Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 30, 2008 Updated: December 2, 2008
Overview

Equipped with a stupendous 14.7 Megapixels resolution sensor, a sharp lens and the latest DIGIC IV image processing engine, the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS is the best in class ultra compact digital camera for photographing kids and pets. Featuring a 5x zoom lens and fast image capture times, it will freeze fleeting moments at the press of a button. With its good low light performance, you can keep on capturing the natural expressions of babies without startling them with a flash.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS

The Canon SD990 IS is the latest top-of-line ultra compact from the market leader. The camera has an optical viewfinder, which is a great feature for keeping track of active kids indoors (typical low light condition, where images on an LCD are a bit delayed). In addition the camera is equipped with a sharp 3.7x zoom lens in its sturdy body, which helps when taking pictures of natural expressions from a distance. The camera’s class-leading resolution will make large prints possible for hanging on the walls.

Equipped with the latest DIGIC IV processor, the camera is very responsive and has managed to strike a good balance between noise and rich detail under low light conditions. Noise is unwanted random colored pixels superimposed on the image, most apparent in images taken in low light level (e.g. underexposed images or images shot at high ISO). As a result, high ISO images are relatively clean (good for portraits) and retain enough detail for good quality mid-sized prints (up to 8”x10” size), which is unusual for such a small sensor camera, making it the best-in class ultra compact for taking indoor pictures of kids and pet in low light without flash.

It is the first camera in the highly successful SD series to offer manual modes, providing full control over shutter speed and the aperture.

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection Adjusts exposure based on faces in the scene and removes red-eye automatically.
  • Motion detection technology Combining inputs from its Face Detection Technology, the optical Image Stabilizer, changes in scene brightness and changes from frame to frame, it raises ISO to freeze action.
  • LCD with wide viewing angle
Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

The Canon SD990 IS has slightly better low light performance (less noise reduction artifacts in images) and has higher resolution than the Fuji FinePix F100fd. It also has an optical viewfinder and features full manual mode.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD890 IS

The Canon SD990 IS has cleaner high ISO images and much higher resolution (its digital zoom effectively compensating for less zoom) than the Canon SD890 IS.

Pros
  • +
    Best in class resolution
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
Cons
  • -
    Thicker than others in class
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.7x
  • Resolution: 14.7MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS
2
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
3
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS
Customer Rating
Price $699.00 $299.95 $389.00
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.8 x 2.2 x 1.1 in.
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Sensor Size
7.6 x 5.7 mm 8.0 x 6.0 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
14.7 megapixels 12.0 megapixels 10.0 megapixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.07 sec 0.07 sec 0.07 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.7 - 0.8 sec 0.6 - 0.8 sec 0.7 - 0.8 sec
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.3 frames/sec 1.7 frames/sec 1.2 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
36 mm 28 mm 37 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
133 mm 140 mm 185 mm
Optical Zoom 3.7x 5.0x 5.0x
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.3 f/3.2
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.8 f/5.1 f/5.7
Max ISO Setting 3200 (reduced resolution after ISO1600) 12800 (reduced resolution after ISO3200) 3200 (reduced resolution after ISO1600)
Max Usable ISO (subjective) 1600 1600 800
Shutter Priority Mode Available No No No
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes No No
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes No Yes
2
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

For the last few years, the Fuji F series cameras, equipped with super CCD sensors, have become synonymous with good image quality in low light making them the preferred choice for taking pictures of small kids and babies indoor without a flash. This camera is one of the latest additions to this series. It packs a high resolution 8th generation super CCD sensor and a 5x zoom lens in a sturdy body.

Although the resolution has been doubled, its detrimental effect (smaller pixels produce more noise) on low light (i.e high ISO) performance has been mitigated somewhat by improved processing and a slight increase in sensor size. Nevertheless its high ISO images suffers from more unnatural looking water color painting type artifacts (as compared to Canon SD990IS). The camera is very respnsive too.

The Fuji F100fd offers many other useful features:

  • Dual-stabilization mode To freeze moving subjects it automatically raises the ISO setting. It also uses mechanical image stabilization to mitigate the effects of camera shake.
  • i-flash It tries to strike a balance between flash output and high ISO that results in a good image with natural tones and without a “washed-out”; effect.
  • Dual shot mode It quickly shoots two images in rapid succession – one with the flash and one without – and saves both.
  • Face detection 2.0, featuring Automatic Red Eye Removal
Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD890 IS

The Fuji FinePix F100fd has an optical viewfinder and more reach (tele-zoom).

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    High resolution
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Clean high ISO images
Cons
  • -
    Lacks optical viewfinder
  • -
    Water color artifacts at high ISOs
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
  • Best Price: $299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 - 0.8s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
3
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS

This camera packs in a 5x zoom lens in an ultra compact body. This camera also offers good resolution and has a sharp lens with more tele-reach, which is good for taking natural pictures of kids and pets from a safe distance. In addition, the availability of an optical viewfinder and a rich feature set has made it the camera of choice for the budget conscious customer. The camera is very responsive and low light image quality (i.e. high ISO performance) is above average. Noise is a bit high at ISO800 and above. Other useful features are:

  • Face detection
  • Motion detection technology
  • LCD with wide viewing angle
Pros
  • +
    Good resolution
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Fast operation
Cons
  • -
    High noise at ISO 800 and above
  • -
    Lack of manual modes
  • -
    Thicker than others in class
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.7 - 0.8s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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