traveling camera bear

They say the best camera is the one you have with you (even if it’s just a smartphone) but chances are if you haven’t upgraded in a while, all of these point and shoot cameras will improve your travel photos. There are a number of advantages to traveling with compact camera in addition to your phone – much better low light photos, expandable storage up to 256GB dedicated to pictures and video, plus superior optical zoom.

These are the best point and shoot cameras of 2014, though if you’re on the market for a DSLR I recommend you check out the gear some of my favorite travel bloggers are using.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS 40 (TZ 60 Outside Of North America)
lumix dmc zs 40
So much of the Lumix line is great and the Lumix ZS 40 is a solid improvement on the Lumix ZS 30, my pick for best travel camera in 2013. The Leica lens still gives you very wide angles for a point and shoot (24-720mm) but this time around increases the optical zoom by 33%, magnifying images up to 30x. Image stabilization has been enhanced and the ability to take RAW photos is there if you’re serious about photo editing. Battery life remains excellent, the rechargeable giving over 600 shots in my tests (80% daylight/20% flash use). I should also mention that when the camera is off it holds charge for weeks.

panasonic lumix dmc zs 40Panasonic DMC-ZS40K Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)

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The one weakness of the Lumix ZS 40 is its low light video; although shot in Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) you can see here it’s not the brightest. It’s a bump up from the ZS 30, but not by much.

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Sony RX 100III

The Sony RX100 III doesn’t have nearly the impressive zoom of the Lumix ZS 40 (only 70mm) but gives you the same wide angles at 24mm; a feature you’ll find hard to go without once you have it. Sony does however make damn good sensors and the RX100 III is no exception; low light photos seem to turn out brighter than most of the competition. Video is great as is the camera’s start up time. The Sony RX100 III is a bit delicate but if you want some of the absolute best photos a compact can take – and willing to pay a bit more for it – this is probably the camera for you.

sony rx100 IIISony DSC-RX100M III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera

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Olympus Tough TG-850

The Olympus Tough TG-850 isn’t a pretty camera but as the name says, it is tough. You can drop the TG-850 from about 2.1 meters (~7 feet) and it dives down to about 10 meters (~33 feet) which is pretty impressive for a camera at this price point. Although you can get wider angles down to 21mm with an Olympus Tough TG-3 or find more compact with a GoPro HERO4, this is the most durable camera you can get on a tight travel budget.

olympus tough 850Olympus Stylus TG-850 IHS 16 MP Digital Camera (Black)

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Canon has been sitting on the Powershot 16 for over a year now, it’s a thicker camera geared toward photography enthusiasts that takes vivid pictures even in automatic mode. It’s overdue for an update but worth taking a look at if you’re prone to tinkering with camera knobs. The Olympus Stylus 1 is the biggest of the bunch mentioned but a good choice to look at if you’re dipping your toes into DSLR waters.

No matter what camera you’re packing you can take better travel pictures with it, avoid the black and white setting to take amazing monochrome photos, and get the best sunset photos we all love to take.