Perfect for hikers who want to upgrade to a DSLR without cashing in their 401(k), the small, fairly light K-x’s intuitive menus help beginners produce crisp, 12.4MP shots.
It also excels in low-light conditions (great for landscapes and wildlife): Superb high ISO performance controls digital noise as well as cameras three times the price. You can even combine multiple exposures in-camera for the perfect photo.
Bonuses: Runs on trail-friendly AAs and takes HD video. Bummer: No focus dots in the viewfinder; loud kit lens scares away skittish wildlife. $650 (includes 18-55mm lens); 1 lb. 7 oz.; pentaximaging.com