when you choose a camera for travel you don’t want to compromise on image quality, either. You may be going to to places that you might not get the chance to see again, so you’ll want to take a camera that does them justice – otherwise, you might just as well snap away with a smartphone.

You’ll also want a camera that can shoot a whole range of subjects in a whole range of conditions, from a sun-baked beach to a dimly-lit market, from distant mountains to close-ups of exotic cuisine. 

If you’re embarking on a holiday for adventure rather than relaxation, you might want to take a tough camera rather than a delicate DSLR, but if you’re backpacking on a budget, a cheap DSLR or mirrorless camera could be the perfect compromise.

1. Sony RX10 IV

More than just a ‘bridge’ camera, the RX10 IV brings real power and quality

Type: Superzoom compact | Sensor: 1in | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm f/2.4-4 (equiv.) | LCD: 3in tilting, 1.44 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 24fps | Max video quality: 4K and Full HD | User level: Enthusiast/Expert

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  • Excellent, stabilised opticGreat image and video quality
  • Uprated autofocus
  • Expensive for a bridge camera

 At first sight, the Sony RX10 IV looks like a very big, expensive and not very unusual long-zoom camera, but you need to look closer, because what Sony has actually made is perhaps the world’s first ‘professional’ bridge camera – and if you don’t mind the extra bulk, it’s the supreme tackle-anything travel camera. It features a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor to deliver far higher image quality than the typical bridge camera, married up to a long-range 24-600mm equivalent f/2.4-4 lens that doesn’t just offer a faster maximum aperture than a typical bridge camera, but uncharacteristically good image quality at its maximum zoom setting. This is where nearly all long-zoom cameras fall down, but the RX10 IV stays sharp right through its focal range. Its predecessor the RX10 III is also a favourite of ours and still on sale at a lower price. But that camera’s autofocus grew sluggish at high zoom settings and while recording video, while the RX10 IV adds a far faster and more powerful hybrid AF system adding no fewer than 315 phase detection AF points.

2. Nikon D5600

This tiny DSLR is travel friendly but bulky next to some of the others herew

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon F | Screen type: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

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  • 24MP sensor gives great quality
  • Bright and clear optical viewfinder
  • Efficient retracting kit lens
  • Bigger than rival mirrorless cameras

 The Nikon D5600 looks and feels bulky compared with other cameras here, despite having a reputation as a relatively small and travel-friendly DSLR. We tested it with the AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens, which has a space-saving retractable design though much larger than a pancake zoom. Nikon’s AF-P lenses also make live view autofocus noticeable faster. The D5600 benefits from a fully articulated touchscreen and Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. The 24.2MP APS-C sensor, EXPEED 4 processor and 39-point phase-detection autofocus system deliver good performance, and while contrast-detection autofocus for Live View and movie capture is fairly slow but not too shabby for a DSLR. Image quality is very pleasing, with punchy colour, impressive dynamic range and good retention of detail. If you’re getting this for travel, take a look at Nikon’s compact and lightweight 10-20mm f4.5-5.6 G AF-P DX VR ultra-wideangle lens.

3. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D

Canon’s travel-friendly DSLR has power and versatility too

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000K dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Continuous shooting: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner

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  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
  • Massive lens range
  • Vari-angle touchscreen
  • Larger than rival CSCs

Canon’s most recent EOS 2000D and 4000D models aren’t quite the same step-up on previous models we may have hoped for, but the Canon EOS 200D – the next model along in the line – is a decidedly sweeter proposition for the photographer on the move. Its body, while a little larger than those of many mirrorless models, is still small for a DSLR, and the flip-out screen is clear and very sensitive to touch. With Dual Pixel CMOS AF on board, the camera focuses brilliantly when using live view or when shooting videos, with smooth focus transitions in the latter shooting mode. The presence of Wi-Fi and NFC make it ideal for sharing images on the fly too, and the fact that you get in-camera Raw processing means that you can make multiple edits of your images without needing to lug around a laptop. It’s a shame it doesn’t offer 4K video, but it’s an understandable concession on an otherwise highly capable camera. 

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