Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child and Action Photos Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 16, 2007
Overview

Built like a tank, the Canon SD950IS is always ready to capture precious moments quickly. The camera packs a stupendous 12 megapixels of resolution, a DIGIC III image processor for fast performance and an optical viewfinder in a tiny body for live tracking of action, kids & pets. The camera has one of the fastest startup times among ultra-compacts, enabling users to spend more time taking photos (less time waiting and let ting the moment pass!).

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot SD950 IS

All these cameras have good resolution and are well built. All offer auto and numerous scene modes (including auto high sensitivity mode which helps to take blur-free shots in natural light) for novice users. The cameras also offer useful features like exposure-compensation, white-balance presets & face-detection.

Although impressive on paper, the Sony T200, lags behind the other two in low-light image quality. Its images are heavily compressed (especially at ISO400 & above), and devoid of fine details and subtle color variations (due to excessive noise reduction). However for action, kids and pet’s photos in good light, it is good choice.

Casio EX-V8 has fast performance and quick response, however such an ambitious zoom (7x) in tiny body has led to compromise on image quality. Consequently the images are soft (lacking sharpness) and still softer near corners. High ISO performance is also not good (more noise). However in good light it is worthy option for shooting action. It has superb movie mode too.

The Canon SD950 IS has lot of things going for it with an optical viewfinder (for live tracking of fast moving subjects, invaluable for taking kid’s and pets photos), sharp zoom lens, and fast start up and good performance. High ISO performance is good too (upto ISO800). It’s much higher resolution sensor and sharp lens make use of digital zoom more effective than the other two (compensating somewhat for its less zoom range). The build quality is excellent.

The Canon SD950IS is my Top Pick.

Canon PowerShot SD950 IS is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD950 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.5x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Burst Speed: 1.2 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • 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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Canon PowerShot SD950 IS
2
Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
Customer Rating
Price $599.00 $149.99
Size (W x H x D) (3.8 x 2.4 x 1.1 in) (3.8 x 2.4 x 1 in) 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.1 million 8.1 million 8.1 megapixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.09 sec 0.05 sec < 0.01 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6 sec (approx.) 0.3 sec (approx.) 0.5 sec (approx.)
Power to First Shot Time 1.2 sec (approx.) 1.5 sec (approx.) 1.8 sec (approx.)
Continuous Shooting Speed (single shot mode) 0.5 frame/sec (approx.) 0.8 frame/sec (approx.) 0.7 frame/sec (approx.)
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.1 frames/sec (approx.) 0.7 frames/sec (approx.) 2.2 frames/sec (approx.)
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
36-133mm 38-266mm 35 mm
Optical Zoom 3.7 x 7 x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes (Optical Lens Shift) Yes (CCD Shift) Yes
Manual Focus Available No Yes No
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
F2.8 F3.4 f/3.5
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
F5.8 F5.3 f/4.4
Max ISO Setting 1600 800 (1600 with limitations) 3200
Aperture Priority Mode Available No Yes No
Shutter Priority Mode Available No Yes No
Viewfinder Type Optical Rear LCD only -
Battery Life 240 shots 240 shots 250 shots
High ISO performance good below average below average
Image Quality good below average average
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200

Sony is one of the top manufacturers of compact cameras. The T200 is their top-of-line ultra compact camera from their stable. It has 8 megapixel resolution and packs a 5x image-stabilized zoom lens in a 0.8” thick metal body. The camera is the latest upgrade to their T series of ultra compacts.

Sony Cybershot DSC-T200 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 1.2s
  • Burst Speed: 2.2 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V8

This top of line ultra compact from Casio packs in amazing 7x zoom in 1” thick body. The camera packs in 8 megapixel resolution sensor and offers useful features like image-stabilization and face-detection. The camera also has shutter/aperture priority modes. Casio cameras are renowned for fast focusing and low shutter lag among ultra-compacts.

Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8
  • Best Price: $149
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 - 0.4s
  • Burst Speed: 0.6 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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