Expert Recommendation

Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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November 17, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007

While there are some cameras that do travel photography better, and some cameras that can work with low-light portraits of children and pets better, you won’t find a better jack-of-all-trades ultracompact camera than the Sony T200, which doesn’t produce outstanding results in any particularly category, but - with a 35-175mm 5x zoom lens, 2fps continuous shooting, and decent high ISO performance - is one of the only ultracompact cameras that is competent in all three fields of fast-action, travel, and people/pet portrait photography.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200

Squeezing cameras into compact sizes always result in compromises, most particularly in the lenses available - there isn’t a single ultracompact camera on the market that can stretch all the way to the 300mm telephoto length needed for most fast-action photography, much less an ultracompact that can stretch that far and include a 28mm wide-angle that’s useful for travel photography. For such a broad range of uses - travel, fast action, and people and pet portraits, there is really no camera that can do it all - it may even be a better idea to eliminate one of your goals (probably fast action) so you can find a camera capable of doing your top priorities well, instead of trying to cover all areas and not producing good photos in any of them.

That said, the Casio V8 and Sony T200 are two of the more capable cameras in this size class. Both have moderately large zooms, allowing for the versatility needed for travel, although both lack the 28mm wide-angle lenses that are useful for landscapes or landmarks or interiors. Both also approximately cover the middle 50-200mm zoom range needed for good portraits of peoples and pets, although the V8 is a bit less capable in low-light situations because of its below-average high ISO. This deficiency also means the V8 is a poor camera for taking fast action photos - the high ISO is simply not capable of freezing action without producing unusably blurry or noisy results in low light, and even daytime results will be somewhat noisy.

While the T200 doesn’t particularly excel in either fast action, and doesn’t have the best versatility for travel, it has a good zoom range for this size class that can handle people/pet portraits very well and give an above-average range for travel use. Its combination of somewhat long (175mm, 5x) zoom lens and continuous shooting capability (2 frames per second) also make it the best fast-action camera that fits into an ultracompact size.

Sony Cybershot DSC-T200 is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 1.2s
  • Burst Speed: 2.2 fps
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 250 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

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Sony Cybershot DSC-T200
Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8
Customer Rating
Price $149.99
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 3.76 x 2.35 x 1.0 in
Weight (without batteries) 5.6 oz 5.3 oz
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 2.2fps, unlimited 1fps, unlimited
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 - 175 mm (5x) 38 - 266 mm (7x)
Storage Media Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Life 250 shots 240 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO200
Travel Rating Good Good
People/Pet Portrait Rating Superb Good
Fast Action Rating Average Poor

The Casio V8 is a ultracompact, 7x zoom camera that breaks the mold of Casio’s usual 3x zoom compacts. Fitting into a slim 1 in. frame, the V8 is one of the smallest cameras to include a big 7x (38-266mm) zoom lens, which, although lacking the 28mm wide-angle useful for travel, does have a versatile long range useful for portraits, faraway detail, and even zooming in for sports and fast-action.

While the V8 does have image stabilization to help take low-light photos of static subjects like the buildings and landscapes you’ll encounter on travel, it has below-average high ISO performance, making it very difficult to take low-light photos of moving subjects like quick-moving children or pets. Fast-action pictures will look grainy/noisy in even daylight situations, and the V8 is simply unusable for any kind of fast-action in low-light.

The V8 can continuously take photos at 1 frame per second. This is about average for a camera in this class, but not enough to make a difference - within that 1 second, the action will have already elapsed. The V8 has a slightly longer shutter lag than the T200, but is still very quick and responsive. The V8’s autofocus, like many other consumer cameras, will barely be able to keep up with the fastest action in daylight, but is simply not fast enough to focus on fast-action in low-light situations.

The V8 can take 240 shots on one battery - slightly below average but good enough for at least a day of travel.

Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel, Child, and Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V8
  • Best Price: $149
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  • Zoom: 7.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 - 0.4s
  • Burst Speed: 0.6 fps
  • Size: 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 240 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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