Expert Recommendation

.
Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Child and Low Light Photos Under $300
Expert (5 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 3, 2008 Updated: October 7, 2008
Overview

The Nikon Coolpix S610 is an ultra compact camera with amazing performance and ability. Despite the many features offered by this little point-and-shoot, it is incredibly easy to operate and offers the world’s fastest start up time at only .07 seconds. The S610’s blur-free super quick speed makes this selection a perfect camera for taking pictures of active kids and pets.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Nikon Coolpix S610

It is refreshing to see a camera created for the purpose of taking great pictures of kids. Yet to be honest, the Nikon Coolpix S610 isn’t terribly impressive on paper. However with the incredible automatic features and Nikon’s technology, it is as if this camera is a personal assistant whose job is to make sure the perfect shot is captured every time. Parents will no longer have to settle for blurry 2nd rate pictures because this selection has a variety of blur control features that keep the images sharp. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a photographic opportunity occur (such as a toddler clapping hands or dancing), grabbing the camera, and ending up with blurry hands and half shut eyes. These types of issues are automatically corrected with the combination of the advanced optical image stabilization, smile shutter, and blink warning, which helps catch the right time to hit the shutter and tells the user if the subjects blinks so they can immediately take a re-take. Also, the S610 has an active child mode which keeps tracks of the moving object or person and keeps the focus sharp. In addition, the performance in low light scenes is superb. One reason it does so well in these conditions is the automatic adjustment to the ISO sensitivity (up to 3200). In other words, if the photographer is snapping pictures outside for a child’s birthday party and now wants to move inside for cake and ice cream, they do not have to stop and adjust the setting since the camera will do it automatically. Regardless of the camera, on occasion digital equipment produces underexposed photographs with red eyed subjects but the internal editing functions of the S610 may reduce the time spent on editing programs. Nikons image innovations will remove red eye and brighten pictures before the image is ever viewed. With all of these automatic features the picture quality becomes a concern, although surprisingly the image produced by the Nikon is sharp, clear and concise. Even with full use of the limited zoom of 4x on the S610, the camera clearly zones in on the subject and delivers a great image. This is not the camera for someone who wants all the manual control since it performs best when left to its own volition. This camera is amazingly intuitive, easy to use, and a great tool for parents who don’t have time to stop and make constant adjustments.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD890 IS

The Nikon Coolpix S610 and the Canon PowerShot SD890 IS both have a great deal of automatic features, high ISO, and high resolution. They both can take a fantastic image in low-light conditions and have comparable zoom. However, if both cameras were used at a kids sporting event the Nikon is probably going to outperform the Canon with the increased blur control features and the speedier response time. On the whole, the Nikon offers more features and swiftness for the money.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-T70

The Nikon Coolpix S610 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 both have rapid recovery for shutter and flash use. They are both incredibly compact selections that are of the smallest in their class; however the Sony falls short when compared to Nikon in the area of resolution, zoom, automatic features, and battery life. The Nikon maximizes the battery life despite the high number of automatic features it uses. What most drains the battery of the Sony is the indiscriminate flash usage. The Sony often elects to employ the flash in unnecessary lighting which may account for the low battery life. Perhaps, this is to compensate for the less than average pictures produces in low-light environments? The Nikon will take a great picture in low-light or well lit landscape and will do a better job choosing when to use the flash. Both selections are reasonably priced but the Sony doesn’t give as much as the Nikon for the price tag.

Pros
  • +
    High ISO
  • +
    High Resolution
  • +
    Alot of Automatic Features
  • +
    Fast Shutter Speed
  • +
    Average Price
  • +
    Size/Very Compact
Cons
  • -
    Limited Zoom
Nikon Coolpix S610 is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Child and Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix S610
  • Best Price: $161
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
More
Want More Opinions? See:

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Nikon Coolpix S610
2
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-T70
Customer Rating
Price $161.65 $389.00 $318.99
Weight (with batteries) 4.4 oz 6.5 oz 4.5 oz
Easy to Use Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 4.0x 5.0x 3.0x
Image Stabilization Type Optical Optical (lens shift) Optical
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
10.0 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 8.1 megapixels
Min ISO Setting 100 80 80
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 3200
Battery Type EN-EL12 Lithium-ion Battery Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 290 shots 320 shots 260 shots
Max Shutter Speed 1/1500 1/1600 sec 1/1000
2
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS

Canon has had their share of mechanical issues early on in the ultra compact digital market, but when a product is pioneered that is to be expected. The nice thing about Canon’s Ultra compact cameras today is that they already have many of the bugs worked out. The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS is a good example of this concept with features like the battery which has an impressive extended life, and the DIGIC III Image Processor which improves the overall functionality. There are many improvements over its big brother the SD850 and basically what you’d expect from Canon’s technology. The SD890 has many automatic features such as image stabilization features, face detection, editing features, and high ISO. It also has a wider lens for pictures with greater depth and zoom of 5x. However, the shutter lag and auto focus speed is a little on the slow side so catching an active child or pet at an exact moment might be occasionally problematic. Also as it sometimes does, the wider lens does cause a bit of barrel distortion. The SD890 is not as small as the Nikon or Sony but it is still small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. The Canon delivers a lot of technology and ease of use with this selection but it is at a much higher cost than many others it its class.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-T70

The Canon PowerShot SD890 IS is superior in options offered, but the Sony may be an improvement in functionality. They both offer a great blur-free image but the Canon has a higher resolution, higher zoom, and more advanced technology. However, like the Nikon, the Sony will capture the picture quicker and stagger less in the auto focus stage. The Sony does not take night-time and low-light pictures as well as the Canon, however the Canon does not perform as well as the Sony in fluorescent lighting. The Canon is a bit less awkward than the Sony and has significantly better battery life. Therefore, it would greatly depend on the intended use of the camera to decide which the better option is. Clearly, the Sony is a bit less expense for only slightly less advanced features.

Pros
  • +
    High ISO
  • +
    High Resolution
  • +
    Alot of Automatic Features
  • +
    Fast Shutter Speed
  • +
    Long Battery Life
  • +
    Broader Zoom
Cons
  • -
    Higher Priced
  • -
    Lag Time After Flash
  • -
    Shutter/Focus Lag
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Child and Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.7 - 0.8s
  • Max ISO: 3200
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-T70

Sony really started something with their Cyber-shot line of ultra compact point-and-shoot digital cameras which boasts the trademark Carl Zeiss lens and overall sleek design. This little camera is definitely small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, however the buttons are easily bumped and therefore the camera can turn on in error thereby wasting battery power. None the less, the camera has several automatic features and image stabilization to reduce blur. Its performance is rather impressive considering its size, there is very little lag time with auto focus or flash use and the image quality does come out pretty sharp. Many are not very comfortable with the touch screen because it puts a lot of contact on the LCD which increases screen wear and smudges. Also, the ergonomics of the camera are a little awkward because of where the buttons are and the fact that it is so small it sometimes feels as though it might slide out of your hands after a bit of use. However, all things considered the presentation of the camera is quite good. If the awkwardness of the handling and the limited zoom doesn’t bother the user then it is certainly a viable option.

Pros
  • +
    Alot of Automatic Features
  • +
    Size/Very Compact
  • +
    High ISO
  • +
    Reasonable Price
  • +
    Sliding Protective Lens Cover
Cons
  • -
    Limited Battery Life
  • -
    Limited Zoom
  • -
    Ergonomically Awkward
Sony Cybershot DSC-T70 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Child and Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-T70
Want More Opinions? See:

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.