Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $500
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 8, 2010 Updated: December 13, 2010
Overview

For a camera with lots of zoom to bring you close to your subject when you can’t get there yourself, consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100. Combining a 24x wide angle lens with their own Power O.I.S image stabilization system and the powerful Venus FHD engine, Panasonic continues to lead the way in smart, ergonomic cameras that go anywhere you do and promises to challenge and spark your imagination.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

It seems that Panasonic has topped themselves again with the DMC-FZ100. Creating a super zoom that is super light sensitive, smart, fast and takes 1080p HD video, you will not want to go anywhere without this camera by your side.

With a Leica DC-Vario-Elmart 24x optical zoom lens and a light gobbling aperture of F2.8 - F5.2, add Panasonic’s Power O.I.S., optical image stabilization system and you can expect to get nice, clear images from a wide angle 25mm all the way out to the 600mm telephoto range. Take a group portrait on the dock and turn around just in time to zoom in on your neighbor netting a trophy walleye from across the lake.

Utilizing two additional important features of the FZ100, Intelligent auto mode and an 11fps burst rate, you can be sure to get the shot every time.

For video, shoot at 1080p HD (AVCHD format) and use Intelligent auto mode to get the best exposure under any situation. Plus the zoom feature works with video, redesigned to minimize noise from the focus motor during zooming, making the high-quality stereo sound Dolby Digital Stereo Creator another valuable addition. You can also get individual images from your video or speed up the video (at QVGA size) to create dramatic slow motion footage of action usually too fast to see.

Built to fit comfortably in your hand, the FZ100 has all of the amenities people on the go are looking for from their point and shoot camera. Lightweight and easy to hold, framing your shot is simple with either the electronic viewfinder or the 3” free angle LCD screen, and the dials have been placed in convenient locations that take advantage of the natural placement of your fingers when operating the camera. There’s even a hotshoe for additional flash power.

Whether you’re a pro or new to photography, the control options are there for your success. Offering manual, shutter and aperture priority, Intelligent auto and a whole lot of scene modes for almost any situation you might find yourself in while traveling the world.

And if you’re wondering how a point and shoot camera can handle all of these functions and still offer speed and quality, Panasonic has your answer with the newly redesigned Venus Engine FHD. Acting as the brains of the camera, the FHD processor balances noise reduction, light balances and a rapid response to signals picked up by the 15.1 million pixels and turns them into the satisfying images you’ll be proud to share with your friends.

Optional lenses are also available to match your artistic creativity.

Pros
  • +
    Tiltable LCD screen
  • +
    11fps burst speed
  • +
    Fully manual
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
  • Best Price: $449
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Transcend 32 GB Ultimate Speed SDHC Class 10 Flash Memory Card TS32GSDHC10
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 24.0x
  • Resolution: 14.1MP
  • Size: 4.9 x 3.2 x 3.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 410 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1
3
Nikon Coolpix L110
Customer Rating
Price $449.95 $429.99 $214.00
Camera Format Electronic Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder
Weight (with batteries) 19.9 oz 18.2 oz 14.8 oz
Colors Black Black Black, Red
Body Material Plastic Plastic Plastic
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Sensor Size
6.1 x 4.6 mm 5.9 x 4.4 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) - 0.6 frames/sec -
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Stereo Sound Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Zoom Available (while recording) Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 24.0x 20.0x 15.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.5 f/3.5
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.2 f/5.2 f/5.4
Max ISO Setting 1600 3200 1600
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes Yes No
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes Yes No
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes Yes No
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes No
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4)
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1

Having the ease and portability of an all-in-one camera while traveling is only one of the reasons to take the Sony DSC-HX1 on your next trip.

Other features like Sweep Panorama, Video Zoom and Sony’s Image 3 system are even more reasons to keep this speedy and intelligent camera by your side while exploring the world and hoping to return with high quality images that capture your memories.

The Image 3 system is Sony’s way of ensuring you get the best shot every time. Combining the best image (a 20x, 28-560mm f/2.8-5.2 wide-angle G lens), the best sensor (the newly-developed high-speed 9 Mp Exmor CMOS sensor) and the best processor (the BIONZ imaging processor) you can expect the camera to complete such operations as Intelligent auto, the ability to detect up to eight scenes and automatically changes settings so you get the exposure correct no matter the situation. In hand held twilight mode, one of the hardest situations to shoot but one of the most satisfying images when the results are realistic, and anti-motion blur mode, the camera takes six shots and superimposes them to create one image with the correct highlight and lowlight exposures. Being able to shoot without a tripod is a big plus when you have to travel light.

Sweep Panorama is another feature that will make multiple exposures so you can have the fun of creating wide panorama shots of the landscape by simply panning the camera over the scene you want to capture. The HX1 will then stitch the images together for a spectacular panoramic image.

When taking video the HX1 captures movie clips at 30fps in 1080p HD resolution with a built-in stereo microphone, recording in the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 format for higher compression and easy transfer. Take advantage of the zoom during operation to utilize the whole 20x range.

Being in control is what the HX1 is all about. Offering fully manual, aperture and shutter priority, Intelligent and easy auto modes and a variety of scene modes, you are free to explore your new destination without lugging around an extra suitcase of accessories for each new discovery. Built tough and ergonomically comfortable, the HX1 has an all-important electronic viewfinder, a grip that molds to your hand, dials that are right where your fingers are for quick changes and a tiltable, 3.0” LCD screen for shooting in tough places.

Pros
  • +
    Video zoom
  • +
    Sweep panorama
  • +
    10fps burst shooting
Cons
  • -
    Only 28mm wide angle
Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-HX1
  • Best Price: $429
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Sony 2 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo Flash Memory Card MSMT2G
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 20.0x
  • Resolution: 9.1MP
  • Size: 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.6 in.
  • Battery Life: 390 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Nikon Coolpix L110

Simpler and more basic than other super zoom point and shoot cameras, the Nikon L110 can still hold it’s own when taken along on vacation or to the zoo.

Built to fit comfortably in your hand and with enough power to handle the many internal functions you have come to expect from Nikon, the L110 has a 12.1mp imaging sensor, a 15x wide-angle optical (28-420mm) Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens with 5 way VR image stabilization all powered by the EXPEED Image Processor.

With the ability to shoot HD video at 720p for up to 7 hours and image enhancing features like sport continuous mode, intelligent automation and Nikon’s exclusive smart portrait system, the L110 is priced right to be your everyday camera.

And since it’s a AA powered camera, I would recommend keeping extra batteries on hand, even if it gets 500 shots per charge.

Pros
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    AA batteries (depending on preference)
Cons
  • -
    This camera relies on the menu system when changing options
  • -
    AA batteries (depending on preference)
Nikon Coolpix L110 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix L110
  • Best Price: $214
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Nikon Coolpix L110 Digital Camera Battery Charger Replacement for 4 AA NiMH 2800mAh Rechargable Batteries, with Charger
    @ Amazon.com
  • Transcend 32 GB Ultimate Speed SDHC Class 10 Flash Memory Card TS32GSDHC10
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Size: 4.3 x 2.9 x 3.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 500 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

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