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The best travel camera is the one that is convenient to you and you can carry it with you all the time. If you feel travelling with a DSLR is acceptable to you then by all means that could be the best travel camera for you. I actually travelled around Europe with my DSLR. I was travelling alone, so the trip was pretty much photography orientated so I carried my DSLR. But if the trip is more towards leisure orientated, you might consider carrying something smaller. Smaller camera does make the trip more relax and enjoyable.
But hang on what about if I want to take quality pictures, then I should use a DSLR right? Not really, mirrorless cameras have came a long way and the technology has advanced so much that they can as good as any entry level DSLRs. Their image quality is stunning especially with mirrorless cameras that are quipped with APS-C sensor or larger sensor like the Sony NEXs, Fujifilm X-Pro 1. Check out this post to convince yourself on the image quality from a mirroreless camera.
Personally, if I am travelling on a holiday, I would definitely use a mirrorless camera, the weight and size advantages are just too much to ignore. If it is a road trip, you can consider bringing a DSLR as well. Leave it in the car and use it when you need to. If you are travelling by air, then you have to decide whether you want to carry the DSLR going through the airports.
With a mirrorless camera like the Sony NEX-5N and 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6, the combined weight is only 388g. Comparing to an entry level DSLR like the Nikon D3200 or Canon EOS 650D with a kit lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, the combined weight is 535g. The weight may not be much of a difference, but the size is doubled. The extra weight and size get worse with each step you make on your travel.
Personally, I would recommend choosing a mirrorless camera as your travel camera, not only that it can produce equally stunning images as DSLRs, the size and weight are so much more convenient. If you want to know which mirrorless camera is best for you, check out this out post on Which is the Best Mirrorless Camera.
Having said that, the best travel camera for me may not be the best travel camera for you. Ultimately, you will have to weigh out what is the purpose of the trip and how much are you willing to carry before it spoils the fun. If you are travelling for photography purposes, then by all means, bring the DSLR; for all other purposes, use a mirrorless camera.
I would recommend these mirrorless cameras for travel.
- Sony NEX-7 (24MP, APS-C)
- Sony NEX-5N (16MP, APS-C)
- Nikon V1 (10MP, 13.2 x 8.8mm)
- Canon G1X (14MP, 1.5” CMOS)
- Olympus E-P3 (12MP, m4/3)
- Fujifilm X-Pro 1 (16MP, APS-C)
- Leica M9 (18MP, FF)
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