Expert Recommendation

.
Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $300
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 21, 2008 Updated: September 22, 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.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

As part of Panasonic’s TZ line of cameras, the TZ4 (and the larger-screened, more expensive TZ5) have become famed for offering versatile 10x zooms into small, portable camera bodies that make them much easier to carry around than a bulky ultrazoom or a bag full of SLR equipment, yet still offers the extensive range to deal with all 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. The f/3.3-4.9 lens aperture is about average in terms of light-gathering ability, however, and high-ISO performance is slightly below average, which means shooting any sort of moving object in poor lighting will be difficult.

At 1.4” thick, the TZ4 and TZ5 are 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 should stow away easily in just about any backpack or jacket, and will likely even fit into a baggy pair of pants.

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-H10

While it doesn’t quite have the high-ISO ability of the H10, the TZ4 makes up for it with far greater versatility, capturing wide-angle photos of landscapes and towering landmarks that are simply impossible with the H10’s limited 38mm lens. The TZ4 is also significantly thinner and lighter than the H10.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

With its unique 28mm wide-angle lens, the TZ4 is simply the most versatile camera around in the compact ultrazoom range, and can capture wide-angle scenes that the SX110 simply can’t.

Pros
  • +
    28mm wide-angle
  • +
    Versatile 10x zoom
  • +
    Image stabilization
  • +
    Small 1.4" size
Cons
  • -
    Below-average high-ISO
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $300
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
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
3
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Customer Rating
Price $549.99
Size (W x H x D) 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 4.3 x 2.8 x 2.0 in. 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 in.
Weight (without batteries) 7.3 oz 9.3 oz 8.6 oz
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 38 mm 36 mm
?
Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
280 mm 380 mm 360 mm
Optical Zoom 10.0x 10.0x 10.0x
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
?
Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/3.5 f/2.8
?
Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.9 f/4.4 f/4.3
Battery Life 330 shots 310 shots 450 shots
High ISO quality Poor Good Average
Travel rating Good Average Average
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

The H10 is a slimmed-down version of Sony’s bigger H50 ultrazoom. With a 38-380mm (10x) zoom range, the H10 offers a wide range to zoom in on faraway wildlife or architectural details you might find while traveling, but its 38mm wide end won’t quite take in the views of towering landmarks from cramped street corners or sweeping landscapes.

Low-light performance is a above average with the H10. Equipped with an image-stabilization system and above-average high-ISO performance, the H10 can handle static subjects, like nighttime cityscapes or building interiors, just fine, although moving subjects are a bit more problematic.

At 1.9” thick, the H10 won’t be a burden to carry around and should slip into most large pockets just fine. Battery life lasts for 310 shots, which should be good for a few days of moderate use.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

The H10 and SX110 are extremely similar cameras, with the same approximate weight, size, and zoom range. What sets the cameras apart is their high-ISO performance - the H10 tends to produce cleaner images straight out of the camera, while the SX110 produces grainier but more detailed images. This makes the H10 a simpler and more convenient camera to use, although if you’re willing to spend time processing images, the SX110 is capable of even better results.

Pros
  • +
    Versatile 10x zoom,
  • +
    Image stabilization
  • +
    Above-average high-ISO
Cons
  • -
    Only 38mm wide-angle
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Size: 4.3 x 2.8 x 2.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 310 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

With a 36-360mm (10x) zoom, the Canon SX110 is a versatile camera that can cover a large variety of scenes while on travel, although its 36mm wide-angle isn’t quite wide enough for things like large landmarks or wide-ranging landscapes.

High-ISO performance on the SX110 is about average - images tend to be extremely grainy but detailed, resulting in images that are easier to process later but aren’t as clean straight out of the camera. The SX110 does feature an image-stabilized lens, however, so nighttime or indoor pictures of still subjects should turn out fine, although subjects in motion won’t be easy to capture without blur or noise.

At 1.8 in. thick, the SX110 is a fairly compact camera that should easily stow away into any bag or large pocket. The SX110 will last for 450 shots on one charge - extremely long for a compact camera and good enough to last several days even with heavy use.

Pros
  • +
    Versatile 10x zoom,
  • +
    Image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Only 36mm wide-angle
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 9.0MP
  • Size: 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.