3 Top Travel Cameras for Amateur Photographers

The following is a guest post from Simon from  ViewBug – A very useful article for those of you looking for a good travel camera. Enjoy!

With the arrival of summer, so comes sunny days, outdoor adventures and vacations. Plenty of you are faced with the challenge of picking out a new camera to capture it all. With the amateur photographer in mind, I’ve picked out a three top cameras, each in its own category, all perfect for travel.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

This camera is the very latest in Panasonic’s line of “travel zoom” cameras. If you haven’t heard that term, it was coined by Panasonic with its first Lumix DMC in 2006, as describes a compact point-and-shoot with a more powerful lens and zoom. This new category caters to the travel photographer, who needs the portability of a point-and-shoot, but wants the flexibility of a stronger zoom to capture their shots. The main attraction is it packs in a 24mm ultra-wide angle 20x zoom lens into its only 1 inch thick body. This means that you can have an impressive zoom that’s portable enough to stuff in your pocket, making it a very accommodating travel companion. The lens is equipped with Panasonic’s Power O.I.S. optical image stabilization, which is a big help when taking photos at a high zoom level without a tripod. It can take photos up to 14MP and can even record video up to full 1080p HD. On top of these strong main elements, it comes with a wide range of high-tech features, controlled with its 3-inch touch screen. It includes automatic, manual, semi-manual shooting modes, with a whopping 17 scene modes. Highlights include a panorama shot mode, multi-exposure HDR mode and night shot mode. To top it off, the high-speed of this camera also allows for 3D photos to view on any 3D-enabled device. While retailing for $350, it can be found online for around $260.

Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
PowerShot SX40 HS

For any amateur photographer more serious about their travel photography, but not wanting to step all the way up to the costs of a full DSLR, the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is a fantastic alternative. Not only priced more for the beginner, it is also designed for one, thanks to a great image stabilization and range of automatic shooting modes. It is also smaller than a full DSLR, making it easier for a newbie to adjust to. The fitted lens has a ultra-wide and long 35x zoom lens and 12MP capability, with an upgraded CMOS image sensor and Digic 5 processor from the previous model. And it has you covered for HD video, with 1080p at 24fps. Along with the standard shooting modes, this PowerShot spices things up with creative modes like fish-eye, miniature effect, monochrome, toy camera and super vivid. The 2.7 inch viewfinder can also pop out and rotate for your convenience. And not only is it already cheaper than buying a DLSR and lens, it’s come down from its original price of $530 last October, to around $379 today.

Nikon Coolpix AW100

This camera marks Nikon’s first attempt at a rugged point-and-shoot, also making them the last among its major competitors. While late to the category, their first attempt with the Coolpix AW100 was a strong one. The solid design allows this camera to handle 5 foot drops, sink to 33 feet underwater and survive freezing 14F temperatures. It doesn’t slouch in the imaging department, with a 16MP CMOS sensor and full 1080p video capability. While zoom is limited due to its rugged design, it still fits in a 5x optical zoom with Nikkor Ed glass lens. Two cool travel-centric features included is GPS for geo-tagging and an e-compass. And it also comes in a few fun colors, from basic black to blue, orange and green camo. While the blue and camo look cool, they might be a bit easier to lose underwater or out in nature, so I’d personally go with the orange. This camera was first released with a $379 price tag last summer, but can now be picked up online for around $299.

Simon is an amateur photographer and blogger for social photography website Viewbug.com that also specializes in photo contests.

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Emma Dahlberg - July 9, 2012

I had Canon G11 before that I use frequently when travelling as a secondary camera to my DSLR. Unfortunately due to a little accident, it won’t function anymore. I’ve been looking for alternatives for it since then and I’m eyeing Panasonic, Pentax, and Fuji cameras.

Rob Higdon - August 2, 2012

Great advice on these cameras. I use a Nikon D7000 for travel photography and as a good bridge between a point and shoot and a full DSLR. Like the earlier comment about the Canon G11, the Nikon has a lens cover that can stick if the camera is in a moist or humid environment, but other than that, it is a great camera. Shoots RAW files as well as JPG, and HD video. Great camera.

Digital SLR Camera Deals - August 28, 2012

This Sony Cybershot of mine, courtesy of a nifty shop in Kingston, Jamaica has served me well for the last three years. Point and shoot cameras have their distinct advantages too — being able to fit well in the pocket of your cargo pants was obviously one of them. Thanks for the post!

Garnett - October 25, 2012

I’m not a serious photographer. I have a Nikon AW100 and usually take it while traveling. Because it’s compact, waterproof, shockproof and great image quality.

samuel B - December 14, 2012

I had a Nikon S6 and a friend had an S8. Both cameras were fantastic point and shoot. However after about 15 months of use, both of them developed lens cover mechanism failure. Apparently the stepper motor which Nikon uses to open and close goes bad after some time. Seems like its a common problem with Nikon point and shoots with auto operated lens covers.

I took mine apart and removed the entire assembly. The camera worked fine afterwards, but I had to be careful about the lens being exposed constantly.

Ingrid - December 14, 2012

Thanks for the heads-up…don’t think I’d even be brave enough to take my camera apart though 🙂

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