monstrous 50-megapixel medium format sensor in the X1D-50c.

Admittedly, the price of the Hasselblad X1D-50c has curbed its popularity. You could buy a decent family car for the price of this camera, but nevertheless, it’s a masterpiece in itself.

The Hasselblad X1D-50c is the heaviest camera on this list at 725g without a lens attached. With a lens it will be well over 1kg which, if you’re trying to travel light, can be a problem.

A lot of airlines have a 10kg weight restriction for carry-on bags. So this camera and a couple of lenses would easily take up well over 10% (more like 20%) of your entire carry-on allowance.

Some important specs

Sensor FormatMedium Format
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)725g
Megapixels50
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenNo
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range100 – 25600
Dynamic Range (approx)14.8 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points35 points
Eye Detection AutofocusNo
Face Detection AutofocusNo
Our Autofocus Rating2/10
4K VideoNo
Weather sealingYes

For an in-depth video review of the Hasselblad X1D-50c click here.

Sony A9

When it comes to studio work, the Sony A9 might not be your first choice. That award would probably go to the Sony A7Riii with its 42.4-megapixel sensor and its ability to capture extremely fine details.

Sony A9 best mirrorless camera for travel photography
Sony A9

Where the A9 really comes into its own is for shooting action, especially fast-paced sports and wildlife.

It only has 24.2 megapixels. Yeah, I said “only”.

However, it’s the A9’s blazing fast 20 FPS and autofocus that blows the competition out of the water when it comes to shooting sports.

Some important specs

ProcessorBionz X
Sensor FormatFull Frame
Sensor TypeCMOS
Weight (with battery and without lens)673g
Megapixels24.2
ViewfinderEVF
TouchscreenYes
Articulating ScreenYes
Flip-Out ScreenNo
Native ISO Range100 – 51200
Dynamic Range (approx)13.3 EVs
Duel Card SlotsYes
Autofocus Points693 phase detection points + 25 contrast detection points
Eye Detection AutofocusYes
Face Detection AutofocusYes
Our Autofocus Rating10/10
4K VideoYes
Weather sealingYes

For an in-depth video review of the Sony A9 click here.

Individual recommendations for specific types of photography and situations

Out of the cameras I’ve already talked about, I’m going to recommend one for different shooting scenarios. I’ll only go over things that are relevant to travel photography.

So, for example, I’m not going to talk about things like studio portrait photography.

Best mirrorless camera for outdoor photography

Best mirrorless camera for outdoor photography

Any time you’re shooting landscapes or any other kind of photography outdoors, the two most important things are dynamic range and weather sealing.

Dynamic range is important because outside scenes are often lit unevenly and unless it’s golden hour or after dark, the light will probably be quite harsh as well.

Weather sealing is important for obvious reasons. As much as we would like to as photographers, we can’t control the weather. If you’re an avid landscape photographer the chances are you’ll get wet at some point.

So, with these two things in mind, my recommendation for the best mirrorless camera for outdoor photography is the Sony A7iii.

At 14.7 EVs, the Sony A7iii is in joint second place for the highest dynamic range out of any camera on this list (second only to the Hasselblad X1D-50c by 0.1 EV).

And it’s generally believed that the A7iii has better weather sealing than it’s big brother, the A7Riii. They both have the same dynamic range but because the battery door of the A7Riii reportedly lets water in, the A7iii is better suited to use in poor weather.

Best mirrorless camera for nature photography

Best mirrorless camera for nature photography

Apart from huge lenses, nature photographers cherish one thing above all else.

Autofocus.

Animals are notorious for not doing what they’re told. One minute they could be in a perfect pose perfectly lit, and then without any warning run, swim or fly off.

When you’ve got the chance to snap any kind of wild animal you’ve got to take it while you can.

That’s why fast and accurate autofocus becomes so important.

So it should be no surprise that with a WTP autofocus rating of 10/10, the Sony A9 is the best mirrorless camera on this list for nature photography.

Best mirrorless camera for safari

Best mirrorless camera for safari

Again, being on safari means you are going to be trying to photograph less than compliant subjects.

Autofocus and focal length are your friends.

So, again, the Sony A9 is the winner when it comes to choosing the best mirrorless camera for going on safari.

Best compact mirrorless camera for travel

Best compact mirrorless camera for travel

If the most important thing for you when choosing the best mirrorless camera for travel is its size and weight, rather than specs, then there’s one clear winner.

The Fujifilm X-T20.

But just because it’s a small, lightweight package doesn’t mean it compromises on specs.

The Fujifilm X-T20 is the camera I personally pack when I need to travel light. It produces amazing images and can, of course, be coupled with Fuji’s famously superb Fujinon lenses.

It’s such a powerful package that I often use it even when I’m not on the road. It makes a great hiking companion and it will always be my number 2 until the day it finally decides to give up on me.

Which, knowing the build quality of Fujifilm cameras, will probably be never.

Best mirrorless camera for bloggers and vloggers

Best mirrorless camera for bloggers and vloggers

Are you a serial selfie taker, vlogger or someone who has the need for high-quality photos that your phone can’t produce?

Then I know the camera for you.

The Canon EOS M50 is an inexpensive solution that packs a punch.

Probably the most important feature of this little mirrorless camera is its flip-out screen. A must-have for vloggers and bloggers.

It’s the only camera on this list that has a flip-out screen, something that is actually not as common as you would think on mirrorless cameras.

Together with Canon’s dual-pixel autofocus, it takes no effort at all to flip the screen, hit record and start filming yourself knowing that you’ll be perfectly in focus and the video quality will be great.

Final words on travelling with photography gear

Choosing the best mirrorless camera for travel photography is down to personal preference.

Before you consider anything you should think about your needs.

If you are just starting out, or have just outgrown your first camera, then you probably don’t need to break the bank by purchasing a camera that costs the same as a family car.

Once you’ve thought about what your needs are then, and only then, should the second factor come into play.

Budget.

Expensive camera gear won’t make you a great photographer. It’s a cliche saying, but it’s true.

I hope this guide to choosing the best mirrorless camera for travel has helped narrow down your options. If you have any more questions feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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