Unless you're already some kind of photo jock, all you really need at trip time is a camera that's compact and takes good-looking shots without much fuss. These are the standouts from a crowded field. Prices vary dramatically depending on where you shop.
POINT-AND-SHOOT No need to pore over instruction manuals—these popular models are ready to roll.
1. Yashica T-4 Super D
Type: 35mm with fixed focal lens (i.e., non-zoom).
Weight: 6 oz.
Why: Best bargain; uncomplicated and durable; extra viewfinder for shooting from very high or low angles.
2. Olympus Stylus Zoom 115 DLX
>Type: 35mm with zoom lens.
Weight: 8.6 oz.
Why: Attractive upgrade; wide-range zoom lens (38-115mm); elegant yet sturdy design; panoramic mode; optional remote control.
USE IT, THEN LOSE IT Buy a disposable camera and forget fussing with film—just turn the whole thing over for processing.
3. Fuji QuickSnaps
Why: The smallest and lightest around. The Super Slim Outdoor (25 exposures) is the size of a credit card (but has no flash).
Weight: 1.4 oz.
Price: $10. For indoor or nighttime shots, use the slightly larger Super Slim Flash.
Weight: 2.97 oz.
SERIOUS SNAPS Pick up a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera and dabble in some "real" photography: change lenses for extreme long shots, close-ups, or wide angles; switch to manual focus and exposure to gain control over your images.
4. Nikon N50
Type: 35mm SLR.
Weight: 6.4 oz.
Why: Ideal for amateurs; interchangeable lens (35-80mm, f/4-f/5.6); LCD panel; matrix metering; built-in flash. Solid frame.
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING CAMERA With its cool, sleek design, the ELPH 490Z is fully loaded, with a wide-range zoom lens—and is still no bigger than your palm. Since it's a new Advanced Photo System camera, it employs APS film, which requires no manual threading, advancing, or rewinding. And you can select panoramic and wide-angle prints from the same shot, even after processing. However, film and processing cost considerably more with APS than with regular film.
5. Canon ELPH 490Z
Type: Advanced Photo System (APS).
Weight: 10.2 oz.
Why: Size, style, and substance; 22.5-90mm lens; optional remote control.
DIGITAL DEVELOPMENTS Buyer beware: pocket-size digital cameras, however expensive they may be, render poor images that require a lot of extra hardware to produce. But they don't need film, and you can view your pictures immediately on a laptop, television, or, with some models, a screen on the camera. Digital pictures are ideal for E-mailing to friends or posting on a Web site. And better technology is forthcoming.
6. Olympus D-220L
Weight: 9.2 oz.
Why: Currently the best bet; top photo quality for cameras in its price range; stores up to 80 photos in its memory, removable memory card holds even more; color screen for previewing.