Expert Recommendation

.
Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 10, 2008 Updated: August 13, 2008
Overview

When it comes to pure low-light capabilities, look no further than Fujifilm’s F100fd. Combining the class-leading high-ISO ability that the Fuji F-series is known for with a sensor-shift image stabilization system, the F100fd is one of the only cameras on the market featuring both of the major shake-reducing and motion-freezing tools.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

Fuji’s line of F-series ultracompacts have long been famed for their low-light ability, and Fuji’s latest offering, the F100fd, boasts both very good high-ISO performance to combat blur and a sensor-shift image stabilization system to reduce camera shake.

While its high-ISO ability doesn’t approach SLR quality, it does deliver significantly less noisy images than the average non-SLR camera, allowing you to freeze most kinds of motion in low-light situations. The F100fd also features a sensor-shift IS system, which doesn’t work quite as well as the more mature lens-shift technology in other cameras, but still helps to reduce camera shake.

The F100fd covers a 28-140mm zoom range, which is good for everyday photography, especially with the versatile 28mm wide-angle. The lens aperture is f3.3-5.1, so the lens captures slightly less light than average, requiring a higher ISO or longer shutter speed.

The built-in flash for the F100fd is embedded into the camera body, making it susceptible to red-eye effects.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot S5 IS

It’s no question that the Canon S5 and Fuji F100fd are entirely different beasts - the F100fd functions as a point and shoot compact that happens to excel in low-light situations, while the S5 packs in all the features and controls to be a true photography tool. That aside, the F100fd is generally the better low-light camera - both feature IS systems, while the F100fd has a better high-ISO ability, especially straight out of the camera. The S5 does have its own advantages too, including a larger aperture lens (though not large enough to overcome the F100fd’s ISO advantage), pop-up flash to avoid red eye, and a hotshoe for especially advanced users with external flashes.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

While the H50 is obviously the more full-featured camera, when it comes to pure low-light ability the F100fd beats out the H50, with a better high-ISO ability, similar IS systems, and only slightly smaller aperture.

Pros
  • +
    Superb high-ISO among non-SLRs
  • +
    Image-stabilized sensor
Cons
  • -
    Slightly small aperture
  • -
    Embedded flash susceptible to red eye
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
  • Best Price: $299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Max ISO: 12800
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
2
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50
Customer Rating
Price $299.95 $649.00
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in. 4.6 x 3.2 x 3.4 in.
Weight (without batteries) 6.0 oz 15.7 oz 14.6 oz
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 36 mm 31mm
?
Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
140 mm 432 mm 465mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 12.0x 15.0x
Important low-light features
?
Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/2.7 f/2.7
?
Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.1 f/3.5 f/4.5
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical (sensor shift) Optical (lens shift) Optical (lens shift)
Flash type Embedded Pop-up Pop-up
Battery Life 230 shots 450 shots 300 shots
High ISO quality Superb Average Good
Low-light rating Good Good Good
2
Canon PowerShot S5 IS

The Canon S5 is an ultrazoom camera from Canon’s long-running S-series. With a large 36-432mm zoom range, the S5 is a versatile camera that can cover almost anything. The lens’ image stabilization system helps it reduce blur from camera shake. The lens aperture is a very large f2.7-3.5, which helps tremendously to reduce the need for high ISO or long shutter speeds.

The Canon S5’s high ISO performance is average - using a lighter approach to noise reduction, the S5’s images are extremely grainy but also retain more detail than most cameras. This leaves them less usable straight-out-of-the-camera for average users, but easier to work with for advanced users who want to use noise reduction software.

The S5’s flash pops up away from the lens, so red eye shouldn’t be a problem. For advanced users, the Canon S5 also has a hotshoe which allows for external flashes for more creative lighting effects.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

Compared to the Canon S5 IS, the H50 offers a more versatile wide-angle (31mm vs. 36mm), and its stronger noise reduction produces cleaner out-of-the-camera high ISO images than the S5, although the S5 keeps more detail and can be edited with noise reduction software better. However, the S5’s larger aperture lets it get by with less light, making it the better overall low-light performer.

Pros
  • +
    Very large lens aperture
  • +
    Image stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
Canon PowerShot S5 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

The newest model in Sony’s long-running H-line of ultrazoom cameras, the H50 is a full-featured do-everything camera, sporting a huge 15x zoom, 31mm wide-angle lens, image stabilization system, rotating LCD screen, and a host of other features.

The Sony H50 has slightly above average high ISO ability - while its high ISO images are slightly blotchy, they’re cleaner out-of-the-camera than most others, and will be able to produce usable results when photographing moving subjects in dark conditions. The H50 also has an image-stabilized lens, helping to reduce camera shake.

The H50 covers a huge 15x zoom range from 31-465mm, making it one of the most versatile cameras around. Its lens aperture is f2.7-4.5, which is above average and will allow you to use shorter shutter speeds or lower ISOs to avoid blur and noise.

The H50 has a pop-up flash, so red-eye shouldn’t be an issue.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

While the F50fd’s high-ISO performance does beat out the Sony H50, the H50 does have an advantage in a number of other areas, including a larger aperture, more effective IS system, and when it’s needed, a pop-up flash that doesn’t produce red-eye or as harsh lighting effects.

Pros
  • +
    Above-average high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized lens
  • +
    Large lens aperture
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 9.1MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

Like its older brother, the F100fd, F50fd, boasts both good high-ISO performance to combat blur and a sensor-shift image stabilization system to reduce camera shake.

While its high-ISO ability isn’t as good as the F100fd, it does deliver significantly less noisy images than the average non-SLR camera, allowing you to freeze most kinds of motion in low-light situations. The F50fd also features a sensor-shift IS system, which doesn’t work quite as well as the more mature lens-shift technology in other cameras, but still helps to reduce camera shake.

The F50fd covers a 35-105mm (3x) zoom range, which is good for everyday photography. The lens aperture is f2.8-5.1, somewhat small and typical for an ultracompact, requiring a higher ISO or longer shutter speed.

The built-in flash for the F50fd is embedded into the camera body, making it susceptible to red-eye effects.

Pros
  • +
    Good high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized sensor
Cons
  • -
    Embedded flash susceptible to red eye
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.