Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $200
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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November 18, 2007 Updated: December 2, 2007
Overview

Portraits of children and pets aren’t very demanding on a camera - a good midrange zoom and decent high ISO performance if you’re in low light will do the trick. There are plenty of cameras that cover this criteria, but for a sub-$200 camera, the Olympus 820 represents the best mix of semi-versatile zoom range and decent high ISO performance, while fitting into an ultracompact 1 in. body.

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My Best In Class Pick
Olympus Stylus 820

For pictures of children and pets, or portrait photographs in general, many of the cameras on the market today are extremely capable - portraits are simply a category of photography that depends mostly on your own photographic creativity and has little to do with the features or performance of the camera.

The most important feature here is having a moderately long zoom range that will produce more flattering pictures than a wide-angle lens. The Casio V7 covers this range well, and the Olympus 820 is adequate as well, although the F40fd has a more ordinary 36-108mm range.

For shutter lag, the Casio V7 is the quickest and most responsive camera, and the Fuji F40fd is a decent performer too. The Olympus 820 has below average performance, which may make it difficult if you plan to take mostly candid pictures, or if your children or pets are very active and don’t sit still and pose very well. It’s important to note that there aren’t any standardized tests for shutter lag, so gaugeing performance is often difficult and even subjective to an extent - “unusably slow” to one user may be “fast enough” for another. The best thing to do may be to visit a store to try the cameras out, and see if the camera performs fast enough or too slow for you.

The third feature, important if you plan on taking pictures indoors or at night a lot (i.e. low-light situations), is having a good high ISO capability that can prevent blurry photos due to motion blur. For this purpose, the Fuji F40fd is really the only camera that performs well - the Olympus 820 will produce photos that are too blurry at the lower ISOs, or too noisy at the higher ISOs, and the Casio V7 is simply unusable outside of daylight situations.

In good lighting, where high ISO isn’t a concern, the Olympus 820 makes a solid choice, providing the zoom range needed, with a decent high ISO capability if you ever venture into lower light situations. Its only drawback is the somewhat slow shutter lag that may be too slow to capture precisely timed candid shots or active children and pets. If you try out the Olympus 820 at a store and find it to be simply too slow, the Casio V7 is also a good option that covers the portrait zoom range and responds very quickly, although its poor high ISO quality makes it very difficult to take pictures in anything but good daylight.

If you’re planning to take many photos in low-light, however, high ISO performance is essential - other features or image aspects won’t matter if the subject matter is simply too blurry. Here the F40fd is the best choice, as more or less the only camera that is capable of good results indoors without using a flash.

Olympus Stylus 820 is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $200
Where to buy
Olympus Stylus 820
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.7x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.3s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Olympus Stylus 820
2
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
3
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
Customer Rating
Price $237.99 $288.99
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.2 x 1.0 in 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.0 in.
Weight (without batteries) 4.4 oz 6.2 oz 5.3 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
36 - 180 mm (5x) 36 - 108 mm (3x) 38 - 266 mm (7x)
Storage Media xD-Picture Card SD Memory Card, xD-Picture Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 300 shots 300 shots 240 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO800 ISO200
Shutter Lag Rating Poor Average Good
People/Pet Portrait Rating Good Good Average
2
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd

The Fuji F40fd is the budget model of Fujifilm’s F-series of ultracompact cameras. With a conservative 36-108mm (3x) zoom range, the F40fd doesn’t really cover the longer zoom range needed for good portraits.

Where the F40fd really does excel, however, is high ISO performance, where its unique Fujifilm-developed SuperCCD sensor design yields extremely clean high ISO results, allowing the F40fd to freeze moving subjects like children and pets in low-light situations with very good results. The F40fd is about average in terms of response and shutter lag.

Fujifilm FinePix F40fd is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $200
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 8.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7

The Casio V7 is an older budget model in Casio’s V-series of moderately large zoom ultracompacts. Its 28-266mm (7x) zoom lens is the largest in this category, and it easily covers the 50-200mm midrange length that’s ideal for portraits.

The V7 has a somewhat poor high ISO performance, however. In anything but good light, the V7 will tend to produce noisy results, and will have to resort to flash in low-light situations. The Casio V7 is fairly quick and responsive - shutter lag is not much of a problem.

Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $200
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

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