Summer is drawing to a close, and many people are getting ready to embark on their last vacation of the summer months. If you want to remember your summer vacation years from now, then you should invest in a real digital camera. Smartphone photos might be OK when it comes to taking selfies (especially if you have a selfie stick). However, if you want to take stunning beach photos or jaw-dropping portraits in front of landmarks, you need a proper camera. Here are the top five cameras we recommend for taking perfect summer vacation photos.
1. Canon PowerShot G16 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom
This sturdy powerhouse isn’t a DSLR, but it still takes awesome pictures. It looks and feels a bit more substantial than a standard point-and-shoot, but retains Canon’s signature user-friendly interfaces. If you want a DSLR-like experience for a lower price, this is a nice option to consider. It’s definitely still a bit of an investment, but the lower price tag (compared to a top-of-the-line DLSR) ensures that you won’t cut into your travel budget for your summer vacation.
Price: $399 (20 percent off MSRP)
- Sturdy, substantial body that won’t get broken on long trips
- Fast software
- Wi-Fi enabled for easy sharing
- Possible to shoot in RAW
- Low-light capability lacking
- Optical viewfinder can be difficult to frame image
- Pop-up flash can be cumbersome
Find more Canon PowerShot G16 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom information and reviews here.
2. Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
If you’re trying to pack light, hauling around a bulky DSLR and spare lenses can seem like a hassle. A nice camera can be heavy, cumbersome, and not all that fun to carry on long hikes or walks. If you’re looking to take your summer vacation shots to the next level, this Sony with interchangeable lenses will do the trick without taking up half your carry-on. The compact design makes this a top pick for any summer travel. Plus, other Sony lenses will also work with this camera body.
Price: $448 (10 percent off MSRP)
- 20.1 MP Exmor APS-C sensor for great images
- Fairly compact
- Can use any Sony lens interchangeably
- Wi-Fi enabled, includes remote control app download
- No microphone / headphone input
- Lacks electronic viewfinder
- Video options lacking
3. Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS 16MP Waterproof Digital Camera With 3-Inch LCD Screen
If you’re traveling in the summer, chances are pretty good that your itinerary will take you to a refreshing lake, river, or beach. But cameras and water aren’t exactly a winning combination. For that reason, you should consider a waterproof digital camera as your main travel companion. This Pentax camera boasts a cool front-mounted LED clock/altimeter. The rounded edges, ability to withstand low temps, and lanyard carabiner attachment make this ideal for people who want a rugged camera. The 28.8X combined zoom and macro focus ring help capture images at a distance, making this a smart choice for outdoor photography. To enhance your experience with this camera, you might consider picking up one of Pentax’s floating wrist straps as well.
Price: $349.95 and up, depending on color option selected
Go hands-on with this waterproof camera in the in-depth video above.
- Shockproof from 6.5 feet
- Freezeproof from 14 degrees Fahrenheit
- 3-Inch LCD screen
- Disappointing battery life
- Takes OK low light photos, but slow to focus
- Underwater color not true to life
- Flash is dim, slow to recharge
Find more Pentax Optio WG-3 GPS 16MP Waterproof Digital Camera With 3-Inch LCD Screen information and reviews here.
4. GoPro Hero4 Session
If your summer vacation involves surfing, mountain biking, kayaking, or other types of extreme/outdoor sports, you can capture great action shots with a GoPro. The GoPro Hero4 Session is the smallest GoPro ever, making it perfectly portable for travelers. You can take amazing photos and videos of your vacations, and document all of your outdoor adventures. It is waterproof, portable, and built tough, making it hard to beat for those who want a camera that can do both photo and video in the toughest of conditions. It also works with almost all existing GoPro mounts. Check out our post on the best GoPro Hero4 Session accessories for ideas about what items to pair with your new camera.
- Waterproof to 33 feet
- Smallest, lightest GoPro yet
- Easy one-button control
- Solid image quality
- Smaller size may make it easier to lose, at least for some people
5. Narrative Clip
The problem with packing a camera is that you don’t always remember to take it with you when you leave the hotel. And sometimes, you just can’t get the camera out of the bag fast enough to get a shot. If you want a camera that records your day automatically during your summer vacation, consider a wearable camera. The Narrative is a really cool little camera that clips onto your clothing. You can review your shots from the camera through a smartphone app, or on your computer. This is a unique way to take candid photos.
The camera automatically takes two photos every minute, and the device has enough onboard memory to store 6000 photos. If you want to stop recording, just put it face down to enter sleep mode. Want to make sure you captured a special moment? Just double tap the device.
If you like idea of the Narrative Clip, but want a wearable camera with a little more functionality? One cool option is the Autographer camera, which has built-in GPS and a custom 136° eye view lens. It’s also available in a wider variety of colors than the Narrative cam. The Autographer might be a nice choice for those who want a GPS record of where they traveled, so they can remember exactly where they were when they found that cool restaurant or gorgeous view.
Price: $134.47 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Takes photos automatically
- Not the most rugged camera
- Not ideal for people who dislike POV shots
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