Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $300
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 5, 2008 Updated: December 5, 2008
Overview

A mini-version of Sony’s full-featured H50 ultrazoom, the H10 packs many of the same useful portrait features - versatile 10x zoom, good high ISO ability - in a much smaller body (1.9” thick) and a cheaper price.

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My Best In Class Pick
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. The large zoom range allows the H10 to cover your pets and children in the classical 50-200mm portrait range, as well as the longer-distance telephoto range and the close-up wide-angle range, although the H10’s 38mm wide-angle isn’t as wide as some other cameras. At 1.9” thick, it isn’t the slimmest camera in the compact range, but should still fit fine in most bags or jacket pockets.

The H10’s shutter lag is about average for this class, so you may have a little trouble reacting quickly or precisely timing your photos. In terms of high-ISO ability, the H10 is above average, allowing you to take reasonably noise-free photos while avoiding blur from your fast-moving children and pets.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

The H10’s featureset is similar to that of the Canon SX110 - they both feature versatile 10x zoom ranges that adequately cover the traditional 50-200mm portrait range, have image-stabilized lenses, average shutter lag, and come in fairly compact sizes. What sets the H10 apart is its high-ISO ability, which produces cleaner images out-of-the-camera than the extremely grainy Canon cameras.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

The H10 actually falls short of Pansonic TZ4’s large feature list, which includes a 28mm wide-angle lens, a more compact 1.4” body, and faster shutter lag. However, the H10 is a much better camera at freezing subject motion in low-light conditions, where the TZ4 will mostly turn in blurry or blotchy messes.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range, and beyond
  • +
    Above average high ISO
Cons
  • -
    No wide-angle
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $300
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.1s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
2
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
Customer Rating
Price $549.99
Size (W x H x D) 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in. 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 in 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in
Weight (without batteries) 9.3 oz 8.6 oz 7.3 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
38 mm 36 mm 28 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
380 mm 360 mm 280 mm
Optical Zoom 10.0x 10.0x 10.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life 310 shots 400 shots 330 shots
Important Portrait Features
Shutter lag Average Average Good
High ISO quality Good Average Poor
People/Pet Portrait Rating Good Average Average
2
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

The SX110IS is the little brother of Canon’s full-featured S5 IS - the SX110 packs a slightly smaller 36-360mm (10x) zoom range and comes in a much smaller 1.8” thick size, which should fit fine into most bags or pockets. Beyond that, it’s a similar camera - the 36-360mm zoom range still covers most traditional portrait perspectives, though it lacks a real wide-angle for more creative close-up shots.

Shutter lag is about average - a little slower than the H10, making it slightly difficult to snap photos at an instant. Like the other Canon cameras, the SX110IS 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.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Compared to the Panasonic TZ4, the SX110IS lacks a number of features, namely the TZ4’s more versatile 28mm wide-angle, faster shutter lag, and more compact 1.4” size. However, the SX110 is much better in perhaps the most important attribute, high ISO ability, where the TZ4 turns up blotchy messes, while the SX110 can still take grainy, but usable photos.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range and beyond
Cons
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
  • -
    No wide-angle lens
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $300
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 9.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Panasonic’s long-running TZ series offers an enticingly featured package, bundling an image-stabilized lens, versatile 10x zoom, and 28mm wide-angle, all in one of the most compact bodies in this range (just 1.4” thick). The 28-280mm lens provides great versatility for portraits, covering the traditional 50-200mm range while also offering creative close-up opportunities with its 28mm wide-angle.

The TZ4 also has an above-average shutter lag, making it easier to snap those catch-it-or-miss it shots. The one weak point of the TZ4, however, is its below-average high-ISO - images from the TZ4 tend to be blotchy and lack detail, making it difficult to take photos of fast-moving children or pets in low-light situations.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range, and beyond
  • +
    28mm wide-angle for close-up perspective
  • +
    Fast shutter lag
  • +
    Very compact size (1.4" thick)
Cons
  • -
    Poor high-ISO ability
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $300
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.7 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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