Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Action Photos Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
June 3, 2007 Updated: October 22, 2007
Overview

Packing a high quality big 10.7x zoom with wide-angle lens in a sturdy body, the 9 megapixel Fujifilm S9100 captures panoramic views of landscapes and closer views of the mountains. The camera’s snappy performance also helps freeze action moments. The camera has an Auto Mode and lot of Scene Modes for easy operation by novice users. For advanced users, the camera offers manual modes, Raw file format, and a Hot Shoe for mounting external flashes.

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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix S9100

For action photography, Canon S3 IS score higher than the Fujifilm S9100 because of its larger reach and brighter lens (the usable aperture is wider) at maximum zoom. It has an image-stabilized lens, which compensates for camera shake while permitting horizontal panning in “Panning Mode,” and good continuous shooting performance (2.1 shots/seconds until the card fills up). The zoom’s reach can further be extended by using the optional tele-converter lens.

On the other hand, the Fujifilm S9100 has a wide-angle lens (useful for landscapes & architectural photography), more resolution, and a decent 10.7x zoom. The camera has good high ISO performance and has good enough speed (extremely low pre-focus shutter-lag of 0.01sec and 1.1 sec shot-to-shot speed) for freezing action. The sharp lens captures minute details.

The Canon has a swivel LCD (camcorder-like) while the Fujifilm has a flip-down LCD. Both are helpful in street, over-the-crowd & flower photography. Canon has image stabilization while Fujifilm has a picture stabilization mode, which helps in taking blur-free shots (in this mode camera boosts ISO to choose faster shutter speeds, however image noise increases) of action moments and when using the tele-end of the zoom. Canon has more reach, while the Fujifilm has a wider angle lens and more resolution (9 megapixel images having lot of room for cropping and cropped images in-turn simulate more zoom). It is tough call to choose one over the other.

Overall, the Fujifilm S9100 wins here because of the higher resolution, faster performance, and good zoom (10.7x) with wide angle lens system. It should be noted that the Image Stabilization feature is more useful at the tele-end of zoom, when the subject is not moving quickly. So its absence on the Fujifilm S9100 is of less consequence at the wide-end, unless one has shaky hands, and for action photography. The Fujifilm S9100 is my Top Pick.

Fujifilm FinePix S9100 is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S9100
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Resolution: 9.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Burst Speed: 1.6 fps
  • Size: 5.0 x 3.7 x 5.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 320 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
2
Canon PowerShot S3 IS

The PowerShot S3 IS is Canon’s big-zoom offering with a unique swivel LCD. It has a 6 megapixel resolution sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm camera). The lens is good (low distortion/aberrations), and the zoom is motor operated.

It has a start-up time of 1.7 seconds and a pre-focus shutter lag (half-press to full-press of the shutter button) of 0.09 seconds. The full-press shutter lag (without pre-focusing) is around 0.50 seconds. In the High Speed Continuous Shooting Mode, the camera can take about 2.1 pictures/second until the memory card fills up. The shot-to-shot speed is 1.7 seconds (without a flash). It has another Normal Continuous Shooting Mode in which it takes approximately 1.5 shots/second and supports a live view on the LCD (good for action photography as one can follow the subject uninterrupted). The maximum usable aperture at the tele-photo end is f3.5. The camera has an Image Stabilization feature to help avoid blurry pictures because of camera shake. The battery life is approximately 550 shots/charge (using 4 AA-size NiMH batteries). It can support a tele-converter lens.

Canon PowerShot S3 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 6.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.5s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Size: 4.5 x 3.1 x 3.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 550 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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