Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital Camera Overall Under $600
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 19, 2009 Updated: October 21, 2009
Overview

Are you looking to take magazine quality photos with a lightweight camera designed for people on the go? Do you want to capture the action at the ballfield, on the stage or in the backyard without breaking the bank? Then check out these three cameras to find the perfect options to suit your needs.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

The Nikon D60 was designed with the casual consumer in mind. The kind of photographer who doesn’t want to be bothered with all of the technical aspects of operating their camera. The kind of photographer who wants high quality images of family, vacations and everyday life they can share with friends or post on their facebook page without being strapped to a “system”.

Lightweight and responsive, the D60 can be grabbed at a moments notice or handed to someone for that quick shot with the confidence that the moment will be captured without an art school degree.

With a 10MP sensor and 3.0 FPS shutter speed, interchangeable lenses (AF-S and AF-I only) all packed into a solid, compact body, the D60 is a slight step-up from it’s predecessor, the D40, another very popular camera that changed the way people view the modern DSLR.

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

Although the Nikon D60 was able to reduce it’s weight by removing the focusing motor from the camera body, that limits lense variety. With Pentax, you have the freedom to use any Pentax lens since they began making them.

The Nikon D60 is lighter at 18oz compared to the 24oz K200D.

I am also a big fan of the Lithium Ion battery and charger that are standard with the Nikon package versus four AA’s, which the Pentax takes.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX20 IS

Having the freedom of changing lenses is very important to me, it allows for more versatility in a wide variety of shooting situations. Having said that though, the 20x optical zoom lens of the SX20 IS may be adequate enough for most peoples needs. Plus, with a 12MP imaging sensor, you can crop even tighter on your subject without sacrificing quality.

The SX20 IS does have the ability to create movie clips at 30FPS.

Pros
  • +
    Remote control
  • +
    D-lighting
  • +
    Lithium Ion Battery
  • +
    Dust reduction
Cons
  • -
    Lens options are limited
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens) is the Best Digital Camera Overall Under $600
Where to buy
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
  • Best Price: $949
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Zoom Nikkor Lens
    $216.95 @ Amazon.com
  • Nikon EN-EL9 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery for Nikon D40 and D40x Digital SLR Cameras
    $21.95 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
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
Best badge
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
2
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)
3
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
Customer Rating
Price $949.00 $519.00
Weight (with batteries) 18.4 oz 24.3 oz 21.03 oz
Weatherproof No Yes No
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
10.2 megapixels 10.2 megapixels 12.1 megapixels
Anti-Dust Technology Low-pass Filter Vibration, Airflow Control Low-pass Filter Vibration, Dust Alert No
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 3.0 frames/sec 1.6 frames/sec 0.7 frames/sec
HD Video Available No No Yes
Optical Zoom 3.0x 3.1x 20x
?
Image Stabilization Available
No Yes Yes
?
LCD Screen Size
2.5 in. 2.7 in. 2.5 in.
Flash Range (wide-angle) 12 meters 13 meters 6.8 meters
External Flash Connection Available Yes Yes Yes
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4) AA-size (x4)
2
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)

The Pentax K200D is the perfect choice for the entry level photographer. A solid camera that will accept any lens built by Pentax with a 10MP imaging sensor and an in-body anti shake system, will make anyone feel comfortable getting used to the leap in creative expression a DSLR offers.

And after the desired shot has been taken, the 2.7” LCD screen makes viewing your images simple. With a 160 degree angle of view you can easily inspect your photos with ease. Plus, having the ability to zoom in 16x, you can make sure your subject’s pose was correct, or if the TTL Phase-matching 11-point wide autofocus system (SAFOX VIII) got the focus right.

Take this camera anywhere. At 24oz, this sturdily built camera is ready to go where you go. Take it anywhere, with it’s weather resistant body and big 4 AA battery capacity, you are ready for a day’s shooting in any environment. Take along a BG-3 battery grip and power should not be a concern.

This smart camera has a nice, ergonomic feel with or without the battery grip.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX20 IS

As an entry-level DSLR, this camera, with it’s wide variety of lenses available, is not limited to a specific focal length. Of course, with the Canon SX20 IS, cropping in on a 12MP, high quality image gives you a lot of potential while keeping your equipment needs very simple.

I like the fact that the K200D has twice the flash distance from the on-camera flash, but both of these cameras do have a hot shoe for an external flash attachment.

Pros
  • +
    Wide variety of lenses
  • +
    Shake reduction
  • +
    Water resistant body
Cons
  • -
    Heavy
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras Overall Under $600
Where to buy
Pentax K200D (with 18-55mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Pentax 39687 Battery Grip BG3 (for K200D)
    $74.30 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.1x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
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 SX20 IS

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or simply looking for an entry-level camera that’s easy to carry and operate, you can’t go wrong with the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS.

Featuring Canon’s own Digic 4 image processor, a 20x super zoom lens and optical image stabiliser (IS) technology, the SX20 IS produces gorgeous images up close or far away.

And, if you want HD movie clip capabilities too, look no further. With a dedicated movie button you don’t have to worry about fumbling through menus to make the switch. You’ll get the same high quality images Canon is known for at 30 FPS.

Boost your flash power with an external Canon Speedlight to take advantage of all that powerful zoom, something you won’t find a lot of in the SX20’s class.

This camera deserves to take it’s place as your all-around camera.

Pros
  • +
    HD Video
  • +
    Super zoom
  • +
    Face detection
  • +
    Vari-angle LCD
Cons
  • -
    Lenses not interchangeable
  • -
    Heavy
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS is one of the Best Digital Cameras Overall Under $600
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
  • Best Price: $519
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 20.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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