Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 2, 2008 Updated: November 8, 2009
Overview

Equipped with large pixels and a sharp 5x zoom lens, the Canon PowerShot G11 captures the delicate skin tones of kids and produces images that can easily be blown up to large sizes. In low light conditions (typical indoors), the camera’s DIGIC IV processor removes noise with minimal artifacts. With its optical viewfinder, you won’t miss the action for even a moment. Its swivel LCD is helpful in capturing natural expressions of children.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot G11

The Canon PowerShot G11 is the latest flagship premium compact camera from Canon. Within its tough magnesium alloy body, the Canon G11 houses a low noise sensor, which is great for producing relatively noise free images of kids and pets without motion blur. A sharp 5x zoom lens has enough reach enabling taking photos from safe distance. Its optical viewfinder facilitates live tracking of playful pets. The camera’s swivel LCD (a first in its class) is of great help in capturing natural expression of kids without making them aware of the camera. Tilt the LCD towards the kids and they will enjoy giving self portraits.

Equipped with large pixels & the latest DIGIC IV processor, it has managed to strike a good balance between noise and rich detail under low light conditions. Consequently the low light image quality (high ISO performance) is one of the best among compacts making it possible to take noise free shots of babies without using a flash.

It offers a RAW mode too. By shooting in RAW format one can get better image quality later during the image conversion to a more popular image format (e.g. JPG or TIFF) after applying noise reduction using the supplied software (or third party software, e.g. Noise Ninja).

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection Adjusts exposure based on faces in the scene and removes red-eye automatically.
  • Motion detection technology Combining inputs from its Face Detection Technology, the optical Image Stabilizer, changes in scene brightness and changes from frame to frame, it raises ISO to freeze action.
  • Swivel LCD
Comparison with Canon PowerShot S90 IS

Larger reach, Swivel LCD.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot G10

Better high ISO performance, Swivel LCD. Although G11 has less resolution than G10, but at anything above base ISO, it retains similar level of fine details as it captures images which need less noise reduction.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Swivel LCD
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    RAW mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
Canon PowerShot G11 is the Best Compact Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot G11
  • Best Price: $509
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
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 G11
2
Canon PowerShot S90 IS
3
Canon PowerShot G10
Customer Rating
Price $509.00 $420.01 $879.00
Size (W x H x D) 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in. 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in. 4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in.
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Sensor Size
7.6 x 5.7 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
10.0 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 14.7 megapixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) < .07 sec < .05 sec 0.07 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6-0.8 sec 0.5-0.8 sec 0.6-0.8 sec
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.1 frames/sec 0.9 frames/sec 1.4 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 28 mm 28 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
140 mm 105 mm 140 mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 3.8x 5.0x
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/2.0 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/4.5 f/4.9 f/4.5
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 3200 (reduced resolution after ISO1600)
Max Usable ISO (subjective) 1600 1600 800
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes (Swivel LCD + EVF) No Yes (LCD + EVF)
2
Canon PowerShot S90 IS

The Canon SD90 IS is the latest top-of-line ultra compact from the market leader. The camera has a best in class bright lens which gathers more light than others in class. This in turn results in quicker focusing and less noise in images shot without a flash under low light conditions (typical for indoors). You get more blur-free shots too as the camera can choose relatively fast shutter speeds.

It is the first ultra-compact zoom camera to offer RAW mode.

The camera offers class-leading high ISO performance (similar to G11’s) and features a sharp lens.

Thanks to DIGIC IV processor, the high ISO images are relatively clean and retain enough detail for mid-sized prints (up to 8”x10” size).

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection
  • Motion detection technology
  • High resolution LCD (best in class) with wide viewing angle
Comparison with Canon PowerShot G10

Brighter lens, ultra-compact size. Although S90 IS has less resolution than G10, but at anything above base ISO, it retains similar level of fine details as it captures images which need less noise reduction.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    Ultra compact size
  • +
    RAW mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
Cons
  • -
    zoom range
Canon PowerShot S90 IS is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S90 IS
  • Best Price: $420
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.8x
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot G10

The Canon PowerShot G10 is one of the premium compact camera from Canon. It houses a class-leading resolution sensor, making good quality large prints possible. However it lags behind its sibling (Canon G11) in high ISO performance.

It too offers a RAW mode.

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection
  • Motion detection technology
  • High resolution LCD with wide viewing angle
Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)

Zoom lens, higher resolution, compact size. Nevertheless GF1 has better high ISO performance.

Pros
  • +
    Best in class resolution
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    RAW mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
Cons
  • -
    Smaller pixel size (as compared to LX3's & G11's)
Canon PowerShot G10 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot G10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 14.7MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 - 0.7s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)

This is the latest micro-four third format camera from Panasonic. In its compact body there lies a large sensor (almost 5 times area to that of Canon G11) and consequently larger pixels. Thus the high ISO performance is far better making it great camera for freezing active moments. The kit lens is sharp & bright. Equipped with full manual modes it is great camera for photography enthusiasts. The only thing lacking is ability to zoom as the kit lens is a fixed focal lens although it gathers more than double light than other typical kit lenses. However with its lack of zoom it is difficult to take photos of kids without making them conscious of your presence.

Nevertheless the camera can accept zoom lenses and does come with one in another kit but that increases the overall size.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Better high ISO performance, bright kit lens and ability to accept other micro-four third format lenses.

Pros
  • +
    Good resolution
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    RAW mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens) is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Panasonic DMW-LVF1 External Live Viewfinder for Panasonic GF1 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera
    $128.55 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.5s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is the latest top-of-the-line compact camera offering from Panasonic. This camera is equipped with a sharp and bright wide-angle zoom lens with the widest aperture in its class. Consequently it focuses quicker and captures less noise in images.

With this model, Panasonic has commendably steered clear of the megapixel race and instead tried to improve upon the image processing to yield better quality images than its predecessor. However the high ISO (ISO 800 & above) images from the LX3 still suffer from water color artifacts from the noise reduction, but it still manages to retain comparable fine details to other leading cameras.

Panasonic LX3 does offer the option to save images in RAW format, which will allow you to get better results later during post processing.

However with its small zoom range it is difficult to take photos of kids without making them conscious of your presence. It misses on the optical viewfinder too.

Comparison with Sigma DP1

The Panasonic LX3 features faster operation and focusing, supports ISO 1600 & 3200 options, and has an AF assist lamp.

Pros
  • +
    Bright lens (best in class)
  • +
    Rich feature set (manual, aperture/shutter priority modes)
  • +
    Cleaner high ISO images possible (by shooting in RAW mode and post processing)
Cons
  • -
    Lacks optical viewfinder
  • -
    Small zoom range
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Best Price: $402
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 2.5x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.8 sec
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
6
Sigma DP1

This camera is equipped with one of the largest image sensors among compacts. Naturally due to larger-sized pixels one expects it to be a good performer in low light (typical indoor conditions). However the camera belies the expectation as it misses on image stabilization, an AF assist lamp and is a sluggish performer. The lens although of good quality has a fixed focal length, essentially making it unsuitable for taking photos of kids and pets. The lens gathers less light as the widest aperture available is lower than competition. The maximum ISO rating is limited to ISO800 only. Nevertheless it is good camera for landscapes, etc.

Pros
  • +
    Equipped with one of the largest (around 6x in size to that of LX3) sensor among compacts
  • +
    Sharp lens
  • +
    Good image quality with plenty of details
  • +
    Hot shoe for accessories (e.g. external flash or EVF mounting)
  • +
    Full manual controls including RAW mode
Cons
  • -
    Fixed focal length
  • -
    Widest aperture of f/4.0 only
  • -
    optical viewfinder missing
  • -
    ISO rating is limited to ISO800
  • -
    Lacking AF assist lamp
  • -
    Sluggish performer (Not suited for kids and pets)
Sigma DP1 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $1000
Where to buy
Sigma DP1
  • Best Price: $599
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Resolution: 4.6MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 1.5 - 1.7s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)

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