7 Best zoom cameras for travel (Full reviews for 2022)

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As I travel around South America, I take more and more photographs and wondered just what is the best zoom camera for travel.

It’s sometimes very difficult to get close to my photographic subjects so a lightweight camera with great zoom capabilities is an essential piece of equipment to record my travel adventures.

Before writing this article, I have spoken to fellow travelers and photographic experts. My goal is to find the best travel cameras with zoom functionality available today. 

My list will take into account many criteria including quality, reliability, ease of use, cost, weight, zoom capability, and after-sales service.

I will start with a few basic questions before I get into the top zoom cameras for travel in 2022.

What is a zoom camera?

If you are just getting started with photography, you might not fully understand the definition of zoom. Camera zoom makes subjects/objects appear nearer or farther away in your photograph.

When you zoom in, you get a closer look at the subjects/objects in the image without the need to move nearer to them.

When you zoom out, you are able to capture a wider space in your photograph without the need to move farther away from the objects/subjects.

Zooming in or out can be achieved by using a camera with a zoom lens or a camera that can have a zoom lens attached. The latter is called a DSLR camera. I will not feature DLSR cameras in this article because they are not as suitable for travel and they are usually more expensive.

If you will be using the camera to document your travel destinations, then size and weight will be important factors. For this reason, the cameras in this article all have built-in zoom lenses and they are small enough to carry around.

Why do I need a zoom camera for travel?

It is useful to think of the zoom function as a kind of photo-processing software that’s built into your camera. It works by enlarging the pixels in the center of the photo and cropping out the rest. A good zoom function will give the appearance of magnifying the subject in your pictures.

By owning a camera with good zoom quality, it is not necessary to walk miles to get closer to the subject matter. For example, in many cases, it will not be possible to get closer to a mountain or animal in the wild but if your camera is good enough, you can still get the perfect shot.

Zoom cameras are also popular with travelers that like to take photos of people. It can be rather embarrassing to stick a camera in someone’s face but not so if you can sit in a nearby cafe to get the same portrait photo.

A final reason to get a quality zoom camera for your trips is safety. Imagine you want to record an active volcano, do you really want to get close to the molten lava? With a decent travel camera, you can record the action while still staying at a safe distance.

Which zoom camera is best for travel photography?

If you are short on time and need a short answer, my pick of the best zoom cameras for travel is the Nikon Coolpix P1000 with an incredible 125x zoom.

If you’re on a budget, I recommend the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 with a perfectly respectable 60x zoom.

When it comes to the smallest and most lightweight camera, you can’t go wrong with the Canon SX740 which is the smallest and easiest camera to carry. It has a 40x zoom which is fine for most travel photography.

The best zoom cameras for travel

Many pocket-friendly zoom cameras have tiny sensors, but with a bit of research, you can find a few with bigger sensors that still offer great zoom capability.

When looking for a new zoom camera, you should think about how much zoom you need. In most cases, an 8-10x zoom will be enough, but some people want a 20 or 30x zoom. I have included some of each to make your decision easier.

With this in mind, let’s look at my selection of the best zoom cameras you can buy for traveling.

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Best overall zoom camera – Nikon Coolpix P1000

It’s time to introduce the “big daddy” of travel cameras, the Nikon Coolpix P1000. A little more expensive than Nikon’s B600 but worth every cent.

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Nikon COOLPIX P1000 16.7 Digital Camera with 3.2" LCD, Black

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This state-of-the-art camera has an astonishing 125x zoom so there will be no scene that can’t be captured in all its glory.

Classed as a “super zoom’ camera, it has a 3000mm glass lens which is actually the most powerful lens ever seen on a Coolpix camera. It also has 4k ultra HD video with HDMI out and stereo sound.

You may be aware that in cheaper cameras that have such extreme zoom power, tiny camera movements are amplified causing blurry images. The Coolpix does not suffer from this flaw as it has a Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction system that stabilizes both horizontal and vertical movements so it’s great for shaky-handed travelers.

And it’s not just about the long-distance shots either. The P1000 is also a demon when it comes to Macro photography. The camera reveals the smallest of details beautifully and focuses as close as 1 ft. (30cm) from the subject.

There are just too many benefits to owning a P1000 but I won’t bore you with all the technical details. You are quite capable of getting the nitty-gritty on the Amazon website.

On a final note, the P1000 is one of my favorite cameras because it takes out all the guesswork when capturing tricky far-off subjects. I just adore the “Moon” mode which automatically compensates for low-light astrophotography. And I didn’t even mention the “Bird Watching” mode which optimizes the camera’s settings for taking stunning photographs of these elusive creatures.

Best lightweight zoom camera – Sony RX100 VII

My pick of lightweight travel cameras is the amazing Sony RX100 VII. This camera is a great choice for most travel photographers and it’s very reasonably priced for the functionality that you get.

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Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera with 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor (DSCRX100M7)

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It has an 8x zoom and it can shoot at very fast burst speeds. It also has a retracting EVF, an easy-to-use touchscreen, and a high-performance one-inch sensor. All this and it easily fits into your pocket.

The Sony RX100 Mark VII is a pocket powerhouse that has a 28-200mm equivalent zoom. It can take pictures at 20fps (frames per second) in the Basic mode and up to 90fps in Single Burst shooting mode.

Inside its compact body is a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor which is impressive for such a small camera. It doesn’t take interchangeable lenses, but the Zeiss 24-200mm lens is more than enough for most travel photographers.

I really like the animal eye AF feature which works well, provided the subject is reasonably close, has well-defined eyes, and isn’t moving too quickly. Pet portraits are easy but fast-moving animals can be more of a challenge.

The camera’s autofocus tracking is super-fast and very effective. It also features 4k video quality with active mode image stabilization making this a great all-around travel camera.

Best zoom camera for beginners – Panasonic Lumix ZS200

If you are new to the world of travel photography, you can’t go wrong with the Panasonic Lumix ZS200. It’s really easy to use and comes with a 3-year warranty should you have any issues.

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PANASONIC LUMIX ZS200 15X Leica DC Lens with Stabilization, 20.1 Megapixel, Large...

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This one has more zoom capability than the Sony offering a whopping 15x of optically stabilized zoom to make capturing landscapes and far-away subjects very easy.

With an excellent balance of a large sensor and excellent zoom length, it is regarded by many digital nomads as the perfect travel camera. 

As with all of the cameras on my list, it is perfectly sized to slide into your pocket or bumbag and weighs just 1.17 lbs.

Lumix cameras with Leica DC Lenses are also favored by camera enthusiasts because of their high performance and reliability.

Along with its 15X LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens, the Lumix ZS200 also features hand-shake suppression in both photo and video recording modes. And if you are into macro-photography, you can get stunning shots as close as 3cm.

Well-suited to both beginners and more advanced photographers, it offers a full range of shooting modes and advanced options such as raw format shooting and awesome 4K Photo modes. 

On a final note, this budget-friendly camera has a touch-enabled LCD screen giving you greater control and easier image viewing.

Best zoom bridge camera – Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

If you’re wondering what a bridge camera is, let me explain. They are halfway between compact cameras and DSLR cameras. With a lot more advanced features than basic compact cameras, they are typically easier to use and cheaper than DSLR cameras.

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Canon Powershot SX70 20.3MP Digital Camera 65x Optical Zoom Lens 4K Video...

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If you’re on the hunt for a versatile bridge camera with a heap of functions, the Canon SX70 is my top pick. It has an ultra-long zoom which is hard to beat at 65x. This is one of the longest zooms on the market without spending a ton of money.

If you’ve ever owned a Canon camera before, you’ll know how well they handle and the SX70 is no exception.

Although it’s not the smallest camera on my list, it is still small enough for travel enthusiasts at 4.6 x 5 x 3.6 inches and it weighs a modest 1.36 lbs.

It has a very easy-to-use EVF (Electronic View Finder) and a fully-articulating screen (not touch-sensitive) and a comprehensive range of shooting modes. It can also able to shoot in raw format.

With a 21mm-1365mm wide-angle lens, optical image stabilizer, and a 20.3 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor, you’ll be able to see craters on the moon or your child’s face in the school play. 

The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled Canon can also shoot realistic 4K videos or 4K time-lapse movies. You won’t get all this with a compact camera and that’s why I had to include it on my list.

Best budget zoom camera – Nikon Coolpix B600

Next on our list of cameras to take on holiday is the Nikon Coolpix B600 with an impressive 60x optical zoom.

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Coolpix B600 Black

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This model is a welcome upgrade to the earlier B500 model and it now features a lithium-ion battery instead of outdated AA batteries. The battery is good for about 280 shots and it can be charged via an included USB cable.

The good points from the previous model have fortunately been passed on to its newer sibling including fully automatic point-and-shoot operation and 1080p video capability.

The Nikon Coolpix B600 is not the flashiest camera on my list but it gets the job done and its compact size means that it’s easy to travel with and very easy to use for novices. I really like the lens-shift vibration reduction (VR) which helps users to keep their shots sharp and steady.

The main reason that I like the Nikon is its very modest price tag. There’s no 4k video but it does have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth so that you can wirelessly share your snaps with loved ones or download them to your tablet or laptop.

Image quality is very good at 16.1MP and color reproduction is excellent. The Nikon is designed for amateur photographers and is a great camera for those that are just starting out on their photographic journeys.

It has a number of modes that can be accessed with the top mode dial. These include Auto, Creative Mode, Scene, Scene Auto Selector, Smart Portrait, and Movie. There are also 19 scene modes to choose from including Night shot, Night Portrait, Backlighting, and Sport. 

As for the size and weight, its dimensions are 4.79 x 3.91 x 3.21 inches and it weighs just 1.10 lbs. The screen size is 3 inches with simple intuitive menus.

This baby comes with a strap, lens cap (with cord), rechargeable battery charging AC Adapter, and a USB cable. Please note that a memory card is not included so you’ll have to pick up one separately.

Best value for money – Panasonic Lumix FZ80

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 has a fantastic amount of zoom coverage for a very low price.

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Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 4K Digital Camera, 18.1 Megapixel Video Camera, 60X Zoom...

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It is fitted with the same lens as Panasonic’s previous model, the FZ70, but is better in pretty much every other way. The FZ80 has an improved shape and finish, an excellent touch-enabled rear LCD, a sharper EVF, Wi-Fi capability, and crystal-clear 4K video (all of which were absent in its predecessor).

The FZ80 can be classified as a bridge point-and-shoot camera and it’s about the same size as a small SLR. Just like an SLR, this camera has a deep handgrip making it very comfortable in the hand.

It features a tiny (1/2.3-inch) image sensor and an impressive zoom lens which provides a massive 60x zoom function.

Again, it’s small enough to slide into your pocket measuring just 3.7 x 5.1 x 4.7 inches. It weighs in at approx. 1.4 pounds.

It has a 3-inch fixed rear LCD panel which is very clear at 1,040k dots and is very sensitive to touch. Just tap the place on the screen (like you do with your smartphone) to set your focus point or navigate the camera’s menus.

Wi-Fi connectivity works well for transferring your pictures. You can also download the Panasonic Image app (for free) to copy photos from the camera to your phone. Then you are able to edit and share your favorite shots.

Like all of the best cameras, you’ll find micro HDMI and micro USB ports on the body of the FX80, the latter being used to charge the camera.

On a single charge, you can take approx. 330 shots using the rear LCD or about 240 shots when using the EVF.

And if you want to take more than that, just plug in your USB power bank for unlimited snapping.

Regarding the video, you get a 4K resolution at a fixed 30fps frame rate. You also have the option to shoot videos at 1080p and 720p if you so wish.

With nearly three thousand reviews, a 4.5-star review, and a price under $300 on Amazon (at the time of writing), you can’t go far wrong with this perfect zoom travel camera.

Best point and shoot – Canon SX740 HS Point and Shoot

You can capture your precious moments really easily with the next entry on my list, the Canon SX740 HS Point and Shoot.

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The PowerShot SX740 HS camera is a wonderful starter camera with a ton of features. It delivers an impressive 40x optical zoom and it has an optical image stabilizer for perfect shots every time.

You can record videos of your favorite destinations in super-high definition 4K 30p or make beautiful time-lapse videos. I’m also a big fan of the 4K frame cropping feature that lets you grab high-quality still images without needing any additional software.

Like any travel camera worth its salt, it has built-in Wi-Fi. You can use the Canon Camera Connect app to transfer images, share them with your jealous friends, and even print them.

The Canon SX740 will inspire your creativity with shooting modes like Self-Portrait Mode for selfies, Food Mode for fun food pics, Video Snapshot Mode for memorable movies, and Hybrid Auto to capture photos and video simultaneously.

And if you’re wondering what’s in the box when you buy one, you get a wrist strap, a battery pack, and a battery charger.

Also worth a mention is the very cool 180-degree tilt-type screen which can face all the way forward. This means that you can easily put yourself in the center of the frame. The Canon also features a “smooth skin effect” that can help enhance your natural features for the perfect Instagram selfies.


Which camera is best for zoom?

The travel-friendly camera with the best zoom at 125x is the Nikon Coolpix P1000.

The second best is the Nikon Coolpix B600 which has the same zoom functionality at 125x.

The third best is the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS with a 65x zoom.

And the fourth-best zoom belongs to the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 at 60x.

Which camera is best for tourism?

In my opinion, the best overall camera for tourism is the Nikon Coolpix P1000. You can read my full review by clicking here.

My decision is based on build quality, zoom functionality, ease of use, value for money, and after-sales service.

If the Nikon is a little out of your budget, the mid-priced camera I recommend to document your travel adventures is the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS. Click here to read my full review.

And if you’re on an even tighter budget, you should consider the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. Read my full review here.

What is a Super Zoom camera?

Most of the Bridge cameras that you find today can be classified as “Super Zoom” cameras.

Super Zoom cameras are fitted with lenses that can be zoomed from very wide angles to long telephoto focal lengths.

The lenses of Super Zoom have focal length ranges starting from 20x and going up to 50x or even higher.

My pick of the Super Zoom cameras is the Nikon Coolpix P1000 which has an astonishing 125x zoom. You can read my full review by clicking here.

What zoom do I need for travel photography?

This is a subjective question and depends on what you will be taking pictures of.

If you are an amateur travel photographer and just want to take pictures of the places that you visit, an 8x zoom will probably be sufficient. The Sony RX100 VII is a great little camera that most travelers are more than happy with.

If you are more of a professional photographer and you want to take clear images at very long distances, then you can opt for a camera with 60x to 125x. A nice camera with a 65x zoom is the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS. And if you want a Super Zoom camera, the Nikon Coolpix P1000 has a whopping 125x.

What camera should I buy for traveling?

You should read this whole article in which I find the best camera for travel. I have reviewed the best 7 cameras that are suitable for those that love travel and want to document the places that they visit and the adventures that they have.

If you have a big budget, you should seriously consider the Nikon Coolpix P1000. It’s not cheap but you get a big bang for your buck.

If your budget is lower, you can opt for cameras like Panasonic Lumix ZS200 or the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS.

If you’re after the best cheap camera for travel, take a peek at the Canon SX740 HS.

If you are traveling to colder countries, you might like to check out my article about the warmest hoodies to keep you toasty warm on your travels.

Everyday Ape