Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $300 with Waterproof Body
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 18, 2009 Updated: November 19, 2009
Overview

When the seasons change, so do a lot of photographers activities. Some folks head for warm beaches while others hit the ski slopes or snowmobile trails. Whichever one you prefer, when considering what camera to take, the choice is easy, a compact with all the features you expect wrapped up in a protective, waterproof body. And for my Best in Class solution to getting those great travel shots, I recommend the Pentax Optio W80.

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My Best In Class Pick
Pentax Optio W80

Weighing in at a lightweight 4.8oz’s, the W80 is the perfect camera to take on trips to places where packing light is the plan.

But consider these other great features of the W80 and travel with confidence that you will be getting the shots you went so far to capture. A 12.1mp sensor, a class-leading 5x zoom, HD video, an anti-reflective 2.5” LCD screen, speedy fast automatic face detection and plenty of in-camera features that let you compose and create original visual effects.

And if you’ve missed too many shots because of fussing with scene modes and other settings, the PENTAX-original Auto Picture mode is a user-friendly feature that automatically chooses the settings for certain situations for you. Freeing you up for more shussing down the slopes, swimming with the dolphins or simply holding an umbrella for your traveling companion.

Use the Triple Anti-shake protection when the going gets tough or the light starts to get low. Use the Pixel Track SR mode to protect your images from too much camera shake, the High-Sensitivity SR mode to make sure you get the shot in low light and Movie SR mode to prevent blurring while shooting movies.

All in all, the W80 just might be the best thing to take along when heading out this winter, wherever you go.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot D10

The W80 seems to top Canon in most of the important categories, suprising as it may be. With more wide angle (28mm W80, 35mm D10), HD video, 5x zoom and weighing in at only 5.5 oz’s, the W80 is a lighter and more robust camera than the D10.

Comparison with Olympus Stylus Tough 8000

As if these two are competing like siblings, the W80 has doubled it’s face detection to 32 faces versus 16 for the Tough 8000. Tap control makes the Tough 8000 an easy to handle camera in difficult situations.

Pros
  • +
    5x zoom
  • +
    Bright LCD
  • +
    HD video
  • +
    Lightweight
Pentax Optio W80 is the Best Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $300 with Waterproof Body
Where to buy
Pentax Optio W80
Recommended with
  • Zeikos ZE-FS10-OR Floating Strap (Orange)
    $10.22 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Size: 3.9 x 2.2 x 1.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 170 shots
  • Waterproof: Yes
More
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Pentax Optio W80
2
Canon PowerShot D10
3
Olympus Stylus Tough 8000
Customer Rating
Price $399.99 $239.95
Size (W x H x D) 3.9 x 2.2 x 1.0 in. 4.1 x 2.6 x 1.9 in. 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
Weight (with batteries) 5.3 oz 7.4 oz 7.1 oz
Colors Red, Blue, Gray Blue Black, Blue, Silver
Weatherproof Yes Yes Yes
Shockproof Yes Yes Yes
Waterproof Yes Yes Yes
?
Sensor Size
6.0 x 4.5 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm 6.0 x 4.4 mm
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.4 frames/sec 1.1 frames/sec 1.1 frames/sec
Video Available Yes Yes Yes
HD Video Available Yes No No
Optical Zoom 5.0x 3.0x 3.6x
Image Stabilization Type No Optical (lens shift) Optical (sensor shift)
Max Shutter Speed 1/1500 sec 1/1500 sec 1/1000 sec
Max ISO Setting 6400 1600 1600
?
Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
?
Viewfinder Available
No No No
?
LCD Screen Size
2.5 in. 2.5 in. 2.7 in.
Flash Range (tele-photo) 12.8 ft 1.0 - 6.6 ft 1.0 - 8.9 ft
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card xD-Picture Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Canon PowerShot D10

For Canon point and shoot fans who are planning on traveling to wet and wild locations, a self-contained underwater camera is finally here. No more slapping underwater housings on your camera just so you can take it in the water or up on the ski hill.

Packed inside this goofy looking body, the biggest in it’s class, is a 12mp imaging sensor, an F2.8-4.9 lens with 3.0x optical zoom and optical image stabilization, a bright 2.5” PureColor LCD II with 2mm protective shield and the ability to shoot 30fps VGA movies. The D10 has everything you need inside while looking like it really belongs outside, or underwater.

The design of the D10 makes it a great traveling companion when taken into fast moving activities that leave little room for messing with dials and menus. Conveniently located on the back of the camera body, all of the controls are buttons , allowing you to make quick changes so you can pay more attention to new vistas.

And just to make sure you don’t run the risk of watching your D10 sink down below the 33ft. limit, add the optional kit of wrist/neck straps.

Pros
  • +
    Digic 4
  • +
    Smart auto mode
  • +
    Button controls
Cons
  • -
    Big body
Canon PowerShot D10 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $300 with Waterproof Body
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot D10
  • Best Price: $239
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Canon AKT-DC1 Accessory kit for Canon D10 Digital Underwater Camera
    $128.95 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.6 x 1.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 220 shots
  • Waterproof: 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
Olympus Stylus Tough 8000

When Olympus decided to call their waterproof cameras “Tough”, they made sure to follow that boast up with a “tough” design. And with Tap control, they are even encouraging you to smack it.

Tap control is a unique way to change settings, scroll through images or turn on the flash. A real plus when wearing gloves.

Comparable to other cameras in it’s class, the Olympus Tough 8000 has a 12mp sensor, a 2.7” HyperCrystal III LCD, a 3.6x zoom lens with a 28mm wide angle and dual image stabilization.

But unlike most of it’s competitors, the Tough 8000 can take a beating and keep on looking good.

Pros
  • +
    In camera panorama
  • +
    Tap control
  • +
    Dual image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    XD and mini SD cards only
  • -
    Settings reset when shut off
Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $300 with Waterproof Body
Where to buy
Olympus Stylus Tough 8000
Recommended with
  • Zeikos ZE-FS10-OR Floating Strap (Orange)
    $10.22 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 250 shots
  • Waterproof: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

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