Magic Moments: The 7 Best Travel Cameras

When packing for a trip, you probably have your smartphone strapped to your hip, figuring that is enough to capture all of the moments of your globetrotting. Well, we’re here to tell you that’s a dangerous proposition. If you’re about to embark on a jaunt into the wilds then you’re going to end up overloading your poor little phone even as you miss all the really good pictures because it doesn’t have a zoom. You need to find a dedicated camera ready for exploration, that will give you quality photos and has plenty of space for every “what-the-hell-just-happened” moment.

When you pick a camera fit for traveling, weight is naturally going to be your first concern. A DSLR camera with a telescoping lens and 40MillionX zoom will give you great shots. It will also break your neck as you tread the ruins of Machu Picchu. Ideally, you’ll want to shoot for something light, with a decent zoom and reasonably wide angled lens for both tight and distal shots. You’ll want a good aperture that can deal with multiple lighting conditions, and a pretty good auto-focus. Wherever the road takes you, one of the 7 best travel cameras will capture the memory.

*Camera strap in photo above from Tap & Dye. [Purchase: $85]

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70K

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70K

Pro: Very long zoom
Con: Weak color sensitivity and reproduction

Double Duty: Snap up anything in the Lumix line and you’ll walk away happy. What we found really impressive in the DMC-FZ70K was that it handled both going wide and getting in tight with equal efficacy. Yes, we confess, it’s a little larger than most compact cameras, but has a full 60x zoom and 20mm-1200mm focal length that uses the 16.1 megapixel sensor to capture those long shots, then pull back for a panoramic. Video options are there, offering 1080/60i HD capability, but at 30 fps. Truly, this is best for wilderness and wildlife shooting and when you need a lot of range for a little cost. [Purchase: $248]

Canon PowerShot D30

Canon PowerShot D30

Pro: Deep underwater capability
Con: Only 12 megapixels

Water Logger: Able to be submerged up to 80+ feet, this is the free-divers friend. The point-and-shoot camera design is executed very well, especially for a kindly price point thanks to the 1/2.3-inch, 12.1 megapixel BSI CMOS12 megapixel sensor. Admittedly, resolution isn’t jaw-dropping since the D30 is focused on speed and ruggedness over high pixel count. A 28-140mm equivalent lens with 5x zoom offers up just enough width to capture the grandeur of the sea, and a little tightness for up-close-and-personal shots. For video, you’ll get 720p with a little grit. Image stabilization is high and the built-in GPS can be a life-saver, though you’ll need to just forget about Wi-Fi and smartphone connectivity. [Purchase: $300]

GoPro Hero4 Black

GoPro Hero4 Black

Pro: Menu is easy to navigate
Con: Short battery life

Videographer: In the action camera¬†world, GoPro was quickly getting lapped by their competitors. Then they raised the bar to the stratosphere. You’ll get true 4K video at 30 fps and 1080p HD at 120 fps with the new GoPro Black. A load of pre-sets will give you incredible video of your zipline ride, and those with the technical know-how can really get some hot granular control for stunning video that you’ll be proud to post on YouTube. Still shots are fine at lower resolutions, and the fish-eye lens gets some pretty panoramic cityscapes, but this is clearly not meant for static shots. They suffer from noise and distortion when you get close, and there’s no zoom to speak of. Great when you need to capture high-def motion or go deep underwater, but not ideal for just snapping a pic. [Purchase: $500]

Sony A6000

Sony A6000

Pro: Compact without crowding the controls
Con: Strange flash exposure

Most for the Money: Really, this is an $700 camera that somehow got mislabeled. It’s a mirrorless with interchangeable lenses, a 24 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with an ISO of 100-25600 that expands to 51200 should you be really going dark. Shoots 11 fps continuously and has an OLED electronic viewfinder. The battery life is passable at more than 400 exposures, though that can vary highly. The 1080p video is always crisp and clean. Where it does fall short is in the menu controls. You don’t have a sweet little touchscreen, but rather a sometimes-awkward scroll-and-click set of menus. While Sony might have scrimped a little on features, they didn’t on color reproduction and image clarity. Overall this is a stellar introductory travel camera for the enthusiast looking to take their game to the next level and glean more knowledge. [Purchase: $548]

Canon G1X Mk II

Canon G1X Mk II

Pro: Compact with comfortable ergonomics
Con: Slower auto-focus

Point and Click: We didn’t want to go with a true quick-click point and shoot camera that didn’t have any other features. The Mk II is good on the go for the amateur, but is even better when you handle it in manual or aperture priority. The flip-up touchscreen is intuitive with a minimal learning curve. Auto-focus for the big 4/3rds, 12 megapixel sensor is a mite on the sluggish side, but once the shot is locked in, it comes out clear as day, even when your light is low and your ISO is high. Shoots in 1080p at 30 fps for some ordinary action video. At 24-120mm focal length, this is a good 35mm equivalent that adds in a reasonable 5x optical zoom. Top it off with Wi-Fi connectivity capable of NFC (near field communication) and you can consider your portable camera cake iced. [Purchase: $800]

Sony A7

Sony A7

Pro: Full frame sensor
Con: Minimal video capabilities

Full Frame: National Geographic has said that mirrorless cameras¬†are the way to go when it comes to shooting travel pics. They’re lighter and more compact than DSLR’s but still give you much better image quality than you’ll find from any point-and-shoot. Our favorite among these is the A7 line from Sony. Inside is a full-frame sensor, so no modification necessary. Clocking in at 24 megapixels, there’s plenty of power under the hood, and it’s a solid low-light shooter with an ISO range of 100-25600. You can get 1080p video, but the framerate is a touch choppy. The good news is that in the A7 line is the A7S for 4K videographers, the A7R, which boasts a 36 megapixel sensor, and the A7II which is a gorgeous top-tier mirrorless that has all the best of the vanilla A7 and so much more. [Purchase: $1,298]

Fujifilm X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1

Pro: Extremely fast, accurate focus
Con: Sub-par video production

True Survivor: This is your on-the-go DSLR replacement camera. Sure, it looks like your grand-pappy’s film box, but the tight body, ability to withstand weather, dust, and intense cold prove that it ain’t your father’s travel camera. Inside is a 16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor that is supported by a pentaprism viewfinder on the top that is one of the best in the biz. This can find your focus and get the shot with a quickness. For continuous shooting, you can rack up as many as 8 fps and the 1080 video runs at the standard 30 fps, but the quality is relatively poor. The 200-6400 ISO range is respectable, and will produce dazzling colors in multiple lighting conditions. Probably overkill for the average selfie-snapper, but mobile pros and ends-of-the-earth wanders will adore it. [Purchase: $1,599]

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