Mirrorless cameras have fast become the most popular choice when it comes to both travel photography and video, and for good reason.
With lightweight bodies and specs to rival any DSLR you can set out on your travels knowing you have the best tool to capture it all.
But which is the best mirrorless camera for travel?
I have scoured the internet and compiled all the info you need so read on for my picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel in 2021…
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- TOP 10 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel in 2021
- Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Camera
- Sony A7 II Mirrorless Camera
- Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera
- Panasonic Lumix GX85 Mirrorless Camera
- Olympus PEN E-PL9 Mirrorless Camera
- Sony A7R III Mirrorless Camera
- Sony A6000 Mirrorless Camera
- Panasonic Lumix GH5 Mirrorless Camera
- Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera
- Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Camera
- Why Mirrorless?
- What to Think About When Searching for a Good Mirrorless Camera for Travel
TOP 10 Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel in 2021
Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Camera
Review: The Fujifilm X-T30 is a mid-range mirrorless camera with a 26.1 megapixel APS-C sensor. It is basically the cheaper version of Fuji’s high-end X-T3, but doesn’t give up much in terms of image quality for the lower price tag.
Fujifilm have used the same sensor as the more expensive X-T3 and it shoots 4K with no crop factor so it is great for both photography and video, and wraps this all up in a very portable package.
- Portable size.
- Over sampled 4k video for high detail.
- Much cheaper than X-T3.
- No image stabilization.
- 4k video limited to 10 minutes.
Sony A7 II Mirrorless Camera
Review: The Sony A7 II has now been overshadowed by its successor the A7 III but this is great news for anyone looking for a travel camera. It means you can get your hands on this full-frame beast for a steal.
When released, the A7 II was the first full-frame camera to feature inbuilt stabilization and its large sensor size means it performs well in low light.
It is slightly more geared towards photography than video simply because it lacks 4k capability but the excellent photo performance together with the now low cost make this my pick as the best mirrorless camera for travel in 2021.
- Full frame sensor.
- Inbuilt stabilization.
- An absolute bargain.
- No 4k video.
Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera
Review: Canons first foray into the mirrorless camera world still has a lot going for it. It features a full-frame 30 megapixel sensor and utilizes Canons relatively new smaller RF lens mount system which reduces weight further; this, however, means you’ll either have to get an adapter if you have a collection of Canon EF lenses.
Canon does, however, offer a version with the EF mount system.
- Fairly inexpensive.
- Full frame sensor.
- No built in stabilization.
- 4k video is cropped.
Panasonic Lumix GX85 Mirrorless Camera
Review: The Panasonic Lumix GX85 features dual inbuilt stabilization meaning stabilization at both the sensor and the lens end.
While not as good for video as similar priced competitors like the Sony A6500 it does have 4k video mode.
It has a 16 megapixel micro four-thirds sensor which produces decent images for its price point and is very light for all your travel needs.
Panasonic also includes what they call a ‘post focus’ option which allows you to choose which area of your photo is in focus after you have captured the moment, perfect for those candid travel moments.
- 4k video.
- Dual image stabilization.
- ‘Post focus’ function.
- Not weather sealed.
Olympus PEN E-PL9 Mirrorless Camera
Review: A great looking travel camera that is easy to use. The Olympus PEN E-PL9 has a micro four-thirds sensor (smaller than full-frame and APS-C sensors) which keeps cost and weight down compared to DSLR’s.
You only get 16 megapixels here but it is a huge step up from smartphone photography.
There is no audio recording with this camera so you will need an external microphone if you are looking to shoot video. This camera is more for photo enthusiasts.
- 4k video.
- Pocket sized.
- Very good looking.
- No audio recording.
Sony A7R III Mirrorless Camera
Review: With Sony’s recent release of the A7R IV, we should see a slight price drop in one of their most popular mirrorless cameras. The A7R III is a powerhouse and loved by many professionals and aspiring professionals.
It has a full-frame 42 megapixel sensor capable of producing images with immense detail and performing exceptionally well in low light. For a travel camera, it may be overkill but if you want the absolute best images you can get then look no further.
The A7 IV is of course touted as an updated version with its outrageous 61 megapixels but this would largely be unnecessary unless you are shooting for large gallery prints.
If you have the money then the A7 III is the best professional mirrorless camera for travel in 2021.
- 42 megapixel full frame sensor.
- 4k video.
- ‘Steady Shot’ (Sony’s in built stabilization).
Sony A6000 Mirrorless Camera
Review: If you are in the market for a more affordable Sony mirrorless system then the now ‘outdated’ A6000 can be had for a steal.
It has an APS-C sensor with 24.3 megapixels and weighs only 10 ounces!
This camera has had 3 new versions come out since its release in 2014 but is a great travel camera that won’t break the bank.
You are then free to spend your money on one or two great lenses that will be useable on any Sony camera should you choose to upgrade later down the line.
With a pancake lens, it will fit into your jacket pocket so you can take it anywhere.
- Very affordable.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Easy to use for beginners.
- Great autofocus.
- Not great for video.
- No 4k shooting.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 Mirrorless Camera
Review: I would put the Panasonic Lumix GH5 down as the best mirrorless camera for travel video but that doesn’t mean it sucks for photography.
It has a 20.3 megapixel micro four-thirds sensor and something Panasonic calls ‘6k Photos’; this allows you to extract 18 megapixel photographs from your video footage which could make for a very handy tool capturing candid travel moments.
The GH5 is definitely more geared towards videographers though with its Cinema 4k (that’s a frame size of 4096×2160, giving you a wider aspect ratio than UHD) at up to 60fps.
When you come down to 1080p video you can shoot in 180fps for those extra smooth slow-motion shots. For travel videos, this is an excellent mirrorless camera.
- DCI 4K video.
- 180fps capability at 1080p.
- 6K photo.
- Photo specs not as good as rivals.
Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera
Review: Nikon has been a little behind the competitors in the mirrorless camera world but the Z6 holds its own.
I chose The Z6 over Nikons’ Z7 as it is a more rounded camera whereas the more expensive Z7 leans more towards photography.
Another full-frame camera, it will cost you quite a bit more than a smaller APS-c or four-thirds sensor cameras but for that, you get great low light capabilities and UHD 4K video with image stabilization.
Nikon has really been more about photography in the past and been beaten to the punch by Sony and Canon among others when it came to video but the Z6 brings them back to the table.
- Full frame sensor.
- 4K video.
- Image stabilization.
- Less native lens choice than other companies.
Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Camera
Review: The Canon EOS M100 is a tiny and very affordable mirrorless camera perfect for travel.
This is a travel camera for anyone looking to upgrade from smartphone shooting and get their hands on some interchangeable lenses.
It’s the size of a point and shoot but the APS-C sensor and choice of lenses will provide much better image quality.
The biggest selling point here is its ease of use, great for enthusiasts but if you are looking to go professional or at least achieve something close to professional quality photo/video then you will need to fork out more cash.
You won’t find 4K video here but HD video at 60fps should do nicely for enthusiasts.
- Very affordable.
- Fits in your pocket!
- Great autofocus.
- Easy to use.
- No 4K video.
- Not great in low light.
- Few physical controls (this may not be a con if you want to lean on auto mode).
Mirrorless cameras have been increasing in popularity ever since they came about a decade ago.
There are a few reasons they have slowly taken down DSLR’s as the most popular camera system but I would say the major factor is size and weight; the mirrorless systems are able to reduce both size and weight by ditching the mirrors compared to DSLRs while still managing image quality on par (some would argue this point).
For travel, this is especially important as DSLR kits can quickly get heavy and cost you a bunch of money in extra luggage costs.
For travel photography/video there is really no question; mirrorless is the way to go.
What to Think About When Searching for a Good Mirrorless Camera for Travel
One of the biggest advantages of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs is the size and weight difference.
Without compromising on image quality, mirrorless cameras have found a way to lighten the load which is a huge plus considering you will want to be carrying your camera everywhere with you so as not to miss the shot.
Of course, mirrorless cameras come in all different sizes themselves so make sure to consider the size and weight before making your purchase.
It all comes down to what you will be doing on your travels and how you will be carrying your camera.
If you want to have your camera in hand at all times you may want to consider a lighter camera that can fit securely into your backpack or jacket pocket.
But if you have room in your luggage and want the absolute best photo/video quality possible then you should go for a larger, heavier, full-frame mirrorless camera, which will still be lighter than a DSLR.
The price is always going to play a major part in your decision on choosing the best mirrorless travel camera.
With the advances in technology these days and camera companies insisting on bringing out new models every year, there is no reason you can’t choose a camera that is a few years old and therefore cheaper.
Often the latest release will drive down the price of previous models and you will find that the photo and video specs of these ‘outdated’ models are still top-notch.
Just look at what you can afford and let that guide you on your search for a great mirrorless camera.
Photo or Video
Another big factor to consider when choosing your mirrorless camera for travel is whether you will predominantly be shooting photo or video.
Some cameras are geared more towards one or the other and camera companies sometimes release models that are essentially the same except one will be aimed more at photographers and the other filmmakers and the camera’s specs will reflect this.
If you are going to be shooting travel photos then you will want a full-frame sensor and a high megapixel count for maximum detail in your photos, but if video is your game then you want to look at the cameras video specs.
For example, the Sony A7 II listed above is a great full-frame camera for photographers but lacks 4k capability for video, while something like the Sony A6500 is a travel filmmaker’s dream but is comparatively poor when it comes to photography.
Is full frame worth the extra cost?
If you are a professional or aspiring professional photographer then the answer is probably yes.
But for enthusiasts, I would say you would be better off spending that extra money on a lens.
APS-c and micro four-thirds sensors will get the job done superbly and you should only upgrade to a full-frame camera if you need that extra image detail (i.e. if you plan to print your photos in a large size).
Full frame will give you a wider field of view but this will come at a cost and the effect can largely be achieved with an APS-c sensor if you use a wider angle lens.
This is where you can get carried away but there are a few accessories that are outright necessities when it comes to travel photography/video with your mirrorless camera.
First, you will need spare batteries; you may never visit this particular part of the world again so it would be a disaster if you were to run out of battery power.
If your travel involves multi-day hiking or other activities where you may not get a chance to charge your equipment you may want to consider a power bank as well.
Lenses are another must, you could make do with a good wide-angle zoom (something like a 28 – 70mm range) as a single lens kit, or fill out a kit with a telephoto and a portrait lens.
Of course, you will need SD card that can handle what you are going to through at them and a laptop or tablet for editing.
You will also need some way to carry all this gear, check out our list of best camera bags for hiking.
That brings our mirrorless camera discussion to an end.
I hope I have been able to help you choose the best mirrorless camera for travel and shed some light on why you may choose a mirrorless system in the first place.
Comment below if you have anything to add to my list or wish to challenge my opinion that mirrorless cameras are the best for travel!