Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $750
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 5, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
Overview

As a DSLR-type camera, the Canon Rebel XT possesses capabilities far beyond that of the typical consumer camera. Equipped with a Sigma 18-200 lens, the Rebel XT is one of the most versatile cameras on the market, with the wide-angle range to cover landscapes, the medium range to take great portraits of pets and people, the long range for close-ups of fast action, and the general flexibility to handle the variety of scenes encountered on travel. The Rebel XT’s good autofocus, superb continuous shooting abilities, and best-in-class high-ISO images also make it the most capable fast-action camera in this price range.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)

The Canon Rebel XT and Pentax K100D represent two of the most well-rounded SLR cameras on the market today - ironically they’re also the cheapest, and the only ones with versatile zoom lenses that fit into this price range.

Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. The Rebel XT has better high ISO performance, and will deliver better pictures when trying to freeze fast action, especially in low light. Its continuous shooting (14 pictures vs. the K100D’s five) also helps a lot for fast action photos. On the other hand, the K100D has a better autofocus system (when used with the lenses in this price range), and its image stabilization, while useless for fast action and moving subjects, is a useful feature for static subjects that provides better low-light performance for travel photography. Both cameras are equally capable of taking portraits of young children or pets - both have the needed zoom range for portraits of pets and children and the excellent high ISO ability needed in indoor or nighttime situations.

Overall, the Canon Rebel XT is ultimately the better choice as the generally superior fast action camera, while still being a very capable travel camera. While the Pentax K100D’s high ISO pictures are certainly in the “usable” range, the Rebel XT is a significant step above it, and this becomes the overriding factor for action photos where images are almost universally taken at high ISO. In other areas like low-light travel, the Pentax K100D may be a slightly better performer because of its image stabilization, but the Rebel XT can still get the job done and has a significant fast-action advantage.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
Specifications
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.9 fps
  • Size: 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: No
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (Body Only)
2
Pentax K100D (Body Only)
Customer Rating
Price
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.8 in.
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 3 fps for 14 frames 2.8 fps for 5 frames
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
29-320mm (11x) 27-300mm (11x)
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes
Storage Media CompactFlash Card, MicroDrive SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4) or CR-V3 (x2)
Battery Life 400 shots 300 shots
Travel Rating Superb Superb
Children/Pet Portrait Rating Superb Superb
Fast Action Rating Superb Good
Max ISO Setting Superb Good
Autofocus Rating Good Good
2
Pentax K100D (Body Only)

The Pentax K100D is Pentax’s entry-level digital SLR, and is one of the cheapest and most feature-packed SLRs on the market. As with the Rebel XT, don’t be intimidated by the complexity of the K100D’s manual controls - it can be operated just as easily as any point and shoot camera in automatic mode.

Being an SLR, unlike other cameras the K100D can be equipped with a large variety of lenses that provide a variety of focal lengths, along with other features. The standard “kit lens” is an 18-55mm lens, which equates to a 27-83mm (3x) zoom range. Since we’re looking for a more versatile range for travel and need a long telephoto range for portraits and sports/action, a better option would be to purchase the body by itself, and buy a $350 Tamron 18-200mm lens separately. This setup provides a 27-300mm (11x) zoom range, which will cover nearly every situation you might encounter on travel, and will be long enough to zoom in for portraits or close-up of sports and fast action.

For low-light situations, the Pentax K100D employs a sensor-shift image stabilization method to reduce blur, and in addition has very good high ISO performance that is perfectly usable even at the highest setting. As a result, the K100D easily handles motion blur that plagues photos of children and pets, and camera shake in low-light static scenes encountered in travel. The K100D also excels at freezing fact-action motion in daylight, and does fairly well in low-light too, although not quite as good as the Rebel XT.

The Pentax K100D can shoot continuously at 2.8 frames per second (about average), but can only take up to 5 photos at a time, meaning you get less than 2 seconds of continuous action. This is a bit of a drawback - with only 5 photos at a time you won’t be able to machine-gun photos off, but sports photos certainly don’t require continuous shooting. Though Pentax cameras aren’t usually regarded as good sports cameras because of a lack of fast-focusing lenses, at this price range (with cheaper consumer lenses), the K100D has one of the most reliable and accurate autofocus systems, similar to that found on the higher-end sports cameras from Canon or Nikon.

The Pentax K100D uses four standard AA batteries (you’ll of course want to get rechargeable AA batteries of your own), which last for 300 shots per charge (CIPA standard) - slightly below average and good enough to last a day or more for most travelers, but perhaps not enough for a full sports game, depending on the length and how many photos you take.

Pentax K100D (Body Only) is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Pentax K100D (Body Only)
Specifications
  • Resolution: 6.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.7 fps
  • Size: 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 300 shots
  • Easy to Use: No
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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