Going the DSLR route will be very expensive. You do have to get weathersealed lenses to go along with the weathersealed camera. The cheapest route would be to get a Pentax K10, K20, or K200 with a Pentax 16-50mm DA* lens. The lens alone runs $744, but you could find one of those bodies and the lens for less than $1500. The problem is that it's not much reach for zooming.
If you want to go the point and shoot route then there are a number of choices. Here is a comparison review of the weathersealed cameras.
Help me better understand what "weather sealed" means and what an appropriate budget might be. I'm not totally ignorant, but admit to some confusion.
I work and play in the outdoors. I need a camera that I can put in my backpack or take to my jobsite. Conditions are always dusty, sometimes damp, and occasionally downright nasty.
I understand that not only does the body need to be weather sealed but the lens also. Doesn't this raise both the cost and weight significantly? Are the lens supplied with the weather sealed body also weather sealed? Can I make that assumption?
My absolute top budget is about $1500. Can I purchase a body with a couple lenses for this amount? Do I need to rethink my goals? Thanks in advance for sharing your expertise.