Finding the best compact camera for travel was seriously a huge headache for me. There are so many different considerations one has to make. Is it more important to compromise size for better image quality? What about weatherproofing and durability? After a lot of trial and error I finally came across Mirrorless Cameras. Mirrorless Cameras are the best option for travelers as they produce DSLR quality images at a fraction of the size! I recommend them to literally everyone I meet even a little interested in photography. These babies are the future of compact cameras as we know it, DSLR's are old technology that was in a desperate need of an update and Mirrorless Cameras are the answer!
Here I outline my top 3 mirrorless compact cameras so you can get started building your photography portfolio.
- The one I kept! Best mirrorless for the money
- Shoots RAW and 1080p 60i video
- Possibly the cheapest full frame camera
- Great low light & autofocus that will melt your mind
- Very compact & ideal for backpackers
- Not many native lens options
- Questionable battery
- Grip is a tad small
- 24.3 MP
- 1.04 lbs
It was 'love at first shot' with this little guy. When you first see the Sony A7K you'll be blown away by the size. Your brain just isn't used to associating quality with something so compact and relatively small. We're wired to want that big bulky DLSR after all. However after your first shot you'll understand the appeal here. Crazy beautiful images that rival any camera I've tried in the past. The lowlights are silky smooth, and colors come out vibrant and lively.
Best of all is the autofocus. The A7K is famous for it's Spatial Object Detection giving it one of the fastest autofocuses in the world. The viewfinder is electronic which means what you see is what you get, making shooting seamless and simple.
I've been using the A7K for 6 months while traveling the world. I only bring a 45L carry on backpack with me so size is of the utmost importance for me as each inch makes a huge difference. I can honestly say this is the best image quality you'll find at this size. Finally I have to touch on just how great the video output is here. When you're shooting at 1080p 60i you'll essentially have cinema quality video that honestly blew me away.
Value for $
You will not find a full frame camera at this price point anywhere else. The way I see it, you could either cough up $1,500 for a USED Canon 6D (which is twice the size of the A7K) or pay $500 less for a camera that is smaller, faster, and sexier. It's really a simple decision; if you have $1,000 for a new compact camera this is by far the best bang for your dollar.
If you couldn't tell already, I'm a huge advocate for this camera. I could be a spokesperson for Sony at this point. After 6 months of traveling the world with this camera I can tell you, it turns heads. It's actually huge plus how sexy this camera is. With an all black metallic body and subtle leather grip, I almost wish I could date this thing.
If you have $1,000 get the Sony A7K now. For the price you can't do better, trust me I tried. 6 months of working with this camera and I can promise I'm never going back to DSLRs. This is my main shooting camera I take with me everywhere. It can handle any situation and will constantly blow your mind with what it's capable of!
- Best image quality. period.
- Extremely Compact
- Great viewfinder
- Sturdy design
- Advanced settings/ controls for pros
- Lacking Video Quality
- A little complex for beginners
- Only 16MP
So you might be wondering what separates the Fuji X-T10 from similar mid-level mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6000. The answer is rather simple in that Fuji is an industry leader when it comes to image quality and advanced setting controls. This size coupled with image quality is absolutely ideal for travelers and street photography.
The kit lens that comes with this model is one of the best I've ever seen coming at 18-55mm, f/2.8 - 4. This is a good thing as buying additional lenses will be rather pricey as there aren't many cheap options yet. When it comes to images you can't do better than the X-T10 which is really the main selling point here. You will be amazed at the shots you capture, they come out crystal clear and stunningly detailed.
Video quality is nothing to write home about but is certainly impressive. I felt like the camera was almost a bit too small for my massive man hands but this is definitely a good thing for people packing for long trips! What's cool about this camera is how many dials and knobs it features. They give you a feeling of being a 'real' photographer (whatever that means).
Value for $
The Fuji X-T10 would be the 'Edward Cullen of mirrorless' if not for it's rather boxy design. I personally thought it was a little too drab and generic and the viewfinder was shaped in a weird way that took away from the overall sexiness potential. I do LOVE the plethora of dials though and believe most will see this as a 'real photographers' camera because of that.
The Fuji X-T10 a is photographer's camera meant to give you as much control and as stunning images as possible. Get this one if you don't care about video quality or having a butt load of different lenses. Great for street photography or smaller landscape shots in a compact portable package.
- Cheap yet great video and images
- Touch Screen!!
- Very compact
- Cheapest Mirrorless with a viewfinder
- Kit lens is compact and competent
- In camera stabilization
- Weather Sealed
- Great for beginners
- Viewfinder is a pretty sluggish
- Micro 4/3 sensor means cropped images and small lens library
- Dial placement is awkward
- 16MP Micro 4/3
I've had some wonderful memories with the Olympus OM-D E-M10. It's a great introduction camera for people trying to learn photography or simply need a backup camera for day trips. The main selling point of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 is the very broad spectrum of extra functions included. It's one of very few mirrorless cameras to feature a touch screen (ideal for specific focusing). It also has some of the best video capabilities available including in-body stabilization which is great for travelers that aren't able to carry a tripod with them in a backpack.
The kit lens is great as it's compact yet impressive. I was surprised how great the bokeh can get in the higher apertures. I particularly recommend the E-M10 to travelers for the weather sealing. Paired with the rugged design, you'll never have to worry about tropical rain in SE Asia again!
That's not to say that the camera is perfect. With an awkward dial positioning and weak electronic viewfinder I was left unimpressed during my shooting sessions. However you have to keep in mind this is one of very few mirrorless cameras that even have a viewfinder at all at this price range.
Value for $
As stated before you won't find another camera with so many functions at such a cheap price. With used models of the E-M10 going for as cheap as $480.00 it's a no brainer for travelers and casual photographers alike. Don't be fooled by the price, having a camera with interchangeable lenses and 1080p video is going to change your perspective.
DAMN this thing's sexy! Actually the Olympus OM-D E-M10 was modeled directly after older Olympus film model cameras from the 60's giving it a sexy vintage throwback vibe. You'll be proud to carry it with you! One complaint I have is the 'cheap' feeling plastic components. Holding it in your hand won't feel very satisfying compared to the Sony A7K.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 is an introductory mirrorless camera with a plethora of features making it an all around must have for beginners. With features like weather sealing and in camera image stabilization, every traveler could benefit from having this with them. However if you're looking to be a little more serious with your photography I'd push you towards the Sony A7K for the additional megapixels and full frame sensor.