The Best Travel Cameras Under $300
There are plenty of “Best Cameras For Travel” lists out there. Most of them aren’t all that great – so we’ve tried to write a better guide while keeping a budget in mind. We’ve used tons of cameras available today and we’ve written a brief summary for each of our favorites. Consider this your guide to the best travel cameras under $300.
Our goal is to showcase each cameras individual strength and weakness. Because when it comes to travel, taking pictures of your experiences will make them last a lifetime, so it’s critical you get the right advice.
Why is this Guide to The Best Travel Cameras Under $300 Better?
We get it. Your camera plays an important roll in capturing those special moments.
Choosing a camera is an extremely personal decision though– it’s not just the picture quality that matters but the size, build quality, and ergonomics. Purchase a camera that isn’t great, and you’ll be left wanting.
With all that said, it’s important to vet the advice you get before deciding.
Here’s why we believe this guide is better than others online:
- We explain what makes each camera great. You may not have heard of all these cameras, but that’s because they’re either newer or are hidden gems. Most guides just list a few cameras without much rationale.
- We evaluate which cameras are best for different needs. Everyone has different requirements; knowing who each camera is designed for makes it easier to find the perfect match for you.
- We genuinely want you to be happy with your purchase. We know how hard it can be to pick out the right gear. Countless hours and meticulous research can still leave you scratching your head. Take comfort in knowing, we’re here to help.
Who is this Guide for?
This guide is written for anyone looking for guidance in selecting a camera for travel with budget-friendly picks preferred.
Like most purchases, you generally get what you pay for with cameras. That means, what’s said about a particular camera is relative to its price point. Don’t expect a $100 camera to compete effectively against a $500+ model (this is starter-DSLR territory). Every product has it’s own unique offerings.
With that said, we’ve chosen the best cameras from the affordable price range, and feel these cameras will suit the needs of a traveler who wants to take a great shot without breaking the bank.
Key Features to Look for in a Travel Camera
- Price: More expensive offerings will sound better. But, if you’re traveling there’s always an increased risk of damaging your camera.
- Battery Life: Nothing’s worse than setting out for a day of travels and your camera only makes it half the day!
- Portability: Some cameras aren’t designed with portability in mind – if they’re big, clunky, or difficult to pack they’re not a good choice. Luckily, most at this price point (<$300) are relatively small in size, and perfect for travel.
- Picture Quality:
- Megapixels (MP): Megapixels are all of the tiny little dots that collectively make up your picture. This used to be more important in the past, when cameras had far less MP capabilities, but now even cheaper cameras have sufficient enough megapixels. Consider any camera with 10mp and up good enough.
- Aperature: This is a hole that controls the amount of light the camera will receive, and it is measured in ‘f stops’, such as f/4, f/2.8. The lower the number the better your camera will perform in low-light. It’s also worth noting that a smaller aperature will increase your depth of field, or the amount of the picture that is in focus (this is helpful in a landscape shot, where you would want the foreground and background both in focus). Conversely, a larger aperature will allow for blurring of a background, with a foreground subject in focus.
- Zoom: This can go either way. Some find zoom to be critical, others not so much. This is mostly dependent on your photography style, since your using it for travel (things like landscapes, monuments, etc) it may not be of utmost importance. Optical zoom is always preferred over digital zoom.
- Image Stabilization: Stabilization is critical, especially when dealing with cameras in this price range. All cameras listed below have image stabilization.
- Extra Features:
- Video: It’s always great when a camera has a video option available, you never know when you’ll want to capture live moments.
- Wi-Fi: Allows you to quickly upload photos or videos.
- Weather-proofing: Depending on where you’re traveling (and what activities you’re taking part in), weather-proofing may be something to consider
Olympus TG-860 Tough
Pros: Lots of extra features
Cons: Suffers in artificial light
Weight: 8 ounces
The TG-860 is the adventurers camera on a budget.
Loaded with extra features: Wi-Fi, GPS, Video, Waterproof (to 50ft.), Shockproof (7 ft.), Freezeproof (14°F), and a Flip LCD, it’s a fun camera to have along that can handle rough treatment.
We like the picture quality of the TG-860, and feel it excels best outdoors with landscape shots. Another conveinent pro about the TG-860 is its fast start up speed. I can’t count how many times I’ve missed a photo because the camera was too slow to start up. Fun added features like Wi-Fi allow you to transfer photos to devices/computers with ease, and GPS allows you to record the exact location where the photo was snapped.
Although ‘Auto’ is sufficient enough to snap a quick pic, we feel that it takes some tinkering with the settings to truly get the best from this camera.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
Pros: High image quality
Cons: Heaviest on the list
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Panasonic has hit another home-run with the Lumix DMC-FZ200.
This super-zoom camera is a standout in its class and our favorite camera on the list. With an f/2.8 aperature across its entire zoom range, full HD-video, good image stability, and great image quality, it might be easy to confuse the FZ200 with a higher end camera. Other notable features are fast shooting, easy use for beginners, and an audio socket for an external microphone. Despite being the heaviest on the list, and unable to fit inside a pocket, it’s still 2/3 the size of a DSLR camera.
Although it is within a beginner’s price point, quality places the FZ200 between a beginner’s camera and that of a professional one.
Canon PowerShot N
Cons: Short battery life
Weight: 6.9 ounces
The Powershot N is the traveler’s little sidekick.
With just a 3 inch width and 1.15 depth, this little guy fits as much camera as possible in a little package. A great pocket camera, the Powershot N has Wi-Fi for image upload/sharing, a touch LCD, HD video, and surprisingly decent image quality considering its low price-point. Something to keep in mind if this is your camera of choice, is that it only accepts micro SD cards.
We would have liked to see a longer battery life on the Powershot N, but an extra battery in your pack solves this problem.
If small size is a must, with image quality above that of an iPhone, the Powershot N is your camera.
Canon PowerShot SX530
Cons: No electronic viewfinder
Weight: 15.5 ounces
50x optical zoom, 16 MP, fantastic battery life, Wi-Fi, large LCD, and HD video makes the SX530 a great travel companion.
The clear standout feature of this camera is its incredible zoom, WHILE maintaining clarity and limiting distortion. Furthermore, the camera’s image stabilization, as well as deep handgrip, help greatly with getting that clear shot. The Sx530 really excels at capturing far away subjects, as well as landscape shots.
Like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, the SX530 is among the larger cameras on the list – something to keep in mind while traveling. But with this trade off in size, you get things like higher image quality, and longer battery life.
Cons: Small sensor
Weight: 9.8 ounces
Under $200, the WB350F makes sharing fun and simple.
Convenience is king with the WB350F with the ability to easily share to a device or social network for future editing without breaking a stride. We like its ‘retro’ design with leather-like exterior, which gives it a great feel in hand, and adds a bit of sturdiness to the body. Considering price and sensor size, images don’t have a lot of noise and the video quality is pretty good.
Considering the price, quality, zoom, and in-camera features, the WB350F is a no-brainer for travelers.