Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $500
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
May 13, 2010 Updated: May 18, 2010
Overview

Taking some of the best attributes of a professional DSLR and wrapping them in a lightweight body with easily accessible controls, the Pentax X90 is a super zoom point and shoot camera designed to make sure you capture the important images of your life, an expectation that photographers have come to demand in today’s digital world.

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My Best In Class Pick
Pentax X90

When seeking a digital camera for travel, there are two features that must be considered. The first one is size. Is it lightweight and compact enough to take everywhere without bogging you down? The other feature is zoom. When you are in a new place and something catches your eye, you want to be able to zero in on the subject for that great shot. And sometimes getting right up next to your subject can be difficult.

With the Pentax X90, these two issues are resolved in a way that compliments the rest of the cameras features, making it a must have on vacation. Whether you are seeking your first Super-zoom camera or looking to upgrade, the Pentax X90 has everything you would expect and more in a take-anywhere companion. With its 26x super-zoom lens, 2.7” LCD screen, HD video capabilities and an electronic viewfinder, this camera will deliver the images you will be happy to share with friends and family. And at 15.1 oz’s, you won’t feel like you’re dragging it around.

When it comes to battery life, an important factor when spending the day away from a power source, Pentax has doubled the battery capacity from previous models to handle up to approx. 255 shots before recharging (as a rule, extra batteries are recommended under any situation).

Two other features of the X90 are worth considering as well. When extending the super-zoom lens to it’s full 26x, you may be concerned about camera shake. Simply set the camera to it’s high-sensitivity anti-shake mode for blur free shots. When activating this feature, the camera automatically sets itself, depending on available light, to as high as 6400 ISO for fast shutter action. And with Face Detection AE and AF modes, the X90 will recognize up to 32 faces in 0.03 seconds. There are also smile capture and blink detection modes for added portrait control.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix HS10

Having it’s own rechargeable battery may give the X90 a let up over the HS10, but that issue has proven to be a personal choice based on availability to a power source and the bulk of carrying (and disposal of) AA’s. With slightly less zoom and a slightly smaller LCD screen, I still think Pentax has enough experience and knowledge to give the X90 an edge over the HS10 when making a long-term purchase decision.

Pros
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Good Anti-Shake
  • +
    Long battery life
  • +
    Long Flash Range
Pentax X90 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Pentax X90
Recommended with
  • EasyStore 8GB SDHC Card (SDSDES-008G-G11, Retail Package)
    $17.37 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 26.0x
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Size: 4.4 x 3.3 x 4.3 in.
  • Battery Life: 255 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Pentax X90
2
Fujifilm FinePix HS10
3
Casio EXILIM EX-FH25
Customer Rating
Price $320.00 $430.87 $850.00
Weight (with batteries) 15.1 oz 23.5 oz 18.5 oz
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Sensor Size
6.0 x 4.4 mm 6.2 x 4.6 mm 6.2 x 4.6 mm
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 26.0x 30.0x 20.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 1600 3200 3200
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes Yes
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LCD Screen Size
2.7 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4) AA-size (x4)
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 1.1 frames/sec 10.0 frames/sec 40.0 frames/sec
Max Video Frame Rate (any resolution) 30 frames/sec 30 frames/sec 1000 frames/sec
2
Fujifilm FinePix HS10

The Fujifilm FinePix HS 10 has all the features that will make this camera one of the most exciting P&S cameras available.

The HS 10 is an excellent camera to take on vacation, or for whatever reason you travel. With a 30x zoom, 10fps shooting, full HD movie capture and triple image stabilization, this camera is sure to get the picture without all the bulk of a comparable SLR system. And with manual zooming with a simple twist of the lens, you still have the quick responsive control you can only expect from an SLR.

Framing your shots is easy too with either the electronic viewfinder or the 3.0” tiltable LCD screen. And feel free to switch back and forth when sizing your subject up. With a motion sensor attached to the electronic viewfinder, your eye signals the camera to use either the viewfinder or the LCD screen, making it easy to capture those fleeting moments as they happen.

For capturing great shots of kids, sports action or wildlife, having the speed of 10fps coupled with a new tracking auto focus feature means you won’t miss critical shots you were never able to get with standard P&S cameras.

For low light situations, the HS 10 uses a back side illumination CMOS sensor that improves the light gathering capabilities by 200% over conventional sensors. This technology makes taking low light images at low ISO rates, or long zoom photos with fast shutter speeds to avoid camera shake, a possibility.

And to round these great features out as the perfect camera for the amateur and professional alike, the controls are easily accessible outside the body of the camera, rather than in menus that require a lot of hunting for the best setting while just the right moment passes. The HS 10 has fully manual or semi-automatic shooting modes as well as Fujifilm’s acclaimed SR Auto mode and a variety of scene modes, all designed to provide the best possible exposure under any situation you find yourself in.

Comparison with Casio EXILIM EX-FH25

Sharing a similar body style, the HS10 comes in a little heavier but has 50% more zoom than the FH25. The FH25 boasts a longer burst and faster video capture, but the HS10 is a solid camera with all-around great qualities that make it a versatile performer. The HS10 also has a pop-up flash and the FH25 has a manual flash.

Pros
  • +
    High ISO
  • +
    Motion Sensor Viewfinder
  • +
    Manual Zoom
Cons
  • -
    AA Batteries
Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix HS10
  • Best Price: $430
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • eneloop 4 pack AA with MQNO6 Charger
    $14.99 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 30.0x
  • Resolution: 10.3MP
  • Size: 5.1 x 3.6 x 5.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 300 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Casio EXILIM EX-FH25

For a speedy response to travel, kid or sports action opportunities, the Casio EX-FH25 has the upper hand over the competition.

Boasting a 40 fps high speed burst rate at full resolution, the FH25 is designed to let you get the shot as you see it, and then choose which ones you want to keep. And for movie action the FH25 has high speed movie capture at 1000 fps allowing you to create slow motion sequences that will allow you to see what normally happens too fast for most cameras.

For added control, choose any of the preset shooting modes and fire away under the perfect shooting situations based on exhaustive research designed to make your picture taking experience an easy one.

This is truly a take-anywhere camera with all the features you have come to expect from a point and shoot super zoom. Like an image stabilized 10mp backlit CMOS sensor, 20x zoom, a 3.0 LCD screen and an electronic viewfinder, all packaged in a lightweight and easy to carry body that fits nicely in your hand.

Pros
  • +
    40fps Continuous Burst
  • +
    1000fps Video Capture
  • +
    Electronic Viewfinder
  • +
    24mm Wide Angle
Cons
  • -
    AA Batteries
Casio EXILIM EX-FH25 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $500
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM EX-FH25
Recommended with
  • eneloop 4 pack AA with MQNO6 Charger
    $14.99 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 20.0x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 4.8 x 3.2 x 3.3 in.
  • Battery Life: 500 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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