Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $750
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
May 22, 2007 Updated: October 22, 2007
Overview

Equipped with a 12x super-zoom lens system and fast performance, the Panasonic DMC-FZ50 will freeze action at the press of a button, and you won’t miss the winner’s moment of glory at the finish line.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50

The Panasonic DMC-FZ50 and the Canon S3 IS score higher than the Sony H9 because of their sharper and lower aberration (i.e. low purple fringing) lenses at maximum zoom. They also have wider maximum usable apertures at full zoom. The purple fringing problem was also common for the Sony H5). Both received “Highly Recommended” ratings at Digital Photography Review (one of the most popular camera review sites.).

For action photography, the Panasonic FZ50 is the better choice over the Canon S3IS because of its fast start-up (0.9 seconds), lower full-press shutter lag time (0.4 seconds without pre-focusing), and much higher resolution. 10 megapixel images have lots of room for cropping and cropped images in-turn simulate more zoom. Cameras automatically do that with their digital-zoom feature. The Panasonic DMC-FZ50 is our Top Pick.

If you’re waiting for the Canon S5 IS, you will be disappointed to note that its continuous shooting performance is not as good (1.5 shots/sec in high speed mode and 0.9 shots/sec in normal mode).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.5s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
2
Canon PowerShot S3 IS

The PowerShot S3 IS is Canon’s big-zoom offering with a unique swivel LCD. It has a 6 megapixel resolution sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm camera). The lens is good (low distortion/aberrations), and the zoom is motor operated. It has a start-up time of 1.7 seconds and a pre-focus shutter lag (half-press to full-press of the shutter button) of 0.09 seconds. The full-press shutter lag (without pre-focusing) is around 0.50 seconds. In the High Speed Continuous Shooting Mode, the camera can take about 2.1 pictures/second until the memory card fills up. The shot-to-shot speed is 1.7 seconds (without a flash). It has another Normal Continuous Shooting Mode in which it takes approximately 1.5 shots/sec and supports a live view on the LCD (good for action photography as one can follow the subject uninterrupted). The maximum usable aperture at the tele-photo end is f3.5. The camera has an Image Stabilization feature to help avoid blurry pictures because of camera shake and full manual control options (e.g. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.) for additional versatility.. The battery life is approximately 550 shots/charge (using 4 AA-size NiMH batteries). It can support a tele-converter lens.

The camera received a “Highly-Recommended” rating at Digital Photography Review.

Canon PowerShot S3 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 6.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.5s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9

The H9 is Sony’s latest top-of-the-line big zoom offering. It has an 8 megapixel resolution sensor and a 15x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 31-465mm on a 35mm camera). The zoom is motor operated. It has a low start-up time, pre-focus shutter lag, and full-press shutter lag. In the Continuous Shooting Mode, the camera can take 2.2 pictures/second until the memory card fills up. The maximum usable aperture at the tele-photo end is f4.5. It has full manual control options (e.g. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.) for additional versatility. The camera has an Image Stabilization feature to help avoid blurry pictures because of camera shake. It also has a flip-down LCD. The life of the proprietary batteries is approximately 250shots/charge.

Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9
  • Best Price: $1299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.0s
  • Burst Speed: 2.0 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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