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The Best Travel Cameras

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

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. However, in the interest of compact packaging, they may sacrifice certain features such as interchangeable lenses and the hot-shoe mount used for attaching a powerful external flash unit.

Note that 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 is not ideal, mainly because it's typically bulkier and heavier than other options.

1
An Agile, Advanced Point-and-Shoot
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

This powerful $700 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 plenty 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. 

    2
    The Waterproof Wonder
    Canon PowerShot D30

    Canon PowerShot D30

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

    The still images and video quality were good, especially for a camera that costs just $300. The PowerShot D30 has a built-in flash and 5x ultrawide angle zoom lens. The model also has a built-in GPS unit, which lets you geotag your photos.

     

    However, it lacks image stabilization and wireless support.

      3
      A Super Superzoom
      Canon PowerShot SX730 HS

      Canon PowerShot SX730 HS

      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 invest $400, though, you should know that this Canon lacks wireless functionality and a viewfinder, and its video quality is a bit lackluster.

        4
        The Nimble Mirrorless
        Fujifilm X-T20 w/ 16-50mm OIS

        Fujifilm X-T20 w/ 16-50mm OIS

        This $1,000 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 hotshoe 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.

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          Tercius Bufete

          I'm an avid photographer and tech nerd with a passion for writing about gadgets and consumer technology. Originally from Los Angeles, I'm now an East Coast resident searching for the perfect burrito in Brooklyn. Follow me on @tercius