Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Expert (9 Recommendations)
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October 24, 2007 Updated: December 5, 2007
Overview

The Nikon D40 is a winner, not only for its excellent optical quality and well-thought-out feature set – 6.1 MP, 2.5 fps, excellent high ISO performance, interactive menu, manual controls, preset scene modes, compatibility with a full range of Nikon lenses, flashes, and accessories – but also for its ergonomics, handling, and overall user-friendliness. Some pros even use the D40 as their backup or “fun” camera when they’re just out shooting, and while you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use it, a D40 can lend that “pro” look to snapshots, portraits, and action shots of your pets or children, allowing as much creative control as you need to capture the moment.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D40 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

Nikon D40. As good as the Leica’s specs are, the D40 is just more versatile because it can use interchangeable lenses. This means you’re not limited to a static focal length, and also that the camera can be the starting point for a system that can grow over the years along with your photographic skills. There’s no better introduction to the world of Nikon creative photography for a beginner than a D40, and though the camera is limited to lenses with an internal drive-type motor (like Nikon SWM or Sigma HSM), in our book that’s better than being limited to just one lens forever. Sure, it’s a bit clunkier than the Leica, but still casts a small shadow when compared to such monsters as the Nikon D2Xs or Canon 5D. The image quality of the 18-55 kit lens is surprisingly good, and Nikon has a full complement of fisheye, wide angle, wide-aperture, and telephoto lenses in its DX arsenal for when you’re ready to move up to the next level.

Nikon D40 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses) is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Nikon D40 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
Specifications
  • Zoom: 11.1x
  • Resolution: 6.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 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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Nikon D40 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
2
Leica D-LUX 3
3
Fujifilm FinePix S9100
Customer Rating
Price $1100.00
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in. 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.0 in 5.0 x 3.7 x 5.1 in.
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Effective Sensor Resolution
6.1 megapixels 10.2 million pixels 9.0 megapixels
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.3 sec n/a 0.6 sec
Power to First Shot Time 0.4 sec n/a 1.1 sec
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 2.5 frames/sec 2 frames/sec 1.6 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
27 mm 28-112 mm 28 mm
Optical Zoom 11.1x 4x 10.7x
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Image Stabilization Available
No built-in stabilization; VR lenses available Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical Optical Digital
Manual Focus Available Yes Yes Yes
Interchangeable Lenses Available Yes No No
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.5 f/2.8 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.6 f/4.9 f/4.9
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 sec 1/2000 sec 1/4000 sec
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 1600
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Face Detection Available
No No Yes
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes No Yes
Viewfinder Type Optical n/a Electronic
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LCD Screen Size
2.5 in. 2.8 in 2.0 in.
LCD Screen Resolution 230000 pixels 207,000 235000 pixels
External Flash Connection Type Hot Shoe n/a Hot Shoe, PC Sync
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC MemSD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCardory Card, MultiMediaCard xD-Picture Card
Sensor Raw Format Available Yes Yes Yes
2
Leica D-LUX 3

If you want to impress old-school film photographers, whip out a digital Leica and watch their eyes light up. You’ll be pestered with so many questions, you’ll think you were Ansel Adams or Annie Liebowitz. And who knows? With a bit of practice, you might be. The Leica D-Lux 3 has a classy, understated appearance on the outside, which belies what it’s got on the inside: the high performance of a modern technological marvel. 10 MPs are more than sufficient for 13x19 prints, and the Leica lens can take pictures in three formats: 16:9 (for viewing on a widescreen monitor), 3:2, or 4:3, at different resolutions. The goodies don’t stop there; the D-Lux 3 has the same type of lens-based blur-resistance as Panasonic’s cameras (Mega O.I.S.), and a large 2.8” LCD viewing screen. Though you can’t change lenses on the Leica, the 4x zoom does offer a very useful range in real-world terms: 28-112mm, or wide-angle to portrait. Of course, there are manual modes for experienced photographers who want to take control, but also program and auto modes for those who prefer a simpler, less-involved approach. Many P&S cameras don’t do a good job of manual focusing, but the D-Lux 3 has a dedicated joystick just for that. It also offers the option of shooting at f/2.8, which is great for bokeh (out of focus elements), and low-light situations. Unlike many P&S cameras (and some DSLRS like the D40), the Leica offers the option to shoot in JPEG or RAW (for additional control over white balance, tones, and saturation). The D-Lux 3 is definitely at the top of the P&S heap, and may even be preferable to a DSLR for some.

Leica D-LUX 3 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Leica D-LUX 3
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3
Fujifilm FinePix S9100

In an era of $500 DSLRS, it’s rare to see a point and photo retail at above this price point anymore. But with the S9100, Fuji is clearly trying to make a statement: namely that they can deliver a solution for buyers who want a professional-looking camera that’s easy to use, and don’t want to mess with changing lenses. The S9100’s pseudo-DSLR appeal is evident from its design, which utilizes a manual-twist zoom ring, instead of the T and W buttons or levers found on most point & shoots. That not only makes the S9100 resemble a more expensive professional camera, but provides precise, accurate zooming across the entire focal plane, which is a good thing because the S9100 offers a ginormous 10.7x zoom, from 28-300mm (film equivalent). Fuji’s Super CCD chip provides more vibrant colors right out of the camera, and with 9 megapixels, cropping and enlarging is no problem. The Natural Light mode is optimized for low-light, no flash photos – something you probably wouldn’t dare to try on most P & S cameras. Other advanced features include a Super Macro mode, which allows for shooting as close as four-tenths of an inch from the subject; a live histogram (for more accurate exposures), auto-exposure bracketing; video mode; a hotshoe connector for external flash; a tilting LCD display; 0.01 second shutter lag and 0.8 second start-up time; and an ISO range from 80 to 1600. It also takes AA batteries and a wide-angle conversion lens is available as an aftermarket add-on. Unfortunately, the S9100’s 2” LCD is the smallest in its class (some compact cameras have 3” monitors, so this is a real disappointment); more problematically, the camera has received very mixed reviews where image quality is concerned – possibly the result of pixel-stuffing – and at this price-point, we shouldn’t have to compromise in this area.

Fujifilm FinePix S9100 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $750
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S9100
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Resolution: 9.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.6 sec
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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