The Best Vacation Camera Choices of 2017

camera on the road

What's the best vacation camera for me?

For many, having the best vacation camera possible in tow before departing on an adventure is an absolute must. After all, what good is it having a device that freezes moments in time if it's inaccessible during your happiest moments?

Of course, no two journeys are exactly alike. There's no such thing as a camera that's perfect for any and all situations. But don't panic. With hundreds of options available, there are cameras designed to cater to just about every sort of photographer around.

In addition, we've gone through the trouble of researching eight of the best vacation camera options from a variety of manufacturers and determining which vacation scenarios they'd fare best in. All you have to do is determine your dream destination and read on.

For the Family Videographer:

Nikon D810 (w/ 24-120mm lens)

 

Nikon D810 (w/ 24-120mm lens) vacation camera

Nikon D810 Vacation Camera

Chances are, if you do own a camcorder, it's collecting dust in a closet or cabinet – after all, most of us have smartphones capable of capturing video resting conveniently in a purse or pocket. But, if you're looking to upgrade your home movie footage, the Nikon D810 is a great place to start.

Additionally, over the past decade, camera manufacturers have been integrating video capabilities into their products. In fact, it's difficult to find a camera that doesn't include video recording options. Among hundreds of competing models, the D810 shines.

  • This DSLR packs professional grade video and audio capabilities, sporting a 36.3 MP CMOS sensor for astounding fidelity.
  • Also, It records its surroundings in 1080p HD at 60, 50, 30, 25, or 24 frames per seconds, making it easy to grab high quality imagery exactly as you'd like it.

With budding videographers in mind, Nikon's implemented a few neat features to further enhance the video making experience. For instance, the ISO auto adjust option allows users to seamlessly switch between dark and light areas without the risk of over or underexposing footage.

Also included is Power Iris Control, which smoothly adjusts the camera's aperture to allow in light or alter the compositions depth of field while filming. Equipped with 3.2″ LCD panel, it's possible to get a live view of what the camera is picking up, ensuring that your best moments translate beautifully into film.

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR w/ 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens
252 Reviews
Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR w/ 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens
  • 36.3 MP FX-format CMOS sensor without an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF)
  • 30% faster EXPEED 4 image processing engine
  • 51-point AF system and 3D Color Matrix metering III with a 91,000-pixel RGB sensor
  • ISO 64-12,800 expandable to 51,200
  • Featuring a new RAW Small Size option, which produces 16MP images with much smaller file sizes

For Backpackers, Hikers, and Nature Enthusiasts

Pentax K-3 (w/ 18-135mm kit lens)

Pentax K-3 (w/ 18-135mm kit lens) vacation camera

Pentax K-3 Vacation Camera

Few things are more relaxing than getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a camera in tow. Also prepared for taking on the great outdoors, the Pentax K-3 is a perfect match for those hoping to record escapades far from the comfort of civilization.

Whats more, this midrange camera isn't quite as fragile as some of the more expensive and advanced models on the market. Additionally, with a weather sealed magnesium alloy body, it can take on the elements. The K-3 also has a temperature resistant design, meaning that the extreme cold or heat won't prevent it from functioning properly.

Storage Space

Users don't have to worry about running out of storage space – Pentax includes dual SD card slots. And, for longer adventures, the K-3 battery is long-lasting. On average, the camera can capture 560 images with a single charge. To top it all off, this DSLR is available for purchase well under $1000.

The perks certainly don't end there. With 24 MP resolution, the image quality is on par with high end DSLRs. For vacationers that plan on spending their free time enjoying the beauty of nature, I recommend ordering the 18-135mm kit lens along with the body as a best vacation camera choice.

In addition, the wide angle is perfect for capturing sprawling landscapes, while longer focal lengths can be useful for spur of the moment portrait making and wildlife photography.

Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
176 Reviews
Pentax K-3 lens kit w/ 18-135mm WR 24MP SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch TFT LCD and 18-135mm WR f 3.5-5.6 (Black)
  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, selectable on/off of anti-aliasing filter
  • 8.3 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 27-point AF system with 25 cross sensors and 3 low-light AF sensors
  • ISO 80-51,200
  • 1080 60p/50p/30p/24p HD video (H.264)

Below are some vacation camera choices that fit every occasion:

For Families with Children:

Canon G9X

Canon G9X vacation camera

Canon G9X Perfect Camera for Children to use.

Almost as important as sharing experiences with your family is capturing the memories. Most parents are eager to make visual records of the happiest moments spent with their children, and ideally everyone wants to capture those moments in as much detail as possible. However, any parent will also tell you that accidents are bound to happen with children around. With some of the best cameras selling for thousands of dollars, it makes sense why many families are hesitant to invest.

DIGIC Processor

Luckily, the $399 Canon G9x is an option that's both affordable and offers impeccable results. The 20.2 MP CMOS sensor is highly sensitive, working in conjunction with a DIGIC 6 image processor to provide high quality photographs.

Additionally, despite only weighing a little over 7 ounces, it's advanced enough to capture beautiful 1080p HD footage. It's slim enough to fit inside a pocket, yet manages to retain some of the luxuries commonly found on higher end DSLRs, such as a touch automated LCD screen.

Durable enough to withstand bumps, bruises, and falls thanks to its superior build, it really is an excellent choice for a family vacation. When working in conjunction with the Camera ConnectApp, it's even possible to get a photograph of everyone in your group with the help of a remote shooting function.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD (Black)
165 Reviews
Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD (Black)
  • 1.0-inch, 20.2 Megapixel* High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor combined with Canon's powerful DIGIC 6 Image Processor creates the Canon HS SYSTEM for outstanding low-light performance up to ISO 12800, enhanced image quality and fast operation
  • Ultra-slim, lightweight and pocket-size camera with intuitive LCD touch panel that has an improved user interface, which allows for quick and easy setting changes even while taking a picture
  • Capture stunning 1080p Full HD video (60p/30p/24p options) for lifelike images and convenient playback on an HDTV via the HDMI output. Record at up to 60 frames per second for even more detailed, superb results in MP4 format
  • Easily transfer images and videos to a compatible smartphone, tablet or Canon Connect Station CS100 device with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capability, and share on social networking sites or view on an HDTV
  • Continuous shooting speeds of up to 6.0 fps helps capture dynamic movements of fast moving subjects

For a Day Relaxing by the Water:

Olympus TG-4

Olympus TG-4 vacation camera

Olympus TG-4 Waterproof Vacation Camera

 

For dedicated photographers, a day at the beach can be anything but relaxing. Of course, everyone wants to photograph family and friends splashing around and sunbathing. However, even the smallest amount of moisture can wreak havoc on most digital cameras. Sand poses an even greater threat. Tiny pieces of debris that we may other wise overlook can easily make their way inside of cameras, often causing permanent damage.

That's where the Olympus TG-4 comes in. Though it may not sport some of the cutting edge features of other cameras, it makes up for any shortcomings with its sheer durability.

Waterproof

For those enjoying beach-side or lakefront getaways, the fact that the waterproof device functions at depths of 50 feet is particularly enticing. Furthermore, the TG-4 features a dust-proof sealing that all but eliminates the possibility of minuscule debris slipping through the camera's cracks. Users can also take comfort in the fact that this model can withstand falls of 7 feet, function in temperatures as low as 14°F, and endure 220 lbs of weight without any risk of being crushed.

Additionally, at 3.1 x 2.7 x 4.1 inches, this tank is small enough to easily slip into a beach bag or backpack. And thanks to its engineering, there's no need to take up extra space with protective casings.

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red (V104190RU000)
46 Reviews
Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red (V104190RU000)
  • New 12MP Hi-Speed Image Sensor for improved low light performance and noise reduction
  • Bright F2.0 high-speed Lens
  • Dual Quad Core TruePic VIII Image Processor
  • Field sensor system with GPS, Manometer, Compass, and temperature sensors
  • Waterproof to 50 feet, F, Dustproof, Crushproof to 220 lbf, Shockproof from 7 feet, Freezeproof to 14 degrees, Anti-Fog lens

For those Traveling Abroad:

Sony Alpha 7 II

Sony Alpha 7 II vacation camera

Sony Alpha 7II Great for International Travel

International trips often prove to be once in a lifetime experiences. Needless to say, a camera is often the first thing amateurs and professionals alike are eager to pack. Unfortunately, there are logistic problems that arise that more often than not prevent photographers from packing all of their gear. Carry on space is limited, and choosing to check gear can put thousands of dollars of equipment at risk for damage. What's more, it often isn't a great idea to draw attention in a foreign country with a big, flashy camera.

Travel Smart with Quality

For those that want to travel smart without sacrificing quality, the Sony Alpha 7 II is an excellent option. Even if you choose to pack only one or two of the compatible Sony e-mount lenses, you can feel confident that you'll capture something spectacular.

A leader in the mirrorless camera marketplace, it fulfills all of a professional's needs. Yet, despite packing a full frame sensor and 23.4 MP resolution, it remains small enough to work inconspicuously.

Auto Focus

One of the Alpha's most impressive bragging points is its advanced hybrid autofocus capabilities. With 117 phase detection points, users capture crystal clear shots in the blink of an eye. In addition, thanks to the device's WiFi connectivity, it's easy to sync up and share with smart devices regardless of where you are in the world.

Sony Alpha A7 II Digital Camera & 28-70mm FE OSS Lens with 64GB Card + Backpack + Battery + Tripod + Tele/Wide Lens Kit
6 Reviews
Sony Alpha A7 II Digital Camera & 28-70mm FE OSS Lens with 64GB Card + Backpack + Battery + Tripod + Tele/Wide Lens Kit
  • KIT INCLUDES 13 PRODUCTS -- All BRAND NEW Items with all Manufacturer-supplied Accessories + Full USA Warranties:
  • [1] Sony Alpha A7 II Digital Camera & 28-70mm FE OSS Lens + [2] Sony 64GB SDXC C10 UHS-1 Card + [3] Spare NP-FW50 Battery +
  • [4] Battery Charger + [5] 55mm (UV/CPL/ND8) Filters + [6] Shutter Remote Control +
  • [7] PD Mini Sling Backpack + [8] PD-T14 Flexible Camera Tripod + [9] PD 2.5x Tele & .45x Wide Lens +
  • [10] HDMI to Micro-HDMI Cable (6') + [11] PD SD/SDHC MicroSD Reader + [12] PD 8 SD Card Memory Card Case + [13] LCD Screen Protectors
Related Post: The New Lumix GH5

For Roaming the Big City:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 vacation camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 for the busy vacation

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 is among the five best selling mirrorless cameras on Amazon.com for good reason. Whether you're looking to capture sly street photography or impressive architectural shots of iconic markers, this top of the line camera is guaranteed to deliver.

There's more than meets the eye when it comes to this compact camera. Not missing a beat, the device captures 4K RAW photo and video, providing users with plenty of detail to work with.

The fast and precise auto-focus is perfect for capturing fleeting street views in an instant. Equipped with silent shooting, it's easy to grab a picture of whatever it is that you'd like and move on to the next subject without drawing any attention.

Also, thanks to its small size and lightweight build, it's perfect for carrying around town for a long day of sightseeing.

It's also easy to stow away at

  • museums
  • restaurants

and other settings where a camera may not be allowed or appropriate.

Sale
PANASONIC LUMIX G7 4K Mirrorless Camera, with 14-42mm MEGA O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixels, 3 Inch Touch LCD, DMC-G7KK (USA BLACK)
188 Reviews
PANASONIC LUMIX G7 4K Mirrorless Camera, with 14-42mm MEGA O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixels, 3 Inch Touch LCD, DMC-G7KK (USA BLACK)
  • Superb DSLM image quality without the bulk and weight of traditional DSLRs
  • Never miss a photo with three unique 4K Ultra HD Video pause and save 4K Photo Modes
  • Fast and precise auto focusing tracks the subject
  • Class-leading, ultra-compact, interchangeable lens and accessory options
  • Unwire Your Creativity with integrated Wi-Fi sharing

For an Action-Packed Adventure:

Yi 4K Action Camera

Yi 4K Action vacation camera

Yi 4K Action Camera

Most people immediately think of GoPro when the phrase “action photography” is mentioned. However, what many may not realize is that there's a plethora of competitors constantly upping their game. The Yi 4K, a pocket sized companion weighing in at just 1/5 of a pound, proves to be worthy competition for the reigning king of action photo.

Gorilla Glass Durability

Amazingly, with gimbals and other accessories, it's possible to mount the Yi to just about anything. With a waterproof casing available and Gorilla Glass, scratch resistant LCD, this compact camera can venture just about anywhere. And as if that sort of versatility weren't enough to tempt potential buyers, it's capable of capturing an incredible two hours worth of 4K footage over the duration of a single charge. It's possible to capture  even more additional footage using auxiliary power packs.

It's not just the Yi's ability to capture video that gives it a leg above the competition – the image quality is stellar to say the least. Also, aside from built in electronic image stabilization, an internal 3-axis gyroscope all but eliminated the risk of motion blur and sudden shakes.

Additionally, with the confidence that you'll receive an excellent end product, fiddling with the camera's time-lapse, slow motion, and burst modes becomes all the more tempting.

Sale
YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera (US Edition) Night Black
582 Reviews
YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera (US Edition) Night Black
  • Records 4K/30fps (60mbps), 1080p/120fps, 720p/240fps video and 12MP photos using a 155° wide-angle lens with F2.8 aperture ; Wi-Fi module - Broadcom BCM43340 dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz/5GHz, above 3MB/s download speed * (High Speed)
  • Built-in 2.19" LCD touchscreen with 640 x 360 high resolution for easy previewing and shooting. Designed with Gorilla Glass Retina to resist scratches and daily impact
  • World's leading technologies: Ambarella A9SE75 Chip, Sony IMX377 Image Sensor, 7 layers of glass lenses, and Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) to guarantee ultra-clear and stable 4K video resolution and 12M pixel photos even in low light conditions
  • Rechargeable 1400mAh high capacity 4.4V lithium-ion battery records up to 120 minutes of 4K/30fps video with a single charge. High performing cooling system prevents YI 4K Action Camera of overheating and enables stable video recording. Built-in Bluetooth and high speed 5GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi support for wireless remote control and the YI Action App for instant photo and video editing
  • Must use compatible microSD, supports most High Speed Class 10, UHS Speed Class 1 (U1) and UHS Speed Class 3(U3), 16GB-128GB with FAT32 format. See recommended list in photo gallery for more info

Related Post: Action Vacation-Cruise Camera Choices

For those Seeking a Unique Vantage Point:

DJI MavicPro

DJI MavicPro vacation camera

DJI MavicPro Vacation Drone

It's hard to resist the allure of drone photography. For the first time, it makes aerial photography accessible to the average image maker. Able to capture 4K footage, one of the best options out there has to be the DJI MavicPro.

The DJI can fly at speeds of 40 mph and stay in the air for nearly half an hour. It can also fly as far four miles away while retaining transmission, and an internal GPS ensures that you know exactly where your device is located at all times. Alternatively, if you'd like to keep the drone close by, a “Follow Me” mode will ensure that the camera stays on you while you're on the move. When all is said and done, it folds down to the size of a water bottle for convenient portability.

Full Stabilization

Additionally, innovative technology ensures that you get the best shots possible. Full stabilization ensures that you'll capture smooth video throughout your flight, and internal obstacle avoidance reduces the risk of crashing. Of course, before getting too far ahead of yourself, be sure to look into local drone regulations to be sure that you're not flying in a prohibited area.

Also, if you find that the MavicPro is a bit outside your budget, check out some of our favorite inexpensive alternatives.

DJI Mavic Pro DRONE With Digital Universe Cleaning Cloth
1 Reviews
DJI Mavic Pro DRONE With Digital Universe Cleaning Cloth
  • Vision positioning paired with GPS and GLONASS ensures precise positioning indoor and outdoors.
  • The DJI Mavic Pro folds down as small as a bottle of water, making it small enough to bring with you everywhere.
  • New OcuSync transmission system offers up to 4.3 miles (7km) of transmission range. Fly at up to 40mph (64kmh) or for as long as 27-minutes.
  • Obstacle Avoidance combined with sensor redundancy increases flight safety and reliability.
  • ActiveTrack, TapFly and other smart features make professional looking video effortless. True 4K, fully stabilized ensures smooth footage

Sit Back and Relax!

Whether you prefer land or sea, city or wilderness, the right camera is out there. Some can fly high overhead, while others can venture below the water's surface. Even small, modest looking image makers have some incredible qualities to offer.

So, don't go into your next vacation with doubts. Find the camera that can handle whatever you'd like to do, wherever you'd like to venture. Any hesitation you may have will be sure to dissipate once you see for yourself just how stunning your images can be.

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Meghan

Meghan

A photographer turned writer based out of Boston, MA, Meghan is an ambitious individual whose work has been featured in a number of gallery exhibitions and art publications.
Meghan

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Meghan

A photographer turned writer based out of Boston, MA, Meghan is an ambitious individual whose work has been featured in a number of gallery exhibitions and art publications.

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