Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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October 7, 2008
Overview

The Panasonic TZ4 includes a wealth of useful tools perfect for dealing with all the various situations a traveler might encounter, and does it all in a tiny 1.4” thick body that you can easily toss into any bag or slip into your pocket.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

As part of Panasonic’s TZ line of cameras known for their versatile 10x zooms packaged into small, portable camera bodies, the 1.4” TZ4 is far easier to carry around than a bulky ultrazoom or a bag full of SLR equipment, yet still offers the extensive range to deal with the various sights and photo opportunities encountered in travel photography.

The TZ4 features a 28-280mm (10x) zoom lens, effectively covering everything from wide scenic vistas to exotic wildlife in the distance.

Low-light ability on the TZ4 is about average. With an image-stabilized lens to help combat camera shake, the TZ4 should be able to pull off low-light photos of static objects (a city nightscape, for example) with decent results. However, the high ISO performance and f/3.3-4.9 lens aperture are a little below average, so shooting any sort of moving object in poor lighting will be difficult.

At 1.4” thick, the TZ4 is as compact as it gets in the ultrazoom category - to get any smaller, you’d have to compromise the versatility of a large 10x zoom. The TZ4 can take 330 photos on a single battery, which should be good enough to last most travelers several days without recharging, if you’re going someplace without electricity.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-W150

Beyond their low price, the W150 and TZ4 are fairly different cameras - while the TZ4 has a long 10x range in a compact 1.4” body, the W150 has a smaller 5x 30-150mm lens in a thinner 0.9” ultracompact size. Unless you really need a smaller size, the TZ4’s more versatile zoom range makes it a better travel camera.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10

As the higher-end compact camera in Panasonic’s lineup, the TZ4 features a much larger 10x zoom range and a wider 28mm wide-angle lens, making it a more versatile camera for travel.

Pros
  • +
    28mm wide-angle
  • +
    Versatile 10x zoom
  • +
    Image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Below-average high-ISO
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 is the Best Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 300 shots
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
Customer Rating
Price
Size (W x H x D) 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
Weight (without batteries) 7.3 oz 5.0 oz 5.0 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 30 mm 30 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
280 mm 150 mm 150 mm
Optical Zoom 10.0x 5.0x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/3.3 f/3.3
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.9 f/5.2 f/5.9
Battery Life 330 shots 400 shots 460 shots
High ISO quality Poor Average Poor
Travel Rating Good Average Average
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150

Though it’s small and cheap, the W150 still packs the two most essential tools for travel photography - zoom versatility and low-light performance. While its 30-150mm (5x) wide-angle lens won’t zoom in that close, its 30mm wide-angle will allow you to take in scenes of sweeping landscapes or big landmarks.

High-ISO performance and the f/3.3-5.2 lens is about average, so freezing moving subjects will be a bit difficult. However the W150 does include an image stabilization system, which should help for taking pictures of static subjects, like the cityscapes or building interiors often encountered on travel.

The W150’s small 0.9” size makes it easy to take with you just about anywhere. Battery life lasts for a very long 400 shots, which should be good enough for even long vacations with moderate use.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10

The W150 and LZ10 share many similar attributes, from the IS system to the 30mm wide-angle lens. The W150 slightly edges the LZ10 out on account of its marginally better high-ISO performance (cleaner photos in low-light) and its slightly more compact body size (0.9” vs. 1.3”)

Pros
  • +
    30mm wide-angle
  • +
    Image stabilization
  • +
    Small 0.9" size
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10

At the budget end of Panasonic’s line of compact cameras is the LZ10, an affordable camera that features a useful 30-150mm (5x) zoom range in a compact 1.3” size. Low-light performance is about average - the LZ10 has an IS system for static subjects, but its aperture and high-ISO are slightly below-average, so moving subjects will be a challenge.

Pros
  • +
    30mm wide-angle
  • +
    Image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Below-average high-ISO
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
  • Battery Life: 460 shots
More
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