All-in-One Travel Camera Suggestions

I assume here that you're looking for a compact camera that is very small and easily pocketed or able to fit into a very small bag. If you're looking for a small interchangeable lens camera, see my separate suggestions there.

Top Choice
I'll tell you what I use more often than not: the Sony RX-100. I actually have a pair of them (a Mark V and a Mark VI) because there's the issue of whether you want better low light capability (V or VA) or more reach (VI or VII). 

bythom sony rx100

The V models (and III and IV) have a short 24-70mm equivalent lens that is faster (f/1.8-2.8), and better for low light work, while the VI and VII models have a longer 24-200mm equivalent lens that is slower (f/2.8-4.5), but a bit more useful for general work. Yes, there's enough difference when shooting indoors or at night that the older models are preferable. Outdoors and in good light, the latest Sony RX-100 VII model is preferable though, particularly because it's the most sophisticated and quickest in autofocus. But if you're looking to stay as current as possible but with low-light capability, the Sony RX-100 VA model is the one you want.

The reason why I suggest the RX-100 in this category is basically this: it's very pocketable, it has a pop-up EVF that helps you compose in bright light, and the 20mp 1" sensor is still better than a smartphone for most situations. The drawbacks of the RX-100 models are that they eat batteries like I eat cookies, and that they use small, consumer-type controls. Manual exposure mode is a bit of a kludge because of this. Buy extra batteries, read the manual. 

What about the older RX-100 models? Sony has kept all but the Mark II model on the market. I'd tend to say stay away from the earlier models, as Sony has made clear improvements with each generation. But if you're looking for a bargain and don't need the latest features/performance, it might be worth looking backwards.

Best Enthusiast Choice
If you're dying for a smallish all-in-one camera that's much more enthusiast oriented and can produce somewhat better image quality than the RX's, I'd suggest the Panasonic Lumix LX100 m2

bythom panasonic lx100

We're up to a multi-aspect ratio, 17mp m4/3-sized sensor here, which provides flexibility and helps in low light, and the control set on this small Panasonic body is decidedly oriented towards a photographer who knows what they're doing. Heck, it even has a aperture ring ;~). The only real drawbacks to the LX100 m2 are that it doesn't fit in a shirt pocket (it fits in a jacket pocket though), the EVF isn't as high quality as you might be used to on some of the higher models these days, and it has a fixed rear LCD (touch sensitive, though). Still, I travel with this camera almost as often as I do with one of the Sony RX's, and enjoy using it. The slightly larger size is the only thing that keeps me from replacing my RX-100 V with it. 

The Rest
I haven't used the very latest Canon PowerShots yet, but given the specs and designs, I'm not sure they rise above the two cameras I've mentioned. Meanwhile, the Panasonic all-in-one cameras that use the 1" sensor: I've found them severely wanting, particularly in the lens performance. 

Some of you might be satisfied with the APS-C Fujifilm X100F or the Ricoh GR III, but you'd better really be a fan of the fixed, prime lens each one sports. I'm not a fan of the 35mm focal length, so that rules out the Fujifilm for me, and even 28mm is not quite wide enough for me, so that rules the Ricoh out, too. Both are great cameras as long as you're happy with the lens. I'm not. Yes, I know that you can get screw-in accessories that give you a wider or longer focal length equivalent for these two bodies. Personally, I find that makes them a bit clumsier in actual use as you have to keep track of extra items—the other cameras in this category are all-in-one, multipurpose—and also makes the kit bulkier and heavier than I want for a true small camera.

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