Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Digital Camera Overall Under $150
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 25, 2008 Updated: July 27, 2009
Overview

Sporting a sharp 5x zoom lens, the Panasonic LZ8 is a versatile compact camera. The rich feature set includes manual controls for more experienced photographers, which is uncommon for such a low price. The lens provides a wider angle view than many of its rivals. The movie mode is also one of the best in its class.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8

The Pansonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 is part of the LZ (long Zoom) series. It packs a versatile 5x zoom lens with a wide angle view in a sturdy body.

Despite being so cheap the camera is equipped with a lens, which is among the best in its class and produces little distortion across the zoom range which is commendable. The camera is a snappy performer. The rich feature set includes Aperture/Shutter priority modes and manual mode which make the camera versatile. The movie mode is good too (higher resolution).

Panasonic has improved their image processing technology over time, and the LZ8 uses their latest Venus IV processor for the task which effectively fixes the color bleed problem experienced at high ISO by its predecessor.

However the camera still uses excessive noise reduction at high ISOs, which results in images that are clean but appear coarse due to splotchiness cause by noise reduction.

The sharp lens with a versatile zoom range, the rich feature set and manual controls make the camera better value than others digital cameras in its class.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A1000 IS

The Panasonic LZ8 is more versatile with its higher zoom range, wider angle view, manual modes and better movie mode. The Canon A1000 IS has a brighter lens, optical viewfinder and a tad better image processing (more fine details in images especially at higher ISOs). So if you prefer to use the camera in auto mode then A1000IS is better choice.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A590 IS

The Panasonic LZ8 has a higher zoom range, wider angle view, manual modes and better movie mode.

Pros
  • +
    Class-leading 5x zoom lens with wide angle view
  • +
    Low distortion lens with good corner-to-corner sharpness
  • +
    Sturdy body
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    useful Aperture/Shutter priority modes.
Cons
  • -
    Splotchy noise reduction artifacts at higher ISOs
  • -
    Lacks optical viewfinder
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 is the Best Compact Digital Camera Overall Under $150
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8
  • Best Price: $169
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 32mm (9% wider)
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8
2
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
3
Canon PowerShot A590 IS
Customer Rating
Price $169.00 $292.99 $369.00
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 3.8 x 2.5 x 1.2 in. 3.7 x 2.5 x 1.6 in.
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Sensor Size
5.8 x 4.3 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm 5.8 x 4.3 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
8.1 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 8.0 megapixels
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.4 - 1.0 sec 0.4 - 0.6 sec 0.5 - 0.7 sec
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.3 frames/sec 1.3 frames/sec 0.8 frames/sec
Max Video Resolution 848 x 480 pixels 640 x 480 pixels 640 x 480 pixels
Max Video Frame Rate (max resolution) 30 frames/sec 30 frames/sec 20 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
32 mm 35 mm 35 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
160 mm 140 mm 140 mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 4.0x 4.0x
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.3 f/2.7 f/2.6
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.9 f/5.6 f/5.5
Max Usable ISO (subjective) 800 800 800
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
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Viewfinder Available
No Yes Yes
Battery Type AA-size (x2) AA-size (x2) AA-size (x2)
2
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS

The Canon PowerShot A1000 IS has high resolution 10MP resolution sensor and is equipped with a sharp 4x super-zoom lens and is a snappy performer.

Its optical viewfinder (OVF) will help extend the battery life (i.e. one can switch off LCD). The OVF also helps shoot with a stable conventional posture.

The image quality is good with rich colors and fine detail. High ISO images are a bit grainy but retain enough detail for good quality mid-sized prints (upto 8”x10” size).

Other useful features are: Face detection Adjusts the exposure based on faces in the scene and removes red-eye automatically. It also adjusts the White Balance and supports Face Select & Track. 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 the ISO setting to freeze the action. LP (Long Play) VGA movie mode utilizes more efficient compression for movie clips so it uses less memory card space than a normal VGA mode.

The camera runs on 2 AA batteries, which are cheap to maintain and one can always use a couple of alkalines when caught in a bind.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A590 IS

The Canon A1000 IS has a smaller size, higher resolution, better movie mode, higher resolution LCD and more features. The Canon A590 IS offers Aperture/Shutter priority modes and a full manual mode which may be preferred by advanced users.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality with corner to corner sharpness
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Uses AA batteries
  • +
    Bang for the buck
Cons
  • -
    Lacks a wide angle view
  • -
    Lacks manual modes
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras Overall Under $150
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot A1000 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: No
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot A590 IS

The Canon A590IS is the successor (with a bit more resolution & a reduction in the VGA movie frame rates) of the highly successful Canon A570 IS. The camera produces images with minimal processing artifacts, rich colors and fine details in auto mode.

It offers a useful Aperture/Shutter priority modes and a full manual mode.

However, the low resolution LCD, jerky movie mode and bulkiness makes the camera look a bit dated.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Good corner-to-corner sharpness
  • +
    Ultra-compact size
Cons
  • -
    Small zoom range
  • -
    Lack of manual modes
Canon PowerShot A590 IS is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras Overall Under $150
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot A590 IS
  • Best Price: $369
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: No
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
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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