Expert Recommendation

Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $750
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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February 9, 2008 Updated: February 13, 2008

Equipped with a Sigma 18-200mm lens, the Canon Rebel XT is a highly capable camera that can handle almost any situation, from travel to children/pet portraits to low light, and even fast action sports situations. The Rebel XT’s strength lies in its great image quality, especially at high ISO in low-light situations, which allows it to snap photos of night scenes or quick-moving children and pets without having to resort to flash. In addition, Sigma 18-200mm lens provides a 29-320mm equivalent zoom range that is versatile enough to cover everything from the wide-angle landscapes encountered on travel to the close-up action of sports photography, making this a capable do-it-all camera setup.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)

Both the Nikon D40 and Canon Rebel XT make for extremely versatile all-around cameras. Both posses very versatile zoom ranges that will handle just about anything you encounter while on travel. Their excellent high ISO ability also makes it easy to get great photos in low light situations and for portraits of fast-moving pets and children. For low light, travel, and portrait purposes, either camera would be an excellent choice.

When it comes to fast action, however, only the Rebel XT is really capable of good results - the Nikon D40 simply doesn’t have a comprehensive enough autofocus system to track fast subjects, nor does it come with a lens with enough reach for most sports, especially if you have to shoot from the stands. The Canon Rebel XT, on the other, has a decent autofocus system and a 320mm equivalent telephoto lens that should be long enough for most sports - combined with its 3fps continuous shooting, minimal shutter lag response, and best-in-class high ISO ability, the Rebel XT is a highly capable fast action camera that will allow you to get the shots in even the most challenging situations.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.9 fps
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Size: 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: No
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)
Customer Rating
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
Weight (without batteries) 17.0 oz 16.0 oz
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
29-320mm (11x) 27-203mm (7.5x)
Image Stabilization Available
Yes No
Storage Media CompactFlash Card, MicroDrive SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Life 400 shots 470 shots
Max ISO Setting Superb Good
Autofocus Rating Average Poor
Shutter Lag Rating Superb Superb
Low light Rating Good Average
Travel Rating Superb Superb
People/Pet portrait Rating Superb Superb
Fast Action Rating Good Poor
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)

The Nikon D40 is Nikon’s entry-level SLR camera, and is one of the most beginner-friendly SLRs on the market. Like all of the other SLRs on the market, the D40 has a fully automatic mode that allows it to be used just like any point and shoot camera, so don’t be daunted by all the buttons and manual controls.

Equipped with a Nikon 18-135mm lens, the D40 will provide a 27-203mm zoom range, covering the most useful range for travel photography perfectly, as well as the 50-200mm range useful for portraits. The lens comes up somewhat short for fast action photography, however. The 18-135 lens has a f/3.5-5.6 aperture range, which is typical for a lens in this range.

Having a large sensor like all SLRs, the Nikon D40 has very good high ISO performance, although the images are not quite as clean as those from the class-leading Canon cameras. The images are still perfectly usable even at the maximum ISO setting however, especially for viewing images on the computer or just making small prints. The D40 doesn’t have any image stabilization built into the body, however, and the recommended 18-135mm lens doesn’t have IS either. The good high ISO ability makes the D40 a very competent camera in low-light and great for taking photos of fast action and fast-moving children and pets, but the lack of any image stabilization system keeps it from being the best low-light performer in this class.

The Nikon D40 has an effective pop-up flash (although flash photos will still have harsh and flat lighting), and also has a hot shoe that can be used with dedicated external flashes, such as the $108 Nikon SB-400.

Nikon’s 18-135mm lens uses “Silent Wave Motor (SWM)” focusing, which allows it to keep up with fast-moving subjects. The D40 has far fewer focus points than most SLRs for tracking subjects however, making it difficult to accurately track subjects, especially if they’re not moving predictably.

The D40 can shoot photos continuously for 2.5fps for an unlimited number of photos. Although a little slower than other cameras in this class, this will allow you to rattle off a burst of photos and choose the best shot or most decisive movement afterwards, a major advantage for fast-paced action scenes.

Like most other SLRs, the Nikon D40 is very responsive, so shutter lag won’t get in the way of precisely-timed photos.

The D40 uses a proprietary Nikon battery, which lasts 470 shots on one charge (CIPA standard), which should be plenty for a typical day or two of travel and most sporting events.

Note: While great for beginners, the Nikon D40 (and D40x) cameras are not autofocus-compatible with certain types of Nikon lenses, such as large aperture “prime” lenses. This isn’t an issue for beginners and the general photography considered here, but for consumers who may want to explore more advanced and creative photography in the future (especially portrait photography of children or pets), the D40 is not a good choice.

Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel, Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Nikon D40 (with 18-135mm Lens)
  • Zoom: 7.5x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Resolution: 6.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.5 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Size: 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
  • Battery Life: 470 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at
  • Dave's Pick at
  • Rated Very Good by

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