Expert Recommendation

.
Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $400 with Weatherproof Body
Expert (4 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 6, 2008 Updated: August 8, 2008
Overview

A digital camera takes a beating when accompanying its owner on trips and vacations. Whether it is laying on a beach exposed to sand and saltwater, snorkeling underwater or dropping it in the snow while skiing, the Olympus Stylus 1030SW takes harsh conditions in stride and continues producing outstanding photos.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW

For the price, this is the best value of the four cameras reviewed. At 10MP resolution, images have enough detail to make photo-quality prints as large as 18 X 24 inches.

Dubbed as the toughest point-and-shoot camera in the world, this everything-proof camera delivers amazing photos under extreme conditions. It is shock-proof, water-proof, freeze-proof, crush-proof and dust-proof camera serving you well whether on an adventure expedition or during everyday life. It is even kid-proof!

With interior rubber gaskets and o-rings, the Stylus 1030 SW performs as well underwater (down to 33 feet) as it does on land. Whether taking photos while snorkeling or in the pool, you will appreciate its four underwater preset scene shooting modes. If you drop it in the sand, no problem - just rinse it off and keep shooting.

Many cameras stop working when the temperatures dip below freezing. The Stylus 1030SW keeps working hard down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit making it a perfect addition to your snow-skiing equipment.

Image Stabilization is a must for today’s active travel photographer. The Stylus 1030SW features Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) allowing you to to capture crisp, clear pictures regardless of whether you or your subject are moving.

One great feature in the 1030SW is Perfect Shot Preview. This feature shows the user, before capturing an image, how that image will look by selecting various effects through the use of a live LCD screen.

Comparison with Olympus Stylus 850 SW

The Stylus 850SW costs almost $75.00 less than the 1030SW, however, it also has 2MP less resolution. The lower resolution means the images captured by the 850SW have less detail - less detail means less quality when making prints. When compared to the 1030SW’s minimum focal length of 28, the 850SW’s is 10mm larger at 38mm. This translates to the 850SW not being able to take in as much of a scene from left to right due to having a reduced angle-of-view, plus having less depth-of-field, means there won’t be as much of the scene in sharp focus from the front to the rear.

Comparison with Pentax Optio W30

The Optio W20 costs almost $100.00 less than the 1030SW, however, it also has less capability. With 3MP less resolution, a larger minimum focal length by 10mm, and a shallower waterproof depth by 23 feet than the 1030SW, the Optio W30 is far below the 1030SW on the prive verses value scale.

Pros
  • +
    Bright LCD
  • +
    Includes Olympus Master 2 software
  • +
    Shock-proof to 6 feet
  • +
    Longer life battery with reduced charging time
Cons
  • -
    Moderatley slow zoom time
  • -
    Poor audio quality
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $400 with Weatherproof Body
Where to buy
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 260 shots
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW
2
Olympus Stylus 850 SW
3
Pentax Optio W30
Customer Rating
Price $599.99 $199.00 $195.67
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 inch 3.8 x 2.4 x 0.83 inch 4.2 x 2.1 x 0.9 inch
Weatherproof Yes Yes Yes
Waterproof Down to 33 feet Down to 10 feet Down to 10 feet
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
10MP 8MP 7.1 MP
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 38 mm 38 mm
Weight (without batteries) 6.3 oz 4.8 oz 5.6 oz
2
Olympus Stylus 850 SW

For the price, this is great little camera. At 8MP resolution, images have enough detail to make photo-quality prints as large as 16 X 22 inches.

As a travel writer/photographer, I have witnessed my share of camera abuse, but this rugged camera is built to take the rigors of travel. With its shockproof design, surviving a fall out of a backpack, purse or beach bag is not even a challenge.

With interior rubber gaskets and o-rings, the Stylus 850 SW performs well underwater down to 10 feet. If you drop it in the sand, no problem - just rinse it off and keep shooting.

Image Stabilization is a must for today’s active travel photographer. The Stylus 850SW features Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) allowing you to to capture crisp, clear pictures. DIS freezes the action whether you or your subject are moving thus capturing blur-free images.

Comparison with Pentax Optio W30

The Optio W30 costs almost the same as the Stylus 850SW, however it has 1MP less resolution and weights over an ounce more.

Pros
  • +
    28 shooting modes including video
  • +
    Includes Olympus Master 2 software
Cons
  • -
    Limited wide-angle focal length of 38mm
  • -
    No viewfinder
Olympus Stylus 850 SW is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $400 with Weatherproof Body
Where to buy
Olympus Stylus 850 SW
Want More Opinions? See:
3
Pentax Optio W30

With its enhanced waterproof design, the Optio W30 captures images underwater as deep as 10 feet and as long as 2 hours. Its 2.5-inch LCD monitor with Bright Mode allows users to increase screen brightness for improved viewing in sunlight. Another handy feature is the image stabilization in both still and movie modes thus preventing blurred images and video movie capture. At a 7MP resolution and less than 1-inch in thickness, the Optio W30 makes a nice all-around rugged travel camera.

Comparison with Pentax Optio W20

With almost all features equal with the W30, the biggest difference is the price. The Optio W30 costs over $100.00 less than the W20.

Pros
  • +
    Macro Mode
  • +
    Both movie and still image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Moderately slow focus/shutter lag
  • -
    Some noise in images taken in low-light conditions
Pentax Optio W30 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $400 with Weatherproof Body
Where to buy
Pentax Optio W30
  • Best Price: $195
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 7.1MP
  • Size: 4.2 x 2.1 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 210 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
4
Pentax Optio W20

The W20 is part of the Optio series cameras that are water-proof without the addition of a water-proof housing. With its Shake Reduction mode, you can take sharper photos without camera shake or subject blur, even in low-light conditions. With an effective resolution of 7MPs and weighing in at slightly over a quarter pound, the W20 makes an ideal traveling companion.

Pros
  • +
    9-point autofocus
  • +
    Weighs 5.4 ounces with battery and media card
Cons
  • -
    Moderately slow focus/shutter lag time
  • -
    Grain in printed photos taken in low-light
Pentax Optio W20 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $400 with Weatherproof Body
Where to buy
Pentax Optio W20
Want More Opinions? See:

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.