10 Best Cameras For Travel | April 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Planning on taking a trip and want to record your memories for prosperity? Then take a look at these travel cameras. Designed specifically for easy portability and/or to withstand the rigors of a journey, they will produce stunning images and video for you to look back on and enjoy for years to come. Skip to the best camera for travel on Amazon.
10 Best Cameras For Travel | April 2017
Overall Rank: 8
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The Canon PowerShot D30 is a great multipurpose option that is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. You won't get the best quality images with it, but its shock and waterproof design means that you can take it pretty much anywhere for unique shots others miss.
  • intuitive menu navigation
  • super fast startup
  • lens is placed too close to the edge
Brand Canon
Model 9337B001
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
9
The Fujifilm FinePix XP90 offers something most other affordable underwater cameras can't: decent picture quality. Its 16.5 megapixel CMOS sensor will capture surprisingly good images underwater or on land. Unfortunately, it offers limited manual controls.
  • one-touch movie button
  • has an underwater macro mode
  • limited zoom range
Brand Fujifilm
Model Fujifilm FinePix XP90 Y
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
8
The Sony DSCHX90V/B is a great middle of the line option for photographers who don't have a lot of cash to spend, but aren't willing to compromise too much on photo quality. It has an 18.2MP Exmor R sensor and 30x optical zoom to capture faraway subjects.
  • bright and vivid oled screen
  • lots of adjustable manual settings
  • flash lighting isn't perfectly even
Brand Sony
Model DSCHX90V/B
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
7
The Olympus TG-870 can safely dive down to depths of 50 feet, so you can take it on your next snorkeling trip without having to purchase a dedicated action cam. It also has an ultra wide lens that will capture almost everything you see and can take panorama shots.
  • distortion-minimizing selfie mode
  • 13 fun effect filters
  • poor quality low light images
Brand Olympus
Model V104200EU000
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
6
Not only does the Canon PowerShot G9 take great pictures, it also looks great itself, with classic retro styling that hearkens back to compact film cameras of the 20th century. It's a modern tool, though, with a 20.2 MP sensor, 6 FPS shooting capabilities, and Wi-Fi.
  • star mode for night sky shots
  • minimal noise on low light photos
  • no time lapse feature
Brand Canon
Model 0924C001
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
5
With its 25-250mm Leica DC lens, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS100 can take both near and far shots with impressive image quality. If you will be bird watching one day and taking macros of wildflowers the next, you can stop reading now. This is the travel camera for you.
  • manual lens-mounted control ring
  • suppresses blurring from shaky hands
  • lcd and traditional viewfinders
Brand Panasonic
Model DMC-ZS100K
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0
4
If you are tough on your cameras and need something that can stand up to your rough and tumble travel style, the Nikon Coolpix AW130 is a good bet. Its durable, shock-resistant body can withstand drops up to 7' or be submerged to 100' and still capture that perfect image.
  • integrated gps for shot mapping
  • can withstand below freezing temps
  • takes up to 5 shots per second
Brand Nikon
Model AW130 NARANJA
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
3
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II captures stunning photos in every scenario, even low light situations where others struggle. Users can shoot in both JPEG and RAW modes, which makes it easy to fix problem images or blow up your favorites to use as wall decor.
  • full hd video recording capabilities
  • built-in wi-fi and nfc pairing
  • responsive touchscreen
Brand Canon
Model 1066C001
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
While most use it as an action cam, the GoPro HERO5 is actually an ideal travel camera as well. It takes surprisingly good quality 12MP stills, and has single, burst, and time-lapse modes. This new iteration is also completely waterproof down to 33 feet, without a housing.
  • auto uploads footage to gopro cloud
  • voice control for hands-free use
  • one-touch power on and record button
Brand GoPro
Model CHDHX-501
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0
1
For serious photographers who want the control commonly only offered in DSLR cameras, but who need a compact unit that can easily fit in the pocket, there is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V. It features a 1" Exmor RS backlit sensor and 24fps continuous shooting.
  • incredibly fast autofocus system
  • can record 4k videos
  • multi-angle oled viewfinder
Brand Sony
Model DSC-RX100M5
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

The Phones Still Can't Compare

There's an old adage in the photography world that says the best camera is the one you've got on you. Digital photography has made it so that you can carry smaller and smaller cameras on you wherever you go, and that the image quality from these cameras is pretty impressive.

For most people, though, the camera they always have on them is the one on their phone, and there are plenty of lovely billboards up all over the country touting the spectacular quality of their images. So, if the camera on your phone is so great, and it's always within arm's reach, why should you bother getting a separate camera like any of these for your travel?

Well, for starters, those billboards are a trick of perception and technical embellishment. Yes, they were shot using the phones in question, but those phones were outfitted with professional lens attachments and the images they captured spent hundreds of hours in the hands of photo editors, to the point where the image you see is less of what the phone captured and more of what Photoshop could convincingly paint into and onto the image.

Also, you usually see those billboards from a tremendous distance. If you looked at them up close, they would resemble the paintings of the Pointilism school, a branch of impressionism made famous by George Seurat, among others. The resolution really isn't that good, but your eye can't tell the difference from 500 feet away.

By comparison, the cameras on this list have larger sensors, better glass in their bigger, sharper lenses, and they aren't much bigger than the phone you carry around all day. Those larger sensors translate to more megapixels and better low-light performance (ever notice how the pictures your phone takes at night are exponentially worse than the ones it takes in the day?). Those bigger, sharper lenses translate to better light collection, optical zoom functions, and a greater range in depth of field.

All told, the features and benefits of these cameras make for better pictures. Get a physical map of wherever it is you're traveling, pack one of these cameras in your bag and leave the phone in the hotel room. You'll be surprised at how much more exciting an untethered adventure can be, and how much better your pictures will turn out.

Wet Or Dry

As you evaluate the travel cameras on our list, you'll notice that a few of them aren't only water-resistant, they're actually designed to go underwater and to function there. This may seem like a bit of a gimmick, or like an unnecessary feature if you don't plan on going scuba diving or snorkeling on your vacation in the Swiss Alps, but there are certain situations when a waterproof, shockproof camera would come in handy.

The most common of these situations is in the presence of children. I think it's incredibly important for children to encounter photography from a young age, as it gives them an early glimpse into the nuances of our perception, the nature of memory, and the impermanence of the world around them. Unfortunately, if you hand a camera off to a child who doesn't know any better at, say, a restaurant, you might find it sunk to the bottom of the lobster tank. A waterproof camera could take that kind of abuse and keep on ticking.

The one thing to note about the waterproof cameras on our list, however, is that they have a marked reduction in features. There's next to no space in the build for any meaningful optical zoom, and keeping the housing insusceptible to water requires extra care and maintenance for which your vacation schedule might not allow.

The other cameras on out list, while barely splash-resistant in most cases, uniformly take better pictures, as their lens elements aren't encased behind a waterproof plexiglass, and their bodies can utilize the space otherwise dedicated to sealants for additional hardware and processing power.

Get a sense of who's going to use the camera in question, particularly of how responsible he, she, or they are, as well as the purpose of your photos (will you show them to people after your trip?, will you make prints?), and you ought to be able to accordingly narrow down our list to just one or two great options.

Evolving Beyond The Clunkers

Early cameras were not built for travel. They captured light on plates that were enormous compared with the 35mm standard held for so long. Their bodies were enormous, their accessories filled suitcases, and their long exposure times necessitated the use of a tripod on even the sunniest of days.

Digital photography changed all that in the 1990s, as the need to cart around canisters of film that had to be protected from the elements for the duration of a trip transformed into the need to carry around an extra battery or two, and maybe a backup memory card.

What's more, the cameras themselves have gotten much smaller since the digital revolution, and the ability for the industry to pack more megapixels onto a smaller sensor, and to create lens elements designed with the latest computational advancements in glass work have raised the level of even the smallest, least expensive digital cameras leagues above the first film-free shooters.

It is very likely that our cell phones will eventually supplant the need for a digital camera like the ones on our list, but anyone who knows anything about photography will tell you that that time is not yet here, and that if you want to capture truly inspiring images, you need to carry a camera that can't also make a phone call.



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Last updated on April 22 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.