You’re on vacation trying one of the local dining destinations, as the food arrives and your dramatic table-side preparation begins, you reach for your iPhone. Unfortunately the lighting is off, and by the time the built-in camera focuses, your meal has already been created.
Welcome to one of today’s biggest travel photography conundrums. Smartphones give us a false sense of being covered, but all too often, they fall short, and we are left with blurry, even discolored photos. The truth is that owning the right camera is extremely important to guarantee memories that will last a lifetime.
To help you decide which camera to purchase for your next trip we put five of the latest models to the test to help you decide which one is right for you:
For the Thrill Seeker
Olympus Tough TG-2, $364
Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and crushproof, the Olympus Tough TG-2 is a crucial component of any Thrillseeker’s cargo. 12 megapixels and Dual Image Stabilization mean high quality images with less blur, which is ideal for hanging off the side of a mountain or diving into the depths of the Pacific Ocean (its waterproof up to 50 feet!). With a 4x optical zoom + 4x digital zoom, you’ll be able to get even closer to the action. 7 shooting modes and over 20 scene modes (including Fireworks, Sunset, and Snow) eliminate the guesswork of finding the right exposure and allow you to quickly capture the beauty around you. The 3” LCD display is easily visible outdoors while the long battery life (up to 350 shots per charge) will capture every heart-pumping moment. No Thrillseeker should go without a camera with this level of quality and durability.
For the Foodie
Canon PowerShot S120, $449
You’re at the French Laundry and look down at your plate, awestruck by the beauty and detail that went into making your breathtaking meal. Knowing that you have to capture this scene, you reach into your purse and pull out your camera phone. But the automatic flash has destroyed the drama of the restaurant’s lighting and mutilated the color of your entrée. You are a Foodie and this just won’t do. The incredibly high light sensitivity (ISO up to 12800 in Program mode) of the Canon’s PowerShot S120 will allow you to capture images in most low-light situations without using the flash while still maintaining the quality of the image. The Macro Automatic focusing range option of 1.2 inches-1.6 feet coupled with a wide maximum aperture (f/1.8) and unbelievably high ISO are the ideal recipe for creating gorgeous, high-quality images of high-end cuisine and other subjects that are close-up and in low-light. 12 Photo Effects options and built in WIFI allow you to adjust and post your images online in a matter of seconds.
For the Landscape Photographer
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V, $425
This camera has so many cutting-edge features that it was difficult not to put it in the Best Overall category. I decided it was ideal for the Landscape photographer because of it’s 30x optical zoom, impressive 18.3 megapixels, built-in GPS and Compass, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (bye bye blur) and 3D Sweep Panorama mode. Yeah, 3D Panorama mode, how incredible is that?! The GPS Log actually lets users track a photographic excursion and later view the images on a map. I haven’t even mentioned the 33 scene modes, which take all of the guess work out of finding the right exposure, allowing you to fire away while enjoying the scenery. The Sony Cyber-Shot HX200V boasts a 30x optical zoom (that was worth mentioning twice) with a Carl Zeiss lens (I’m totally geeking out on this one). Arguably the highest quality glass in any lens available, you absolutely cannot go wrong capturing Landscapes with the HX200V.
For the Fashionista
Panasonic Lumix XS-1, $89
You want to arm yourself with more than a camera phone, but your clutch will only hold so much without busting open. Have no fear. The Panasonic Lumix XS-1 is the slimmest, lightest point-and-shoot camera available, making it a must-have accessory for any night out. At a weight of only 103g (.23 lbs) with the battery and microSD card, you’ll barely know it’s there. It’s High Sensitivity mode boasts an ISO high of 6400, just remember that shooting at the highest ISO range of any camera will result in some amount of quality loss, so try not to crank it to the max unless you absolutely have to. 16.1 megapixels, an impressive array of super fun photo modes (like Retro, Sepia, Toy Effect, and Miniature Effect) packs a powerful punch in a tiny package.
Canon PowerShot SX510 HS, $249
There are literally hundreds of digital point and shoot cameras available with incredible features and fancy bells and whistles. I chose the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS as the Best Overall camera for travel because it is easy to use, has an incredibly versatile focusing range (equivalent to 24-720mm on a 35mm camera…trust me, that’s an incredibly huge range!) so you can photograph the food on your plate and the mountains in the distance, a decent digital zoom of 4.0x, and 12.1 megapixels. Its high ISO of 3200 will allow you to shoot in low light, plus the built-in WIFI and optional exposure controls (including manual) give you ultimate power in just about any travel situation you find yourself in. Oh, and one of my favorite parts: it’s a Canon, which is the brand I have trusted to capture my clients’ most important images over the last 15 years. And at a price tag of only $249, you can save your money for that beach-side massage you’ve been eyeing.