Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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October 6, 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 Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd

Though they’re both ultrazoom cameras, the TZ4 and S1000fd cover significantly different ranges - the S1000fd’s 396mm lens gives you much more reach when zooming end, while the TZ4’s 28mm wide-angle will do a better job of taking in the whole scene. Generally for travel photography, the wide-angle is used much more than the telephoto end, so the TZ4 is the better choice. The TZ4 also features an image-stabilized lens, making it a better performer in low-light.

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.

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 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
Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150
Customer Rating
Price $300.00
Size (W x H x D) 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 4.0 x 2.9 x 2.7 in. 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in
Weight (without batteries) 7.3 oz 11.5 oz 5.0 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 33 mm 30 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
280 mm 396 mm 150 mm
Optical Zoom 10.0x 12.0x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes No Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/2.8 f/3.3
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.9 f/5.0 f/5.2
Battery Life 330 shots 300 shots 400 shots
High ISO quality Poor Average Average
Travel Rating Good Average Average
2
Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd

When it comes to travel, versatility is the key, and there aren’t many budget cameras on the market with the capabilities of the Fuji S1000fd. Featuring a big 33-396mm (12x) zoom range, the S1000fd can cover faraway subjects and also zoom out for moderately wide-angle photos of large buildings or landscapes as well.

The weak point of the S1000fd is its low-light ability, which is below-average. High-ISO performance and the f/2.8-5.6 aperture are ordinary, so low-light photos will look a bit noisy and it’ll be difficult to freeze any fast action. The S1000fd also lacks the shake-reducing image stabilization found on many other cameras.

At 325 grams (11.5 oz) and 2.7” thick, the S1000fd isn’t really compact, but it’s still small enough to throw into a big backpack for travel. Battery life lasts for 300 shots, which should be enough for several days of moderate use.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-W150

The W150 doesn’t have the same large zoom range that the S1000fd, but makes up for this with a much smaller size and image stabilization that gives it better low-light performance. If you’re mostly shooting in daylight, the S1000fd’s greater versatilty makes it a better camera, but if you’re expecting to shoot in mostly low-light situations or if you’d rather travel light, the W150 is actually the better choice.

Pros
  • +
    Large 12x zoom range
  • +
    Moderate 33mm wide-angle
Cons
  • -
    No image stabilization
  • -
    Large size
Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Size: 4.0 x 2.9 x 2.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 300 shots
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com
3
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.

Pros
  • +
    30mm wide-angle
  • +
    Image stabilization
  • +
    Small 0.9" size
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 is one of the Best 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
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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