W.he would like to tow himself away with a heavy photo bag while on vacation just to bring nice pictures. But it doesn’t have to be, because even small cameras can deliver top shots these days – and they also offer more options than a smartphone. COMPUTER BILD gives tips on selection and presents current models that do not overstrain the holiday budget and also impressed in the test.
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Compact cameras: All subjects in full size
No more search images: With the built-in zoom of a compact camera, you can also bring in distant subjects. The very compact Panasonic Lumix TZ96, for example, has a 30x zoom lens and delivers high quality images. Disadvantage of the huge zooms: At the telephoto end the lens is quite faint (aperture 6.4). If you want even more zoom, take the Canon Powershot SX540 HS with 50x zoom. It is designed as a bridge camera, is similar to a reflex camera and is particularly comfortable to hold. However, such giant zoom lenses only fit into compact cameras if the sensor is not too big. The TZ96 and SX540 HS have sensors the size of a fingernail (sensor size 4.6×6.2 millimeters) – hardly bigger than a smartphone. No problem during the day, as the sensors collect enough light to deliver photos and videos in high quality.
Lumix DC-TZ96 (DC-TZ95)
The Lumix TZ96 delivers great recordings in good light and good quality 4K videos on top of that. The small sensor of the TZ96 doesn’t like dim light so much – the images lose their sharpness significantly. Beginners will get along well with the simple operation, the viewfinder has a decent resolution, but is quite small.
- High image quality in good light
- Responsive autofocus
- Video recording in 4K
- Built-in viewfinder
- Significant loss of sharpness in low light
Compact cameras: small with top image quality
Those who value image quality more than a huge zoom, but are still looking for a compact camera, are best off with a model with a 1-inch sensor (sensor size 8.8×13.2 millimeters). The best mini-format models are the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII and Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI. The slightly older Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V is noticeably cheaper, but with somewhat poorer equipment and less zoom (now available as a minimally revised RX100 VA). None of the three RX100 models are bargains, but they are pocket-friendly, responsive and at a mad pace for series pictures and videos. With photos, the Sony minis take up to 20 frames per second, with videos even up to 1,000 frames per second – perfect for super slow motion. The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 is a real giant compared to the RX100 V. Advantage of the Panasonic: It has a 20x zoom, the Sonys only have a triple or sevenx zoom, depending on the model. In addition, the FZ2000 has a very large and bright viewfinder as well as plenty of buttons and rotating wheels with which camera settings can be changed quickly. Photos and videos (with 4K resolution: 3840×2160 pixels) are top at Panasonic and Sony and do not have to be before hide full-blown system or single-lens reflex cameras
. The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II is a little cheaper than the FZ2000, with a little less zoom and slightly stripped-down equipment.
Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII compact camera
Mini camera, maxi price: the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII is one of the most expensive compact cameras. But also to the best cameras that can be found in (almost) every jacket or trouser pocket: The RX100 VII reacts at lightning speed and delivers photos and videos in great quality, even in low light. The most important improvement over its predecessor is the revised autofocus, which works even more precisely and offers many additional functions, such as eye recognition for people and animals.
- High image quality
- Very high burst speed
- Very fast and versatile autofocus
- Very compact
- High price
- Slightly small viewfinder
System cameras: Really small and very versatile
Many system cameras are almost as small as a compact camera, but they take better pictures. The larger sensor takes care of that. The cameras from the GX series from Panasonic and the E-M10 series from Olympus are particularly suitable for travel. Both rely on a Micro Four Thirds sensor (sensor size 13×17.3 millimeters) and use the same lens bayonet. This allows cameras and lenses to be exchanged between the two manufacturers. Another real mini with top picture quality is the Canon EOS M200. Despite the larger sensors in APS-C format (sensor size 14.9×22.3 millimeters), the system camera is smaller than many MicroFourThirds cameras. Few buttons make operation a bit more fiddly, and the EOS-M200 photographer has to do without a viewfinder. If you need it, for example to take a closer look at the subject on the beach, when only reflections can be seen on the display, you can use the Panasonic Lumix GX80 or the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III.
The Canon EOS M200 is a great always-with-you camera. It fits easily in a jacket pocket. Taking pictures with the fully automatic function is really easy and delivers really good pictures. The most important improvements compared to the predecessor: The autofocus reacts noticeably faster, the videos look better thanks to 4K. Stayed the same: If you want to adjust the camera settings, you have to work your way through the menu. Not a problem, but a bit time consuming. What is missing? A viewfinder and the option of connecting an external flash.
- High image quality
- Responsive autofocus
- Nice and small and light
- No accessory shoe for flash or viewfinder
System cameras: top images under all circumstances
If you don’t just want to take photos in the sunshine, you’d better take a weather-protected system camera with you on vacation. Then you don’t have to worry about the camera in a surprising rain shower. The Panasonic Lumix G81 is one of the cheapest weatherproof models. Slightly larger than the GX80, but with a larger grip and a larger viewfinder. The successor model Panasonic Lumix G91 is a lot more expensive, but it has a faster autofocus and better technology for viewfinder and display – they work with OLED technology. The Nikon Z7 is also well protected, and with the Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f4 S kit zoom it is still quite small and light for a full-frame camera (sensor size 24×36 millimeters). In the test, it delivered extremely detailed and super-sharp images that, thanks to 45 megapixel resolution, can also be easily printed as a poster in DIN A2, for example with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 or the Epson Surecolor P900.
The Nikon Z7 sets the bar very high in terms of image quality and keeps the competition at a distance. The professional system camera reacts very quickly and is easy to use. Also great: the viewfinder and display are nice and large and show a very detailed picture. The Z7 lands right at the top of the list of the best. The camera body is a bit larger. This creates space for a large handle and thus ensures a good grip. Small weakness: In series production, the Z7 does not last as long as a professional SLR.
- Very sharp and extremely detailed photos
- Very high video quality
- Very large, very detailed viewfinder
- Very detailed display
- Auto focus reacts extremely quickly
- Low stamina in series
SLR: cheap and good
The entry-level DSLR models from Canon and Nikon are a good choice for travel. Both the Canon EOS 2000D and the Nikon D3500 deliver high quality photos thanks to large image sensors, but cost significantly less than a comparable system camera. The advantage of the inexpensive SLR models: They are on in a flash and focus very quickly. You hardly miss a snapshot. In addition, the selection of accessories and lenses is huge. The included zoom lenses are a good compromise for vacation. If you want to get more distant subjects, simply buy a telezoom. Entry-level DSLRs are geared towards photography. Filming is also possible, but you have to live with some restrictions: The small DSLRs usually only film in Full HD (1920×1080 pixels). In addition, the autofocus works quite slowly when filming. Only the Canon EOS 250D has the option of recording 4K videos and fast autofocus with dual-pixel technology (but only in Full HD resolution, in 4K the SLR works again with slower contrast measurement).
The Canon EOS 250D is a real mini SLR: small, very light, but still good grip. It’s easy to use. Even beginners can easily take top shots. The autofocus reacts really fast: always with photos, with videos only in Full HD. If you film in 4K, you get beautifully detailed images, but you have to live with a slightly slower autofocus. Canon has saved a few points: the viewfinder is quite small, and the autofocus only has nine measuring fields when taking pictures via the viewfinder.
- High image quality
- Responsive autofocus
- Easy handling
- Small viewfinder
- Auto focus slower with 4K video
SLR: Top speed and quality
The Nikon D500 is the right choice for those who would like to take photos of action on vacation and have a little more budget left. The D500 is very robust and designed for speed: In series, it can take up to ten images per second and up to 200 images at a time. The autofocus works just as well as with the top professional models Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5: Extremely fast and very precise, even in low light and when the subject moves quickly – only the newer (and even more expensive) Canon models EOS-1D X Mark III and Nikon D6 are even better. The image quality of the D500 is top, even in low light and a correspondingly high ISO setting. Only a few cameras with larger full-format sensors (sensor size 24×36 millimeters) are better. The videos of the D500 look very detailed thanks to 4K, but the autofocus does not work as fast when filming as it is when taking photos. Alternative for quality fanatics: The Pentax K-1 (now a slightly revised version Pentax K-1 II on the market) is comparatively cheap for a full-frame SLR, but comes with extensive equipment and a robust housing. The image quality for photos is top, only with videos the K-1 weakens with a maximum of Full HD. The autofocus works quickly and precisely, but does not have as many measuring fields as the competition and does not adjust the focus as extremely quickly and precisely as the D500.
The Hero8 Black lands together with the Hero7 in first place on the leaderboard. The new one scores with even crisper videos, very good image stabilization, detailed photos and lots of accessories that are particularly aimed at bloggers and video professionals. Compared to the Hero7, it lacks battery life, and HDMI is only available as an accessory for an extra 90 euros.
- Sharp videos
- Great image stabilization
- Integrated bracket
- Good tone
- Records GPS and movement data
- Easy handling
- Slightly short battery life (80 minutes)
Action cam: For the really tough jobs
For many sports, a special type of camera is the best choice – an action cam. They are so small that they can also be attached to a helmet or bicycle handlebar, newer models are usually not only weatherproof, but even waterproof – so you can easily take them with you for snorkeling or surfing. The best action cam is the GoPro Hero 8 Black, which boasts particularly lavish features and very sophisticated image stabilization. The toughest competitor from another manufacturer is the DJI Osmo Action, which has two screens – making it easier to take action selfies. And if you are looking for an action cam on a tight budget, the GoXtreme Black Hawk + 4K is best. The price for the combination of supermini and super robust: The action cams have even smaller image sensors than compact cameras. This is why they deliver the best image quality in bright sunshine – but when it gets darker, it wears off quickly.
* The cheapest price may now be higher.