Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $750 with Wide-angle lens
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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October 7, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
Overview

The Pentax K100D is a Digital SLR that simply packs all of the features you’d want in a travel camera, at a price point that compares with many of the higher end consumer cameras. With both image stabilization technology and incredible high ISO performance, it is by far the best camera in this price range for low-light photography, which you’ll make use of anytime you’re taking pictures at night or indoors. Equipped with a Sigma 18-125 lens, the K100D also covers the essential 27-200mm range most useful for travel photography, including the useful wide-angle range needed for group photos, landscapes, and interiors. If you’re concerned about weight or size, however, this may not be your best option.

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My Best In Class Pick
Pentax K100D (Body Only)

The top pick for a camera in this class is undoubtedly the Pentax K100D. While all of these cameras perform well in good lighting, it is the low-light situations that are the trickiest for most cameras, and it’s here that the K100D excels, featuring both image stabilization technology and best-in-class high ISO image quality (the only camera to do so in this price range). While it doesn’t have the expansive 10x or 15x zoom range as its competitors, with a 18-125mm zoom lens it adequately covers the most essential ~27-200mm range, and cropping is always an option if one wishes to zoom in closer. While it may look intimidating because of its apparent complexity, the K100D has a fully automatic mode where it can be operated just like any other point and shoot camera.

As an added bonus, because the K100D is an SLR, the lens can be swapped out for a wide selection of other lenses. While they’re a bit outside the budget ($750), the K100D could later be upgraded to utilize even wider lenses like the Pentax 16-45 (24mm wide-angle), or the Sigma 10-20 (15mm wide-angle), which are even better than the 27-28mm lenses recommended here for wide-angle photos of landscapes, interiors, and groups.

The only issue with the K100D is the size and weight - it’s a much bigger camera than any of the other non-DSLR options, and will probably require a large purse or dedicated camera bag to carry around. If you’d prefer to travel a bit lighter, the Fuji S6000fd and especially Panasonic TZ3 offer much more compact bodies, with a compromise in image quality (especially for low-light photography).

Pentax K100D (Body Only) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $750 with Wide-angle lens
Where to buy
Pentax K100D (Body Only)
Specifications
  • Resolution: 6.1MP
  • 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

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Pentax K100D (Body Only)
2
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Customer Rating
Price
Size (W x H x D) 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.8 in. 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in. 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
Weight (without batteries) 660g 613g 232g
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Sensor Size
23.5 x 15.7 (369 sq. mm) 7.6 x 5.7mm (43 sq. mm) 6 x 4.4mm (26.4 sq. mm)
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
- 28-300mm (10.7x) 28-280mm (10x)
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes None Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.5 f/2.8 f/3.3
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.6 f/4.9 f/4.9
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LCD Screen Size
2.5" 2.5" 3.0"
LCD Screen Resolution 210000 pixels 235000 pixels 230000 pixels
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card xD-Picture Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type AA-size (x4) or CR-V3 (x2) AA-size (x4) Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 300 shots 400 shots 270 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO3200 ISO800 ISO400
2
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd

The Fuji S6000fd is an ultrazoom “bridge”-style camera: a non-SLR, small-sensor camera that nonetheless has the styling and manual controls of an SLR camera. Don’t let that scare you off, however - as with all control-heavy bridge cameras or SLRs, the Fuji S6000fd can be put into automatic mode, where it can be operated point and shoot style just like any automatic camera.

The S6000fd has a useful 28-300mm (10.7x) zoom range, covering the wide-angle end we want for interiors, landscapes, and group photos. The S6000fd employs the Fujifilm SuperCCD sensor - a unique Fuji-developed sensor design that yields low-noise, high ISO images that far exceeds any other consumer-level sensor on the market today - ISO1600 output looks like ISO400 output from cameras with conventional sensors (4x better performance). As a result, the Fuji S6000fd is one of the best low-light non-SLR cameras on the market. The S6000fd uses four standard AA batteries (you’ll of course want to get rechargeable AA batteries of your own), which last for 400 shots per charge (CIPA standard) - plenty for a day or more of shooting. While not quite compact, it packs all of the essential features of a travel camera.

Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $750 with Wide-angle lens
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 6.3MP
  • Size: 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

Through the use of “folded optics” lens design, the Panasonic TZ series was the first of the “compact ultrazoom” cameras - a camera that provided a long (10x) zoom range, yet still fit into a compact body (36.7mm, 1.47in thick). The latest model, the TZ3, combines many of the high-end features found only in larger cameras, and packs them all into a fairly light and portable body small enough for a jacket or even a large pants pocket.

The TZ3 has a large 28-280mm (10x) zoom range perfect for travel photography, and is currently the only compact-sized camera with both a wide-angle 28mm lens and any appreciable (150mm or more) telephoto range. In addition to this, the TZ3 also has one of the most effective image stabilization systems in Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S., helping to reduce blur in low-light situations. However, the TZ3 is noted for having poor quality at higher ISO, somewhat negating the low-light advantage gained by IS, and making it less suitable for pictures of moving subjects like people.

The TZ3 lasts for 270 shots on one charge - just about enough to last a day of travel for most people, and about average for a camera in this class.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $750 with Wide-angle lens
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 270 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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