From graduations and senior trips to vacations and backyard barbecues, summer is the time when memories are made — and recorded. The best cameras for summer travel are light, functional and, of course, affordable. Most of today's smartphones have good cameras, but there is no comparison to the quality that can only come from a dedicated, stand-alone camera.
Data experts at SpecOut, a consumer tech research site powered by Graphiq, assembled a list of the top 10 cameras that are perfect for summer travel and ranked them according to their Smart Rating. The Smart Rating is a weighted average of the camera features and ratings from three digital camera experts: DPreview.com, PC Magazine and CNET.
To be included in the list, all cameras had to weigh less than 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) and provide resolution greater than 12 megapixels – better than the best iPhone camera quality on the market. They also needed to be capable of shooting high-definition video and — since vacationers are prone to losing or damaging cameras — cost less than $2,000.
Researchers did discover a trend while compiling the best cameras: Mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras dominate the list due to their wide functionality and light weight, making them great for summer travel.
#10. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
Smart Rating: 96.62 Camera Type: Point and Shoot
This point-and-shoot camera has a crisp, f/2.8 aperture lens that produces an impressive super zoom. It features a fast 1/20000-second shutter, which makes it perfect for action photography.
#9. Sony DSC-RX100 IV
Smart Rating: 96.91 Camera Type: Point and Shoot
This advanced compact has some of the best video capabilities in its class. It is pricey for its category – at $948 – but this Sony takes amazing pictures thanks to its 21 megapixel image resolution.
#8. Fujifilm X-Pro2
Smart Rating: 96.95 Camera Type: Mirrorless
The Fujifilm X-Pro2 boasts 24.3 megapixels – more than the average mirrorless camera – and has 110 minutes of video battery life, making this a fantastic camera for summer vacations.
#7. Sony a NEX 7
Smart Rating: 97.51 Camera Type: Mirrorless
Fluid shooting and a ton of features makes this an ideal choice for advanced photographers. It has a small body, a high-end 24MP APS-C sensor and an oversized viewfinder for taking high-quality images.
#6. Fujifilm X100S
Smart Rating: 97.6 Camera Type: Point and Shoot
Fujifilm X100S's 16-megapixel, X-Trans sensor produces excellent images. Its shooting design is more streamlined than its predecessor, thanks to an updated viewfinder.
#5. Olympus OM-D EM-5
Smart Rating: 97.77 Camera Type: Mirrorless
One of the best Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras available today, this Olympus comes with a versatile lens kit. It is fully weather-sealed and features an industry-leading stabilization system.
#4. Canon EOS 70D
Smart Rating: 97.79 Camera Type: DSLR
Live view and movie-mode autofocus are two leading features of Canon's flagship digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR). The Canon EOS 70D has a good-sized sensor and takes amazing images with 20.2 megapixel resolution.
#3. Olympus OM-D E-M1
Smart Rating: 98.15 Camera Type: Mirrorless
This top-of-the-line Olympus model fills the space between traditional DSLR and Micro Four Thirds cameras. It is bursting with high-end features, and it takes excellent images, even in low light.
#2. Canon Powershot G5 X
Smart Rating: 98.26 Camera Type: Point and Shoot
Although the Canon Powershot G5 X makes it easy to compose stunning images in bright light, it is a bit sluggish and its battery life leaves something to be desired. On the bright side, its 20.2 megapixels create ultra-high resolution images.
#1. Sony Alpha a6000
Smart Rating: 100 Camera Type: Mirrorless
This mirrorless compact digital camera is perfect for advanced photographers who want something smaller than a DSLR. Lauded by critics for its speed, image quality and instant focus, the Alpha a6000 earned a Smart Rating of 100.