Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $250
Expert (5 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 19, 2008 Updated: September 22, 2008
Overview

Panasonic made an inexpensive camera that does more than just take great family pictures; it also helps you label and organize your album. It is simple to use, ultra compact, and the rapid shutter speed allows the user to capture the pictures that many cameras in its class would not.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is effortless to use. Despite it’s technology, it is simply designed and user friendly. Those who are looking for a great camera for action shots of kids and pets are also often looking for a slender portable design. If heading out to a crowded kid’s production or a day at the zoo, the last camera a parent wants to lug around is a big, bulky, heavy piece of equipment. This camera is slender enough to fit in a shirt pocket but doesn’t lack usability. The Intelligent Auto Mode helps make the best selections for the photo being taken with the Automatic Scene Selection feature. This feature puts the camera to work by automatically choosing many otherwise ignored scene modes like portrait or starry night. When taking pictures of subjects that are on the move, it’s often difficult to stop and adjust the mode for the particular scenery being photographed. In addition, the DMC-FX33 also does a great job with sequential shots with the High Speed Burst mode. This is a helpful feature if photographing a sporting event, for example capturing a kid at the batting plate. This mode allows you to take as many as 4-7 pictures per second in succession when the shutter button is engaged. Although, just make sure the camera is on and ready before preparing to shoot the pictures as this model does tend to take approximately 5 seconds to start up. Panasonic continues to utilize some of their previously successful features to improve focus such as Face Detection, Mega OIS (optical image stabilizer), and Intelligent ISO. All of these features combined make a really intuitive auto focus with little to no delay and fewer blurred pictures. Part of the reason this model is so efficient is the advanced image-processor, the Venus Engine III, which has improved response time for the shutter and made the camera more energy efficient by requiring less power consumption. When an average lithium camera is fully charged it will give the user approximately 150-250 shots depending on the quality. This camera will average around 280 which is a tremendous convenience if the plan is to spend the day taking pictures of the kids. It is very probable to run out of memory card space long before camera power. Once all of those pictures have been taken another problem is keeping them organized. Pictures of the zoo, pictures of the play last weekend, and pictures of the family all mixed together makes for a confusing mess that is often left for a “rainy day” to sort through. However, the DMC-FX33 has a fantastic title and edit function which allows the user to name, date, and categorize pictures into files such as; portraits, events, pet, travel, etc. Therefore, when looking for the picture of the family trip to Disneyland you can skip right over to travel and stumble on the actual picture sought. The images delivered by this camera are rather clear and bright but with a high ISO as bold as 6400, caution should be exercised not to keep the setting unreasonably high or the pictures can tend to be grainy. Otherwise, the ISO is another contributing factor to a really great photograph even in low-light conditions.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix J50

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 and the Fujifilm FinePix J50 have approximately the same effective sensor resolution at around 8 megapixels, however the Fuji has a better optical zoom capacity at 5x. As far as ISO and shutter speed/lag, the Fuji is second-rate in comparison to the Panasonic. The DMC-FX33 definitely has the Fuji beat in image quality and features to improve overall worth of the image. Therefore, if taking a picture of a kid on the field of a softball game, the Fuji might zoom in closer, but the Panasonic is more likely to produce a viewable photo. They are relatively similar in price but it seems very clear that the Panasonic DMC-FX33 is superior in offering a simple compact camera that is able to clearly photograph active subjects.

Comparison with Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7

Both the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 and the Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 boast numberous functions and specific modes. The Casio will start quicker than the Panasonic and it also has better manual options. However, even though the Casio has a superior zoom function, the Panasonic offers a much better outcome. Both models are capable of taking pictures of active kids or running pets, however the Panasonic has less restrictions on the quality of the image. The DMC-FX33 consumes less power and significantly higher ISO than the EX-V7 therefore it will deliver better qualify pictures in low-light landscape. Overall, the Panasonic is still more camera for the money when compared to the more expensive Casio.

Pros
  • +
    Intelligent Auto Mode
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    Quick Shutter Time/lag time
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    High Speed Burst Mode
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    Title and Edit Function
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    High ISO
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    Energy Efficient
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    Ultra Compact
Cons
  • -
    Limited Optical Zoom
  • -
    Restricted Manual Functions
  • -
    Delayed Initial Start
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $250
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
2
Fujifilm FinePix J50
3
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
Customer Rating
Price $399.22 $124.95 $288.99
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.0 x 0.9 in. 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.0 in.
Weight (without batteries) 4.7 oz 5.0 oz 5.3 oz
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) .05 .10 0.05 sec
?
Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
.32 N/A 0.5 sec
Optical Zoom 3.6x 5.0x 7.0x
Digital Zoom 4.0x 6.9x 4.0x
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) - Optical (lens shift)
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes No Yes
?
Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.2 f/3.4
Max Shutter Speed 1/2000 sec 1/1500 sec 1/800 sec
Min ISO Setting 100 100 64
Max ISO Setting 6400 800 1600
?
Face Detection Available
Yes No -
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 280 shots 150 shots 240 shots
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Effective Sensor Resolution
8.1 megapixels 8.2 megapixels 7.2 megapixels
2
Fujifilm FinePix J50

Fuji is known for pushing the limits and the the Finepix J50 is no exception. It offers 8.2 megapixels and 5x optical zoom for a very reasonable price. It is smaller than many other Fuji cameras and can certainly fit easily in a purse. At first glance this camera has alot to offer. However, with closer review it seems where the J50 is ahead in some functions, it is behind in others that clearly impact the image and use of the camera. The Fuji Finepix J50 is not the best camera for shooting low-light pictures due to the low ISO. Also, it does not have any feature to reduce shake such as image stablization. Therefore most images taken of active children will result in a noisey blurred photograph. The Fuji Finepix J50 majors in simplicity and produces average images with signs of chromatic aberration (color distortion). This camera might be ok for someone learning but it is not the camera for someone whose direct intention is to take pictures of children and/or pets.

Comparison with Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7

Between the Fujifilm FinePix J50 and the Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 there is little to compare, the Casio is superior over the Fuji in most areas. The Fuji does have higher resolution at 8.2 megapixels and the design of the Fuji is more user friendly. However, they both have lower ISO and poor image quality. Yet the Casio does have better features such as image stablization and several scene modes where the Fuji is very limited in functions. The Casio is quite a bit more than the Fuji but for slightly better images and more functions to control the images it would seem worth the extra expense.

Pros
  • +
    5X Zoom Capacity
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    8.2 Megapixels
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    Compact
Cons
  • -
    Inadequate ISO
  • -
    No Image Stabilization Features
  • -
    Poor Image Quality
  • -
    Limited Functions
Fujifilm FinePix J50 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $250
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix J50
  • Best Price: $124
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 8.2MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7

This ultra compact Casio has a lot of great features to offer. The EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 has a optical zoom capacity of 7x and 7.2 megapixels. It is packed full of impressive features such as image stablization, several automatic modes, quick shutter speed/lag, and fast start up of about 1.5 seconds. The zoom lens does not protrude in fact it’s posititioned horizontally within the camera and views out from a prism. However, the ISO is rather limited and unfortunately the design of the camera is somewhat awkward. For example, the placement of the shutter button is unusual and close to the lens. Also, the location of the flash, which is directly above the lens, often disturbs the image being shot. Although, surprisingly, night time pictures are a strong point for this camera and usually come out quite clear and vivid. In conclusion, even though it is an impressive camera based on features, the image quality was a little disappointing. However, if the design doesn’t bother the user, it is still a viable option for someone who plans to take pictures of children or pets.

Pros
  • +
    High Zoom
  • +
    Compact
  • +
    Multiple Automatic & Manual Features
  • +
    Image Stabilization
  • +
    Quick Shutter Speed/Lag
Cons
  • -
    Limited ISO
  • -
    Awkward Design
  • -
    Average Image Quality
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $250
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com

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