Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $300
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
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January 12, 2012 Updated: January 25, 2012
Overview

Being stylish without attracting a lot of attention to yourself is not always easy to do. But with these low light cameras, you can expect to make a statement while getting the shot without flash in a variety of situations. With high sensitivity sensors, wide apertures and smart technology, these cameras make my Best In Class list for low light and action photos due to their versatility and technological features, setting themselves apart from the rest.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot 310 HS

Whether you’re needs are low light capability, fast capture for sporting events, or both, the Canon 310HS is a great choice. And it comes in 5 attractive metallic colors so you can be stylish while getting the best shot every time.

Featuring a high sensitivity 12.1 mp imaging sensor along with Canon’s own Digic 4 processor, the 310HS captures lowlight images without sacrificing detail in high light or shadow areas up to 3200 ISO. Add intelligent optical image stabilization and getting clear, crisp photos are as easy as operating this slim, no-nonsense camera.

Another great feature of the 310HS is it’s ability to operate at a variety of shooting speeds for both stills and video. Keeping up with the action is easy enough with 8.7 fps still capture and video at either Full HD 1080p at 24 fps or 720p HD at 30 fps. Or slow down the action by shooting at approximately 240 frames per second and play back your video in slow motion, a feature that is perfect for analyzing your golf swing or capturing baby’s first steps.

For those who purchase a point and shoot for ease of operation, shoot in Smart Auto mode for both stills and video. Or choose any of the shooting scene modes like Handheld Night Scene, Kids and Pets or Super Vivid.

And when you’re ready to show off your images and videos, enjoy high quality playback instantly on the durable 3.0” LCD screen that lets you view from many angles, or upload your images to HDTV using an HDMI cable.

Comparison with Nikon Coolpix S6100

Even though the Coolpix S6100 has more megapixels and a touch screen LCD, the combination of a low light sensor and Canon’s excellent optical image stabilization makes the 310HS my choice for for Best In Class when traveling or taking low light images.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9

Canon’s 310 HS sensor is a great advantage when taking low light pictures and the Digic 4 processor gives you both speed and sensitivity that is unmatched in the digital world. If you want fast action, you might want the 10fps speed of the WX9. And if it’s wi/fi you’re after, the WX9 can hold an eye/fi card for automatically transferring your images.

Canon PowerShot 310 HS is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot 310 HS
  • Best Price: $214
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 8.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot 310 HS
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Nikon Coolpix S6100
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9
Customer Rating
Price $214.95 $199.99
Camera Format Ultra Compact Ultra Compact Ultra Compact
Colors Silver, Blue, Purple, Black, Pink, Green Black, Silver, Red, Purple Black, Silver, Red
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Sensor Size
6.2 x 4.6 mm 6.2 x 4.6 mm 6.2 x 4.6 mm
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) - - -
HD Video Available Yes - -
Video Stereo Sound Available Yes - -
Video Zoom Available (while recording) - - -
Optical Zoom 8.0x - -
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) - -
Manual Focus Available No - -
Interchangeable Lenses Available No - -
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.0 - -
Max ISO Setting 3200 - -
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Viewfinder Available
No - -
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. - -
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable - -
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Nikon Coolpix S6100

Slipping the Nikon Coolpix S6100 into your travel bag might be the best thing you’ll take with you on your next trip.

With it’s slim styling and quick response touch screen LCD you’ll be able to get the still or video images you want simply and quickly, a real advantage when having your hands free is just as important as getting the perfect shot.

Built with a 16mp CCD imaging sensor, a 7x wide-angle optical zoom lens, low light shooting up to 3200 ISO, four way vibration reduction and the ability to capture video for HD 720p movies, the S6100 has the power and the technology to bring back excellent images no matter what the conditions are. And you’ll look good while doing it, too.

Expect quality images each time thanks to features like the best shot selector, motion detection and the smart portrait system. The smart portrait system is unique in that it has a smile timer that releases the shutter when a subject smiles, even if you don’t say cheese. The S6100 also has blink proof technology which allows you to capture two shots and save the one with your subjects eyes open. A real benefit when taking those once in a lifetime portraits.

If the moment calls for video, simply press the one-touch button conveniently located below your right thumb and start shooting beautiful HD 720p movies, complete with stereo sound. You can even zoom in or out while recording.

And when it’s time to show off your images or videos, take advantage of the bright 460,000-dot LCD touch screen with brightness control and anti-glare coating for easy viewing. You can even create a slide show, complete with music, of your whole outing to share with friends.

Nikon Coolpix S6100 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix S6100
  • Best Price: $199
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Resolution: 16.0MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9

Thanks to a 16.1 megapixel “Exmor R” CMOS image sensor, the BIONZ image processor, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization and a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 5x optical zoom lens with a 25mm wide angle view, the Sony DSC-WX9 has the power to let you capture everything your heart desires no matter where your travels take you.

Not only does the WX9 have the power, it’s also got the technology to make sure you get the shot you envisioned every time. Take advantage of such features as Superior Auto Mode which takes 6 shots simultaneously and combines them to give you an image where the exposure and clarity are at their best. Superior Auto Mode can also detect 36 scenes for still images and 44 scenes for movies, ensuring that you will get your best shot depending on the environment you are in, automatically.

If you expect high quality video from your point and shoot, the WX9 offers 1080i60 HD video capability with an HDMI connector so you can easily enjoy and upload content to your HDTV. With the WX9 you can even zoom in and out while recording, a bonus feature that videographers love.

With such enhancements like soft skin mode, smile shutter technology, face detection and an anti-blink function, you can expect to get the best shot possible in low light situations for portraits of family and friends. Or, go a little further and have fun using the 3D still image and 3D Sweep Panorama feature along with iSweep Panorama for one shot landscapes to make those travel images snap back at you in all of their living color.

When you’re all done shooting for the day and you’re ready to share your “treasures” with friends, easily view your days shots on the bright 3.0-inch XtraFine LCD screen or upload them to your computer using the provided Sony picture motion browser software.

Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9
Specifications
  • Resolution: 16.2MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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