Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $650
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 9, 2008 Updated: August 10, 2008
Overview

Though it’s no longer the newest Canon Rebel series model, the Rebel XT still produces the best high-ISO images in the entry-level market, delivering cleaner and more detailed images than any of its competitors. Combined with Canon’s new 18-55 IS lens, the package delivers the best low-light SLR on the market, all for a lower price than most other basic SLR kits.

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

Though it’s been around longer than any other DSLR camera on the market, the Canon Rebel XT is a classic camera that still shares the same sensor technology as Canon’s newest cameras, delivering unrivaled image quality and high-ISO ability even today. Combined with the 18-55 image-stabilized lens, the Rebel XT should have nearly no problems avoiding camera shake and even freezing fast-action motion in low-light situations.

Canon’s 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens provides a typical 29-88mm (3x) zoom range - great for everyday photography, although a little lacking on the long end for something like sports, which is typical for most SLR kit lenses. The f/3.5-5.6 aperture range is typical for a basic zoom lens.

Comparison with Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

With its superb high-ISO ability, greater lens compatibility, and cheaper price, the Rebel XT beats out the Nikon D60 in every single category.

Comparison with Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

With better high-ISO performance and a slightly cheaper price, the Rebel XT is the hands-down best choice for pure low-light performance. However, the K200D includes a few useful features not specific to low-light, including a more advanced autofocus system, weather-sealed body for rainy or dusty conditions, and an in-body IS system that will help to reduce camera shake with all lenses, not just the kit lens.

Pros
  • +
    Superb high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized lens
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $650
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
Recommended with
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS SLR Lens
    $162.25 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: No
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
2
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
3
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)
Customer Rating
Price $949.00
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.2 x 3.7 x 2.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 17.0 oz 17.5 oz 22.2 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
29 mm 27 mm 27 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
88 mm 83 mm 83 mm
Optical Zoom 3.0x 3.0x 3.0x
Important low-light features
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Lens Shift Optical (lens shift) Sensor Shift
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.5 f/3.5 f/3.5
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.6 f/5.6 f/5.6
Battery Life 400 shots 500 shots 550 shots
High ISO quality Superb Good Good
Overall Low-light Rating Superb Good Good
2
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

The D60 is Nikon’s entry-level DSLR, a basic camera with most of the typical abilities of an SLR camera, though it misses a number of key advanced features.

The D60’s high-ISO ability is above average - you’ll be able to freeze motion and get fairly clean photos in low-light situations, although the images aren’t nearly as detailed as the class-leading Canon cameras. The D60 kit also features an image-stabilized lens, helping to reduce camera shake for static scenes as well.

The D60’s 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 VR lens covers a 27-83mm zoom range, which is just fine for everyday photography, although it’s not really long enough for things like sports. The f/3.5-5.6 aperture range is typical for a basic zoom lens.

The one weak point of the D60, is its lack of an in-camera autofocus motor, which will prevent users from autofocusing with a number of Nikon lenses, including most of Nikon’s large aperture prime lenses that are suited for low-light situations. If you plan on simply taking snapshots and never upgrading to newer equipment, the D60 will be a fine fit, but if you may be interested in learning more photography or eventually graduating to more advanced equipment, you’re better off looking elsewhere for a camera you can learn and grow with.

Comparison with Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

The D60 lags far behind the Pentax K200D’s extensive featurelist, which includes a far more advanced autofocus system, weather-sealed body, and in-body IS system that works with all lenses, not just the kit lens. In terms of pure low-light ability, however, the Nikon D60 comes out slightly on top due to its’ more stronger noise reduction, which loses some detail but delivers cleaner and more usable out-of-the-box images than the K200D.

Pros
  • +
    Above average high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Incompatible with some Nikon lenses
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $650
Where to buy
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
  • Best Price: $949
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: No
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
3
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

The Pentax K200D is a full-featured entry-level SLR camera. While it’s not class-leading, the K200D offers good high-ISO quality, producing images that tend to be grainy but also extremely detailed. The K200D also features a built-in image-stabilized sensor system which helps to reduce camera shake no matter what lens is used.

The K200D’s 18-55 lens offers a 27-83mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom range, which works great for general photography but doesn’t get close enough if you want to shoot long-range subjects like sports. The f/3.5-5.6 aperture range is typical for a basic zoom lens.

Pros
  • +
    Above average high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized sensor
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $650
Where to buy
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.1x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: No
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

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