Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Wildlife Photos Under $350
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
July 8, 2010 Updated: July 16, 2010
Overview

Whether your plans include hunting down wild animals on safari or trying to capture the kids at play in the backyard for that once in a lifetime photo, a long zoom lens is a necessary tool in any camera you put your trust in to get the shot. For my Best In Class recommendation to accommodate that need, and many more, the Nikon Coolpix P100 is the camera of choice. Put to the test, this easy to hold camera has the power and the features to satisfy your photo needs with years of Nikon experience to back it up.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon Coolpix P100

Standing out among the super-zoom cameras is the 26x Nikon P100. A stylish, 10.3mp camera with new technologies that make it a true competitor in the race to be the camera for wildlife, kids and pets.

The P100 incorporates a back illumination CMOS sensor to create beautiful HDR images in almost any lighting situation you will encounter. Merging multiple exposures to highlight the different shadows and tones of a certain scene, the P100 delivers a single, clear image that makes the most of what your eyes envisioned.

Shooting HD video at a Full 1080p is easy with a dedicated button located on the back of the camera, you can switch back and forth between video and still images. Record sound in stereo and zoom while shooting, remaining in focus the whole time.

Enjoy the versatility of the 3.0” high-resolution HVGA vari-angle LCD screen for getting the shot from odd angles and, with 5 anti-blur settings, getting a clear shot from any angle has become a lot easier.

And for brains, consider Nikon’s own EXPEED digital imaging technology, a processing engine that allows you to get great images quickly. With EXPEED you can expect to get 10fps at the highest resolution, or up to 120fps in the pre-shooting cache of the sport mode.

Long zoom, HDR images, HD video in stereo and more, all wrapped up in an ergonomic package. That’s progress. This just might be the only camera you’ll ever need.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD

Although the Nikon P100 and the Fuji S2500HD have similar body styles, there are a few differences in the features delivered. The P100 (26.1x) has quite a bit more zoom power than the S2500HD (18x) and the P100 comes with a rechargeable battery and charger versus AA battery power for the S2500HD. The P100 also has a vari-angle tiltable LCD screen.

Comparison with Samsung HZ35W

Designed quite differently, the P100 is larger than the HZ35W and won’t fit into your pants pocket, but it does have an electronic viewfinder that might just make up for any size difference. The HZ35W does boast GPS technology but that would have to be a pretty specific requirement you have before considering it a valuable feature since some users have complained about the speed in which it works.

Pros
  • +
    Electronic viewfinder
  • +
    Vari-Angle tiltable LCD screen
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    Dedicated video control button
  • +
    Expeed processor
  • +
    5 anti-blur settings
  • +
    10 fps
Nikon Coolpix P100 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Wildlife Photos Under $350
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix P100
  • Best Price: $419
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 26.1x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.3MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Nikon Coolpix P100
2
Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD
3
Samsung HZ35W
Customer Rating
Price $419.00 $270.59
Camera Format Electronic Viewfinder Electronic Viewfinder Compact
Size (W x H x D) 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.9 in. 4.3 x 2.9 x 3.2 in. 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.
Weight (with batteries) 17.1 oz 15.2 oz 8.6 oz
Colors Black Black Gray
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Sensor Size
6.2 x 4.6 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 10.0 frames/sec 0.5 frames/sec 0.9 frames/sec
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Stereo Sound Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Zoom Available (while recording) Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 26.1x 18.0x 15.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes No Yes
Smile Detection Available Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 3200 1600 3200
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Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes No
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4) Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD

Built to fit comfortably in your hand and loaded with the features you need to capture any shooting situation, the Fuji S2500HD should rank highly on your list of must-have cameras.

Starting with a 28mm wide angle Fujinon long-zoom lens that reaches out to 504mm (18x), the S2500HD is ready to shoot from wherever you are and still bring the subject in for their closeup. And with tracking autofocus, you can follow your subject, whether it’s a wild animal you’d rather stay far away from or a child or pet who just won’t stand still long enough for most cameras. Dual Image Stabilization keeps the image steady for a crisp, clear image every time.

Another important factor I appreciate in a superzoom camera is a viewfinder. Even though the viewfinder on the S2500HD is electronic, it still allows you to see your subject in any lighting condition and keep the camera steady when holding it up to your eye, a real advantage when tracking your subject in bright daylight or with the lens extended out fully. Framing and tracking your images on the bright 3” LCD screen is also a good option.

Other great features of the S2500HD are Natural light with Flash Mode and, Panorama Mode. With Natural Light and Flash Mode, you have the option of taking two images simultaneously with both natural light and flash, allowing you to choose between the two later during image review. That’s nice when you only have a split second to get the shot. And with Panorama Mode, you can shoot a series of images while panning the camera over a large area and stitch the images together for a spectacular panorama shot that will be suitable for framing.

The S2500HD was designed for photographers of all levels, starting with a variety of pre-programmed scene modes for specific shooting situations to scene recognition auto, programmed auto exposure, shutter priority auto exposure and, of course, manual mode for those who prefer to control the settings under every type of situation.

For HD capture, the S2500HD gives you both high-def still and video images and can connect to an HD ready television directly via an HDMI cable.

Comparison with Samsung HZ35W

Built larger but more ergonomically than the HZ35W, the S2500HD has an electronic viewfinder and more zoom capabilities (18x vs. 15x).

Pros
  • +
    Electronic Viewfinder
  • +
    Dual Image Stabilization
  • +
    Ergonomic design
  • +
    HDMI Connectivity
Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Wildlife Photos Under $350
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD
  • Best Price: $270
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 18.0x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Resolution: 12.2MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Samsung HZ35W

Slimmer and lighter than most of it’s superzoom competitors, the Samsung HZ35W still packs a lot of great features into it’s sturdy frame.

Starting with a 14mp imaging sensor, a wide-angle 24mm Schneider-Kreuznach lens that zooms out to 15x, an improved 3.0” AMOLED LCD display that allows viewing in any lighting condition and High Def video capturing at a resolution of 720p / 30fps. The video function includes the ability to connect directly to your HDTV.

Expect your shots to be of the best quality with the help of Dual Image Stabilization and Samsung’s own Smart Auto. Smart Auto chooses from 4 different preprogrammed settings and selects the best one for each situation. And Smart Auto works for both still images and video, ensuring that your results for both type of shooting situation will have the best exposure and color balance.

Adding to a list of functions that make your photo experience more successful are the Face Detection, Self Portrait, Smile Shot and Blink Detection modes. These must-have features allow the camera to verify for you when your subjects are properly posed for optimum shooting results.

Another new feature on the HZ35W is a GPS tracking device that records the location where each image was recorded. Although this is a desired technology by camera buffs of all types, it may still need to spend some time on the drawing board to improve the speed requirements of the user. The function is reported to work quite well, but so far it has taken a while for users to achieve a satisfactory result.

Pros
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    GPS
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    3.0" AMOLED LCD
  • +
    Smart Auto
Cons
  • -
    GPS has slow reactions
Samsung HZ35W is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Wildlife Photos Under $350
Where to buy
Samsung HZ35W
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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