Summer screams cameras. So as we (north of the Equator, anyway) anxiously await this sun-drenched season, we thought we’d take a look at five of the coolest compact digital cameras to take on the road. Each can do a world of things your old one couldn’t—not just in terms of all the automatic scene selection, fun effects, and instant editing, but in how and where you’re physically able to take the shots. Whether down low, up high, on land, or in the water, we’ve got you covered with a wide price range of contemporary cameras to bring along on your next adventures (no matter what the season). And as a bonus, the price ranges here are from just $160 to $430.
1. Coolpix S1200pj
Why We Like It: Although this camera’s great at snagging stills and videos, how it shows them sets it apart: Instead of having to crowd around a little 3-inch screen, you can shine your images right on the wall in up to five feet of glory, with a built-in projector! Better yet, it comes with music and graphics you can use to make an impromptu presentation of your favorites. It can connect to your iPod, iPhone, iPad, or computer to project images from those devices, or send them right to a TV or printer. And a remote control ($25, sold separately) can be used to trigger recording stills or videos, or to advance your super slideshow when playing them back with the projector.
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How Much: $430
Buy It: Visit NikonUSA.com.
Why We Like It: You can swing this highly adjustable camera’s frame and twist its screen into a wide variety of formations, allowing you to extend your reach, hang it nearby or stand it on its own for self-portraits. It offers two methods for activating the timer: you can slide your finger across the touch screen or a subject in the shot can wave their hand in the air. It’s got the widest angle lens of this group. And it takes fun artsy shots and panoramics.
How Much: $250
Buy It: Visit Casio.com
3. MultiView MV800
Why We Like It: This versatile camera lets you angle the screen to capture kids, pets, and other stuff low to the ground (without having to crouch or lie down) or shoot way up high (without having to crane your neck or aim blindly). You can use its built-in posing guide and do in-camera touch-ups for serious portraits, or select a playful frame or stretch your face for sillier pics. It also allows you to work with multiple shots for making wallpaper montages, storyboards, and dual-perspective picture-in-picture shots.
How Much: $280
Buy It: Visit Samsung.com.
4. Cyber-shot DSC-TX20
Why We Like It: It may be small, but it sure ain’t dainty. This light, thin camera also happens to be waterproof to 16 feet—great for snorkeling!—as well as dustproof and shockproof. It can help ensure you get the shot you want, by taking bursts of 10 frames per second and using its ability to detect motion, faces, blinks, and smiles. It’s also impressive in low-light situations. You can automatically blur the background on close-up shots, just like fancy shutterbugs do with their big, expensive cameras. And you can capture 2D or 3D panoramas in one fluid sweep.
How Much: $330
Buy It: Visit Sony.com.
5. EasyShare Touch M5370
Why We Like It: Although next summer may not see Kodak still in the camera biz, we like this camera’s affordability and features enough to include it while we can. As its name implies, it’s great for sharing photos: You can tag people and push the Share button so that the next time you connect the camera to your computer it automatically prints certain photos or sends them to your friends via email and/or your favorite social feeds. Its intuitive touch screen interface lets you take pictures, bring up menus, and find additional helpful info. Similar smart features include how it automatically groups pictures for viewing and asks if you want to transfer images from internal memory when inserting a new memory card. Lastly, its coolest editing option lets you make an existing photo either blurry with only certain parts sharp, or black and white with only certain parts colored—just by using your finger right on the screen.
How Much: $160
Buy It: Visit Kodak.com.
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Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo credits:1. 2012 Nikon Inc; 2. Casio America., Inc.; 3. 1995-2012 SAMSUNG; 4. 2012 Sony Electronics Inc.; 5. Eastman Kodak Company