Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $1000
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 12, 2009 Updated: November 16, 2009
Overview

So you’ve decided you want a camera with SLR quality, but with point and shoot simplicity and size. Panasonic knows this and has produced just the item you need to capture those big, beautiful images in a small, beautiful camera. The Panasonic lumix DMC-GF1 is an award-winning 12.1mp camera with a four thirds imaging sensor, interchangeable lenses and 720p video recording. Perfect for taking on trips, to the ballgame or just having available for those quick shots that seem to show up when you least expect them.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)

The award winning Panasonic DMC-GF1 is being touted as ‘the world’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera with a built-in flash’ . That’s quite a lot to live up to. And it does. With SLR style buttons and dials on top of, and behind the camera body, the GF1 gives you the control at your fingertips you have come to rely on for quick decision making and fast response time.

Small enough to fit into a purse or jacket pocket, the GF1 comes with a Lumix G 20mm f1.7 lens that pancakes into the camera body for slimness. Add more lenses from the LUMIX G Micro System to extend your creativity.

But size is not the only criteria discerning photographers use when looking for a quality camera. Consider the 12.1mp CMOS sensor, intelligent IA, fast (less than 0.5) shutter lag time, 3fps JPG and RAW speed, 720p video recording with a dedicated motion picture button and a 3.0” LCD screen.

And with built-in flash, a Dust Reduction system, live preview for assisting beginners to “see” in advance the changes they make, plus face recognition, Panasonic puts everything and more into this easily transportable camera.

Add the optional DMW-LVF1 viewfinder for excellent framing and sturdy hand held shooting.

Comparison with Sigma DP1s

Even though these are two great compact cameras, they have taken different approaches to their imaging sensors. The Panasonic GF1 uses a micro three fourths sensor, while the Sigma DP1s has a FOVEON X3 direct image sensor. Unfortunately for the Sigma, you can only expect to get good results up to 800 ISO and with a lens that only opens to f4. The GF1 uses interchangeable lenses, offering much more creative options.

Comparison with Ricoh Caplio GX200

These two cameras are close in the compact, customizable category and share a lot of the SLR functions desireable in such a small body, but the GF1 features HD video, interchangeable lenses, a good IA mode and easy to use controls. The Ricoh GX200 does have a brighter LCD screen but the GF1 has an optional viewfinder to make composition easier.

Pros
  • +
    Interchangeable lens
  • +
    Pocketable
  • +
    HD
  • +
    Dedicate movie button
  • +
    AF for movies
  • +
    Dust removal
  • +
    Raw
Cons
  • -
    Flash output
  • -
    Viewfinder optional
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens) is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Panasonic DMW-LVF1 External Live Viewfinder for Panasonic GF1 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera
    $128.55 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: No
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)
2
Sigma DP1s
3
Ricoh Caplio GX200
Customer Rating
Price $999.99 $539.75
Size (W x H x D) 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in. 4.5 x 2.3 x 2.0 in. 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
Weight (with batteries) 11.1 oz 9.8 oz 8.4 oz
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Sensor Type
Live MOS CMOS CCD
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Sensor Size
17.3 x 13.0 mm 20.7 x 13.8 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
Anti-Dust Available Yes No No
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 2.9 frames/sec - 1.2 frames/sec
Video Available Yes Yes Yes
HD Video Available Yes No No
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Image Stabilization Available
No No Yes
Interchangeable Lenses Available Yes No No
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
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Face Detection Available
Yes No No
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Viewfinder Available
No No Yes
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 2.5 in. 2.7 in.
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AAA-size (x2) or Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Sigma DP1s

Sigma may not be the first brand you think of when considering a point and shoot camera, but that will probably change when you see how advanced they are when it comes to packing a lot of power into little camera.

Starting with a 14mp FOVEON X3 direct image sensor that will capture RAW and JPEG simultaneously, a 28mm equivalent f/4 prime lens, a TRUE image processing engine and the QS (quick set) function, the DP1s is a camera you can take with you when small, but big quality, is what you’re after.

Another reason to consider this 9.5oz camera as your SLR alternative are the intuitive, easy to use controls that are so common on the big bodies. Intelligently placed on top and on back, all within a thumbs reach, the DP1s makes creative decisions a simple process.

Add the optional VF 11 viewfinder if you like having something other than the 2.5” LCD screen for composing.

Pros
  • +
    Quick set function
  • +
    Good controls
  • +
    Raw
Cons
  • -
    Viewfinder optional
  • -
    Low ISO
Sigma DP1s is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $1000
Where to buy
Sigma DP1s
  • Best Price: $539
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Sigma External View Finder for DP1 Digital Cameras
    $147.83 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 4.8MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Ricoh Caplio GX200

Sporting a wide 24-72mm 3x lens, the Smooth Imaging Engine III processing engine and a bright 2.7-inch, 460,000 pixel HVGA LCD screen, this slim, aluminum alloy compact camera will fit nicely in a purse or jacket pocket, freeing you up to leave your bulkier DSLR at home.

Fast (0.75 start up time and 1.18fps) and customizable, the GX200 has the smarts to stay right with you whenever the going gets tough. Program the My Settings function to remember 3 different settings, all easily reached by the dials and buttons strategically placed on the top-left of the camera and on the left button of the navigation pad. Right where you would expect them.

Another great feature of the GX200 allow you to use a horizontal indicator on the LCD monitor to ensure that shots are aligned horizontally. Add the optional optical viewfinder and the camera will emit a beep to let you know when things are straight.

For steady shooting, the default Camera Shake Correction will protect you from unwanted camera shake without using up valuable battery power. And speaking of batteries, the GX200 comes with a Li Ion battery but will accept AAA’s as well.

Pros
  • +
    Fast
  • +
    Bright LCD
  • +
    Sturdy aluminum alloy body
  • +
    AAA battery option
  • +
    Raw
Ricoh Caplio GX200 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $1000
Where to buy
Ricoh Caplio GX200
Recommended with
  • Ricoh LC-1 Auto Lens Cap for GX-100 & GX-200
    $17.95 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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