Best Travel Cameras

A small one that captures great images can be the perfect partner for your next vacation

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An ideal travel camera is compact, lightweight, and versatile. And while the smartphone in your pocket may be all of those things, it's not quite up to snuff for the challenging photographic situations you encounter on vacation.

A dedicated camera, including today's superzoom and advanced point-and-shoot models, simply takes better shots than even the best smartphone camera. It creates images with higher resolution, more accurate color, and finer details even in low-light conditions. And given what you're paying for your vacation, why not use a camera that will let you capture and share awesome images?

Today's small cameras also feature versatile lenses that allow you to zoom easily from wide angle to telephoto. But in the interest of compact packaging, they may sacrifice certain features, such as interchangeable lenses and a hot-shoe mount for attaching a powerful external flash unit.

Our list of the best travel cameras doesn't include any DSLR models. The most dedicated amateur photographers may pack one of those for an extended trip, but for the average consumer, a DSLR isn't ideal, mainly because it's typically bulkier and heavier than other options.

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This powerful point-and-shoot simply takes great photos and video. The built-in Zeiss lens has a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, allowing for photos with almost no visual noise even in extreme low-light situations.

At 10 ounces (with battery, memory card, and strap), the camera is lightweight, which is a big plus whether you're hiking up a mountain or strolling down a busy city street. It has built-in image stabilization and a convenient pop-up electronic viewfinder, which is a rarity in cameras of this size. And the large, swiveling liquid crystal display (LCD) is handy for composing and reviewing photos.

As a wireless model, it can easily transfer images to your phone or computer through an app, too.

But like most of the cameras on this list, the Sony lacks a hot-shoe mount, so you'll have to make do with the onboard flash if you're shooting in low light.

If you're looking for a camera that's rugged and waterproof and also takes decent pictures, check out this 8-ounce Canon point-and-shoot. It allows you to dive deeper underwater than any camera in its class—down to a depth of 82 feet—and the manufacturer claims it can withstand a drop of more than 6 feet.

The still images and video quality are good, especially for a camera at this price. The PowerShot D30 has a built-in flash, 5x ultrawide angle zoom lens, and built-in GPS unit, which lets you geotag your photos.

But the camera’s maximum aperture is only about f/4, which can be limiting in low-light situations. The model also lacks 4K video recording and the wireless support found in most modern cameras.

This 11-ounce Canon superzoom packs a lot of versatility into a small package. For $400 you get a camera that produces impressive images and features a very long optical zoom lens (40x optical or 24-960mm). This makes it a great option for not only up-close shots of sporting events and wildlife but also wide-angle shots of landscapes and groups of friends.

The Canon also offers nice extras, such as image stabilization, a swiveling LCD, and a pop-up flash.

Before you buy, though, you should know that this Canon lacks a viewfinder and its video quality is a bit lackluster.

This Fujifilm camera delivers photos with lots of detail, with and without a flash. At 14 ounces, it's also the lightest mirrorless camera recommended in our ratings, with one of the longest-lasting batteries, too, good for about 350 shots.

Our testers found that photos shot in low-light conditions had little visual noise. However, the model does stumble a bit when recording video. It has image stabilization, WiFi connectivity, a convenient pop-up flash, a hot-shoe mount, and a large, swiveling LCD.

And unlike the other cameras on this list, this mirrorless model lets you swap out lenses, so you always have the best option for capturing the rhinos on safari or taking wide-angle shots of your daughter's kickflip.