Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $200
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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November 18, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
Overview

With a budget of $200 and a restriction on camera size, any camera in this range will be a compromise. For a demanding use goal like fast action, there is virtually no camera in this size and price class that can perform well - no camera packs the long zoom lens and decent high ISO performance needed. That said, the Canon A720IS is the most capable camera in this class, with a moderately long lens that can zoom in somewhat closely, and average high ISO that is capable of freezing fast action in daylight situations.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot A720 IS

Budget cameras usually come with compromises. Compact cameras usually come with compromises as well. Combined, both restrictions severely limit the choice of cameras - in this class there really isn’t any camera with a long enough zoom lens, or good enough motion-freezing capability, to produce good or even average fast action photos.

Of the cameras available, the two that come closest are the Canon A720IS, which has a moderately long zoom lens that doesn’t get close enough, but has a decent high ISO capable of freezing action, and the Casio V7, which has a zoom lens that can just barely zoom close enough (depending on the type of sport or fast action), but has poor high ISO that isn’t capable of freezing fast subject motion.

While the A720IS won’t zoom in close enough, at the very least it will avoid the unusably noisy or blurry photos from the Casio V7, and is the most capable camera in this class. However, strong consideration should be given to a larger budget camera, or upping the budget by $50-100, where many far more capable options become available.

Canon PowerShot A720 IS is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot A720 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.2s
  • Burst Speed: 1.4 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot A720 IS
2
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7
Customer Rating
Price $400.00 $288.99
Size (W x H x D) 3.8 x 2.6 x 1.7 in. 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.0 in. 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.3 in.
Weight (without batteries) 7.0 oz 5.3 oz 6.5 oz
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.2 fps, unlimited 2.1 fps for first 3, 1.3 fps unlimited Unspecified
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 mm 38 mm 37 mm
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type AA-size (x2) Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x2)
Battery Life 400 shots 240 shots 250 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO400 ISO200 ISO400
Autofocus Rating Average Average Average
Fast Action Rating Poor Unusable Poor
2
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7

The Casio V7 is a budget model in Casio’s V series of ultracompact zoom cameras, coming in at just 1 inch thin. With a 38-266mm (7x) zoom lens, the V7 is still a bit short of zooming in close enough for good fast action or sports photos, but is better than any other camera in this range.

The Casio V7 has very poor high ISO performance, producing blotchy and noisy fast action photos even in daylight situations, and becoming completely unusable in low-light.

The Casio V7 has a “high speed” mode that allows it to take photos at 2.1 frames per second, although this is limited to only 3 images - somewhat useful for very short, quick bursts. The V7 can take an unlimited number of photos at 1.3fps, which is about average, but ultimately not enough to make a difference for most fast-action subjects (In between that time, the action will have already passed by). Making use of the same autofocus system as all consumer cameras, the V7’s autofocus system is just barely fast enough for daylight situations, but isn’t usable for fast subjects in low-light.

Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.1 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7

The LZ7 is a budget compact camera in Panasonic’s lineup, packing a somewhat long 36-222mm (6x) zoom lens into a small 1.3 in body. The 222mm long end of the LZ7 can get up closer than the 3x or 4x zooms often found in this range, but really can’t zoom in close enough for the good fast action photos.

The LZ7 has slightly below average high ISO performance which produces slightly noisy fast action photos in daylight situations, and is just about unusable for low-light situations.

The LZ7 can continuously take photos for an unlimited duration, although Panasonic doesn’t list an exact rate anywhere - it’s probably safe to assume it won’t be fast enough to give you a real advantage in fast-action photography. The LZ7 utilizes the same type of autofocus system as other consumer cameras, allowing it to track fast action subjects in daylight, but making it all but impossible to take fast action photos in low-light.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7
Specifications
  • Zoom: 6.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Burst Speed: 4.6 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)

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