BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Electronics

How to pick the best travel camera for your family vacation

What’s the best travel camera for family vacations?

Family vacations are all about spending time with loved ones and making memories, so it's natural that you'll want to take lots of photos to help preserve the memory. Choosing the right travel camera will help you get those gorgeous shots that you'll treasure for years to come.

You might be wondering how to pick the best camera for family trips. Consider whether you want a DSLR or mirrorless camera or a simple, compact point-and-shoot model. Also think about factors such as size and weight and video capabilities.

Travel camera types

DSLR and mirrorless

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are extremely similar. The main difference is that DSLR models reflect an image of the scene you're pointing your camera at to the viewfinder using a mirror, while mirrorless models use newer technology. Both have large sensors, which increases image quality, and have interchangeable lenses with different options for wide-angle, zoom, macro shots, low-light and more. DSLR and mirrorless cameras can be large and heavy, but you can find some smaller and lighter options that are great for traveling. Although they have automatic modes for more inexperienced photographers, experienced shutterbugs love being able to manually control settings such as aperture and shutter speed.


Compact cameras have fixed multipurpose lenses, which makes them simpler to use and means you don't need to carry around several lenses to switch between. Compact cameras are often called point-and-shoot cameras because they usually have automatic settings, so you just point the camera and shoot a picture. Some high-end compact cameras also have manual setting options. These are some of the lightest travel cameras, but they're not as versatile as mirrorless or DSLR cameras and won't give you the same image quality. 

What to consider before buying a travel camera

Size and weight

The best cameras for traveling are relatively compact and lightweight. Some individuals don't mind carrying around a camera bag if it means getting the best possible travel pics, but others would rather have a camera that they can simply slip in their pocket or tuck into a waist pack. Check the weight and dimensions of any camera you're considering before you buy it and think about other accessories you might need to carry, such as spare lenses. If you're looking for a road trip camera, size and weight may be less important as you won't be carrying it long distance.

Video capabilities

In addition to taking photos, you might want a travel camera that can also take videos so you can have vacation footage to look back on for years to come. The majority of digital cameras have video capabilities, with the best options supporting 4K or 8K video. 

Zoom range

The zoom range of your camera indicates how much the lens can magnify a scene to get a larger image of people, animals, scenery or anything else that's at a distance. This ranges from 2x or 3x zoom to the massive telephoto lenses that paparazzi and professional wildlife photographers use. The best camera for family trips should have at least a moderate zoom, so you can more easily take candid snaps of your family members. 

Modes and manual controls

Travel cameras with manual settings give you the most control over how your photos turn out, but they can be tricky to use if you don't know what you're doing. It's nice to have a range of automatic modes, including a portrait mode for photographing people relatively close up and a sport mode for snapping action shots.


You can never guarantee the weather when you go on vacation. If you're heading somewhere that rain or snowfall is likely, you might want to choose a water-resistant camera. You can occasionally find fully waterproof cameras that are suitable for underwater use, which is ideal for those who like snorkeling or diving.

Wireless connectivity

Some cameras have the technology to connect to your phone, laptop, tablet or other compatible devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This allows you to transfer photos directly from your camera to your device without the need to remove the SD card and manually transfer photos to a computer. This makes it easier to share select snaps on social media or with friends and family while you're still away. Transferring photos this way can be slow, however, so it's best for transferring just a few photos and waiting until you get home to transfer the rest the old-fashioned way.

The best travel cameras

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

This mirrorless camera is great for people who want to take professional, quality photos and 4K video. It's relatively compact, so it shouldn't weigh you down on your travels.

Sold by Amazon

Panasonic LUMIX GX85

Thanks to its highly compact body with interchangeable lenses, this is a perfect mirrorless camera for buyers who want a small size without losing much image quality. 

Sold by Amazon


Although larger than a point-and-shoot, this small, light mirrorless camera is still easy to tote around on your travels and has a smaller body and lenses than an average mirrorless or DSLR. 

Sold by Amazon

Sony RX100 VII

This is the perfect compact camera for buyers who don't want the added complexity of interchangeable lenses. It still takes incredible photos and is one of the best compact cameras around.

Sold by Amazon


This action camera might not take photos good enough for a magazine spread, but it's perfectly adequate for shots to share on social media or stick in a photo album. It's more focused on taking high-quality video and is also extremely compact and rugged.

Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: