Balancing travel-friendly portability with DSLR-level quality, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC, for short) has become the travel accessory of choice for serious photographers and videographers alike. This format—which appeared five years ago and does away with the bulky internal prisms that add heft to traditional DSLR’s—is now ubiquitous, with every major manufacturer competing to have the most cutting-edge features. That means better prices all around, making this the time to buy. T+L puts three of the latest models to the test.
Best for Amateur Shutterbugs: Sony NEX 5R
Sony’s camera builds in all the same features as its competitors, but is a relative bargain. It excels in automatic mode, vividly capturing low-light shots without your having to turn a single dial. Best of all, it’s lightweight and compact—without the lens, it’s almost as small as a deck of cards. From $599.
Best for Expert Shooters: Fujifilm X-E1
This ergonomically optimized camera has easily adjustable manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. You might expect more than 16 megapixels at this price point, but we can’t complain about the X-E1’s consistently crisp and vibrant shots. From $1,400.
Best for Social Media Addicts: Samsung NX300
Samsung’s smart connectivity features let you wirelessly transfer images to any mobile device or post them online. You can even connect the camera to your smartphone screen and use your phone as an additional viewfinder. With a whopping 20.3 megapixels, it’s also a great value. $749.
Best DSLR: Pentax K-30
Traditionalists who prefer the heft of a DSLR will approve of this rugged, dust- and water-resistant camera. Thanks to its HD capability, it’s also great for videos. $600.
Best High-End Point-and-Shoot: Nikon Coolpix P330
A wide range of manual settings and excellent low-light shooting make this model well-suited for pros, but it’s also good for beginners, with anti-shake technology that keeps images clear and in focus. $380.
Best Smartphone Companion: Canon PowerShot N
This palm-size, Wi-Fi-equipped model outperforms iPhone and Android cameras with its 8x optical zoom and innovative controls—located on the camera’s lens rather than around its frame—perfect for one-handed use. $300.