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tiacaron Jan 10, 2010 7:00 PM

Travel Camera for Mexico & Guatemala
Hi All.

I'm looking for a digital camera that I can take traveling. I will be going into some caves in Mexico (maybe a mile in) that will be damp so that's a factor. I need something with a good optical zoom and one that will accept other lenses might be nice as well.

Are there other accessories I will need?

This is a once in a lifetime trip, and I want to be sure I have what I need.

Any help is MUCH appreciated! (or should I say "mucho?") :)

TCav Jan 10, 2010 8:17 PM

For indoors in low light, if you're up for a dSLR, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens is a good choice. It's available for most brands of dSLR, but on Sony and Pentax dSLRs, it will be stabilized. Anything else will cost a lot more. The Pentax K-x and Sony A500 and A550 are very good in low light, and they are all available without a kit lens, which would be superfluous since you'd also get the Tamron 17-50/2.8. The Pentax K-x body sells for $650, the Sony A500 body sells for $750, and the Sony A550 body sells for $950. (The Tamron lens sells for $460.)

The Sony A500 and A550 have an articulating display that the Pentax K-x doesn't, and the A550 has a higher resolution that the others.

Hards80 Jan 10, 2010 10:34 PM

do you have a budget in mind?

mtclimber Jan 10, 2010 10:43 PM

Do you really need a DSLR?

Sarah Joyce

TCav Jan 10, 2010 10:50 PM


Originally Posted by mtclimber (Post 1038018)
Do you really need a DSLR?

tiacaron certainly didn't say as much, but he or she wants to take photos in a cave. I think that narrows it down. The constant f/2.8 aperture on a camera that can shoot at up to ISO 12,800 would be tough to beat with a P&S, but I'm open to other ideas.

tiacaron Jan 11, 2010 10:29 AM

Hi everyone.

I would like to keep it under $1,000 if at all possible. I'm trying to photograph cave drawings if that helps with your advice, but I also need to photograph at museums and archaeological sites. I appreciate everyone's help.

Thanks so much!

TCav Jan 11, 2010 10:59 AM


Originally Posted by tiacaron (Post 1038125)
I would like to keep it under $1,000 if at all possible. I'm trying to photograph cave drawings if that helps with your advice, but I also need to photograph at museums and archaeological sites.

The Pentax K-x body, plus the Tamron 17-50/2.8 would be $1,110. It would be an excellent tool for what you want to do. Most caves and museums won't let you use a flash, so I don't think that you'll get a P&S to do that on large aperture and high ISO alone, unless you want to carry around a tripod as well (and some of the things you want to shoot probably wouldn't be accessible using a tripod anyway.)

An alternative to the Tamron might be the Sigma 18-50/2.8, which is $420. That would be a total of $1,070 with the Pentax K-x.

You might also be able to use the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5, which is $370. That would drop the total price with the Pentax K-x to $1,020.

Hards80 Jan 11, 2010 11:06 AM

i agree with TCAV, i think the k-x would be a good choice due to not only its numerically high max ISO, but its ability to retain detail at higher ISOs, which will be necessary if you desire to shoot in caves or poorly lit museums and archaeological sites. the lenses he mentioned are also the first i would look into given the inbody stabilization on that camera model.

Biro Jan 11, 2010 11:08 AM

Going with the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 also offers the advantage of offering a longer focal range, meaning a second (telephoto) lens might not be required soon. If the OP thinks they'll get fairly close to the cave drawings, then the 17-70 will offer just as "fast" an aperture as the other Sigma or the Tamron when at its widest perspective.

The Pentax K-x is definitely the way to go in terms of camera body if one is talking about low-light and no flash.

Hards80 Jan 11, 2010 11:10 AM

the 17-70 also gives the ability to shoot 1:3 macro, which could be nice in these situations.

also, the KX uses AA batteries, which is very useful if finding a power-source is not always easy, letting you just purchase spare batteries.

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