Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital SLR Camera for Travel Photos Under $800
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 10, 2009
Overview

For the serious photographer who wants the Best In Class DSLR when traveling, the Nikon D5000 is the right camera at the right price. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an eager beginner, the D5000 has the features to get you exploring new vistas with confidence.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

Taking the Nikon D5000 with you on your journeys near and far, you’re sure to get the kind of images you will be proud to hang on your walls or share with your friends.

Starting with Nikon’s long history of well-built, intelligent cameras, add Live View, HD movie capability and in-camera editing and you have moved into the future of travel photography.

For sharp, clear images the D500 uses a 12.3mp DX-format sized CMOS sensor, the EXPEED high-speed image-processing system, an 11 pt. auto focus system and Image sensor cleaning. Add Nikon’s 55-200 VR zoom Nikkor lens to expand your creative possibilities.

The D5000 has a solid, easy-to-hold, body design with a 2.7-inch vari-angle (swivel) LCD monitor, D-movie mode with sound to record 720p HD movie clips, one button Live View mode for setting up beautiful still life shots and 19 scene modes for achieving the perfect settings for a variety of subjects.

Bring along the ML-L3 wireless remote control and take great self portraits of yourself and your travel partners in front of landmarks without the hassle of putting your camera into the hands of strangers.

And when you’re all done for the day, sit back and enjoy playing with your images using such features as D-Lighting, red-eye correction, image overlay, quick retouch and straightening.

The fun never ends with the D5000.

Comparison with Pentax K20D (with 18-55mm Lens)

Even though Nikon builds some sturdy DSLR bodies, the Pentax K20D offers a little better protection when in the extreme elements. And for lenses, the D5000 is limited to the AF-S style lenses where all Pentax DSLR’s can use any Pentax lens. For vibration reduction, with the D5000 you will need VR lenses while for the K20D, the SR (shake reduction) is built in the camera. Also, the K20D has a 14.6mp imaging sensor, the D5000 has a 12.3mp sensor and the Pentax is a little heavier than the Nikon.

Comparison with Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)

While both the D5000 and the E-620 have the swivel LCD, 12.3 imaging sensors and 4fps shooting capability, the D5000 leaves the image stabilization up to the lens. The D5000 also switched to an SD memory card from Compact Flash. Olympus merely added Compact Flash along with the XD card.

Pros
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    19 scene modes
  • +
    Nice built in editing functions
Cons
  • -
    No auto focus with video
  • -
    AF-S lenses only for auto focus
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens) is the Best Digital SLR Camera for Travel Photos Under $800
Where to buy
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
Recommended with
  • Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Zoom Nikkor Lens
    $216.95 @ Amazon.com
  • Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control for Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D80 & D90 Digital SLR Cameras
    $14.61 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
  • Size: 5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 510 shots
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Nikon D5000 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
2
Pentax K20D (with 18-55mm Lens)
3
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)
Customer Rating
Price $999.00 $1999.00
Weight (without batteries) 19.8 oz 25.2 oz 16.8 oz
Weatherproof No Yes No
Anti-Dust Available Yes Yes Yes
?
Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.3 sec 0.4 - 0.5 sec 0.3 sec
Video Available Yes No No
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) Optical (sensor shift) Optical (in-body sensor shift)
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 6400 6400 3200
?
Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes Yes
?
LCD Screen Size
2.7 in. 2.7 in. 2.7 in.
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card CompactFlash Card, MicroDrive, xD-Picture Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Pentax K20D (with 18-55mm Lens)

Building on the excellent performance of the K10D by adding live view and a newly designed 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, Pentax has proven it wants to be the camera for the advanced amateur.

Approach waterfalls, dusty roads and dewy fields with confidence. Built solidly with a dust-proof, water-resistant construction, you can wander into any shooting situation and not have to worry about damaging the K20D.

Got lenses? Another good reason to buy Pentax is that any lens made by Pentax is compatible as far back as 1973 without an adapter. So if you already have a Pentax camera, or have access to Pentax lenses, you will be able to use them with the K20D!

With the K20D Pentax upgraded their SR (Shake Reduction) system, a comprehensive Dust Removal system, a multi-mode exposure system and their own PRIME (PENTAX Real Image Engine) to ensure the camera is processing your images in the best way possible.

Wasting time flipping through menus can be a real waste of time, Pentax makes it easy to take control with a Hyper Program function. With a simple turn of a dial you can set the aperture or shutter while in AE mode. And when in the manual mode, hit a button next to the shutter release and set the exposure automatically. Don’t be daunted by the controls placed on top and behind the camera. They are there for a purpose and are designed to help. And they do, giving you quick access to a variety of features that put you in control. A very nice feature of the K20D

The K20D features both a 2.7” LCD monitor for reviewing your photos and scrolling through menus, and a smaller LCD on top of the camera that supplies information about a variety of settings.

All in all, this is a great camera for the travel photographer who wants options and knows how to use them.

Pros
  • +
    Weatherproof
  • +
    Lens options
  • +
    Useful controls
Cons
  • -
    No video
  • -
    Heavy body
Pentax K20D (with 18-55mm Lens) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Travel Photos Under $800
Where to buy
Pentax K20D (with 18-55mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Pentax BG2 Battery Grip for Pentax K10D and K20D DSLR Cameras
    $290.10 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 14.6MP
  • Size: 5.6 x 4.0 x 2.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 720 shots
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)

Weighing in at a lean 18.9-ounces, the E-620 won’t slow you down as you wander the streets of Paris or run from the bulls in Pamplona. In fact, with all of the editing functions built in, you won’t have to spend hours tied down to your computer either.

With a 12.3mp four thirds imaging sensor, image stabilization, a bright 2.7” LCD screen and Olympus’ own TruePic III+ Image Processor, the E-620 has the stuff to capture all of your shooting situations.

Take it anywhere . With Shadow Adjustment Technology you can shoot in high or low light and the camera will adjust to make sure you get the details out of every scene. And the SAT function works in editing too.

Pros
  • +
    Supersonic Wave Filterâ„¢
  • +
    Swivel LCD
  • +
    In Camera editing functions
  • +
    Shadow adjustment technology
Cons
  • -
    Compact Flash or XD only
  • -
    No video
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Travel Photos Under $800
Where to buy
Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm Lenses)
Recommended with
  • Maximal Power DB OLY BLS-1 Replacement Battery for Olympus Digital Camera/Camcorder (Black)
    $7.87 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
  • Size: 5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 500 shots
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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