Most of us have everything we need to take a decent photo already sitting in our purse or pocket. But when it comes to truly capturing the essence of a moment and a memory on a family vacation, we should want to have something more in our hand. The best camera for vacation, for you, may be a slim point-and-shoot with a long zoom, or maybe it’s a full frame mirrorless digital camera that’ll effortlessly produce gallery-worthy photographs of your kids and family. Either way, each of these cameras for vacation will allow you to create a spectacular image and share it immediately on social media, because what good is a great photograph if no one can see it?
1. Nikon D3400
For some of the best family travel photos, you’ll likely want to buy a Nikon D3400. This affordable, high-quality, lightweight DSLR allows families to capture the magic of childhood as your kids play, explore and learn during family road trips and vacations. Massive 24.2 megapixel clarity will produce museum quality images of your family, and Nikon’s SnapBridge Bluetooth connectivity means your shots arrive on your smartphone ready to share far and wide instantaneously. This technology also provides ultimate peace of mind because it works seamlessly with Nikon’s Image Space cloud storage solution, so your vacation memories are backed up safe and sound.
Related: Best Travel Cameras for Kids
2. Olympus Mirrorless Camera E-M10 Mark II
This stylish, mirrorless camera is fabulously retro-looking, but has all the modern bells and whistles 21st century families demand for capturing vacation memories with a level of quality destined to grace the family room’s walls. Not only is it beautiful and powerful, the Olympus E-M10 Mark II is extremely lightweight and can shoot in RAW for endless editing possibilities. Whether you’re photographing your kids laughing hysterically over a plate of Mickey waffles at Disney World or a bluebird delicately balanced on a fence post at sunrise in the Grand Tetons, this remarkable sophisticated 16MP digital camera has everything you need to do so like a professional photographer and easily ranks as one of the best cameras for vacation.
3. Nikon COOLPIX P900
An 83x optical zoom and 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom combine to provide 2000MM of optical zoom, more than any Nikon COOLPIX camera yet. With that kind of range, you’ll be able to photograph your kiddos from nearly a mile away, like from the comfort of your second floor beachfront balcony while they frolic in the ocean down below! And thanks to 16MP resolution, your bright-eyed children will be crisp and clear on screens and in frames once back home. Built-in GPS lets you create photo journals of your family vacations and Wi-Fi connectivity means you’ll be sharing your memories in an instant. For advanced photographers, switch the PSAM mode dial on top of the Nikon COOLPIX P900 to manually control everything just as if you were holding a DSLR camera.
4. Panasonic Lumix FZ80
An impressive built-in 120mm zoom lens and 18.1 megapixel resolution join forces to deliver a camera for vacation that will nimbly handle any situation, from golden hour portraits of your kids (thanks to stellar low light performance) to action shots at the hotel pool! Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to transfer images from camera to phone with just a touch, making it possible to share on social media and with family and friends back home within seconds of taking the shot, while USB charging means your Panasonic Lumix FZ80 will always have a strong battery even on long road trip vacations. And when you want to switch to video, enjoy brilliant 4K ultra HD movie-making capabilities at 30 frames per second.
5. Sony Cyber-Shot RX100
Whether you’re the queen of selfies or prefer the focus to be on your kids out in front of you, this stunning Sony RX100 will expertly check all your photography boxes. The RX100 comes complete with an outstanding lens, an F18 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* with 28-100mm zoom, so you’ll be shooting like a pro straight out of the box. And if you purchase the camera with this stacked bundle, you’ll have a 64GB memory card ready for thousands of images, a pair of battery packs to ensure you don’t run out of gas during this year’s family vacation, a 12-inch spider tripod, carrying case, and cleaning clothes with a lens cleaning pen.
6. Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Digital Camera
Bridging the gap between carrying a full size DSLR on your arm and the phone already in your pocket or purse, this mighty mini Canon PowerShot is a great camera for vacation because it delivers 20 megapixel performance, image stabilization, 10x Optical zoom plus Wi-Fi and NFC for instant sharing to your phone for a quick Snapseed edit before splashing all over your Facebook and Instagram. The Smart AUTO function of this palm-sized Canon point and shoot camera smartly chooses the proper settings based on predefined shooting situations, and fun fisheye and toy camera effects are available as scene modes to diversify your creative output while capturing family vacation memories.
7. Panasonic Lumix GX85 Digital Camera with Lens Bundle
A powerful mirrorless body with a pair of stellar lenses (12-32mm and 45-150mm) will turn your standard vacation snapshots into gallery-worthy photographs to be framed and/or made into pieces of canvas art. An interchangeable lens kit means you can swap out lenses to suit your need and situation, from wide angle landscapes during a national park road trip to 150mm capacity to get close to that majestic bald eagle in the treetops, and every single family vacation scenario in between. Class-leading imagine stabilization will help you create crystal-clear photographs, even if your hand isn’t as steady as it used to be, and the fine details of the 16 megapixel sensor is going to yield brilliant results in nearly any kind of light.
8. GoPro HERO7
Already known as a premier camera for shooting video, the small, lightweight GoPro HERO7 also produces top-notch 10 megapixel still images, making it an ideal camera for vacation. And because this GoPro is waterproof and rugged, you can use it to capture your family’s whitewater rafting trip out west, snorkeling adventure with manatees in Florida, and all those sweaty summertime national park hikes your kids definitely don’t whine about! As your little ones jump off cliffs into crystal clear water during your cruise’s port of call in Bermuda or when they free-fall down the waterslide on board the ship, use the GoPro HERO7’s burst mode to capture 15 photos in a single second to guarantee that you get the shot.
9. Canon PowerShot SX420 with 32GB Memory Card
This affordable digital camera will put a highly capable Canon PowerShot in your hands loaded with a beefy memory card, so you can toss it straight into your carry-on bag and be ready to photograph your next family vacation without delay. A whopping 42x optical zoom will have you getting close to the action whether your kids are boogie boarding 50 feet from the beach or making a home run saving catch in centerfield. And thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technology, you’ll be able to send those vibrant images from the camera straight to your phone, allowing quick and easy sharing on social media, as well as with grandma and grandpa back home.
10. Sony Alpha a7IIK Mirrorless with 28-70mm Lens
If you’re ready to make the investment to take your family vacation photos to the next level, both for sharing on small screens and hanging proudly on your home’s walls, look to this full frame mirrorless beauty from Sony. A fast auto focus algorithm provides stellar subject tracking and high speed focusing to capturing your family in any vacation activity. The 24.3 MP resolution, pro image stabilization, and easy connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC tech help to make the Sony Alpha a7IIK mirrorless shine brightly, and the ability to use any lens in Sony’s E-mount system will turn you into a professional grade family vacation photographer in no time.
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Jeff Bogle lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his two teen daughters, two cats, one dog and six (yes, six) guinea pigs. He is an award-winning photographer and respected travel journalist with bylines on Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, PBS, Esquire and more. Jeff (probably) spends too much time in England watching football and far too many hours plotting his family’s future travel adventures. Find Jeff on his own site, Out With the Kids.