Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

Video Camera Buying Guide For Travelers

Clear up any questions you might have with this definitive guide to choosing the perfect video camera for travel.

Image source: Flickr - JVCAmerica

You might be one of those travelers who uses their cellphone or tablet to take quick, impromptu videos of your vacation. Sure, that works to capture the moment, but when it comes to quality, most of those gadgets still leave a lot to be desired.

Here I'm going to show you what you should look for and consider when looking for a proper video camera that will shoot great quality video while still being user friendly.

1. Do you want a Travel Zoom camera or just a video camera?

The 'Travel Zoom' term was invented by Panasonic in 2006 to create the category where their Lumix DMC-TZ1 would fit perfectly. This category is for compact cameras with 10X optical zoom, great photo resolution, and video quality. Since 2006, these cameras have become even more compact (about the size of a smartphone or even smaller) and more powerful in their image quality.

On the other hand, there are cameras that focus on having better video quality, but their photo quality is not as great (in some cases). These have also evolved so much in the past few years that now they are just as compact as the Travel Zoom.

2. Make sure it is High Definition (HD)

The best pocket (mini) camcorders have a full 1080p resolution, which is the maximum standard for high definition. Usually, these camcorders also shoot in 720p as well, which is a smaller version of High Definition. Make sure you see those numbers in the package and that it says HD

If you're looking for a Travel Zoom to take great pictures too, don't overlook the picture quality denoted by the amount of megapixels (mp) it has. The higher the number of megapixels, the better it is, in general. But, for most people, anything above 10mp works well.

3. Look for a 10X optical zoom, or more

Digital cameras come with two types of zoom: optical and digital. The optical zoom comes from the hardware of the camera. The lens adjusts to zoom and focus, producing a sharp image throughout its range. Digital zoom, on the other hand, picks up from the point where the optical zoom cant go any further and magnifies the image without adding any video detail. Usually, when you cross over to digital zoom, your video starts to look grainy. So, try to get a camera with more than 10X optical zoom and don't rely on digital zoom.

4. Try to get a camera with a long battery life

This one is quite straightforward. You don't want to have to charge your camera after every single use or fear that it will die after a few minutes of filming.

5. Look for image stabilization.

With today's cameras, this is quite a useful and common feature. Image stabilization helps reduce the shake you see in many home videos, produced mostly by your shaky hands or involuntary moves.

6. Waterproof?

Depending on the type of traveler you are, you might want to consider getting a waterproof camera so that you can record your moments at the beach, the river, water park, or simply not worry if it starts to rain.

7. What accessories should you have?

Don't forget that with your camera, you should also have a few accessories that are either necessary or helpful to improve your photography:

  • Memory card - The most common are the Secure Digital (SD) cards that allow you to store your images in the card and pass them to your computer.
  • Travel tripod - Even a small tripod is good enough to keep your camera stable and prevent any shaking that could blur your video or picture.
  • Extra batteries - It's always good to have at least one extra battery in case your current battery dies in the middle of your shooting/video session.
  • Camera Case - To protect your camera.

A few camera recommendations:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

This is a long-zoom camera that falls in between a point-and-shoot (Travel Zoom) and digital SLR camera. It gives you professional looking photographs without having to carry a big DSLR camera.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS

This camera has a fast performance and produces less noise at higher ISOs. It also has built-in Wi-Fi that lets you shoot and share. On the downside, the battery life lacks a bit due to its features.

Sony Waterproof Full HD HDR-GW77V/B

This is a video camcorder that is able to records in full HD and can take high quality still photos up to 20MP. It can also film underwater to a depth of 16 feet.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V

This is an excellent compact megazoom camera suitable for snapshooters and amateur photographers looking to become more serious with their photography.

How do you record video when you travel?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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