Before we get ahead of ourselves, there is no best camera but there is a camera that’s best for you! How you’ll find your perfect camera is to first ask yourself; What do you want? What kind of photography do you want to shoot? What features are important to you? Based on your wants and needs, I go through the best cameras that best fit what you’re looking for. They’re also between $100-$700 to fit your budget!
Point and Shoot Cameras
These types of cameras are the most compact and the least finicky which make them easy to use and quick to learn.
Best camera that’s fast, powerful, easy to use and slips into your pocket – $448
- This camera is for you if you want a well-rounded, compact camera, that’s easy to use, and quick to whip out.
- This camera is not for you if you want to shoot macro (extreme close-up) photography.
The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 is one of the best point and shoots just under $450. It has fast shooting speeds and amazing photo & video quality so you can be sure to capture a great photo of a bird catching flight in front of you. It is known to have a slippery design so pair it with a camera strap around your neck or wrist (especially if you have butterfingers!).
Best camera that’s powerful, with built-in wifi and touchscreen – $399
- This camera is for you if you want a well-rounded, compact camera that allows you to share on the go.
- This camera is not for you if you don’t like touchscreen interfaces and want to shoot in low light situations.
If you like using the touchscreen on your phone, you’re going to like the touchscreen interface of the Canon Powershot G9 X. This camera easily slips into your pocket without it being slippery on your hands. Just like the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100, mentioned above, it also has fast shooting speeds and amazing photo & video quality, with the added bonus of built-in wifi so you can transfer your photos and videos to your phone or tablet without the use of a computer. This also makes it easy to share your photos on social media when you’re on-the-go!
Best camera for shooting in rough, wet conditions – $349.95
- This camera is for you if you like macro photography, extreme sports, are in rough conditions more often than the norm.
- This camera is not for you if you want to shoot from afar, zoom in very close, and prefer a fixed wide angle lens like the GoPro
Perfect for travelers into sports and adventure, the Olympus TG-4 is waterproof up to 50 feet, shockproof up to 7 feet, crushproof up to 220 pounds of force, dustproof, and still works in temperatures down to 14℉. It also has built-in wifi for quick sharing and has countless accessories, if you want to expand its potential, like a lens converter and an underwater flash. Because of its rugged, waterproof build, the lens can only extend as much as the camera will allow it so it has a short zoom range.
Best bang-for-your-buck camera – $88
- This camera is for you if you’re tight on a budget, don’t want to be bothered with extra features and controls, and just want a camera other than the one on your phone.
- This camera is not for you if you want to shoot in low light situations, want full 1080p HD video recording, and more creative control.
Nothing gets more beginner than the Sony Cybershot DSC-w800. It’s ridiculous how inexpensive this camera is considering its features. Inside its compact design, it has a large zoom range, so it works to shoot wide and far, an Easy mode, perfect for beginners, and minimum controls, so it’s easy to use, and charges through a micro-USB cable, so there’s no external charger to carry with you.
Best camera that’s powerful, compact, and perfect for shooting vlogs – $679
- This camera is for you if you like want a compact camera to shoot vlogs and shoot from afar or zoom in real close.
- This camera is not for you if you want a camera that’s feature-rich.
Unlike the Sony DSC-W800 we just mentioned, the Canon Powershot G7 Mark II lies on the premium end of the point and shoot camera spectrum. While not as compact as the cameras we previously mentioned, it’s still quite compact for the amazing photo & video quality it shoots. It has a 180° flip screen which makes it perfect for selfies and vlogs, and shoots up to 1080p HD at 60fps (frames per second), so if you want your viewers to feel like they’re with you on your vlogs or want to the flexibility to create slow motion videos, this camera can do it. It also has a large lens range so you can zoom in real close and still have crisp quality in your imagery. The screen can also tilt 45° downwards so you can shoot way above yourself and still see the screen.
These cameras pack a punch in terms of quality because they have larger sensors than point and shoots, and allow for more creative control. They also use interchangeable lenses which make it bigger than point and shoots but are still much lighter and compact than DSLRs because they don’t need a mirror to operate.
Best camera that’s fun, selfie-friendly, and perfect for bloggers & vloggers – $529.95 (kit lens included)
- This camera is for you if you have petite hands, like using touchscreens, vlogging, and shooting selfies.
- This camera is not for you if have large hands, butterfingers, prefer physical controls, and want to shoot in low light situations.
For a mirrorless camera, the Samsung NX Mini is incredibly slim. Created for the younger crowd, it uses a touchscreen interface, has a 180° flip screen for selfies & vlogs, films up to full 1080p HD, has a long battery life to cover a full day of vlogging, conveniently charges through a micro-USB cable, and comes in a range of pastel colors. And like any camera created for the younger crowd, it has built-in wifi to instantly share your selfies on social media! It also has fast autofocus and fun selfie features, from flawless skin processing (Beauty Face) to winking at the camera to trigger the shutter (Wink Shot), so you can trust that your selfies are always on fleek.
Best camera of great value with a balance of portability & quality – $598 (kit lens included)
- This camera is for you if you want an affordable mirrorless camera, like fast shooting, and a balance of quality and portability.
- This camera is not for you if you shoot a lot and don’t like packing extra batteries.
Incredibly fast is an accurate term to describe the Sony A6000. It shoots at fast as 11fps while autofocusing with amazing photo & video quality. It’s hard to come buy affordably-priced mirrorless cameras. With most mirrorless cameras costing at least $1000, this camera has great value considering its features like the Eye Autofocus feature, which continually focuses on the eye of your subject so your portraits are always sharp. However, it does start up slow and for a camera this size, its battery life doesn’t last that long so be sure to bring an extra battery with you.
DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras use mirrors which allow you to see what the camera sees in its viewfinder. This may or may not be an important feature for you. But because mirrors take up space and weight, they definitely aren’t as compact and light as their mirrorless counterparts. But DSLRs are perfect if you’re a photography enthusiast and excellent image quality is important to you (they have larger sensors than mirrorless cameras). The cameras below are entry-level and are as light and compact as DSLRs can get.
Best budget-friendly camera with excellent Image quality – $496.95 (kit lens included)
- This is the camera for you if you appreciate quality over portability and are an entry-level photo enthusiast.
- This is not the camera for you if you want a compact & light camera or a feature-rich DSLR
The Nikon D3400 is known for being a great beginner DSLR because of its easy-to-use interface. It’s an amazing camera that shoots fast, has excellent photo & video quality, and is budget-friendly. If bulky cameras are not an issue for you, I would prefer you invest in this DSLR rather than the mirrorless cameras I mentioned. You get much more quality for the amount you pay for. Especially since you can shoot up to 1080p HD at 60fps for videos.
Best camera to shoot videos & vlogs with excellent quality – $596.95 (kit lens & zoom lens included)
- This camera is for you if you want to shoot videos & vlogs with excellent quality.
- This camera is not for you if you have large hands, want to film with the kit lens, and like transferring images through wifi.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich version of the Nikon D3400, Nikon D5500 is the answer. One of the best beginner cameras by Nikon, this DSLR uses a touchscreen interface, has a long battery life, fast auto-focus, and a fully-articulating screen; meaning you can flip and swivel the screen! This camera also has built-in wifi which needs heavy updating and can be annoying to use. If you want to use this camera for video, don’t use the kit lens for filming because you will hear the autofocus motor moving which can make whirring sounds.
Are megapixels important? What are camera sensors?
- Cellphone camera with 20 megapixels and a small sensor > DSLR with 14 megapixels and a large sensor
- Small sensors = compact cameras with okay quality = point and shoots & cellphone cameras
- Large sensors = bigger cameras with amazing quality = mirrorless cameras & DSLRs
You might think that megapixels make a better camera, this is not always true. Brands strongly market this because people largely factor megapixels when shopping for cameras. What they don’t realize is how much more important camera sensors are than megapixels. Sensors determine how much light will create your image. So the larger the sensor, the higher-performing your camera is because larger sensors capture more detail and quality. This is what differentiates point and shoot cameras, to mirrorless cameras, to SLR cameras.
That’s what I have for the best travel cameras for beginners of 2017! As we always say, it’s about how you use the camera, not what camera you have. People often ask for a camera “that will do the magic.” I honestly don’t know what magic means to them but if they’re looking for a camera that will do the work for them, that’s not going to happen. You can have the most amazing camera in the world and still take horrible photos.
Thank you so much for reading! If you’re interested in what camera I use, you can read it here! And if you have questions about any of the cameras listed, comment below or email me to ask me! I love hearing from you! 😄
Stay tuned for my upcoming post, “Photogenic Dresses to Travel with this Summer”
Talk to you soon!
If you liked this post, check out these travel photography related posts!
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