It can be challenging to choose a good travel camera. That’s why we’re looking for the best travel camera under $500 today. Not everyone can afford to buy a vacation and a vacation camera at the same time! However, for less than $500, you may obtain a great piece of photography equipment to picture the Pyramids of Giza, the Mayan temples of Mexico, or the historical architecture of Eastern Europe. When it comes to the best camera for travel, we’ve got you covered.
You can, of course, use a smartphone. It’s more convenient to keep a smartphone in your pocket, especially when travelling. A professional travel camera, on the other hand, is required if you want to take exceptional images that will make everyone on your social network jealous of your travels. And, yeah, you can acquire one for a few hundred dollars.
Today’s reviews will concentrate on smaller cameras that are easier to bring with you when touring a new city. DSLR cameras provide superior images and a larger number of lenses, and mirrorless cameras are also excellent, but both are bulkier and more difficult to manoeuvre when exploring. This is especially true while travelling to a hot location. Nobody wants a big camera slung over their neck all day when they’re trying to have fun.
This is why we always advocate purchasing a powerful camera with a large sensor that is also lightweight. Digital cameras are usually the best for this. But, at the end of the day, it is all up to you!
Best Travel Camera Under $500
1. Canon G9X Mark II
To begin with, it’s a gorgeous camera. The sleek metal body and tan-colored wrap of the G9X II draw notice. Its machined lens ring and dial, with flashes of anodized red around the buttons, add to its refined appearance. The G9X II is barely 31mm thick when its 28-84mm f/2-4.9 zoom lens is retracted. The G9X II is one of the slimmest cameras of its kind, making it suitable for pockets, handbags, and shoulder bags.
Its menu system is very friendly and simple. The majority of exposure adjustments are made using the back touchscreen or the control ring that sits around the lens of the camera. All settings can be altered manually, but you can also obtain good results right out of the camera if you shoot on auto. For those who want to make precise modifications, the G9X II now supports raw shooting and in-camera raw processing.
This camera’s three-stop ND (Neutral Density) filter, which is incorporated into the lens, is our favourite feature. This feature, which can be used manually or automatically, allows you to use a wide aperture in strong light. The advantage of this is that the camera will be able to take more appealing shots with higher background blur on sunny days. When capturing Full HD videos, it can also aid to express smoother motion. The G9X II’s main serious flaw is that it does not capture 4K video. However, for the most photo-centric among us, it checks the majority of the boxes.
2. Canon EOS M100
The M100 features a big 24.2MP APS-C sensor and Canon’s Digic 7 image processing, which produces excellent image quality in a variety of lighting circumstances. The processor also allows the M100 to take a continuous burst of images at up to 6.1 frames per second, which is ideal for freezing action. With a stated ISO range of 100-25,600 and raw shooting capabilities, it outperforms most smartphones and many other cameras with smaller sensors in low-light conditions.
The M100’s portable size and interchangeable lens system make it a handy camera to tote about, whether you’re interested in street photography, travel, or wildlife. As a compact mirrorless camera, the M100 is compatible with Canon’s EF-M lenses, which are also lightweight. Although there are only eight native EF-M lenses, the Canon EF-EOS M mount adapter allows you to utilise thousands of EF mount lenses on the M100.
3. Panasonic Lumix TZ100 / ZS100
With a competent 20.1MP 1-inch sensor and a weight of only 312g, the TZ100 is a camera that fits easily into pockets. Having a companion camera that gives up to 10x optical zoom while taking up about the same space as five stacked iPhone 12 Minis is also a significant plus.
The motorised zoom Leica DC Elmarit lens on the TZ100 has a 25-250mm equivalent focal range and an f/2.8-f/5.9 variable aperture. The maximum aperture range of f/2.8 may appear to be a touch tame, but it nevertheless produces gorgeous out-of-focus highlights, precise details, and rich tones in good light.
Despite its small size, Panasonic has managed to put a live viewfinder on the TZ100’s left shoulder. It has a modest display (just 0.20in), yet it provides an excellent alternate option for composing photographs in direct sunlight. It’s also useful for photographing in a more secure position with the camera held up to your eye.
Being incredibly tiny, on the other hand, comes with significant drawbacks. Due to the paucity of space around the body, the TZ100’s 3-inch rear touchscreen is fixed, and the controls are somewhat constrained. Despite the fact that it was released nearly five years ago, the TZ100 still supports 4K/25p video recording. It also has a 4K Photo mode that can capture up to 30 frames per second for up to 15 minutes. After that, you may go back through the tape and extract 8MP JPEGs from the video clips. This can be an excellent tool for capturing difficult or fast-moving subjects.
4. GoPro Hero 9 Black
It’s also shock, drop, and waterproof, so you can take it anywhere. If you’re more interested in video, you’ll appreciate the Hero 9’s unbelievably smooth HyperSmooth Boost stabilisation. HyperSmooth enables you to shoot professional-looking films while moving, whether you’re walking and talking to the camera or riding a mountain bike at high speeds.
There are a few GoPro cameras available at this time, but the GoPro Hero 9 Black is the first to include a front-facing display, which is quite useful when assembling self-shot photographs and films. It’s especially useful if you intend to use the Hero 9 Black for streaming or as a webcam.
Its three modes are also now available for purchase, letting you add a better microphone, a third display, and external lighting for a relatively little charge.
5. Olympus Tough TG-6
Aside from being nearly indestructible, the industrial-looking TG-6 is fairly simple to use, due to some simple menus. For composing photographs and modifying settings, it incorporates control and mode dials, as well as a zoom lever located around its huge shutter button.
On the back of the camera is a fixed 3-inch LCD screen. It’s bright, but it’s not touch-sensitive, and it doesn’t have a dedicated viewfinder. This is due to the camera’s necessity to be fully operational whether submerged in up to 15m (45ft) of water or in harsh conditions with temperatures as low as -10°C. It is also dustproof, shockproof up to 2m (7ft) falls, and crushproof up to 100kg.
The 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor on the TG-6 may appear lacklustre at only 12-megapixels, especially when compared to some of the high-resolution sensors we’re already used to seeing in smartphones. Nonetheless, it features a stacking 25-100mm equivalent f/2-f/4.9 aperture zoom lens with a minimum focusing distance of 1cm for macro pictures. It also shoots raw files, giving you more options for editing photos.
This may be a niche camera, but if you want to go on adventures or if you have small children and need a camera for the whole family to use, this could be the one.
If you’re still undecided about which camera is best for your trip, here are a few things to think about. As we stated at the outset, most casual travellers prefer something light. Carrying a hefty DSLR camera with a lens around your neck while touring Jamaica, Mexico, or Southeast Asia may not seem like a big deal, but wait till you’re there and sweating! It eventually becomes a nightmare.
You absolutely want to keep it lightweight for any casual photographer who just wants to take great photographs. You should also consider durability. Your camera will be continually in and out of bags, you will most likely drop it a few times, and it is always possible that it will be stolen. You’ll also need a waterproof action camera if you’re going hiking or scuba diving!
At the end of the day, your option will be determined by the nature of your travel. For example, if you’re going on a road trip, you can of course bring the biggest, heaviest, and most expensive camera you’ve ever seen, replete with a whole bag of lenses! But if you’re going to be vlogging your way through Europe, you’ll need something tough and capable of 4K video.
The good news is that all of the cameras on our list today are excellent all-around and check off the majority of the criteria. Any of them will provide an unforgettable experience when travelling and photographing.