Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $1000
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 30, 2008
Overview

With outstanding image quality from a large APS-C sized 12 Megapixel resolution sensor, a sharp image-stabilized kit lens, the Canon Digital Rebel XSi is the perfect travel companion. It has an Auto Mode with lots of Scene Modes for easy operation by novice users. For advanced users, it has full manual modes and supports a RAW image format.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

Yes, it is a DSLR. However one can always use it as a typical point-and-shoot camera with its kit lens mounted and in Auto Mode or a Scene Mode. This DSLR has a live-view mode in which one can use rear LCD for framing the shot (as is the case with point-and-shoot cameras). The camera comes with many useful features like EOS Integrated Cleaning System (i.e. to reduce chances of dust settling on sensor) and Auto lighting optimizer (to brighten up details in shadows while protecting highlights).

DSLRs have a real advantage in image quality as they have much larger sensors (about 10-15 times the size) than prosumer cameras like the Panasonic FZ18. So each pixel is larger and therefore more sensitive to light. This translates into much lower noise at high ISO settings. This is essential for making effective use of “auto lighting optimizer” feature, to avoid shadows becoming too noisy and lacking in detail and to provide better dynamic range (range of light-levels between darkest and brightest areas in a scene). So you will have less blown out areas in high contrast scenes (typical sunny outdoors).

The camera’s image stabilized kit lens is one of the best around with good corner to corner sharpness. The wider end of the zoom range is great for capturing landscapes, while the 3x zoom range is adequate for a walk-around lens.

Comparison with Olympus E-520 (with 14-42mm Lens)

Better resolution, dynamic range and noise performance.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

Much better resolution, dynamic range and noise performance. Less image processing artifacts.

Pros
  • +
    outstanding image quality with rich colors and fine details
  • +
    sharp image-stabilized kit lens
  • +
    rich feature set catering to novice and advanced users
  • +
    Good battery life
  • +
    Live-view
  • +
    Value for money
Cons
  • -
    Small zoom range (3x) in kit lens
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $689
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.2MP
  • Size: 5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 500 shots
  • 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

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
2
Olympus E-520 (with 14-42mm Lens)
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Customer Rating
Price $689.00 $999.95
Size (W x H x D) 5.1 x 3.8 x 2.4 in. 5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in. 4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in.
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.2 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 8.1 megapixels
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.2 sec 0.4 sec 0.4 - 0.5 sec
Power to First Shot Time 0.2 sec 1.2 sec 3.1 sec
Max Video Resolution - - 848 x 480 pixels
Max Video Frame Rate (max resolution) - - 30 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
29 mm 28 mm 28 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
88 mm 84 mm 504 mm
Optical Zoom 3.0x 3.0x 18.0x
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.5 f/3.5 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.6 f/5.6 f/4.2
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
LCD Screen Resolution 230000 pixels 230000 pixels 207000 pixels
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Life 500 shots 650 shots 400 shots
Image Quality
lens quality Good Good good
colors & fine details Very good Very good good
shadow details Excellent Very good average
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Sensor Size
22.2 x 14.8 mm 18.00 x 13.50 mm 5.8 x 4.3 mm
2
Olympus E-520 (with 14-42mm Lens)

This DSLR may appeal more to typical point-and-shoot (P&S) camera user as it offers larger selection of scene modes and also has a face-detection feature.

Other useful features are in-body image stabilization (sensor-shift type), dust protection system, Shadow Adjustment Technology (i.e. brightening up shadows before saving them).

The kit lens is great producing image with good corner to corner sharpness.

However the Dynamic range and noise performance are not as good as that of Canon’s due to smaller sensor size. Nevertheless the camera provides good value with in-body image stabilizer and good kit lens.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

Much better resolution, dynamic range and noise performance. Less image processing artifacts.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality with rich colors and fine details
  • +
    Sharp kit lens
  • +
    Rich feature set catering to novice and advanced users
  • +
    Good battery life
  • +
    Live-view
  • +
    In-body image stabilization
  • +
    Value for money
Cons
  • -
    Small zoom range (3x) in kit lens
Olympus E-520 (with 14-42mm Lens) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Olympus E-520 (with 14-42mm Lens)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Size: 5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 650 shots
  • Easy to Use: No
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

The latest super-zoom with an eye-level viewfinder from Panasonic, the FZ18 packs an 18x zoom lens and an 8.1 megapixel resolution sensor in a compact body. Despite such an ambitious zoom range, the lens produces minimal distortion and retains good corner-to-corner sharpness.

For easy operation it also offers an Intelligent Auto Mode, where the camera sets the appropriate scene mode by automatically selecting it from the most frequently used scene modes, such as Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Night Portrait and Night Scenery.

For advanced users it offers full-featured manual controls and the option to shoot in RAW image format (RAW images contain more data and require post processing on computers to convert them to popular JPG format. One can use image editing techniques before JPG conversion to maximize image quality.).

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 is a minor upgrade with increased resolution and a slightly wider angle view lens and was recently released and should perform similarly.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot S5 IS

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is a better and more versatile travel camera with its lower distortion and reduced color fringing problems (red or purple halos around high contrast edges in images), wider angle view with a larger zoom range, and RAW mode.

Pros
  • +
    Versatile zoom range (18x)
  • +
    Superb lens (best among sperzooms)
  • +
    rich feature set catering to novice and advanced users
  • +
    Good battery life
  • +
    RAW mode (a rarity among P&S cameras)
Cons
  • -
    Image processing could do with less noise reduction
  • -
    Default contrast is a bit too high
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Specifications
  • Zoom: 18.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Size: 4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Canon PowerShot S5 IS

This camera is the latest upgrade in Canon’s highly successful “S” series of super-zooms with a unique swivel LCD. It has an 8 megapixel resolution sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens.The camera features full manual control options.

‘The camera offers a superb movie mode and can be safely considered as a camera & camcorder rolled into one, which is a great convenience when traveling.

The swivel LCD is great for shooting landscapes when using a tripod or taking over-the-head shots of tourist attractions at crowded places.

Battery life is great and image quality is good.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

Better lens, less fringing problems, better movie mode.

Pros
  • +
    Swivel LCD
  • +
    Ability to zoom while recording movies
  • +
    Uses AA size batteries
  • +
    Good image quality
Cons
  • -
    Wide end of lens could be wider
  • -
    Fringing problems at high contrast edges
Canon PowerShot S5 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Size: 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 450 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
5
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS

This camera is top of line superzoom offering from Fuji. Equipped with 50% larger sensor (than other superzooms) and 14x zoom range it is being promoted as an all-in-one alternative to DSLR cameras. The rich feature set includes “wide dynamic range”, Face Detection with automatic red-eye removal, tilt LCD (up and down), ability to zoom during movie capture and RAW mode.

However the camera disappoints on image quality front. The images suffer from fringing problems (purple/green halos around high contrast borders). The effect is quite noticeable. In addition the lens produces soft corners blurring away fine details in that area.

Pros
  • +
    Tilt LCD
  • +
    Ability to zoom while recording movies
  • +
    Good zoom range and feature set
  • +
    Less noisy among superzooms
Cons
  • -
    Soft corners in images
  • -
    Fringing problems at high contrast edges
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S100FS
  • Best Price: $735
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 14.3x
  • Resolution: 11.1MP
  • Size: 5.2 x 3.7 x 5.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 250 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com

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