I'm backpacking through asia for a year soon, and I'm looking for a decent camera to suit. I'm certainly no pro, but I have had a bit of experience with manual controls on my old FZ50 and know the basics of photography (hoping to learn more!).
Basically I figure it comes down to two broad options, get an 'enthusiast compact' (like panasonic LX3/5) or a small and cheap DSLR, (like the Olympus E420 or old canon/nikkon). My budget is under $500 2nd hand. I didn't consider m4/3's because they still aren't pocketable like the compacts are, so for the extra price I see no advantage over a cheap DSLR.
Obviously the DSLR would give the better picture, has better performance, etc. But thing is, I would probably only use the kit lens (and maybe grab a cheap telephoto). So would it be worth the extra inconvenience, size, weight, price, etc. of the DSLR if I wasn't going to be changing lenses or using good glass? And how important is focal length for travel anyway? Is the 70-90mm range offered by either the LX5/etc. or kit lenses enough? Can I still get more into photography as a hobby with the compacts?