Ready to upgrade your travel camera? We surveyed a year’s worth of innovations, updates, and flashy new features to find the best new models under $500.
BEST FOR: Mega-zoom in a mini size
Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS
There's never been a bigger zoom in such a compact package. When it's not in use, Canon's 28 mm wide-angle lens with 12x optical zoom (good for detailed, expansive landscapes) collapses into a camera body that's only .86" thick. The 3.2" touch-screen display lets you manually select a focal point and activate the shutter with a tap. $350, shop.usa.canon.com.
BEST FOR: Simultaneous video and stills
Sony Cyber-shot TX55
It's one of the great quandaries of memory-making: Is this a video moment or a photo moment? (Usually, by the time you've decided, the toucan has already flown off your daughter's head.) Sony's double-duty shooter lets you take 12 MP photos and 1080i video at the same time, without sacrificing image quality. $350, store.sony.com.
BEST FOR: Locating landmarks
Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR
Part compass, part guidebook—oh, yeah, and a swell camera, too—this 16 MP number goes way beyond just taking great photos. Using GPS and augmented reality (which overlays data on the screen as you frame a shot), it can direct you to over a million preloaded landmarks, suggest worthy sites nearby, and even plot your route on a map. $350, shopfujifilm.com.
BEST FOR: Slide shows on the go
Time was, treating your family and friends to a post-trip slide show required bulky equipment (and possibly handcuffs). Now, Nikon's pocket-size projector-slash-camera lets you stage a screening anywhere you can dim the lights and clear some wall space. It even hooks up to iPads and other devices to increase your feature-presentation options. $430, shop.nikonusa.com.
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