Climb Mountains with My Best Top 3 Travel Cameras

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Get out there with my best top 3 travel camera picks. It’s a big world out there and if you want to capture it, I’ve honed in on the best picks for travel cameras out there. It’s not an easy choice, but I’m hoping this will help you out.

Consumers today have access to hundreds of different types of digital cameras with the options including traditional compact cameras based upon smaller sensors, mirror-less DSLR cameras, and traditional DSLR cameras.  These different options also span all price points and often the capabilities often overlap making the decision-making process even more challenging when trying to select the appropriate camera.  This decision process is especially difficult when selecting a camera suitable for domestic or internationals travel. 

When looking at the best travel cameras available, it is important for the consumer to look at the features of the camera closely with an emphasis being on image quality, size and weight, as well as any other critical requirements. While some may elect to use the cameras on their phones, many savvy travelers will want to use a dedicated camera to capture their latest travel adventure, which could be as short as a quick weekend away or a trip of a lifetime that goes on for months.  True cameras allow much more creative control over the image than the best cameras found on the best smartphone on the market today.

Travel Lighter?

As the old saying goes, “the best camera is the one you have with you”!  Most people when they travel opt to go with a smaller and lighter camera, which eliminates the excuse not to have a camera with them at all times. In my extensive traveling experience, I opt to leave my pro level camera body and lens at home, instead taking a smaller compact camera, which I carry all of the time when traveling.  Try walking around in the heat of Southeast Asia all day with a full pro level kit and you will see the light so to speak!

While there are a number of cameras that meet the needs of today’s traveler, the Olympus Tough TG-4, Nikon D3300 and Sony RX100 IV are the three that really set themselves apart from the rest of the field.  Now let’s take a look at each of these cameras in detail.

Olympus Tough TG-4

As one would expect from any camera named the Olympus Tough TG-4, this camera is very robust in its build quality and is designed to absorb the type of punishment that would be encountered on a family vacation.  The camera is waterproof at depths up to 50’, as well as shockproof and crushproof.

While these features are very impressive, the TG-4 also has decent image quality for a camera using a small sensor, which measures 6.17mm x 4.55mm.   Images are captured at 16.0 megapixels and are recorded on either a single SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card.  The lens, which has an optical zoom, is the 35mm equivalent of a 25mm – 100mm lens.  This is a very useful focal length that captures both moderate wide angle and zoom ranges.  As with other cameras, the TG-4 is capable of shooting HD video as well.

Although the camera does not have a viewfinder, the TG-4 is equipped with both GPS and WIFI capabilities.  In addition, it also has a user defined C1 and C2 setting which will allow the photographer to store their preferred camera settings by simply turning the dial!  This is useful to store optimal settings for the types of subjects that one would encounter while traveling.

Weighing in an 8.7 ounces, the camera measures 4.4” x 2.6” x 1.2”making it an ideal size and weight for travel.  I could not image not having this camera when traveling to the beach for vacation.  It is also quite a bargain at $349.00.  The table below summarizes key specifications of the Olympus Tough TG-4.

Specification Olympus Tough TG-4
Year Introduced 2015
Type Compact
Megapixels 16.0
Sensor Size 6.17mm x 4.55mm
Native ISO Range 100 – 6,400
Shutter Speed Range 1/2,000 – 4 Seconds
View Finder No
Built In Flash Yes
35mm Lens Equivalent 25mm – 100mm
Video Type Full HD
GPS Yes
WIFI Yes
Size 4.4’ x 2.6” x 1.2”
Weight 8.7 Ounces
Unique Features Highly Durable, Waterproof, Crushproof, Shockproof, C1 & C2 Custom Settings
Why It Is Good For Travel Waterproof At Depths Up To 50’
Price $349.00 (For the latest prices and discounts.)

Nikon D3300

The Nikon D3300 is the only DSLR camera in the lineup of the “Top 3 Travel Cameras”.  Based on a larger 23.5mm x 15.5mm CMOS sensor, the image quality of the D3300 is excellent and is captured at 24.2 megapixels.  In addition, this sensor also has exceptional low light capabilities, with a native ISO range of 100 – 12,800.

One of the nice features of the D3300 is the bright optical viewfinder on the camera, which also provides real time data on the image being shot, as well as 11 autofocus points that are evenly distributed in the viewfinder.  Although the D3300 does not have built in GPS or WIFI, these features are possible as an optional unit, which is plugged into the camera.

Typically the D3300 is sold as a single “kit”, which includes a AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens or as a two lens “kit” that includes a AF-S DX 55-200 f/4.5-5.6 ED VR II lens in addition to the 18-55mm.  While the two-lens kit is appealing, the better option would to go with the single lens kit and add an AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. This option would provide excellent low light capabilities in a low weight lens with a 35mmm equivalent of 52.5mm, which is very close to a normal lens.

The D3300, which can also shoot full HD video, the body is light at 14.5 ounces and measures a mere 4.9” x 3.9” x 3.0”.  At a suggested retail price of $399.99, the D3300 is quite a bargain for such an advanced DSLR camera and is an excellent travel camera that cannot be beat in performance and handling. The table below summarizes key specifications of the Nikon D3300.

Specification Nikon D3300
Year Introduced 2014
Type DSLR
Megapixels 24.2
Sensor Size 23.5mm x 15.5mm
Native ISO Range 100 – 12,800
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds
View Finder Yes; Optical
Built In Flash Yes
35mm Lens Equivalent 27mm – 82.5mm
Video Type Full HD
GPS Optional Accessory
WIFI Optional Accessory
Size 4.9” x 3.9” x 3.0”
Weight 14.5 Ounces
Unique Features Outstanding Image Quality, Variety of Lens Available
Why It Is Good For Travel Various Lens Options, Very High Resolution
Price $399.95 (For the latest prices and discounts.)

Sony RX100 IV

The next camera in the lineup of “The Top 3 Travel cameras is the Sony RX100 IV, which is based upon a 1” sensor, which measures 13.2mm x 8.8mm.  Capable of shooting video in the 4K format, the RX100 IV captures images at 20.1 megapixels and is a very technically advanced camera that weighs 10.51 ounces and only measures 4.0” x 2.4” x 1.6”.  The image quality and size are the best features of the RX100 IV, as it is a very powerful camera that can easily fit into the pocket of your favorite jeans.

One of the unique features of the camera is its pop-up electronic viewfinder, which is quite unique to a camera of this size.  The finder is stored into the camera body when not in use, but can quickly be deployed when needed.  Travelers will find this finder very useful when shooting outdoors when the rear LCD display is not visible due to bright sunlight.

In addition, the RX100 IV uses a very good Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar f/1.8-2.8 Lens, which provides an optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 24-70mm.  The camera has excellent low light capabilities with a native ISO range of 125 – 12,800.  While the camera has excellent technical specifications and image quality, it is also the most expensive of the “Top 3 Travel Cameras”, with a suggested retail price of $948.00.  The table below summarizes key specifications of the Sony RX100 IV.

Specification Sony RX100 IV
Year Introduced 2015
Type High-End Compact
Megapixels 20.1
Sensor Size 13.2mm x 8.8mm
Native ISO Range 125 – 12,800
Shutter Speed Range 1/32,000 – 30 Seconds
Built-In Flash Yes
View Finder Yes; Electronic Pop Up
35mm Lens Equivalent 24-70 (Optical)
Video Type 4k
GPS No
WIFI Yes
Size 4.0” x 2.4” x 1.6”
Weight 10.51 Ounces
Unique Features View Finder; Excellent Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar f/1.8-2.8 Lens
Why It Is Good For Travel Light Weight & Compact; Excellent Image Quality & Colors
Price $948.00 (For the latest prices and discounts.)

The Final Frame — Get Out There!

Any one of these cameras would make an excellent choice for any traveler looking for a lightweight and smaller sized camera that produces excellent image quality.  In addition, they are much more capable than the cameras found in the latest smart phones and are much more easy to travel with in comparison to a full professional grade kit loaded with a variety of lens.  These smaller compact and DSLR cameras put the fun back into travel photography and allow a great deal of freedom and options when traveling.  I know I am glad that I went smaller with my travel camera!

 

 

 

 

Robert Alexander
 

A camera geek and freelance photographer, Robert (Aka "Rob" or "Bob") spends way too much time examining the finer points of cameras.

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