Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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November 18, 2007 Updated: November 28, 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 its mix of size, zoom range versatility, and decent high ISO performance, the Sony H3 is one of the best values out there.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Cybershot DSC-H3

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 Canon G9 and Sony H3 both cover this range well, although the F40fd has a more ordinary 36-108mm range.

All three cameras are fairly average in terms of responsiveness and shutter lag, with the Sony H3 perhaps slightly faster than the rest. Slow shutter lag 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 is 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 - both the G9 and H3 will produce photos that are too blurry at the lower ISOs, or too noisy at the higher ISOs.

In good lighting, where high ISO isn’t a concern, both the Canon G9 and Sony H3 make great choices - here the Sony H3 represents the better value by having a much more versatile 10x zoom range (not really needed for portraits, but useful for other types of photography), and slightly better out-of-camera results at higher ISO, thanks to its stronger noise reduction.

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.

Sony Cybershot DSC-H3 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H3
  • Best Price: $499
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 - 1.4s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • 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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Sony Cybershot DSC-H3
2
Canon PowerShot G9
3
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
Customer Rating
Price $499.95 $549.95
Size (W x H x D) 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in. 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 9.3 oz 11.3 oz 6.2 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
38 - 380 mm (10x) 35 - 210 mm (6x) 36 - 108 mm (3x)
Storage Media Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, xD-Picture Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 330 shots 240 shots 300 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO400 ISO800
Shutter Lag Rating Average Average Average
People/Pet Portait Rating Good Good Good
2
Canon PowerShot G9

The G9 is Canon’s top-of-the-line G-series camera, featuring a versatile 35-210mm (6x) zoom lens in a small 1.7 in body that covers the portrait range needed for pictures of people and pets.

In terms of high ISO performance, the G9 produces average results that can freeze subjects in low-light as long as they’re not moving too fast, but can produce some grainy results in low-light situations. The G9 has an average amount of shutter lag.

Canon PowerShot G9 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot G9
  • Best Price: $549
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
3
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd

In contrast to the other cameras in this category, the Fuji F40fd is actually an ultracompact budget model in Fujifilm’s F-series of ultracompact cameras - a tiny 0.9 in body that sells for under $200. The F40fd has a rather boring 36-108mm (3x) zoom that really doesn’t cover the full range desirable for portraits.

Where the F40fd excels, however, is its SuperCCD sensor, a unique Fuji-developed sensor design that yields far better high ISO results than just about any other camera on the market. With the retirement of the older Fuji F20 and F30/31 cameras, the little budget F40fd is in fact the best-performing high ISO camera on the market, an advantage that allows it to take great portraits indoors or at night with very little noise, where other cameras would produce unusably noisy images or have to resort to flash. The F40fd has an average amount of shutter lag.

Fujifilm FinePix F40fd is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 8.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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