Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child and Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 18, 2007 Updated: December 1, 2007
Overview

Equipped with a whopping 12 million pixel resolution and a sharp 3x zoom lens, the Fuji F50fd is zippy enough to capture those fickle expressions of babies. It comes with useful features like optical image-stabilization and face-detection, which help take good indoor photos of family gatherings.

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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

All these cameras have good resolution and are well built. All offer auto and numerous scene modes (including auto high sensitivity mode which helps to take blur-free shots in natural light) for novice users. The cameras also offer useful features like exposure-compensation, white-balance presets & face-detection.

Although impressive on paper, the Sony W200, lags behind the other two in low-light image quality. Its images are heavily compressed (especially at ISO400 & above), and devoid of fine details (due to excessive noise reduction).

The Canon SD850 IS has lot of things going for it with an optical viewfinder, higher zoom lens, and fast performance but it produces higher noise at ISO400 & above. Surprisingly, its sibling the SD870 IS produces a bit less noisy images. It also lacks manual modes.

The Fuji F50fd’s size makes it easy to carry in a shirt pocket. Surprisingly, it lags behind its predecessor (F31fd) on image quality in low light (excessive noise reduction makes the images blotchy & devoid of fine details at ISO 800 and above). Disappointing results by Fuji’s standard, considering that its predecessor Fuji F31fd had low light performance as its unique selling proposition. However it still leaves enough details at higher ISOs (for print size 8”x10” or less) to stand alongside the other cameras in its class. Its lens is one of the sharpest 3x zoom around, which is now image-stabilized. Although it lacks an optical viewfinder, its shutter-lag is among the lowest in its class. It has useful manual modes with aperture/shutter priority that is uncommon among ultra compacts. Its low price just seals the deal.

The Fuji F50fd is my Top Pick.

Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
2
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-W200
Customer Rating
Price $278.68 $425.00 $699.95
Size (W x H x D) 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.0 in. 3.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.0 megapixels 8.0 megapixels 12.0 million pixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.02 sec 0.08 sec 0.08 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6 sec 0.5 - 0.6 sec 0.5 - 1.2 sec
Power to First Shot Time 2.8 sec 1.2 sec 1.8 sec
Continuous Shooting Speed (single shot mode) - - 0.4 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 - 105 mm 35 mm 35 - 105 mm
Optical Zoom 3.0x 4.0x 3.0x
Image Stabilization Type Yes Yes Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/2.8 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.1 f/5.5 f/5.5
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes No No
Viewfinder Type - (Rear LCD only) Optical Optical
Battery Life 230 shots 230 shots 300 shots
High ISO performance average average below average
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes No No
2
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS

Canon is the pioneer of the digital camera revolution. The sleek ultra compact from Canon, this camera is the latest addition to their highly successful SD series, which consist of cameras with metal bodies and optical viewfinders (with the exception of the SD870IS). It packs a 4x image-stabilized zoom in a 1.0” thick metal body. It has 8.0 megapixel resolution. The camera has reasonably fast operation.

Canon compact cameras are renowned for their good quality images straight out of camera.

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-W200

Sony is one of the top manufacturers of compact cameras. The W200 is their top-of-line ultra compact camera from their stable. It has 12 megapixel resolution and packs a 3x image-stabilized zoom lens in a 0.9” thick metal body. The camera is the latest upgrade to their W series of ultra compacts with optical viewfinders.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W200 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-W200
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 - 0.9s
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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