Expert Recommendation

.
Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 3, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
Overview

While it can’t change the laws of physics necessitated by a 0.9in thin, ultracompact body, the Panasonic FX33 is one of the most full-featured ultracompact cameras on the market. Although it has fairly average high ISO performance, the FX33 includes an image stabilization system for taking low-light photos of static subjets, and is one of the only cameras on the market to include a 28mm wide-angle lens, a unique feature that makes it one of the best travel cameras in this size range, as well as being a decent low-light camera.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

Like many things dealing with the laws of physics, the old adage “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” certainly applies to finding full-featured cameras in ultra-small bodies. While all of the products mentioned here are stylish, thin, take-anywhere cameras, they compromise in other areas to achieve that size: except for the innovative SuperCCD sensor found in the Fuji F50fd, the conventional small sensors found in most cameras limit their high ISO and low light abilities. A 1-inch body also means you won’t find.the large 10x or more ultrazooms that make for versatile travel cameras, and even 28mm wide-angle lenses are rare.

The best choice depends on your low-light subjects, and whether travel or low-light is a higher priority.

If your priority is travel photography, the Sony T200 and Panasonic FX33, with their more versatile zoom ranges, are the best choices. Although the Fujifilm F50fd may give better low-light performance, low-light is only one of many photographic situations you’ll encounter while on travel, while zoom range versatility will be a useful asset throughout your travel. Given that most travel photography takes place at the wide-end of the zoom range, the Panasonic FX33, with its 28mm wide-angle lens, is the best choice.

If low-light is your priority, it will depend on whether you plan on taking pictures of moving subjects or static subjects. For moving subjects, the F50fd is more or less the only option - the average ISO performance of the other cameras are simply not capable of preventing motion blur in low-light. For static subjects, however, the image stabilization systems found on the FX33 and T200 work just as well as high ISO to prevent camera shake, and while the Fuji F50fd is still better (it still has both high ISO and image stabilization), the travel advantages of the T200 and FX33 make them better overall cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.0 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 280 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
2
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
Customer Rating
Price $399.22 $278.68
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.0 x 0.9 in 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
Weight (with batteries) 5.4 oz 6.2 oz 6.6 oz
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28-100mm (3.6x) 35 - 105 mm (3x) 35-175 mm (5x)
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, xD-Picture Card Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 280 shots 250 shots 250 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO800 ISO400
Travel Rating Good Average Good
Low-light Rating Average Superb Good
2
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

The Fujfilm F50fd is the flagship camera in Fuji’s Fxx line, which utilizes Fujifilm’s unique SuperCCD sensor design to deliver amazing low-noise, high ISO images that far exceed any other non-DSLR camera on the market. The F50fd is an ultracompact camera, fitting into a 0.9in frame that can easily fit into any pocket or bag.

The F50fd has a fairly standard 35-105mm (3x) zoom lens - covering a somewhat boring range that doesn’t get wide enough to capture landscapes or big landmarks, and doesn’t quite zoom in close enough for portraits or wildlife or architectural details. The big advantage of the Fuji F50fd is its combination of amazing high ISO performance from its SuperCCD sensor, and its inclusion of sensor-shift image stabilization technology, making it by far the best compact camera for low-light photography. The F50fd’s flash is embedded into the body, so it will perform like most other cameras on the market - not such an important factor, considering the F50fd’s incredible low-light abilities means you’ll hardly have to use flash anyway!

The F50fd can take 250 shots on one battery, slightly below average but good enough to last a day of travel for most users.

Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Size: 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 230 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200

The Sony T200 is an ultrathin camera that packs in big features - despite being only 0.8in thick, the T200 packs in a whopping 5x (35-175mm) zoom and a massive 3.5in LCD screen - by far the biggest for a camera of this size.

While the T200 lacks the 28mm wide angle that’s useful for things like landscapes or large landmarks, it’s one of the only ultracompact cameras with a somewhat long zoom range that can zoom in for things like portraits or close-ups of faraway wildlife or building details.

In terms of low-light performance, the T200, using a conventional sensor, has somewhat average performance at high ISO, but makes up for this with an optical image stabilization system, helping to take low-light shots of static subjects, although flash will probably still be needed for moving subjects like people.

The T200 can take 250 pictures on one charge, which is slightly below average but good enough to last a day of travel for most people.

Sony Cybershot DSC-T200 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 250 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.