Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action and Low Light Photos Under $750
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 15, 2007 Updated: November 29, 2007
Overview

Equipped with amazing resolution (12MP), a sharp 6x super-zoom lens and fast image capture times, the Canon G9 will freeze action at the press of a button, and you won’t miss the winner’s moment of glory at the finish line. With its good low light performance, you can keep on freezing the natural expressions of babies without startling them with a flash. Its compact size (1.7”) and robust built ensures that you enjoy carrying it along.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot G9

All these cameras offer auto and numerous scene modes (including an auto high-sensitivity mode which helps to take blur free shots in natural lights) for novice users.

The Panasonic TZ3 has faster performance, smaller size and lighter body than other two. However it lacks manual modes like Aperture/Shutter priority modes (useful for taking blur-free shots). It lags behind the other two on battery life and switch-on times. Its resolution is the lowest of the three. The Canon G9 & SX100 have better low light performance (producing grainy images at higher ISOs). The TZ3 images have water-color artifacts at higher ISOs.

The Canon SX100 has the largest reach among the three and has enough manual controls to satisfy advanced users. Its high ISO performance is good; however, it lacks an Optical Viewfinder.

That leaves us with the venerable Canon G9. Although it has the smallest optical zoom, it somewhat makes up for it with its digital zoom, which is more effective than usual here become its much higher resolution sensor and sharper lens. It has an optical viewfinder too (invaluable to have for tracking fast action). The useful features like dedicated ISO dials (facilitating quick adjustment of this critical parameter) and fast startup times somewhat compensate for its average continuous shooting speed. It has the best build of the three and has good low light performance too (especially if one shoots in Raw mode and converts them to JPGs using an image-editing program).

The Canon PowerShot G9 is my Top Pick.

Canon PowerShot G9 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action and Low Light Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot G9
  • Best Price: $549
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Burst Speed: 1.5 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot G9
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
3
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
Customer Rating
Price $549.95 $699.95
Size (W x H x D) 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in. 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in. 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.8 in-
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.1 megapixels 7.2 megapixels 8.0 million pixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.12 sec 0.02 sec 0.10 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6 sec 0.4 - 0.8 sec 0.6 sec
Power to First Shot Time 1.2 sec 2.7 sec 2.4 sec
Continuous Shooting Speed (single shot mode) - - 0.6 frame/sec
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.5 frames/sec 2.1 frames/sec 1.5 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 mm 28 mm 36 - 360 mm
Optical Zoom 6.0x 10.0x 10.0x
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) Optical Lens Shift Optical Lens Shift
Manual Focus Available Yes No Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.3 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.8 f/4.9 f/4.3
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 1600
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
Viewfinder Type Optical - -
Flash Recycling Time 2.7 sec 4.3 sec 6.0 sec
Battery Life 240 shots 270 shots 400 shots
High ISO performance Good Average Good
Weight (without batteries) 9.4 oz 8.0 oz 9.4 oz
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

The Lumix DMC-TZ3 is the latest big zoom compact (1.5” thick) from Panasonic. This camera has a 7 megapixel resolution sensor and a 10x optical zoom with wide-angle lens (equivalent to 28-280mm on a 35mm camera). The lens is sharp, and the zoom is motor-operated. This camera too has an Image Stabilization feature to help avoid blurry pictures because of camera shake. The feature is akin to shooting with a cheap tripod. In low light, it helps to shoot using a relatively low ISO setting. At higher ISO ratings, the camera can shoot with less light, but there will more noise in the image. The life of its proprietary battery is approximately 270 shots/charge.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action and Low Light Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.8s
  • Burst Speed: 3.0 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • 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
3
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The Canon SC100 IS is superzoom without an eye-level viewfinder, which is a first of its kind from Canon. It offers 8MP resolution and ISO rating up to 1600. It is 1.8” thick and has a sharp 10x zoom lens (36-380mm equivalent on a 35 mm film cameras), which is image-stabilized. It offers full manual modes (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.). The camera has a face-detection feature and runs on 2 AA batteries.

Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action and Low Light Photos Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Burst Speed: 1.1 fps
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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