We round up the best compact cameras for travel that we've seen over the past year, from budget tough cameras to expensive CSCs
Price as reviewed: £260
If you’re planning on taking your camera on a holiday involving a little more adventure than reading by the pool, then a tough camera is a good bet. Waterproof and shockproof, these cameras can survive the kinds of knocks delivered to them by most outdoor activities and still produce quality images.
The Canon PowerShot D30 is a good-looking camera that handles nicely, boasting a 12.1MP 1/2.3in BSI CMOS sensor and a 28-140mm equivalent lens. It’s not terribly sophisticated, with limited exposure control, but can survive in depths of up to 25m.
Price as reviewed: £280
An ideal travel compact should be a real jack of all trades, and the Canon SX700 HS certainly is that. Its 30x zoom lens is equivalent in focal range to those of the TZ60 and the HX60 (despite the SX700 being cheaper), but what impresses most is its compact size. When the lens is retracted the camera is only 35mm thick, easily slotting into a pocket or handbag.
What’s more, the SX700 has a superb image stabilisation system, which really allows you to make the most of that generous zoom range. The only real drawback is that the Wi-fi is a bit fiddly to set up and use, especially compared to the slick examples on Sony and Panasonic cameras. This is a small complaint though, and the SX700 really is an excellent travel camera for a great price.
Price as reviewed: £329
A very recent offering from Sony, the HX60V landed in a competitive market armed with a host of improvements on its predecessor the HX50, chief among which was the new Bionz X processor. The Bionz X engine gives the HX60V great operational speed and contributes to a lot of the little touches that make it a general pleasure to use. Focal speeds are sharp, low-light AF is great and images produced display an impressive dynamic range, despite the relatively small sensor.
Unlike some cameras of similar spec, the HX60V lacks a built-in EVF. You can fork out for Sony’s attachable EV1MK viewfinder, which attaches via the multi-interface tool, if you don’t mind spending an extra £309 or so (though presumably you do). Also, if you don’t require GPS you can save yourself £20 or so by instead picking up the HX60, which is otherwise identical.
Other than the lack of viewfinder though, the HX60V is a very solid travel camera.
Price as reviewed: £349
A significant improvement on its predecessor the TZ40, the Panasonic Lumix TZ60 offers a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 30x zoom optic that covers a focal range of 24-720mm in 35mm equivalent terms.
The TZ60 is a much more complete package than its predecessor and is therefore a great choice for travel – it introduces the capacity for shooting Raw + Jpeg, something we’ve wanted from Panasonic for some time.
Wi-fi is another welcome addition, a useful way to back your photos up to another device while on the move, and the example on the TZ60 really is class-leading thanks to the excellent Panasonic Image App
It’s not perfect of course – the performance at higher ISOs is a little suspect due to the over-zealous noise reduction – but the TZ60 really is one of the most complete travel compacts around.
Olympus Tough TG-3
The freshest entry in Olympus’s Tough TG series, the TG-3 is equipped with a 16MP BSI CMOS sensor, as well as the TruePic VII processor that we saw on the excellent Olympus O-MD E-M1. If you want to get up close and personal with your subjects then the TG-3 has you covered with Advanced Super Macro mode, which includes a 40x microscope mode, focus stacking and focus bracketing.
The TG-3 is shockproof from heights of 2.1 metres, crushproof to weights of 100kg, dustproof, freezeproof to -10°C and waterproof to depths of 15m. It’s a little more expensive than the D30, but if your budget can stretch then it is the superior tough camera.
Price as reviewed: £369
The inescapable big draw on the Panasonic FZ72 is the lens. The frankly ridiculous 60x zoom lens sitting smugly on the front of the FZ72 sports a focal range of 3.58-215mm, or 20-1200mm in 35mm terms. This range makes it one of the most versatile cameras around, and if you’re looking for something all-in-one in your travel camera then this is really an option worth pursuing.
While this is a great deal of space to play with, it’s worth being aware that the extreme focal length of the FZ72 does cause some image quality issues, with the processing engine having to work hard to correct optical distortion and chromatic aberration. Still, the Fx72 handles beautifully, and if you think you’ll have a use for the extreme focal range then it’s an excellent all-in-one package. Bonus points for the good battery life, too.
Price as reviewed: £370
A high-speed 16.1MP backlit EXR CMOS sensor sits at the heart of the Fujifilm F900. If you think you’ll need a camera for quick reactions on your travels then this is a solid bet – if you disable the startup screen you’re looking at a switch-on to shooting time of around 1 second. Fujifilm boasts a shutter response time of 0.05sec for the F900, and it’s also capable of burst shooting at 10fps.
If you are thinking of picking up an F900, it may also be worth investing in a spare backup battery, as many of the extra functions such as Wi-fi tend to put a rather fast drain on it. It’s also worth being aware that the AF can sometimes struggle at the telephoto end of the F900’s 20x (25-500mm, 35mm equivalent) zoom lens. It’s a very solid compact though, and at a competitive price.
Price as reviewed: £529
As compacts go, it doesn’t get much better than Canon’s G series. The PowerShot G16 follows in the footsteps of the G15 as an advanced compact with functionality to rival that of a DSLR. A 1/1.7in 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor pairs with a superb fixed 5x zoom f/1.8-2.8 lens to make for crisp, dynamic images straight out of camera.
It’s not much of an advance on the G15, but honestly it doesn’t have to be. If you’re able to splash out a little more cash on a compact then you can’t go wrong with the G16. Fast, light, packed with features and user-friendly, it’s a truly solid bet, with a price that reflects its quality.
Price as reviewed: £1,099
Representing the premium compact experience, a Fujifilm X100S is not something you buy on the cheap, but if you’ve got a need for something sophisticated, and a budget to match, then it is an absolutely superb choice. Setting aside the lovely-looking retro design that we’ve come to associate with the X series, it’s also got the hybrid viewfinder, the 16MP X-Trans CMOS sensor that pairs with the fixed 35mm prime lens to deliver exquisite images, the Intelligent Hybrid AF system and a host of other handy features.
It looks good and it handles better. The only real sticking point with the Fujifilm X100S is the price, and there’s no denying that you’re paying a lot for what you get. If you can afford it though, it’s worth it.