Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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August 2, 2008 Updated: December 13, 2008
Overview

While tracking down young kids or pets isn’t quite as intense as tracking down say, fast action sports, the challenges are the same - with children and pets running around quickly and predictably, you need a camera with speed. The Canon SX10 provides just that, with one of the fastest shutter lag times available, as well as the high-ISO capability to take blur-free snapshots in low-light situations without too much noise. With a huge 20x zoom spanning from 28-560mm, the SX10 also easily covers the zoom range traditionally used for portraits, in addition to offering a wide-angle for more creative shots.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

The Canon SX10 is an ultrazoom camera from Canon’s long-running S-series. Featuring a whopping 28-560mm (20x) lens, the SX10 has one of the largest zoom capabilities in the market. The SX10 easily covers the traditional 50-200mm portrait range, and provides a 28mm wide-angle for more creative close-up shots as well.

The SX10’s shutter lag is above average, making it easier to react quickly and time your shots. The Canon SX10’s high ISO performance is good - using a lighter approach to noise reduction, the SX10’s images are somewhat grainy but also retain more detail than most cameras.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

Compared to the Sony H50, the SX10 is a better camera in almost all ways - it has a wider 28mm wide-angle, faster shutter lag, and overall produces better high-ISO images.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

With a 20x zoom, 28mm wide-angle, and fast shutter lag, the SX10 outperforms the H10 in all areas. However, if you’re looking for something smaller/lighter that you can take around anywhere, the H10 comes in at almost half the weight and thickness.

Pros
  • +
    Extremely zoom range covers wide-angle to telephoto
  • +
    Fast shutter lag
  • +
    Good high ISO ability
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 20.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Customer Rating
Price $519.99
Size (W x H x D) 4.9 x 3.5 x 3.4 in. 4.6 x 3.2 x 3.4 in. 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 19.8 oz 14.6 oz 9.3 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 31mm 38mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
560 mm 465mm 380mm
Optical Zoom 20.0x 15.0x 10.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Battery Life 600 shots 300 shots 310 shots
Important Portrait Features
Shutter lag Good Average Average
High ISO quality Good Good Good
People/Pet Portrait Rating Good Good Good
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

The newest model in Sony’s long-running H-line of ultrazoom cameras, the H50 is a full-featured do-everything camera, sporting a huge 15x zoom, 31mm wide-angle lens, image stabilization system, rotating LCD screen, and a host of other features.

The H50 has about average shutter lag, so you may have some difficulty precisely timing your shots. The H50 also packs a huge 31-465mm zoom - more than enough to cover your portrait subjects from nearly any perspective, from up-close with a wide-angle to far away with a telephoto. The lens also features image stabilization to combat camera shake when zoomed in.

The Sony H50 has slightly above average high ISO ability - while its high ISO images are slightly blotchy, they’ll freeze the motion of fast-moving children and pets in low-light situations, and the results will be usable.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Compared to the Sony H10, the H50 is a far more full-featured option, with a larger zoom range, wider wide-angle, and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) which works better in bright sunlight and may help to frame photos better (the H10 only has the main LCD), although it’s significantly larger at 3.4” vs. 1.9”. Performance-wise, the H50 and H10 are fairly similar, with comparable shutter lag and high ISO ability.

Pros
  • +
    Large zoom range covers wide-angle to telephoto
  • +
    Above-average high ISO ability
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Resolution: 9.1MP
  • 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
3
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 SX110 IS

The H10’s featureset is similar to that of the Canon SX110 - 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.

Pros
  • +
    Zoom covers 50-200mm portrait range, and beyond
  • +
    Above average high ISO
  • +
    Compact (1.9" thick)
Cons
  • -
    No wide-angle
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
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
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

The SX110IS is the little brother of Canon’s full-featured SX10 IS - the SX110 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 SX10, making it slightly difficult to snap photos at an instant. Like the other Canon cameras, the SX110IS 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 SX110 IS is superior in most respects - it has a larger zoom range, is smaller and lighter, and is a bit cheaper as well. The SX110 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
  • +
    Versatile zoom covers the 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 SX110 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 9.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
5
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 worse than the Canon SX10, 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 the 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 $400
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
6
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 $400
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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