Mirrorless cameras are the best compact travel cameras according to NatGeo

by Felix Esser

posted Friday, September 26, 2014 at 7:02 AM EST

If there's a definitive authority on travel, landscape and wildlife photography, it's National Geographic. With decades of experience in these areas, it's safe to assume that the Society's editors and photographers have a pretty good idea about what kind of photographic gear works best for taking pictures of wild animals, foreign countries or simply the green hills behind your hometown.

In order to share some of that expertise, National Geographic Travel's Director of Photography Dan Westergren recently published an article that lists the top ten compact cameras for travelers. And rather unsurprisingly, that list includes seven mirrorless models and not a single DSLR. Why that is? Mostly for size and weight reasons, but also because mirrorless systems have matured in the recent past to a point where they can easily take it up with most DSLRs.

The list features a nice mix of Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony models, including the X-T1, X-E2, E-M1, GH4, GX7, A6000 and A7S. The other three cameras that NatGeo thinks are superbly suited at travel photography are the Olympus TOUGH TG-3 which excells at underwater photography, the Ricoh GR which NatGeo claims does everything exactly the way a seasoned photographer expects, and the Sony RX10 which has the most convenient lens.

To be honest, we couldn't agree more with National Geographic. If you want a great travel camera, you'll want something that's small and doesn't put a lot of strain on your shoulders or back -- i.e., you wouldn't want to lug around a huge full-frame DSLR with a set of equally large lenses. A mirrorless camera fits the bill best, as it combines both great image quality and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses in a small package. Compacts such as the Olympus TG-3 or Sony RX10 have their advantages as well, though, for example when it comes to being waterproof or fit for a trip to the arctic circle, or if you're looking for an even smaller all-in-one package.

If you'd like to learn more about the cameras on NatGeo's list, check out our reviews by following the links behind each camera's name. Maybe one of the models will be your next holiday camera? Or if you're already using one of these for travel photography, or an entirely different model for some reason, let us know in your comments. We're curious to hear what our readers shoot with on their vacations!