What To Look For In A Great Travel Camera

person taking picture

For the average traveler, a big fancy DSLR camera is overkill. They’re normally much more big and bulky than the average person wants to deal with, expensive, and have features that most people aren’t ever going to use. For most people on vacation, a reasonably high-end compact camera is going to be just the ticket – the right balance of size, price, and features. When picking out the perfect camera to travel the world with, I identified six parameters for the perfect compact travel camera:

  • Under $400 dollars – If you’re not a pro, there’s no need to purchase pro-level equipment. And honestly, buying a more reasonably priced camera means you won’t be too heart-broken if it’s lost or stolen. To keep the price inline with affording the best compact camera for the average traveler, I decided it should be kept under $400 in price.

 

  • Image Quality – This, more than any other parameter, is the most important thing to look for when deciding what camera to buy. Look at the end-result – don’t try to assume that more megapixels or a brand-name lens is going to automatically produce great images. To get a feel for the image quality, you can go to Flickr and search for all photos by a particular camera model, and compare those to any other model you’re considering.

pentagon lense

  • Optical Zoom – This is important for versatility sake. You only have one camera with you, so you want it to perform in all situations. When you’re traveling, there will always be situations where you can’t get right up close to your subject – lots of optical zoom will take care of that. And don’t be fooled by cameras that use tons of digital zoom to make up for lack of optical zoom. Digital zoom is just never as good as optical. Never.

 

  • Portability – The problem with camera’s and portability is this – the higher-end you go, the less compact and portable they become. That might not be 100% true, but it is about 95% true. No one wants to carry around heavy, bulky gear when they’re traveling. And many larger DSLRs and their lenses need an entire separate bag just for themselves. So now your carefully planned backpack will have to be checked, just so you can carry-on your camera. Not an ideal situation for most fast and light travelers these days.

Canon EOS 550D

  • GPS – This might not be important to everyone, but since we are looking for features expressly for travelers, I decided to include this. If you don’t want the GPS, that’s fine. But for those that want to geotag their photos, this is a necessity.

 

  • Megapixels – This isn’t as important as a feature as many people think. All you need is enough megapixels so that you can print pictures at the size you want. The more megapixels you have, the larger your print can be before it gets distorted.

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