Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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October 7, 2008
Overview

Good options in the budget range are hard to find, and ultracompact cameras are even tougher. Fortunately the Sony W150, though not the best performer, packs the essential zoom and low-light tools most needed for travel photography, all in a small 0.9” size that’s easy to carry just about anywhere.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150

Though it’s small and cheap, the W150 still packs the two most essential tools for travel photography - zoom versatility and low-light performance. While its 30-150mm (5x) wide-angle lens won’t zoom in that close, its 30mm wide-angle will allow you to take in scenes of sweeping landscapes or big landmarks.

High-ISO performance and the f/3.3-5.2 lens is about average, so freezing moving subjects will be a bit difficult. However the W150 does include an image stabilization system, which should help for taking pictures of static subjects, like the cityscapes or building interiors often encountered on travel.

The W150’s small 0.9” size makes it easy to take with you just about anywhere. Battery life lasts for a very long 400 shots, which should be good enough for even long vacations with moderate use.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20

The W150 and FS20 share many similar attributes, from the same 0.9” body size to the same 30mm wide-angle lens. The W150 slightly edges the FS20 out on account of its marginally better high-ISO performance (cleaner photos in low-light) and its slightly more versatile 5x zoom lens.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix J150W

Though the J150w offers a slightly wider 28mm wide-angle, that’s about the only attribute where the Fuji has an advantage - the W150, with its IS system, performs much better in low-light, and also has much longer battery life, making it a much more capable travel camera overall.

Pros
  • +
    30mm wide-angle
  • +
    Image stabilization
  • +
    Small 0.9" size
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150 is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-W150
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Sony Cybershot DSC-W150
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20
3
Fujifilm FinePix J150W
Customer Rating
Price $399.95 $145.00
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 5.0 oz 4.7 oz 5.1 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
30 mm 30 mm 28 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
150 mm 120 mm 140 mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 4.0x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes No
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/3.3 f/3.3
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.2 f/5.8 f/5.1
Battery Life 400 shots 310 shots 150 shots
High ISO quality Average Poor Average
Travel Rating Average Average Poor
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20

At the budget end of Panasonic’s line of ultracompacts is the FS20, an affordable camera that features a useful 30-120mm (4x) zoom range in a compact 0.9” size. While the 120mm telephoto won’t let you zoom in too close, the 30mm wide-angle will work great for large cameras.

Low-light performance is about average - the FS20 has an IS system for static subjects, but its aperture and high-ISO are slightly below-average, so moving subjects will be a challenge.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix J150W

The J150w does have a wider 28mm lens than the FS20, but the FS20’s image stabilization system and longer battery life make it the better travel camera.

Pros
  • +
    30mm wide-angle
  • +
    Image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Below-average high-ISO
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 310 shots
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3
Fujifilm FinePix J150W

Though it doesn’t offer much else, Fujifilm’s J150w is one of the few budget ultracompacts to feature a wide 28mm lens - great for taking in the whole scene of large landscapes or buildings.

While its high-ISO and aperture are about average, its lack of image stabilization means even static subjects in low-light will be plagued with camera shake. The short 150 shot battery life also means the camera may only last for a couple days at a time without recharging.

Pros
  • +
    28mm wide-angle
Cons
  • -
    No image stabilization
  • -
    Only 150 shot battery life
Fujifilm FinePix J150W is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix J150W
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Size: 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 150 shots
More
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