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What digital camera is light enough for backpacking?

Can you recommend a lightweight digital camera for backpacking? I was ready to purchase the Yashica T4 that you talk so highly of, but digital cameras are so compact and I don't need to carry all that film. Also do they make water-resistant digital cameras? Dan Hearty, Missouri

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True, you don’t have to carry all that film when you pack a digital (did you hear about the new memory card that will hold around 5,000 pictures at normal resolution?). But, you DO have to figure out a way to carry a slug of batteries, or a recharger. Those things really suck electricity, especially if you use the LCD screen a lot to frame pictures or look at them.

Anyway, for a long time the only vaguely weatherproof digital camera was the Kodak DC5000, which was a pretty good camera but was bulky and had a fairly low resolution. But things are looking up. Sony not long ago introduced a camera called the DSC-U60 ($250; www.sony.com). It’s a two-megapixel camera that’s waterproof to five feet, which is pretty good. Not a ton of features—the lens is non-zoom (although you can zoom digitally, which gives you a little flexibility)—but it has an unusual vertical design that expedites one-handed use.

Also new is the Olympus Stylus 300 Digital, based on that company’s long-popular series of film cameras. It’s a nice little camera with 3.2-megapixels, 3:1 optical zoom, and more. Plus, it has a metal case and is designed to be “weatherproof,” meaning it can take light rain but shouldn’t be submerged (an optional underwater case can handle that). Price is not bad at $399 (www.olympusamerica.com).

Either of these cameras should work well, depending on your price and resolution requirements. Good luck!

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