Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $750
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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October 6, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
Overview

While moving to a compact body always introduces compromises, the Panasonic TZ3 is one (and perhaps the only) compact camera that nearly matches larger, more expensive cameras feature-for-feature. With a large 28-280mm zoom range that includes both a wide-angle (great for landscapes and big landmarks) and a long telephoto range (for portraits and zooming in on small details), the TZ3 is the most versatile camera in this class. While its high ISO performance is a bit below average, the TZ3 does have an image stabilized lens, making it a competent camera for low-light photography. Best of all, especially for travel, it packs all of these features into a body that’s half the size of the large, high-end ultrazoom cameras, and does it at half the cost!

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

With compact cameras come compromises, and out of the top choices presented here, there is no clear-cut winner since none of the compact cameras adequately fulfills all of our criteria - 28mm wide angle, telephoto zoom, and low light ability. The camera which comes closest, however, is the Panasonic TZ3, which is the only compact camera on the market that combines both a 28mm wide angle and a long telephoto reach. The weak point for the TZ3 is its low-light performance - while it has an image stabilization system that works well, its high ISO falls behind that of other cameras. While all three of the other leading contenders offer better low-light ability for photos indoors or at night, a flexible zoom range is an advantage in all shooting situations, and this is what makes the TZ3 the best overall travel camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 270 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
2
Canon PowerShot G9
3
Canon PowerShot SD800 IS
Customer Rating
Price $549.95 $699.99
Size (W x H x D) 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in 3.5 x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
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Sensor Size
6 x 4.4mm (26.4 sq. mm) 7.6 x 5.7mm (43.32 sq. mm) 5.8 x 4.3mm (25 sq. mm)
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28-280mm (10x) 35-210mm (6x) 28-105mm (3.8x)
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/2.8 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.9 f/4.8 f/5.8
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 270 shots 240 shots 270 shots
Weight (without batteries) 232g 320g 150g
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LCD Screen Size
3" 3" 2.5"
LCD Screen Resolution 230000 pixels 230,000 pixels 207000 pixels
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO400 ISO400
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
2
Canon PowerShot G9

The Canon G9 is the highest-end camera in the Canon lineup, and is billed as a “luxury” camera, with a solidly-built all-metal body and a unique control scheme utilizing the thumb-wheel navigation design found in the higher-end Canon DSLRs, making it one of the cameras with the best “feel” and control on the market. The G9 fits into a fairly compact body (42.5mm, 1.7in).

Like most cameras in this class, the compact size forces compromises, and in this case the G9 is hobbled by a 35-210mm (6x) lens. While it has the needed telephoto range, it lacks the 28mm wide-angle that is useful for taking pictures of landscapes and landmarks. The G9 has image stabilization technology and average high ISO performance, making it a decent, but not great low-light performer. The G9 lasts about 240 shots per charge, a bit below average and just barely enough to last a day of travel.

Canon PowerShot G9 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot G9
  • Best Price: $549
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Size: 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 240 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot SD800 IS

The Canon SD800IS is an ultracompact camera, with a 25.1mm, 1in thick frame that can easily fit into just about any pocket.

The SD800IS has a 28-105mm (3.8x) zoom lens, providing a good wide angle for travel photography, although lacking any appreciable telephoto range. However, one can still crop the image to digitally zoom in closer, which can’t be done the other way around to make an image wider. As its name implies, the SD800IS has an image-stabilized lens and provides decent high ISO performance, making it a better camera for low-light pictures than most, although still nowhere near best-in-class. The SD800IS lasts for 270 shots on one charge - long enough for a day of travel for most people, and about average for a camera in this class.

Canon PowerShot SD800 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD800 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.8x
  • Resolution: 7.1MP
  • Size: 3.5 x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 270 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

The Fujfilm F50fd is the flagship camera in Fuji’s Fxx line, which utilizes Fujifilm’s unique SuperCCD sensor design to deliver amazingly low-noise high ISO images that far exceed any other non-DSLR, non-SuperCCD camera on the market. The F50fd is an ultracompact camera, fitting into a 22.9 mm, 0.9in frame that can easily fit into any pocket or bag.

The F50fd has a fairly standard 35-105mm (3x) zoom lens - covering a somewhat boring range that doesn’t get wide enough to capture landscapes or big landmarks, and doesn’t quite zoom in close enough for portraits or wildlife or architectural details. The big advantage of the Fuji F50fd is its combination of amazing high ISO performance from its SuperCCD sensor, and its inclusion of sensor-shift image stabilization technology, making it by far the best compact camera for low-light photography. The F50fd can take 250 shots on one battery, slightly below average but good enough to last a day of travel for most users.

Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Size: 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 230 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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