Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 13, 2008 Updated: August 14, 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 featuring both of the major shake-reducing and motion-freezing tools. At a 0.9” thin, it’s also a camera you can take just about anywhere.

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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.

The F100fd is a scant 0.9” thin, allowing it to easily fit into just about any kind of bag or pocket.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

As ultracompact cameras sharing similar SuperCCD sensors, and sensor-shift IS systems, the Fuji F100fd and F50fd are fairly similar cameras. Though they’re both near the top of their class, the F100fd’s newer sensor and processing turn out more detailed and less noisy images than the F50fd. The F100fd also features a more versatile 28-140mm lens, making it a much more versatile camera, although it’s significantly costlier than the F50fd.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Though the Sony H10, with its 10x zoom, has the far longer range, its high-ISO ability simply can’t match that of the Fuji, making the F100fd the better low-light camera.

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 Compact 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
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Customer Rating
Price $299.95 $278.68
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 6.0 oz 5.5 oz 9.3 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 35 mm 38mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
140 mm 108 mm 380mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 3.0x 10.0x
Important low-light features
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/2.8 f/3.5
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.1 f/5.1 f/4.4
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical (sensor shift) Optical (sensor shift) Optical (lens shift)
Flash type Embedded Embedded Pop-up
Battery Life 230 shots 230 shots 310 shots
High ISO quality Superb Good Good
Low-light rating Good Good Average
2
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 fairly typical 35-105mm (3x) zoom range, which is good for everyday photography. The lens aperture is f2.8-5.1, which is typical for an ultracompact.

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

At just 0.9” thin, the Fuji F50fd should be able to easily fit into any bag or pocket.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

When it comes to low-light ability, the Fuji F50 has the beat Sony H10 beat, offering a larger aperture at the wide-end and better high-ISO performance.

Pros
  • +
    Good high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized sensor
Cons
  • -
    Embedded flash susceptible to red eye
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is one of the Best Compact 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
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Part of its series of compact ultrazoom cameras, Sony’s H10 is a full-featured camera that packs a versatile 10x (38-380mm) image-stabilized zoom into a compact 1.9” thick package that should fit into most bags or large pockets.

In terms of high-ISO ability, the H10 is above average, allowing you to take usably noise-free photos while avoiding blur from camera shake or motion. The lens aperture is f3.5-4.4, which is somewhat poor for an ultrazoom, forcing the H10 to rely more on high ISO and longer shutter speeds

The H10 uses a pop-up flash that places the flash away from the lens, so red-eye shouldn’t be a problem.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The H10’s featureset is similar to that of the Canon SX100 - they both feature versatile 10x zoom ranges that cover the range for most photography, have image-stabilized lenses, popup flashes, and come in fairly compact sizes. Overall, the cameras are approximately equal in terms of low-light ability, with the H10 offering cleaner high-ISO images and the SX100 featuring a larger aperture lens, so you may want to consider what other features or uses you’re looking for when deciding between them.

Pros
  • +
    Above-average high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Somewhat small aperture for an ultazoom
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The SX100IS is the little brother of Canon’s full-featured S5 IS - the SX100 packs a slightly smaller 36-360mm (10x) zoom range and comes in a much smaller 1.8” thick size.

Like the other Canon cameras, the SX100IS uses a more conservative noise reduction method, retaining more detail but also making the images very grainy, although they can be cleaned up with noise reduction software.

The SX100’s image-stabilized lens will help to reduce camera shake. The lens aperture is f2.7-4.3, typical for an ultrazoom and above average compared to most cameras.

The SX100 has a popup flash, so redeye shouldn’t be an issue.

At 1.8” thick, the SX100 should be able to fit into most bags and large pockets.

Pros
  • +
    Large lens aperture
  • +
    Image stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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