Expert Recommendation

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

Sporting a class-leading super-bright zoom lens that is sharp and offers an outstanding wide-angle view for capturing landscapes, a superb HD movie mode, and good battery life in a sturdy metal body, this camera is the best-in-class companion for novice as well as advanced users when traveling.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic is the pioneer of wide-angle image-stabilized digital cameras. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is the latest top-of-line offering with significant improvements over its acclaimed predecessor (LX2). The camera now can capture a wider brightness range for high contrast images (e.g. a typical sunny outdoor scene has a wider brightness range than a conventional cameras can capture). The feature helps avoid blown-out highlights while retaining detailed shadows.

The unique sensor design offers optimum resolution for various image aspect ratios (e.g. 16:9 - good for landscapes, 4:3 - for portraits, etc.). The lens is sharp and brightest (widest aperture) of them all, which facilitates blur-free shots when hand-held. It offers a best-in-class wide-angle view for capturing dynamic, richly expressive landscapes with a wide perspective. During playback you will love viewing these on a high resolution 3” LCD screen. It also offers an HD movie mode.

The camera offers many scene modes, including Intelligent AUTO mode (it automatically sets the appropriate scene mode according to the picture you are about to take) for easy operation and full manual controls (including RAW mode) for use by advanced users.

In nutshell this is best-in-class travel camera offering outstanding image quality and feature set.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5

Better resolution, image quality and brighter lens offering wider angle view. However if one fancy long zooms then TZ5 is preferred choice.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A650 IS

Better dynamic range, wider angle view, compacter and better build quality.

Pros
  • +
    Best in class lens (brighter and wider)
  • +
    Outstanding image quality
  • +
    Rich feature set catering to novice and advanced users
  • +
    Class leading LCD resolution (460K dots) that is great for framing and checking focus
  • +
    Compact size
  • +
    Well built
Cons
  • -
    Small zoom range (2.5x)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Best Price: $402
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 2.5x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 380 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 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
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
3
Canon PowerShot A650 IS
Customer Rating
Price $402.09
Size (W x H x D) 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 4.4 x 2.7 x 2.2 in.
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
10.1 megapixels 9.1 megapixels 12.1 megapixels
?
Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.8 sec 0.4 - 0.5 sec 0.5 - 0.9 sec
Power to First Shot Time 2.3 sec 2.5 sec 1.6 sec
Video Zoom Available (while recording) No Yes No
Max Video Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels 1280 x 720 pixels 640 x 480 pixels
Max Video Frame Rate (max resolution) 24 frames/sec 30 frames/sec 30 frames/sec
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
24 mm 28 mm 35 mm
?
Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
60 mm 280 mm 210 mm
Optical Zoom 2.5x 10.0x 6.0x
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
?
Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.0 f/3.3 f/2.8
?
Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/2.8 f/4.9 f/4.8
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
?
Viewfinder Available
Yes No Yes
LCD Screen Resolution 460000 pixels 460000 pixels 173000 pixels
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4)
Battery Life 380 shots 300 shots 500 shots
Image Quality
Corner to corner Sharpness Good Good Good
Fine details & colors Good Above average Good
Low light (High ISO) Performance Best in class Average Good
?
Sensor Size
7.9 x 5.9 mm 6.0 x 4.4 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5

The Pansonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is part of the highly successful TZ (Travel Zoom) series. It packs a class-leading versatile 10x zoom lens with a wide angle view in a 1.44” thick sturdy metal body.

Despite being so tightly packed, the lens retains its sharpness & produces little distortion across the zoom range which is commendable. Battery life has been improved over its predecessor making it a great companion for travel. The camera also features a superb HD movie mode that supports using the optical zoom while recording movies (a rare feature among compacts).

For easy operation it also offers an Intelligent Auto Mode. However stuffing so many pixels on tiny sensors does take its toll, resulting in images which are clean but devoid of low contrast fine details because of noise reduction (smaller pixels are noisy & require higher noise reduction to produce clean images). Nevertheless this is generally true for all cameras in its class.

In nutshell, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 has good image quality with corner-to-corner sharpness, a versatile zoom range, and a superb movie mode making it a good travel companion.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A650 IS

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is more versatile for travel, with a wider angle view, a greater zoom range, a better movie mode, and a smaller size. The Canon PowerShot A650 IS has a slight edge on image quality.

Pros
  • +
    Class leading 10x zoom with wide angle view
  • +
    Low distortion lens with good corner-to-corner sharpness
  • +
    Sturdy metal body
  • +
    Class leading LCD resolution
  • +
    Good image quality
Cons
  • -
    Lacks useful Aperture/Shutter priority modes.
  • -
    Images lack low contrast fine details because of heavy noise reduction
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 9.1MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 300 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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
Canon PowerShot A650 IS

The Canon PowerShot A650 IS is the most affordable camera with a swivel LCD feature & optical viewfinder in the Canon lineup. It has a high resolution 12 Megapixel sensor and a sharp 6x optical zoom lens, which is great for capturing landscapes.

The swivel LCD is great for shooting landscapes when using a tripod or taking over-the-head shots of tourist attractions at crowded places. The optical viewfinder is helpful for framing shots of bright sunny outdoor scenes (the image on an LCD screen is difficult to see under such conditions).

Along with an Auto mode and many scene modes, it also offers full manual modes. It runs on 4 AA Batteries, which is good for travel as one can use off-the-shelf alkaline batteries if needed. For enhanced versatility, it can support wide-angle and tele-photo conversion lenses, which are available separately as accessories.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The Canon PowerShot A650 IS is more versatile and a preferred choice for travel with higher resolution, a sharper lens, an optical viewfinder, and a swivel LCD.

Pros
  • +
    Great image quality with good resolution
  • +
    Good corner-to-corner sharpness
  • +
    Useful Aperture/Shutter priority modes
  • +
    Swivel LCD & optical viewfinder
  • +
    Uses AA batteries
Cons
  • -
    Lacks a wide angle view (compared to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5)
  • -
    Bulky
Canon PowerShot A650 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot A650 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Size: 4.4 x 2.7 x 2.2 in.
  • Battery Life: 500 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is a superzoom without an eye-level viewfinder, a first of its kind from Canon. It offers an 8MP resolution sensor and is equipped with a sharp 10x super-zoom lens that is a snappy performer. The camera runs on 2 AA batteries. Along with an Auto mode and lots of scene modes, it also offers full manual modes (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.) for use by advanced users.

Recently a minor upgrade (SX110IS) has been launched with slight increase in resolution and tad smaller size. It should also perform similarly.

Pros
  • +
    Good zoom range
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Useful Aperture/Shutter priority modes
  • +
    Uses AA batteries
Cons
  • -
    Lacks a wide angle view
  • -
    Build quality could be better
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Size: 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.