Enthusiast, or advanced point-and-shoot, cameras are for budding photographers who have outgrown their smartphones but aren’t quite ready to take on something as big as a DSLR. Enthusiast cameras still fit in a pocket, but they’re packed with larger imaging sensors and more light-sensitive lenses, improving image quality and their ability to take better pics in low light. Here, we’re reviewing the top models available now (but if you’re looking a more advanced camera, don’t miss our reviews of mirrorless and DSLRs in our full guide on how to choose the right camera for your travel photography).
Canon PowerShot S120 ($449)
Canon’s S cameras have long been professional photographers’ choice for a compact camera to carry when they want to leave their pro gear behind. The reason for this popularity is simple: The S120 offers good image quality in a very small package. The S120 focuses and shoots quickly and has a vibrant screen with touch-screen controls, making the camera very easy to operate. An optional waterproof housing is available; it allows full control in harsh environments and works underwater to 130 feet.
Olympus Stylus XZ-2 ($599)
The Olympus Stylus XZ-2 is slightly larger and more robust than the Canon PowerShot S120 yet still pocketable. It’s a very ergonomic camera and is a joy to hold and use. The lens on the XZ-2 is razor sharp and the quality of the images straight-out-of-the-camera are exceptional. There is an optional electronic viewfinder available for the camera, as well as a waterproof underwater housing.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III ($799)
While this Sony is the priciest of the three pocketable cameras here, its large one-inch sensor and built-in viewfinder make it arguably the best value. The lens on the RX100 III is very fast and sharp and offers a nice zoom range from wide-angle to short telephoto. The camera also features built-in Wi-Fi, which makes transferring photos easy and even lets you control the camera from your smartphone using a free Sony app.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 ($899)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 would typically be categorized in a class of cameras known as superzooms or bridge cameras. Superzoom cameras tend to cram in a ton of features but sacrifice image quality in the process (that’s the reason they’re not covered in this article). The FZ1000 is different, it features the same excellent one-inch sensor found in the Sony RX100 III but with a Leica designed lens that goes from wide-angle to super-telephoto. The camera is much bigger than the other enthusiast cameras featured here, approaching the size of larger mirrorless cameras. What you get for the extra size is versatility and performance. This is a great choice for going on safari or for any trip where you’ll be wanting to shoot sports or wildlife. In competent hands, the FZ1000 will give you results that near what a $10,000, 15-pound DSLR would offer.
For further in-depth information on the cameras mentioned in this article check out www.dpreview.com.
—by Josh Laronge for wendyperrin.com
Josh Laronge is a professional photographer, photo educator and avid traveler. He’s photographed on all seven continents and his photos are published in a wide range of periodicals.
Read our full guide to the best cameras for travel photography: