Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $310
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 4, 2008
Overview

A mini-version of Sony’s full-featured H50 ultrazoom, the H10 packs many of the same useful portrait features - versatile 10x zoom, good high ISO ability - in a much smaller body and a cheaper price.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Part of its series of compact ultrazoom cameras, Sony’s H10 is a full-featured camera that packs a versatile 10x (38-380mm) image-stabilized zoom into a compact 1.9” thick package. The large zoom range allows the H10 to cover your pets and children in the classical 50-200mm portrait range, as well as the longer-distance telephoto range and the close-up wide-angle range, although the H10’s 38mm wide-angle isn’t as wide as some other cameras.

The H10’s shutter lag is about average for this class, so you may have a little trouble reacting quickly or precisely timing your photos. In terms of high-ISO ability, the H10 is above average, allowing you to take reasonably noise-free photos while avoiding blur from your fast-moving children and pets.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The H10’s featureset is similar to that of the Canon SX100 - they both feature versatile 10x zoom ranges that adequately cover the traditional 50-200mm portrait range, have image-stabilized lenses, average shutter lag, and come in fairly compact sizes. What sets the H10 apart is its high-ISO ability, which produces cleaner images out-of-the-camera than the extremely grainy Canon cameras.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A650 IS

The H10 beats out the A650 IS in most areas, offering a large 10x zoom range, slightly thinner body, and a cheaper price as well. What sets the H10 apart is its high-ISO ability, which produces cleaner images out-of-the-camera than the extremely grainy Canon cameras.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range, and beyond
  • +
    Above average high ISO
  • +
    Compact
Cons
  • -
    No wide-angle
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $310
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.1s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
2
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
3
Canon PowerShot A650 IS
Customer Rating
Price $699.95
Size (W x H x D) 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in. 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.8 in. 4.4 x 2.7 x 2.2 in.
Weight (without batteries) 9.3 oz 9.4 oz 10.6 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
38mm 36 mm 35 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
380mm 360 mm 210 mm
Optical Zoom 10.0x 10.0x 6.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life 310 shots 400 shots 500 shots
Important Portrait Features
Shutter lag Average Average Average
High ISO quality Good Average Average
People/Pet Portrait Rating Good Average Average
2
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The SX100IS is the little brother of Canon’s full-featured S5 IS - the SX100 packs a slightly smaller 36-360mm (10x) zoom range and comes in a much smaller 1.8” thick size. Beyond that it’s a similar camera - the 36-360mm zoom range still covers most traditional portrait perspectives, though it lacks a real wide-angle for more creative close-up shots.

Shutter lag is about average - a little slower than the S5, making it slightly difficult to snap photos at an instant. Like the other Canon cameras, the SX100IS uses a more conservative noise reduction method, retaining more detail but also making the images very grainy, although they can be cleaned up with noise reduction software.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot A650 IS

Compared to the A650IS, the SX100 IS is superior in most respects - it has a larger zoom range, is smaller and lighter, and is a bit cheaper as well. The SX100 doesn’t have the A650’s 12 MP resolution, but this isn’t a factor unless you plan to make gigantic poster size prints of your children and pets.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range and beyond
  • +
    Compact size (1.8" thick)
Cons
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
  • -
    No wide-angle lens
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $310
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot A650 IS

The Canon A650IS is a versatile, compact (2.2” thick) camera that features a monster 12MP sensors. While you’re unlikely to ever use that much resolution (unless you were to make poster size prints of your children and pets), the A650IS’s 35-210mm (6x) will cover the traditional range for portraits just fine, although it lacks a wide-angle lens for more creative opportunities.

The A650IS has about average shutter lag, which may make reacting quickly or precisely timing shots of your children and pets difficult at times. The A650IS’s high ISO images are slightly better than the Canon S5, but still takes a “hands-off” approach to noise reduction that leaves images extremely grainy but detailed.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Compared to the Panasonic TZ4, the A650IS lacks a number of features, namely the TZ4’s more versatile 10x lens, 28mm wide-angle, faster shutter lag, and more compact 1.4” size. However, the A650IS is much better in perhaps the most important attribute, high ISO ability, where the TZ4 turns up blotchy messes, while the A650 can still take grainy, but usable photos.

Pros
  • +
    Adequately covers 50-200mm portrait range
  • +
    Somewhat compact size (2.2" thick)
Cons
  • -
    Slow shutter lag
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
  • -
    No wide-angle lens
Canon PowerShot A650 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $310
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot A650 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.9s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Panasonic’s long-running TZ series offers an enticingly featured package, bundling an image-stabilized lens, versatile 10x zoom, and 28mm wide-angle, all in one of the most compact bodies in this range (just 1.4” thick). The 28-280mm lens provides great versatility for portraits, covering the traditional 50-200mm range while also offering creative close-up opportunities with its 28mm wide-angle.

The TZ4 also has an above-average shutter lag, making it easier to snap those catch-it-or-miss it shots. The one weak point of the TZ4, however, is its below-average high-ISO - images from the TZ4 tend to be blotchy and lack detail, making it difficult to take photos of fast-moving children or pets in low-light situations.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range, and beyond
  • +
    28mm wide-angle for close-up perspective
  • +
    Fast shutter lag
  • +
    Very compact size (1.4" thick)
Cons
  • -
    Poor high-ISO ability
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $310
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.7 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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