I’m no great photographer, indeed I don’t even own a camera, other than the one on my iPhone.  In truth I don’t even really own a laptop, but I won’t be called a Luddite! I can appreciate technology, I just can’t afford it.

That being said, a good camera is essential on any holiday. Ideally you want something compact and small, nondescript (so that some bastard in your hostel doesn’t nick it) and, above all, something that is easy to use.

So, with taking the perfect travel shot in mind, we sent out a bunch of amateur photographers (the kind of people who think Instragram trumps Photoshop) to road test a few of the latest models. Here’s what they thought. 

Nikon

Model/make: Nikon 1J3

Cost: $599

Travel friendly?: Compact, easy to use, durable and rugged, the J3 is one of the better point and shoot travel cameras in its class. The J series has long been known for the ease with which users can swap lenses and the J3 is absolutely no different. 

Picture Quality: The new J3 has superior picture quality to its predecessor the J2, increasing from a rather paltry 10.2 megapixels to a more robust 14.2. This means better picture quality and more scope to crop your images. 

Special features: A fairly no-frills sort of camera, the layout has been streamlined, with things like the dedicated F button on the J2 having been moved to the thumb wheel.

Verdict: A perfect camera for travellers: small, refined and as strong as they come. I’m no Robert Capa or Ansel Adams but the images I got off the J3 came out really well. If you want a camera that’s really easy to use, compact, and one that will flatter your meagre photographic abilities, then the J3 is the one for you! HR 

mynikonlife.com.au

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Samsung 

Model/make: WB250F

Cost: $279

Travel friendly?: Small, lightweight and easy to use. Auto mode selects the best settings for your picture, but it is also capable of manual functions too. Not the most rugged, but features like Panorama and Wi-Fi work well and make it ideal for a life on the road. 

Picture Quality: The WB250F has relatively good picture quality for its class. An impressive 18x zoom is a plus, but quality dips the more you zoom in. 

Special features: New techy features like touchscreen and Wi-Fi will make this camera the envy of all your tech-head friends. It’s easy to forget that it has touch screen features until you need them, and thankfully you aren’t forced to use them all the time.

Verdict: The WB250 is adorned with features, but most of them won’t be part of your everyday use. I forgot it had a touchscreen most of the time, and transferring photos via Wi-Fi is a much longer process than just plugging it into a computer. Picture quality is not the best for the price range either, so if you’re looking for a compact solution to a DSLR and don’t mind paying for it, then there are far better cameras for your money.  RP 

samsung.com/au

 

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Panasonic 

Model/make: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60

Cost: $599

Travel friendly?: For the serious photographer who doesn’t want to be weighed down with heavy machinery and lenses. The Lumix has the features of a DSLR in a compact size. Light weight and the attachable lens cap make it great for life on the road.  Picture Quality: The 16-megapixel camera takes great shots and the lens is image-stabilised so you can shoot as you run around without the usual drunken blurry edge to your shots.

Special features: The automatic, creative filters, scene modes and custom configurations make it easy to take arty shots as you go and play around with your images on the road. Video has great sound from the built in microphone. 

Verdict: You’re paying a little bit more, but for a reputable brand you’re going to get more longevity out of the model. A good happy medium between a Coolpix and a DSLR. A sexy little camera that, if you know how to use it, will guarantee your travel shots get you a few Facebook likes. AH 

panasonic.com.au

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Canon

Model/make: Powershot SX260 HS

Cost: $187

Travel friendly?: Super slim and with the right kind of features to take great photos while backpacking. A huge improvement on the SX230, moving from a 14x to 20x zoom and with GPS features to put your photos on the map. Picture Quality: Great photos for such a compact camera, though it is bested by slightly more expensive cameras, the differences are minimal and only noticed by knit-pickers. 

Special features: The GPS works great and is within easy reach to toggle on and off, saving battery life on longer trips away. There’s a face recognition feature for up to 12 people, but most won’t bother setting that up. The panoramo function is a little retro and still requires you to line up ghost images at the edge of the screen. Surprisingly Canon hasn’t caught up with competitors and moved to a push and pan function.

Verdict: Great picture quality and zoom make the new Powershot a real contender, but considering how new it is, many features that are normally standard on other cameras  are missing. Gimmicky features aren’t for everyone, so if you can look past that you’re still getting a solid, compact camera that takes a dynamite photo. RP 

canon.com.au

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Nikon 

Model/make: Coolpix AW110

Cost: $449

Travel friendly?: In a word, yes. The Coolpix is nothing if not compact. It’s small, streamlined and light. It’s also remarkably tough and rugged for such a little camera. We dropped it in the bar once or twice, and may have spilled a little tequila on it but it all still worked perfectly. 

Picture Quality: With an impressive 16 megapixel capacity, 28mm wide angle lens and the ability to shoot high definition videos in 1080p, the AW110 has just about all the bases covered in this department. On default settings, the camera produces nicely saturated colours, and you can get some great shots in ample lighting.

Special features: Is waterproof up to 10 metres under the surface, has a built in GPS function that allows you to see where the photos were taken and a compass in case you get lost. In short, this is a great camera for the outdoors. Verdict: Rugged, light, easy to use and capable of taking great photographs, the Coolpix is a fantastic travel camera! HR 

mynikonlife.com.au

 

Photos: Canon, Samsung, Panasonic, Nikon