Multitasking cameras for active families

May 7, 2012 at 4:43 a.m. ET

Need a camera that can keep up with your active family? Here are some camera options that offer the features and convenience you need to make sure you never miss a memory.

Mom photographing daughter

Multitasking musts

If you have kids, you know speed is essential to capture a great shot. You need a camera that's easy to pull out and quickly snap a photo. You also need a camera that takes great photos of fast-moving targets. Action shots come with the territory when you're a mom photographer.

Your camera has to be fast, take photos and video and if you can avoid lugging around a bag full of equipment, it would make life a whole lot easier. That's not to say you're willing to sacrifice quality photos for portability. You're making memories, so of course you want your family photos to be stunning.

Multitasking camera options

So how do you go about finding a camera that gives you all the features you want in a convenient package? Here are our top picks.

Smartphone cameras

Smartphone cameras are surging in popularity due to their convenience, ease of photo sharing and plethora of apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram that let you play around with the appearance of your photos. The iPhone 4S camera has eight megapixels, a built-in flash, face detection and in-camera editing.

Point-and-shoot cameras

Digital point-and-shoot cameras, as their name suggests, are practically effortless to use. Their compact size means you can easily stash them in your pocket or purse and grab them at a moment's notice to snap photos whenever you like. These small cameras are budget-friendly, too, ranging in price from around $100 to $400.

We like the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS. It's packed with features like eight times optical zoom, an optical image stabilizer for clear images, HD video capability and a smart AUTO function that picks the right settings for you, so you can focus on your family instead of figuring out how to set up the camera. Plus, we love the stylish color options including blue, red and pink.

If you hate being bothered with uploading photos from your camera's memory card to your computer for sharing with families and friends, but don't want to sacrifice quality by turning to your smartphone camera full-time, try the Canon PowerShot ELPH 530S HS. This sleek little camera comes with built-in Wi-Fi, so you can share your family photos and video just about anywhere.

Bridge camera

A bridge camera is a high end digital camera that offers many of the features of a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, such as greater zooming capability, with the convenience of a smaller point and shoot. If you consider yourself an advanced amateur, but aren't ready to step up to an SLR camera, this could be the camera for you. The cost of such an advanced digital camera is typically between $300 and $800.

Our pick in this category is the feature-packed Canon PowerShot GX1. It "shines" even in low light situations -- so you can get great shots at the kids' nighttime sporting events or indoor activities.

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR)

A DSLR probably isn't the camera you'd grab to snap everyday photos. However, if you have a strong interest in photography and want to invest in a more substantial piece of equipment, consider a DSLR. The Canon EOS Rebel T3 is a great intro DSLR that lets you create amazing photos and videos.

Family vacation ideas

Looking for more ways to enjoy your family vacation? Check out Family Travel City Guide TV -- you'll find everything from the best local staycation venues to the hottest family adventure spots all over the country.

More photography tips

Travel with kids: Give a kid a camera
Mommy bloggers share their photography secrets
Advice on shooting video with your point and shoot camera