Great Digital Cameras for the Dog Days of Summer

Planning to squeeze in an August vacation? That means shooting outside and on the go. These cameras make great tools.

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We're at the midpoint of summer now, but there are lots of classic warm-weather photo opps still ahead: family barbecues, trips to the beach, Yellowstone at sunset, and evening baseball games. To shoot in the great outdoors, you need a great digital camera—the kind that can handle weather, water, and a wide range of lighting conditions.

Here are a few models from our Ratings at a range of prices (from lowest to highest here) and with a range of abilities—from underwater chops to nearly pro-quality images. Go forth and shoot.

The Waterproof One
Olympus has been creating waterproof cameras with smart innovations for more than 10 years now. This wireless model—which sells for about $280—has a zoom lens with the ability to shoot at an ultra-wide angle (21mm) and that's very helpful when you're trying to squeeze a handful of people into the frame or, better yet, the sweeping tableau of a Caribbean sunset. The camera comes with a swiveling liquid crystal display (LCD)—for framing photos at arm's length in hard-to-reach places. It starts up fast, too, so you never miss a photo op.

The Advanced Point and Shoot
Much like its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot G7 X, this powerful, wireless point-and-shoot takes very good-quality photos and excellent-quality video. It's compact and lightweight, which is a big plus, whether you're hiking up a trail or spending the day on a city tour.

The large, swiveling LCD is handy for composing and reviewing photos. There's a nice selection of manual controls and settings. And, in burst mode, you can fire off full-resolution photos at 8 frames per second, so you're bound to get at least one great snapshot when your 7-year-old bounds off a diving board for the first time.

Before you take the $700 plunge and buy it, though, you should know the G7 X Mark II does lack the viewfinder and the hot shoe flash mount found on other advanced point-and-shoots.

The Mirrorless Choice
If you don't mind paying about $800 for a mirrorless camera, this Lumix produces very good photos and 4K-resolution video, while letting you swap lenses in an out. It has lots of manual controls for tweaking your exposure settings in varying light. In addition to a swiveling, touchscreen LCD, it offers an excellent quality electronic viewfinder. And it comes with built-in WiFi and near field communication (NFC), which allows you to control the digital camera from your smartphone when you want to join the family in the picture.

The SLR Splurge
Yes, at $3,000, it's only for the most committed amateur photographers. But if that's you, know that this Nikon scored on par in our Ratings with even pricier SLRs that come with a full-frame sensor. It delivers photos with almost no visual noise—even in low light—and very good 4K-resolution video. It's easy to use, yet full of controls and features. The viewfinder and the spacious, 3.1-inch LCD are both excellent. The camera fires off 10 frames per second in burst mode. Along with its other attributes, that makes it a camera you'd take on a once-in-a-lifetime safari or Alaskan cruise. The long battery life and two memory card slots are nice extras. Sounds perfect, right? Well, it doesn't have a pop-up flash. Go figure.