Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $250
By Fotoguy
Expert (27 Recommendations and 7 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 25, 2008 Updated: September 27, 2008
Overview

One would have to search long and hard to find an ultra-compact point-n-shoot in this price range that could better the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 in image quality and features. With its top-of-the-line Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f2.8-5.6 28 to 100mm lens (35mm equivalent), optical image stabilization, 8.1 megapixel sensor, and manual overrides for fine tuning exposure, white balance, and flash not only make this little camera a “Best in Class” choice for Interiors, but general photography as well.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33

The outstanding feature of this camera is definitely its lens. The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit sets the camera well apart from the competition in optical performance. With little or no distortion and corner to corner sharpness throughout its zoom range, plus the built-in Panasonic Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization, you’ll get razor sharp images even at very slow shutter speeds. Adding to this macro focusing down to two inches, ISOs from 100 to 6400, 5 preset white balance options, plus manual set; shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/2000th second, 5 flash options, +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, Intelligent multi-segment metering, a plethora of shooting modes, including Intelligent Auto, which lets the camera pick the mode that best suits the scene conditions; up to 3 frames per second, three resolutions of movie mode each with two frame rates, three still formats (4:3, 3:2, 16:9), 27 MB of internal storage, and a four application software package make for an ultra-compact camera that will suit most needs.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-W170

In almost every way, the Cybershot DSC-W170 with its excellent, but not as good as the DC Vario-Elmarit, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 28mm - 140mm (35mm equivalent) lens and optical image stabilization produces images almost indistinguishable from the DMC-FX33. Only very slight softness in the extreme image corners at the widest angle setting, slightly larger size and higher price relegated it to the number 2 position. However, it does have an optical viewfinder for those who prefer one.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix J150W

With no true image stabilization, slightly noticeable lens distortion at the wide setting, very slight jpeg artifacting in clear blue skies, the J150W, however, with its 10.1 mp sensor, longer 28mm-140mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, and 3” LCD nevertheless produces very good images for all but the most critical eye. And at under $200 on the streets should be considered for those who need good quality, but are on a tight budget.

Pros
  • +
    Outstanding lens
  • +
    Optical Image Stabilization
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    Excellent, sharp, very low noise images
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    Manual compensation (exposure, white balance, flash)
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    Orientation sensor
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    Price
Cons
  • -
    No full manual exposure modes
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    2.5" LCD
  • -
    No optical viewfinder
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33 is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $250
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
More

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX33
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-W170
3
Fujifilm FinePix J150W
Customer Rating
Price $399.22 $488.88 $145.00
Easy to Use Yes Yes Yes
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 28mm 28 mm
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes No
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens) Optical (lens) N/A
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV
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LCD Screen Size
2.5 in. 2.7 in. 3.0 in.
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-W170

If you’re looking for an excellent, fit-in-your-pocket, ultra-compact point-n-shoot with an real optical viewfinder, then the 10.1 megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 with its top-notch Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens is for you.

Sony has pulled out the stops in this model starting with the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 5x (28mm - 140mm, 35mm equivalent) and Sony’s own Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization to produce razor sharp, blur-free images even at slow shutter speeds. The only caveat to this lens’ otherwise excellent performance (and only noticeable to the most critical eye) is very slight softening of the image in the extreme corners at the widest angle lens setting, which post processing sharpening would normally take care of. In real world shooting, however, this “flaw” would not even be apparent. Overall, image quality is stellar with noise well controlled at all ISOs.

Features abound on this model. To name just a few: built-in flash with 4 modes, ISOs 80 to 3200, shutter speeds 1 second to 1/1600th, +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, burst and bracket modes, 10 scene modes, 4 Autofocus settings, and 9 White Balance presets.

All in all, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 is a great choice for the serious snapshooter.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W170 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $250
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-W170
  • Best Price: $488
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
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Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
3
Fujifilm FinePix J150W

If you’re on a tight budget, but still need a quality-built, ultra-compact with a very wide angle lens, and lots of features to make your picture-taking easier, then the just released 10 megapixel Fujifilm Finepix J150W will more than meet your criteria and then some.

Starting with the lens: The Fujinon 5x zoom 5.1-25.5mm (28 to 140mm, 35mm equivalent) f3.3 to 5.1 produces sharp images with good contrast with only slight distortion at the widest angle lens setting. Something in real world shooting that would normally be unapparent.

Even as a budget choice, this camera is loaded with features and tools to make your picture taking experience easier and more enjoyable: built-in flash, 3” LCD, ISOs from 64 to 3200, shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/2000th, +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, 15 scene modes, and 7 White Balance presets to name just a few.

The caveats are lack of true image stabilization, very slight jpeg artifacting in clear blue skies, and excessive image noise in ISOs above 400. However, overall, the Fujifilm Finepix J150W is still a great choice for the budget-minded shooter.

Fujifilm FinePix J150W is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $250
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix J150W
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
More
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