When it comes to the different mirrorless cameras that are well-suited for traveling with, I’m a huge fan of the Sony a7R II if you’re looking for something totally incredible and I also like the Sony Alpha a6000 for something a bit more reasonably priced.
On both cameras, I love the body, the overall size of the camera itself, and I’m super impressed with the quality of both photos and videos that they’re able to capture.
Keep reading for a quick guide and to see the rest of my recommendations.
- 1 What’s a Mirrorless Camera?
- 2 Don’t DSLR’s Take Better Quality Photos?
- 3 Why a Mirrorless Camera is a Great Choice for Travelling With
- 4 Best Mirrorless Cameras in 2017
There are so many different types of cameras available that it’s can be hard to find one that takes high quality photos and matches all of your photography preferences.
Lately there has been a growing group of travel photographers that are ditching their DSLR cameras in favor of something lighter, more portable and better suited for traveling with.
DSLR’s are heavy, bulky and not that easy to travel with whereas point-and-shoot cameras just aren’t able to take the quality of photos that many photographers are looking for.
That’s where the mirrorless camera comes in.
What’s a Mirrorless Camera?
A mirrorless camera is just like the name suggests – a camera without a mirror.
The way a DSLR camera works is by letting light through the camera lens and into the body, where it hits a mirror and is directed right into the sensor. This mirror is what allows you to see what you’re taking a picture of through the viewfinder.
The way a mirrorless camera works is different in that it doesn’t use a mirror to display what you’re seeing through the lens in the viewfinder, instead it uses a digital viewfinder to show you what you’re taking a picture of.
Don’t DSLR’s Take Better Quality Photos?
Many people wonder if mirrorless cameras are as good as DSLRs and it makes sense to worry about that. Mirrorless cameras are quite new and there are quite a few people who haven’t even heard about them, let alone used one while traveling or been able to compare the picture quality to it DSLR.
Today, some of the best mirrorless cameras take the same quality of photos, some even better quality, than the majority of DSLRs.
For now, DSLRs will always have their place in travel photography but for the majority of travelers who love taking photos and have a passion for capturing their trips a mirrorless is the best alternative and actually my recommendation for the best type of camera to travel with.
One thing to keep in mind is that mirrorless cameras aren’t at all a budget-friendly alternative to DSLRs.
Many of them can be quite expensive, and you’ll still have to spend more money on extra lenses and gear, but they’re a great investment and are the most suitable option when it comes to travel cameras and taking high-quality photos when you’re abroad.
Interested in learning about some different alternatives? Check out my post on the best cameras for travel.
Why a Mirrorless Camera is a Great Choice for Travelling With
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up a mirrorless is that it’s much lighter, smaller and a lot more portable than a DSLR.
I used to hate taking out my DSLR with me because of how of obnoxious and huge it is. After a long day of walking around with it hanging off of my neck I would have neck pain for a few days after because it was just so heavy.
With a mirrorless you can easily carry it around your neck, in your pocket or in a camera holster, with way less effort than it took to carry around a DSLR.
You’re also less of a target and it’s easier to use it busier places like restaurants, museums and anywhere else where you don’t want to hold huge camera up and have everyone be staring at you like you’re some sort of professional photographer working for National Geographic.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way let’s take a look at the options I’d recommend if you’re looking for a new mirrorless camera to travel with.
Best Mirrorless Cameras in 2017
Sony a7R II
Likely far out of reach for most photographers when it comes to cost, the Sony a7R II is arguably the best mirrorless camera on the market right now in early 2017.
It’s the upgrade from the first a7R and it combines all of the previous models features and simply makes it better in all ways.
There is an incredible 42.4 megapixel image sensor that takes advantage of back-illumination to make it even more powerful and helping to secure this device as the top spot when it comes to the best mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera you can get.
Apart from the image quality, the Sony a7R II also comes equipped with a compact body, 4K video capabilities, great performance in low light conditions, and of course built-in image stabilization to help prevent motion blur.
Thanks to the reinforced lens mount this camera is able to more easily handle larger lenses and you can even pick up an adapter to use different Nikon or Canon lenses if you already have some.
To make it well-suited for traveling and using outdoors the body has been weather sealed to help prevent dust and debris from getting inside the body when you’re using it.
The only bad thing I have to say about the Sony a7R II is that it is definitely a pricey camera and you can definitely find some full-frame DSLR options that come equally as well-equipped but not nearly as portable or compact.
For those of you on a tighter budget but still looking for something nearly as awesome I’d recommend taking a look at the base model Sony a7II (not the R model).
The a7II has just 24.3 megapixels and it doesn’t shoot 4K video, though it’s a great consideration if you’re still hoping to capture high-quality, stunning images.
Sony Alpha 6500
Along with the a6000, the Sony Alpha 6500 is another heavy hitter from the Sony mirrorless camera line-up.
This beauty features 24 megapixels and is the latest iteration that Sony has been able to come out with.
It comes equipped with 4K video capability, an incredible autofocus, a weather resistant body that makes it suitable to use in outdoor conditions, in-body image stabilization for a steadier photographic experience, and touchscreen functionality on the LCD screen making it even easier to use.
4K video is a huge feature for vloggers or videographers looking to capture footage in amazing quality and especially so for those of you looking for something portable, lightweight, and compact.
There truly is quite a lot of punch in the little body of the Sony a6500 and if you’re already using one of the previous Sony models then you can continue to use any of the lenses that you already have.
Sony is really leading the pack in the mid-range mirrorless camera market and if you’re looking for something that’s easy to carry around and that takes incredible photos and videos in a wide range of environments and conditions then it’s the Sony Alpha 6500 that you’re going to want to check out.
Sony Alpha a6000
A few years ago there really wasn’t much that Sony had to offer in the camera market.
Sure, they had a few DSLRs and some point-and-shoots but they weren’t a serious contender and not many people were bragging about their photography offering.
Today, it’s a different story and Sony is completely dominating the mirrorless market.
One of their flagship models, the Sony a6000, is in my opinion one of the best mirrorless cameras available at the moment.
For starters, let’s take a look at some of its features:
- Comes with a variety of practical lens options (16-55mm, 55-210mm, 50mm)
- 24 megapixel CMOS sensor
- ISO range between 100 – 25,600
- LCD screen with a 90° tilt
- Electric viewfinder
- Wi-Fi photo sharing capabilities
- Pop-up flash and hot shoe
I recommend the Sony a6000 as the best mirrorless camera for travel for a variety of reasons.
For one, at just 0.76 pounds it’s very lightweight compared to many DSLR’s and its portability makes it a suitable choice for both short-term and long-term travelers.
The battery life is also quite good and it’s able to take a little more than 400 photos per charge, but I noticed that the battery life isn’t as good if you’re using the electronic viewfinder constantly or taking a lot of videos.
You might think that a DSLR offers a better quick glance through the viewfinder but the Sony a6000 has a 1.4 million OLED electronic viewfinder that provides all of the in-depth detail you’ll need to capture a great shot.
With a 24 megapixel sensor it also takes incredible images and it’s able to shoot in RAW image format so you’re able to make your photos quite stunning when it comes to post-processing.
The shooting itself is super fast and it can capture up to 11 frames per second in its continuous shooting mode. In addition to fast shooting it also has unbelievably quick autofocus and is able to focus in just 0.06 seconds covering 179 tracking points.
If you’re into making videos the Sony a6000 doesn’t capture 4K but it’s still able to capture stunning full HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second. This is still an optimal format if you’re making travel videos and the only drawback here is the tilt screen which only tilts back 90° rather than the full 180°.
If you’re planning on vlogging I’d suggest taking a look at a different camera that has the flip up selfie screen, otherwise for general travel videos I’d say that this is your best choice when it comes to mirrorless options.
For the more serious photographers the Sony a6000 gives you full control over every photographic function and you can easily change the settings while you’re on the go using a pair of top mounted dials along with a rear mounted control wheel.
You can quickly change your shooting modes, aperture, ISO and any other setting without having to scroll through too many menus or press to many buttons just to make a simple change. To make it easier to change settings there are seven customizable buttons that you can assign to any of the cameras shooting functions.
The Sony a6000 continues to excel in low light settings and is my preferred camera of choice if I’m looking to shoot any night photography. The ISO sensitivity is high, ranging between 100 to 25,000, so there’s hardly a low light setting that you won’t be able to shoot given you’re using the right camera settings for the scene.
Finally, you’re able to switch out lenses and use any of the Sony lenses that will fit onto the a6000. There aren’t too many different lenses available yet but there will be more in the future as Sony mirrorless cameras become more popular.
Overall, I definitely recommended the Sony a6000 if you’re looking for the best mirrorless camera for travel.
I’ve done quite a few comparisons on Snapsort comparing the a6000 with various DSLRs and so many times it’s come out as the better camera. For the image quality, portability, speed and ease-of-use it’s easy to see why the a6000 is quickly becoming a favorite among both amateur and seasoned travel photographers.
If you’ve been considering ditching the DSLR for something smaller and more portable or you want to upgrade from your point-and-shoot then I highly recommend checking out the Sony Alpha a6000.
The second camera that I recommend you check out as the runner up to the Sony a6000 is the Fujifilm X-T10.
This is another popular option when it comes to the best mirrorless camera for travel photography and it’s a great choice if you’re going to be using it to replace your DSLR.
Here’s a quick look at some of the features of the Fujifilm X-T10:
- 16 megapixel CMOS II sensor
- OLED electronic viewfinder
- Average battery life of 350 photos
- Full manual control over shooting settings
- Small and lightweight
- RAW ISO limit of 6400
The Fujifilm X-T10 mirrorless is an all-around amazing camera.
It comes packed with features that make it ideal for traveling with such as a great sensor for high quality images, a weather sealed body to prevent water and dust from getting into the camera and an easy to use control system that lets you change settings on the fly.
The X-T10 is actually a more affordable alternative to the X-T1 but it still uses similar components and it’s hard for me to say if the higher-priced X-T1 is even a better option.
Personally, I would stick with the X-T10.
It takes advantage of a 16 megapixel CMOS II sensor while giving you more than enough control points and customizable buttons so that you can quickly change settings without having to fiddle with different buttons and dials. The image quality is very high and, thanks to Fujifilms new autofocus system you’re easily able to keep your subject in frame and in focus.
Using the cameras direct controls you’re able to adjust exposure, shutter speed and you can also change the drive mode using any of the cameras three dials along the top of the housing or either of the dual dials on the back. This way you’re able to use the most optimal settings depending on the scene you’re shooting in.
Along with being easy to use the Fujifilm X-T10 is also lightweight, compact and portable. It weighs just 381g and, at least for me, fits very well and feels quite natural in my hands. It’s definitely not as bulky as a DSLR and all of the controls, buttons and dials are within easy reach of my fingers.
If you’re not interested in shooting in manual mode but you still want to capture high quality photos then you can take advantage of an automatic mode that’s designed to allow you to take great photos without having to choose the settings on your own.
On the top of the camera is a lever that you can use to quickly switch the camera into an advanced SR Auto mode. In this mode the Fujifilm X-T10 will automatically determine the most ideal shooting settings and will choose the best preset, from more than 58 different presets, depending on the scene you’re shooting.
This is a great feature if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to shoot in manual mode all the time but you still want the ability to take quality photos.
If you do you plan on taking full advantage of the manual settings then you’ll be using the real-time viewfinder as well. The viewfinder on the Fujifilm X-T10 is an incredible electronic viewfinder with hey 2.36 million dot display.
With the display you can also see real-time effects of any film simulation you choose, your specific exposure settings and any other changes to the controls you made before taking the picture. This way, you can further fine-tune the settings and controls to get the best possible shot and composition before you start editing.
Some more great features include continuous shooting, the ability to take photos using your smartphone and access to a variety of X-Mount lenses.
With the continuous shooting function you can capture up to 8 frames per second in a high-speed mode and in a low-speed mode you can capture up to 3 frames per second until the memory card becomes full.
This is great if you’re planning on photographing any wildlife or you just want to get a new perspective on whatever it is you’re shooting at the time.
You can also pair your smartphone with the Fujifilm X-T10 using Fujifilms new “Camera Remote” app. This is awesome for taking selfies or group shots but you can also change some of the settings on the camera itself such as the focus, exposure compensation, ISO, aperture and even the shutter speed.
If you’re taking a timelapse or doing some night photography shots and don’t want to risk vibrating the camera as it begins shooting this app is perfect for you and gives you the ability to take photos without touching the camera all.
And finally, if you’re a passionate photographer then you’ll love having access to a selection of X-Mount lenses that you can interchange with the stock lens on the X-T10.
This way you can travel with different lenses depending on the photography you’re planning on doing and the ability to change the lens definitely opens up a lot more opportunities for unique photographs.
I definitely recommend the Fujifilm X-T10 if you’re looking for the best mirrorless camera for travel photography and you want more lens options than what the Sony a6000 has to offer.
Overall, when you combine the wide range of features that this camera comes with along with its portability, ease-of-use and amazing photo-quality it’s not hard to see why it comes so highly recommended for travelers and budding photographers.
Canon EOS M5
The Canon EOS M5 is one of the more recent Canon mirrorless options that they’ve come out with to compete with all of the great Sony offerings.
It features 24.2 megapixels and comes with a host of other interesting aspects such as a tilting touchscreen on the back and an APS-C image sensor.
The tilting touchscreen is very helpful for capturing photos without needing to position the camera in a weird angle to see the screen and you can even use the electronic viewfinder that provides a bright and crisp image when you’re using it.
There is continuous shooting available, up to 9fps depending on how fast you need, and the EOS M5 can capture video at 1080p, 30fps.
However, with so many different cameras at this price point the EOS M5 doesn’t have too many redeeming qualities.
It doesn’t come with any weather sealing, which really helps to prevent dust spots and makes other cameras better equipped in a wider range of outdoor conditions, and it also isn’t able to capture 4K video, something that vloggers or videographers are looking for these days.
As a redeeming quality, it’s possible to use many of the Canon DSLR lenses with the M5 as long as you’re using an adapter and this is important if you’re someone currently using a Canon camera and you don’t want to lose out on all of the lenses you paid for already.
This way if you’re considering going mirrorless and you’re already using a Canon DSLR with a bunch of lenses then it’s a lot easier to switch over to the EOS M5 rather than having to start fresh.
Nikon 1 J5
The Nikon 1 J5 is a decent entry-level mirrorless camera for beginners.
It comes with a small sensor that’s able to capture 20.8 megapixels and boasts a contemporary style while still being quick to shoot and portable for traveling with.
Nikon isn’t so well-known as a serious competitor in the mirrorless market, though they’re definitely trying to catch up and if you’re looking for something on a budget then you are going to want to check out the Nikon 1 J5.
Although it does have a smaller sensor compared to some of the Sony and Fujifilm options, the Nikon 1 J5 does have quite a lot of features such as built-in wifi, improved grip ergonomics, a fast processor, and decent low-light capability.
Even with the smaller sensor, which you might not even notice as a beginner or someone just looking for a nifty travel camera, the Nikon 1 J5 still offers its users a host of different features and great functionality for a wide range of photography conditions.
I’d definitely recommend checking out the Nikon 1 J5 if you’re on a budget but you still want something fast and reliable for using out in the field.
Panasonic Lumix GH4
The Panasonic Lumix GH4 came as quite a surprise to me because it had been a while since I had heard of any decent cameras from Panasonic so it’s nice to see them coming out with an option for the mirrorless market.
The GH4 comes equipped with 16 megapixels, it’s completely weather sealed making it a great choice if you are doing a lot of photography or videography outdoors, and it can also capture 4K video.
These days 4K video is something that a lot of people are looking for and it’s a feature that I would recommend if you’re into making videos as the quality of content online continues to increase.
The autofocus is very impressive on the Lumix GH4 and there are also a surprising variety of different lenses available to choose from with the Micro Four Thirds mounting option.
Along with being able to choose from a few different lenses, the camera itself is also quite lightweight and very compact so it’s a good choice if you’re spending a lot of time traveling or you just don’t want to lug around a heavier DSLR.
When it comes to mirrorless cameras, I do believe that the Panasonic Lumix GH4 has the widest variety of different lenses available to choose from just by default rather than having to rely on using an adaptor.
This makes it awesome if you’re someone that’s very much into much photography and capturing shots using different techniques and photographic styles.
One of the main things that I don’t like about this camera is that it isn’t a full frame device but if you don’t need something that offers a full frame then it’s still an option that I would recommend checking out.
The newer Panasonic GH5 was released not too long ago so if you’re looking for a more upgraded version then you can check out the GH5 instead and it’s up to you to decide whether or not the difference in price is ultimately worth it compared to the older version.
The Fujifilm X-T2 is a huge improvement over the previous X-T1 model and right off the bat it has become a favourite among photographers due to its incredible image quality and realistic colour renditions.
The X-T2 comes equipped with a 24.3 megapixel sensor and it’s capable of capturing video up to 4K in quality.
It boasts a super fast autofocus, especially when compared to the previous Fujifilm cameras, and it’s possible to use the body with a wide range of different equality Fujinon lenses depending on what your photographic preferences are.
The camera body takes on a very contemporary design and despite being lightweight it still feels quite nice in your hands when you’re out and about taking photos or recording video.
Two more features that I want to mention include the dual SD card slots so that you can use two memory cards at a time for even more storage when you’re out taking pictures.
I also really like the three-directional tilting LCD that provides a variety of different viewing angles when you’re trying to capture something in a more unique position.
This is a very practical travel camera, especially if you’re looking for something that’s able to capture high quality images as well as features a very sturdy and durable build quality.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II is a great choice if you’re looking for something small and portable and also if you’re interested in what I believe is the best mirrorless camera for video capturing.
This is truly a beast of a device and it comes with improve video performance over the previous model, a large LED screen on the back, fast burst rates and decent shutter speeds for more versatility when you’re out in the field, and on top of all of that it comes with a very beefy and comfortable to use grip.
It also comes with a weather sealed body, so it can be used outdoors in a variety of different conditions and weather environments, and it’s possible to choose from a wide selection of various Micro Four Thirds lenses depending on what you’re looking to capture.
All of these different features and improved functionality definitely has an impact on overall battery life, which is just a bit shorter than the previous model, though you can definitely pick up a spare if you’re running into battery issues.
Overall, I find that the Sony options and even the Fujifilm might be a better choice if you’re looking for something specifically for photography, because of the bigger sensors and different features that those cameras have.
However, if you want something that can take some great photos as well as that something that’s suitable to use for videography then the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II will still make for a great choice.
Panasonic Lumix G7
The Panasonic Lumix G7 is what I would recommend if you’re looking for a budget mirrorless camera that still comes with plenty of functionality and is also capable of taking great quality images.
The G7 comes with a 16 megapixel sensor and despite being a more reasonably priced option it’s even capable of capturing 4K quality video.
It is a little bit more advanced than an entry level option, given all of the different features that it has, and it’s a step up from some of the better point and shoots such as the Canon G7X and Sony RX100 models if you want more functionality and photographic capability.
While the G7 is pretty good at capturing photos, where it excels at is the video capturing and the 4K video quality that it’s able to record comes out looking really nice, which isn’t really surprising because that’s where Panasonic has really come ahead against other competitors.
Some other notable features include the speedy and continuous shooting, a pretty good autofocus, a sleek design, and access to a wide range of Panasonic lenses.
I would definitely recommend taking a look at Panasonic Lumix G7 if you’re spending a lot of time capturing both photographs and video and you’re looking for something that is able to capture video quite well and effectively in high quality.