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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 often encounter on vacation.

Dedicated cameras, such as today's superzoom and advanced point-and-shoots, simply take better shots than even the best smartphone cameras. They create superior images with higher resolution, more accurate color, and finer details even in low light. And given what you're paying for a 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, even the best travel cameras may sacrifice a few features in the interest of compact packaging, such as interchangeable lenses and a hot-shoe mount 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 a DSLR for an extended trip, but they're not the best travel cameras for most consumers. A DSLR is typically bulkier and heavier than other options.

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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. Its 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.

The Sony is also compact and lightweight, which is a big plus, whether you're hiking up a mountain or strolling down a busy city street. It has a convenient pop-up electronic viewfinder, which is a rarity in cameras of this size. And the large, swiveling LCD is handy for composing and reviewing photos.

Like the rest 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 very low light. 

    The Waterproof Wonder
    Canon PowerShot D30

    Canon PowerShot D30

    If you're looking for a camera that's rugged and waterproof and also takes great pictures, check out this 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.

    Just as important, our testers found no significant flaws with this tiny Canon. The still images and video quality were impressive, especially for a camera that costs just $300. It 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.

      A Super, Superzoom
      Nikon Coolpix P900

      Nikon Coolpix P900

      This wireless superzoom has one of the longest optical zoom lenses we’ve tested to date: 83x optical or 24mm-2000mm. This powerful lens allows you to zoom in and capture distant objects, making it perfect for shooting sports or wildlife. And its extreme wide-angle capability makes it good for landscapes or group shots.

      The Nikon also comes with some nice extras, like a second zoom control, right on the barrel of the lens, a pop-up flash, and an electronic viewfinder, which is useful in sunny situations when bright light washes out your LCD screen.

      Before you invest $600, you should know that the Nikon's video quality is a bit lackluster and it is larger than the other superzooms in our ratings.

        The Nimble Mirrorless
        Canon EOS M10

        Canon EOS M10

        The Canon EOS M10 is lighter than many other mirrorless cameras, and cheaper at just $450.

        Like our other top-performing mirrorless models, this camera performs well across the board, shooting arresting photos, with and without a flash, and capturing high-quality video. It also includes an excellent quality swiveling touchscreen LCD.

        Unlike the rest of the cameras on this list, the M10's lens is interchangeable. The company's EF-M lenses can be mounted directly to this body. But, in addition, Canon stalwarts can purchase a $200 Mount Adapter EF-EOS M that allows the use of the much wider collection of Canon EF and EF-S telephoto, zoom, and wide-angle lenses on the market.

        But you don't really have to exchange lenses if you don't want to. The 15-45mm f/1.6 lens that comes with the M10 will perform just fine for most photographers.

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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