Considering purchasing a point & shoot digital camera for our trip. Looking for something that takes better pictures than my iPhone, has a decent optical zoom and has WiFi/Bluetooth for EASY transfer to my phone/iPad. I'm fine with auto mode/presets, but if it had some manual options that would be fine too. Any suggestions? Or should I just go with my iPhone? Thanks!
Check any of the photo magazines, Consumers Report, or google best P&S camera. You will find lots of reviews. Canon has line of small P&S camera that generally receive good evaluation, I prefer a camera takes a couple of AA or AAA batteries but those are less common.
you can also rank cameras on Amazon, and be aware it's coming up on Black Friday time so there will be sales.
maybe I'll start a flame war, but I've been shooting with cameras since the film days and frankly the phone in my current Google phone is pretty damn good and as convenient as can be. I wish it was easier to zoom and play with the flash but that's about it.
unless you're planning to print out your pix and blow them up to wall size you might find you don't gain all that much from a P&S. look at the usual suspects, Canon Nikon Sony.
My Samsung phone takes much better pictures than my Canon P&S, plus it's already in my pocket anyway. I'm no great photographer but I've been pleasantly surprised.
Check out the Panasonic Lumix line of P&S cameras.
I did a search on here because I remember several threads on this subject. Read some of these threads: https://search.ricksteves.com/?button=&date_range=1y&filter=Travel+Forum&query=point+and+shoot+cameras&utf8=%E2%9C%93.
I use a Panasonic LUMIX for all my travel photos. I love those cameras. I have been through about 5.
I just broke my most recent model on a trip to Italy - dropped it on the ground:(
I’ll be buying another one - it’s a great product.
I upload pictures most seamlessly with a little adaptor. I put the camera chip into the adaptor and plug the adaptor into my iPad and VOILA! the pictures transfer. It’s the easiest method I’ve found.
Prior to buying a point and shoot akin to your iPhone, please consider the following add ons to your iPhone:
1) filters. There is a wide array of filters (beyond UV) offering excellent enhancements to your iPhone images.
2) lens. There is also excellent choices for adding excellent lens to provide enhancements from wide angle, fish eye, macro and telephoto.
3) gimbal. A gimbal provides a steady cam tool which also allows easy management of adding an additional light and microphone. The more video you shoot the greater the value of a gimbal. Love how small and ez to manage are gimbals.
Investing in high quality lens and filters is much cheaper then buying a new camera and attachments. Plus managing the portability of these attachments is far easier due to their size.
Camera editing software. My preference is Camera Pro+2, but there is a range of choices to test and select what works best for you. I prefer to edit with my iPhone, but also download onto my Mac to be even more creative.
Study how to take a deep dive into learning to use iPhone in Manual mode for there is a galaxy of options placing you in control of your visual destiny.
I moved from highly expensive NIKON bodies and lens once I found the ability to enhance my iPhone experience via the above recommendations. I have not looked back and greatly enjoy the nimbleness of the iPhone capabilities.
The most comprehensive camera review website is here:
They have in-depth reviews and shorter summaries for non-professionals.
There are also round-ups on travel cameras and various grades of point-and-shoots.
(Don't just go by the silver and gold awards -- you have to actually read the reviews to see if something matches your situation/needs)
Editing to add: I like Canon so to just jump to the answer for best travel compact:
I can vouch for the Panasonic P & S cameras. I used to be quite the photobug, but now use the iPhone exclusively. The images are sufficient for my needs, it is always available and most importantly, the GPS data is embedded in the image file. My old Panasonic does have the GPS but it is not reliable and the camera is bulky compared to the phone. The only instance where I think I would want a “good” camera would be if I wanted long range telephoto pictures, such as on a safari, in which case I’d want a mirrorless system.
If your iPhone is not great at photos I would guess it’s an much older model. Personally, I’d upgrade my phone vs invest in a point shoot camera so you’ve got one less thing to pack and always have a good built-in camera on the go.
If it’s a newer model you struggle with, there are free videos and tutorials you can use to improve results.
My iPhone 13 Pro Max takes pictures that are excellent, in fact I no longer take my Nikon camera on trips because the iPhone is just to easy to carry and use.
I just got an iPhone 14 Pro Max and am using it in Italy right now. The pictures are significantly better than any point and shoot I have had. It takes excellent low light photos and has a telephoto lens in addition to wide angle. I believe the non Pro models do not have the telephoto. The battery life is amazing. I would highly recommend upgrading your phone over purchasing a new camera.
I have currently a Sony RX 100 vii and previously owned a IV. This is a wonderful point and shoot with lots of both auto, manual and other modes. While it is pricey, it has excellent photo quality, a large sensor and fits in your pocket or purse. Highly recommend!! Easy to maneuver controls. It has a zoom of 28-200.
This is a fortuitous time to be thinking about this since there should be a number of sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last spring I got a Canon EOS 200D for our trip. Periodically Canon puts this camera on sale refurbished on their website (generally just returned purchases, nothing wrong with them, although they inspect and make any repairs if needed). It has a sensor much larger than on a cellphone and even a bit larger than the micro 4/3rds cameras. This lets the camera take low-light pictures (inside museums and churches for example) without blur or noise. The camera is jacket-pocket size. A review is at https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canon-eos-m200-review
If you're just interested in taking daylight snapshots then a cellphone is probably fine, but I appreciate having a camera that can do a bit more.
X2 on the Sony Rx100 VII. I have an earlier version III and have recommended the then current version to many, many people for the last 6 years. It is a great camera for travel and the 1” sensor will give much better results than a phone, provided you intend to view the photos on something other than a computer screen.
Yes. The iPhone 14 Pro take amazing photos and looks like it's from a camera.
I am with you. I consider my iphone my most important item. It is so many different items to me. It is the last thing I want to lose or break when on a trip. I keep it safe and put away. I don’t want to be waving it around taking pictures, and I much prefer viewfinders. I would much rather lose my camera (or passport) than my phone.
For travel I have a Canon G1X. It has all the features of my DSLR, but is light and small. It also transfers photos from the camera via wifi. My husband has a Fujifilm x100v for his solution. The colors from his camera are lovely…but I like mine. LOL
I used to be a proponent of a "real" camera. Unless you are a hobbyist and invest in a higher end (ie expensive) camera, you will be much better off with a new good smartphone. The camera tech in smartphones is far superior to most cameras, in particular point and shoots. Phone companies are very competitive and carrying out lots of R&D to upgrade and sell millions of smartphones every six to twelve months. On the other hand, camera models are only selling in the thousands and can stay the same for years. iPhones, Pixels, Samsung etc all make great camera-phones. The new smartphones have night sight modes which can take amazingly sharp photos in very dim conditions. One less thing to carry and a camera cannot tell you where is the nearest restroom.
Retired pforessional photographer here.
Couple of things:
1. Losing one's phone would be a freakin' disaster.
2. I carry a camera when traveling because waiving around my phone every time I want a snapshot is just nuts.
3. If you have an old phone or, say, an old iPod Touch, you can use it as your camera and keep your real phone securely stashed away. You're familiar with the controls and software and you will have a charging system with you.
4. Buying a travel camera is far more difficult than you might think. You can't really go anywhere and play with them like in the olden days. All the camera shops are closed. BEstBuy has no inventory. Costco doesn't sell cameras any longer.
5. Travel point'n'shoot cameras are $200-$2,000 from little knockoffs to Zeiss-equipped Lumix and Nikon.
6. When I got my tiny Sony last year, it was the ONLY camera available; everything else was out of stock EVERYWHERE, with no foreseeable delivery estimates. (I wanted a little waterproof Nikon, no such luck.) The Sony is diminutive and the controls are eensy weensy.
7. You can't really buy just a basic camera. Like phones, today's cameras are stuffed full of ridiculous capabilities and useless and over the top functions.
8. You will want a tether or a neck strap so the camera is instantly available, maybe an extra chip, maybe an extra battery.
9. You should plan to carry the camera everywhere with you for a few weeks or months before your trip so you're taking tons of photos of everything and everyone, getting familiar with every function and doodad you think you will ever need, trasferring images to your phone or cloud storage, and then deleting 90% of them, since they're just practice shots.
Put the cash into the best iPhone you can afford - it's performance will eclipse any P&S you'll be wanting to spend your money on. Gosh, anyone who has an iPhone 7 and up can attest to great quality snaps.
I just got back from a week in London using the camera in my Pixel phone and I would put the quality of those pictures up against anyone's, short of a pro using a DSLR with a prime lens.
They're just vacation pictures! And if you ever read a travel mag like T&L or CN Traveler, they publish full page full color versions of tourist's cellphone pix and guess what? They are just fine.
Panasonic Lumix or Sony RX series.
I buy my gear at Mikes Cameras. It’s the only bricks and mortar camera store that was near my home. You can check out their website. You may have a good camera store closer. Forging a relationship with a camera store is invaluable.
Photos are important to me. A “real” camera gives you more options. Bogiesan made some good points.
Hint. The wifi transfer method may not work very well. If you have a new iPad with a usb c, buy a card reader on Amazon. It will download photos much faster and more reliably..
Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Pixel series phones surpassed our best point-an-shoot cameras and have continued to evolve and get better. The 7 Pro includes standard, wide-angle, and zoom lenses. The iPhone 14 Pro has similar lenses, comes close in image quality (and surpasses in some ways such as portrait mode) and has the same benefits:
-lenses at least as good as point-and-shoot cameras
-image sensors superior to most point-and-shoot cameras
-AI digital processing not available in any camera
-immediate backup (if you have international data)
-quick backup on Wi-Fi
-a common (or multiple if you configure it) cloud locations
-the ability to quickly catalog (and share, if you want) photos
-GPS location data in your image meta-data (for future reference)
-some nifty editing tools
The last time we felt the need to bring a separate camera along was in 2014.
If you are a photography buff (I once was), by all means, follow Steven's advice!
If you are trying to "capture the moment" or document the trip for scrapbook memories (digital or otherwise), skip the camera and use the computer in your pocket that already likely holds your guidebooks and digital tickets. If you are afraid of theft, keep your old phone for a backup - all your data is in the cloud (hopefully multiple clouds).
I highly recommend Panasonic's Lumix. Cell phone cameras are ok for stationary images during the day, but not as good when it's dark or when the object is moving. Also, cell phone cameras have a lower shutter speed--which may mean that you can't capture something on the spur of the moment.
I have used both high end Pixel and Samsung, which have these shortcomings, as well as potential software issues. I missed some shots when the camera software got stuck or became frozen. Bumper.
Also, as mentioned above, using a cell phone as a camera means that you have to expose the phone more often, leading to greater chance of theft.
"Cell phone cameras are ok for stationary images during the day, but not as good when it's dark or when the object is moving."
I would disagree with this. With an SLR or bridge camera, you would need expensive large aperture lenses or long exposure times usually with a tripod to get a well exposed night shot without handheld blur. It takes skill and effort:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1CEp4K6S3cM Notice the 30 second exposure times!
Cellphones like the newer iPhones and Pixels have amazing night modes, technology not found in traditional cameras. When you put the smartphone in a night mode setting, it will take a about a dozen shots of the scene with the one push of the shutter (it may take a second or two) and the AI processor will re-combine all the shots to come up with a one great night shot. You can do this without a tripod because during the processing it discards any blurred portions of the photo as it creates the final image. I have taken photos similar to those in the above YouTube video using my handheld Pixel3a.
Taking photos of moving object is always difficult. Many point-and-shoots and all smartphones have shutter lag. You push the shutter and by the time the shot is taken, the subject may move out of frame. You have to be more predictive, shoot where subject will be, not where it was. My Pixel3a (and iPhone probably) has a setting called "Top Shot". When I press the shutter, it will take a short burst or video of 6 to 12 shots of the moving subject. You can then go back and then select the best one. The cellphone will even recommend what it thinks is the best shot.
If you have a decent photographer who knows what he is doing, the same images that he takes with both a bridge camera and an iPhone will be of high quality and almost indistinguishable. The vast majority of people, except knowledgable and picky photogs, will not be able to tell the difference between the two.
There are two things you can do to vastly improve your photography without going out and buying an expensive camera or the newest whizbang iPhone.
The first thing is to improve your technique. Take notice that there is a horizon and that there is no slope or tilt to the ocean. Learn how to use exposure compensation to deal with strong backlighting or bad lighting. Use zoom or use your feet to zoom to get better composition. See if there are any distractions in your image, e.g. strangers, garbage cans etc. before you push the shutter. If you improve your photographer's eye, your photos will improve. Also, review your image; if it is bad, delete and take another one before walking away!
The second thing is to learn how to do post processing. You can rotate the image so that the ocean looks level. You can adjust the colour, brightness, contrast and sharpening. You can crop the photo. You can even erase strangers or objects in the background. There are many other things you can do to turn an average photo into a piece of art. Almost all those hero shots in magazines and posters have been manipulated and improved by post processing.
I try my best to improve the first thing because I do not have the time or patience to do much of the second thing.
- Losing one's phone would be a freakin' disaster.
- ...waiving around my phone every time I want a snapshot is just nuts.
IMO, 1. Agree, 2. Disagree. Look around. The vast majority of people, tourist or locals, have their phone in their hand, talking, searching, reading and listening all while walking, sitting, and even drinking and eating. This is the new norm. I would submit that not having to fumble around with a second device like a camera (or extra lenses, tripod, camera bag) will leave a hand free and your phone would be more secure. Just put a wrist strap or lanyard on your phone and you should be fine.
Upgrade your phone. To get a better point and shoot you'll spend as much as it costs to upgrade.