Summer vacation means making memories. Smartphone cameras take great photos, but for travel having the real deal is your best bet. Phone batteries die quickly and often hold less photos. With so many camera models with available for under $500, there’s no reason not to branch out. Here’s what to look for when you’re choosing the best travel camera for your summer vacation.
1. Underwater Capabilities
No summer is complete without taking a dip—and your camera should be able to come along. Waterproof capabilities used to mean sacrificing image quality, but with models like the Pentax WG–3, the Nikon Coolpix AW110, the Sony Cybershot DSC–TF1, and the Fujifilm FinePix XP60 (all with more than 16 megapixel resolution), you no longer have to exchange function for form. The Panasonic and the Sony Cybershot both offer CCD sensors, allowing for even better image quality. Don’t settle for a model with an ISO less than 6400—you’ll want low light proficiency if you’re planning on Scuba diving or snorkeling at night.
When traveling, you’re likely to toss around equipment in a way you wouldn’t under controlled circumstances. A camera’s durability is labeled as its “shockproof-ness.” It’s important to note that if a camera is shockproof it’s likely to be a bit more bulky than other models. A shockproof camera can withstand being dropped or banged into rocks while hiking, for example. Shockproof also means that the camera can stabilize photos even if it is shaken while the image is being taken. A shockproof camera will likely be rated by how far it can fall without breaking, but also consider its resistance rating: this will help you determine how the model ranks when it comes to other rugged features such as underwater functionality, crush-proofing, and temperature-proofing.
3. Size vs. Image Quality
When DSLRs hit the market, they delighted camera enthusiasts and photography veterans because their digital functionality was able to perform on par with their film counterparts. Suddenly real photography became a hobby that everyone could learn without breaking the bank. Not all amateur photographers want something quite as big and complex as a DSLR, however, especially if the model is an investment for summer travel. When mirrorless (also called “compact”) cameras with interchangeable lenses hit the market a few years ago, they changed the size vs. quality debate forever. If you’re looking for super high quality imaging without having to commit to a piece of machinery that requires its own suitcase, compact cameras with interchangeable lenses are your hands-down best bet. The Pentax Q is a great budget option, but Sony models are the go-to choice for all-around performance.