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D40 is small by SLR standards, but it's still not going in your jacket pocket. I do carry mine on the bike, but I tend to stick it in the main pocket of a Kriega R8 waistpack.
Mine's seen 5 years of abuse (including crashing while carrying it in said waistpack) and is still going strong. You do see the occasional refurbished one come up on eBay. The Nikon D3100 is the same body as the D40/D60, with different insides, and is still available.
Have a look a Lumix G3 with an X-Vario lens. The body is rangefinder style so not quite full DSLR but they have a good sensor and the lens is very good and crucially very short when not on zoom so fits in a pocket. I'm off to buy one for my RTW trip as soon as my better half is done faffing.
that Pentax isn't a DSLR and reviews say that image quality is not good (because the sensor is small along with the camera!).
I think that the interchangeable lens Micro 4/3 sensor cameras are the best compromise for image quality and compactness for travel these days. Not quite DSLR image quality, but some are quite small. Good options that I've looked at are the Lumix GX1, GF3 (now quite cheap), newer GF5, and the olympus E-P2, E-PL2. Sony makes them too, but fewer lens options.
Thing with the D40 is in may not auto focus with a af lens, you need a af-s lens and there bigger. You may want to take a Olympus Tough camera, there waterproof good idea for a camera that may be on you and get wet.
I keep my old D80 in a tank bag.
Then you need to think about what lens to take some of new lens may not take the road well my kit 50-200mm did not make it well on my last trip.
Thing with the D40 is in may not auto focus with a af lens, you need a af-s lens and there bigger.
Everyone talks about this being an issue, but unless you have been shooting Nikon SLRs for 20 years and thus have a big pile of old lenses, it's not really a problem. There's plenty of AF-S lenses in the range, and they've been around long enough for there to be plenty of second hand ones as well. Certainly they will be more available than 4/3 system lenses.
The OP hasn't said why they are looking for a DSLR, but there are plenty of reasons why you might want one over a compact - battery life, taking photos of things that are moving, or the fact that even an obsolete SLR just feels nicer in your hands than a compact. If that's the case, then nothing but an SLR will do.
If you can compromise on some of those things, but still want interchangeable lenses, then the 4/3 type cameras are probably quite interesting.
My personal solution is usually to carry the SLR, plus a Kodak Playsport ZX3 - small, cheap enough to consider 'disposable', waterproof, the right form factor (cellphone-like, not traditional camera shape) to use one-handed with either hand, designed as a video camera but takes acceptable stills (better than not having a photo at all). Just hangs round my neck on a lanyard and tucks into the front of my jacket, can even take photos while riding along.
Doesn't adhere to the OP's 'only one camera' requirement, but for me, its not much extra to carry, for a lot of extra capability.
I would be inclined to ask yourself exactly what is is you want from you camera and what you plan to spend.
If you are hoping to achieve the best image quality then there is no doubt that a DSLR would be high on your shopping list but these tend to be bulky. Some space can be saved by opting for an interchangeable lens camera which are slightly smaller than DSLRs due to the lack of viewfinder. Many of them also have a slightly smaller sensor than the DSLRs which can reduce quality slightly.
With both of these options you should consider whether you intend to stick with the standard "kit" lens that comes with the camera or upgrade the lens. To be honest the kit lens that comes with DSLRs / interchangeable lens cameras is built to a price and the image quality is very little different to some of the more expensive enthusiast compacts like the Fuji X10 Lumix LX5, Canon XZ1 or the Canon G series. These are all smaller than DSLRs and can produce high quality images. The compromise with the size is that you may have to browse a menu to adjust settings rather than having a button or dial to access a function directly. If however you are going to be shooting in auto mode this is not a great issue.
My advice would be to visit a specialist camera shop where you can handle the cameras and go from there. You could also visit a camera specific website such as dpreview. Narrow it down to a couple of choices then come back here and ask whether anyone has any experience of longevity in the field. Adventure touring can be pretty touch on electronic equipment and I know more than one person who, despite owning and being able to get the best out of high quality camera equipment, takes only a waterproof compact on bike trips. These don't give the best image quality but are a lot more robust. Better a medium quality image than no photo at all because your camera has packed in.
Having said all that I have sigma dp1 and dp2 compacts - better image quality than most DSLRs but lack the flexibility a zoom lens as they have a fixed lens. They also have a few quirks which you have to get used to. Another quirky camera worth looking at is a Ricoh GXR; the lens change system is unique but means that dust cannot contaminate the sensor - a problem which can occur when swapping lenses in normal cameras.
sensational feedback, thanks to all the 'posters'.
i'm a lazy biker and even more lazy photographer. taking my gloves off to work the camera is all the work i want to do when i stop to take a shot. so if i have a 2nd camera on the rear rack (i don't use tank bags) the effort to unstrap, open the bag, remove the camera, assemble the camera, take the photo, pack it all up and tie back down would mean i would never use the equipment and it would be redundant.
i like gear that, if i broke it (far more likely than theft) i wouldn't be too concerned, as it was bought to use and did indeed get plenty of use. so the camera has to be utilitarian.
i like the dslr feature of being able to take multiple rapid photos. i also like the image quality, superior zoom etc.
however, i will never spend time with software 'enhancing' the images - i'd copy & backup the jpegs and delete the raw files.
all the above indicates i'm not much of a photographer, though i do appreciate great images - i'm after the equipment that will give me the best possible image with the least effort, and that means having the most compact and robust unit.
my last trip destroyed 2 canon ixus 110's over 15 months, though they were very well used. the picture quality however, was generally not great and not prolific due to the poor (3x) zoom and slow speed per shot.
the lumix dmc-gf3 looks like it could do the trick; i will have a look at one in-store.
I took a small Sony compact camera with me. You can watch some pictures in my Blog: Trans-Africa
Some of them looks very amazing. But when i watch other blogs - i often think that others get better pictures. I dont know - if they are more skilled photographers - or if the camera makes the difference.
One of mine
A sample of another guy
That colors looks amazing in the 2nd sample. I guess that it may be worth to take some lessons, and invest money in a good equipment.
Unfortunately i don't had the time for looking to learn more about
Big fan of the Panasonic GX1 interchangeable lens camera
Surfy, the difference between your shots is the lighting, not the camera or photographer specifically.
Your shot has an obvious lack of light, was shot at noon with overhead cloud cover giving a blue tint to the shot, whilst the other shot has bundles of sunlight and shot at dusk with warm angled lighting.
Then there are polarising filters and a multitude of other options which the camera doesnt control.
Worryingly you could have selected AdobeRGB, shot in jpg and not sRGB which will have a worse colour palate when viewed on a computer screen, but more dynamic colours when printed. (it is marginal and difficult to control)
On the camera front each brand offers a different take on colour representation, obviously theres some variation by brand, Olympus out the camera Jpeg's are awesome and I feel punchy but spot on, kind of like Astia film. Fujis's jpegs have deep rich tones, Sonys border on the soft gentle subtle colours, Canon and Nikon each have their own spin, also down to the effect on highlights caused by the number of aperture blades.
In short its doubtful that the camera is the differentiator, but there is an element to your photography. if you are shooting in RAW then the various editing software makes the difference.
There is also editing.
Personally I prefer the dynamic clouds that your shot has, and other than the really boring lighting you could tweak it to create the drama.
Adjust the white balance slightly towards the yellow and Magenta side. Increase the saturation. Darken the sky's, and adjust the levels to give the colour a bit more depth, and hey presto, all told - a flat image revitalised.
Also your shot would look great with a peppercorn grain effect to it
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