Whether your next trip is adventurously riding white-water rapids or leisurely strolling the cobblestones of Spain, you’ll want to capture these amazing memories in great photos. While smartphone manufacturers are certainly improving the quality of your phone’s camera, it’s best to have a reliable digital camera in your travel toolbox to capture crisp, clear images.

Digital Camera Basics:  There are two major types of digital cameras: digital SLR and “point-and-shoot” – though as technology advances, the lines between the two seem to be blurring.

Digital SLR cameras offer manual settings, faster shutter speed and higher quality images, but also come with a higher price tag and are larger in size than “point-and-shoot” cameras. “Point-and-shoot” cameras are less expensive, very compact and often more user-friendly but don’t offer the image quality or shutter speed of SLRs. For a more detailed comparison between the two, check out this article from Digital Photography School.

Features to Look for:  In both camera types, there are certain features you should look for when choosing the right camera. Features include: the size and weight of the camera, image quality, low-light performance, shutter speed, ease of use and flexibility. And remember, megapixels aren’t everything. CNet.com’s digital camera buying guide further highlights the most important things to know when shopping for a new camera.

Top Brand Picks

For a Rugged Lifestyle:  Need a camera that can stand up to hiking, mountain-climbing and even scuba diving? Digital Trends reviews the most rugged and compact cameras able to withstand drops, cold temperatures, water and whatever else you may encounter on your next adventure. For example, the Pentax Optio WG-3 is one of the oldest rugged cameras. It’s waterproof up to 46 feet, shockproof up to almost seven feet and the perfect choice for adventure travelers.

For Pro Shooters:  If you’re looking for the highest quality images and equipment, Travel and Leisure rates the Fujifilm X-E1 on its list of best new cameras. You should also take a look at CNET’s list of best professional digital SLR cameras if you are interested in making a serious camera investment.

For Small but Mighty Options: Are you looking for a compact camera that captures high-quality vacation moments or sight-seeing without the bulk? Check out this list of top compact travel-friendly cameras from Adorama. According to this site, the Canon S-1 is one of the most portable DSLR cameras on the market and is still loaded with features.

For the Budget-Conscious: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a decent point-and-shoot camera. There are many options available today that provide reliable photos with great features for less than $100. For example, at just $88, the Canon PowerShot A2400 IS creates great photos and features a three-inch touch screen. Check out this article from Today's Money on the best budget digital cameras.

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