Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Expert (4 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
August 12, 2008 Updated: August 18, 2008
Overview

Many of the travelers I talk with want a point & shoot camera they can set and forget. With Lumix’s simple operation and ease-of-use, the FS20 is my top pick for a travel camera.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20

With an effective sensor resolution of 10 MP, you can make enlargements of your travel photos up to 30”X 40”. Equipped with a 4X optical zoom Leica lens, you can zoom in on family enjoying themselves while in the pool. This camera captures more of a landscape scene than most cameras in this class due to its 30 mm wide-angle lens.

Another nice feature of the Lumix DMC-FS20 is its large 3” LCD screen with 10-step automatic brightness control. Whether in a dark tropical rain forest or a white sand beach, the LCD screen automatically adjusts as ambient lighting conditions change so you always see your scenes or images clearly. Finally, with Panasonic’s MEGA OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and Intelligent ISO, your pictures are blur-free. Image stabilization stops movement from holding the camera while Intelligent ISO stops subject movement ensuring your travel images are crisp and clear.

Comparison with Nikon Coolpix S550

While both have similar features such as image stabilization, Face-Detection, high ISO and Red-Eye correction, the Lumix has the 3” LCD screen that automatically adjusts to the ambient light making seeing your images under a variety of lighting conditions easy. The Coolpix screen is 2.5” and while a 1/2” doesn’t seem like much, the larger screen on the Lumix makes a world of difference. The other plus is Lumix’s 30mm minimum wide-angle focal length compared to Coolpix’s 36mm. Having a wider minimum focal length allows capturing more of a scene width-wise and provides more of the scene in focus both in front of and behind the subject.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-W120

The biggest comparison between these two cameras is the effective sensor resolution. The Lumix has 10 MP compared to the Cyber-shot’s 7.1 MP. Because both have similar prices, features and technology, I would choose the Lumix with the larger resolution. The images have more detail and I can make larger prints than I could with the Cyber-shot.

Pros
  • +
    Bright LCD
  • +
    Wide minimum focal length
  • +
    Noise reduction
  • +
    Advanced technology
Cons
  • -
    Boxy shape makes it uncomfortable to hold for long periods
  • -
    Multiple menus can be confusing to figure out which menu controls which function.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Size: 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 310 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS20
2
Nikon Coolpix S550
3
Sony Cybershot DSC-W120
Customer Rating
Price $399.95 $199.99
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2 x 0.9 3.5 x 2 x 0.9 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
Weight (without batteries) 4.2 oz 4.2 oz 4.3 oz
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Effective Sensor Resolution
10 megapixels 10 megapixels 7.2 megapixels
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
30 mm 36 mm 32 mm
Optical Zoom 4.0x 5.0x 4.0x
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 2.5 in. 2.5 in.
2
Nikon Coolpix S550

With a Nikkor 5X optical zoom lens, Vibration Reduction image stabilization and a maximum focal length of 180mm, just to name a few, the Coolpix S550 is large on features but small in size. About the same size and weight of a deck of cards, this camera is chocked full of features that only a short time ago were found only in cameras costing much more. One great feature of the S550 that stands out is D-lighting. While in Playback mode, the camera senses when an image is underexposed which happens often when shooting in snow or a white sand beach. On those images, the camera automatically makes a copy of the image and adjusts the lighting and detail as needed creating a properly exposed image. Already properly exposed images remain unchanged. As a result, more of your travel images end up looking great.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-W120

Both the Coolpix S550 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120 have image stabilization, however, the S550 has 10 MP resolution compared to the Cyber-shot’s 7.2 MP. Also, this Nikon, with its 5X optical zoom lens, allows you to zoom in tighter on a subject than you can with the Cyber-shot’s 4x optical zoom.

Pros
  • +
    Internal stabilization
  • +
    D-lighting technology
Cons
  • -
    Noise at higher ISOs
  • -
    Everything menu driven - no dials
Nikon Coolpix S550 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix S550
  • Best Price: $199
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3
Sony Cybershot DSC-W120

Someday image stabilization will be as common in point & shoot cameras as autofocus is today. With the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120, that someday is now. With Super Steady-shot image stabilization and high ISO, you capture more crisp, clear images without using the flash thereby capturing more images before having to recharge the battery.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD750

Both the Cyber-shot DCS-W120 and Canon Powershot SD750 have Face Detection technology, but the Sony Cyber-shot, with its image stabilization, is a better value for the little bit of extra money it costs.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W120 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-W120
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • Size: 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
  • Battery Life: 420 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Canon PowerShot SD750

The 7.1 Megapixel Powershot SD750 uses Canon’s new DIGIC III processor with Face Detection and Red-eye Correction technology, not red-eye reduction like most cameras in this price range. With Face Detection, the camera automatically detects faces in the scene, selects the best focus point, and adjusts exposure and flash for optimum face illumination. When in Playback mode, the Red-eye Correction feature looks for red-eye in images and automatically corrects it. With this camera with you on your next trip, you can create stunning images of your next vacation that you’ll be proud to show friends and family.

Pros
  • +
    Face Detection/ Red-eye Correction features
  • +
    Bright scratch-resistant 3" LCD
Cons
  • -
    Some noise in low light
  • -
    Small recessed on/off buttom
Canon PowerShot SD750 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD750
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Resolution: 7.1MP
  • Size: 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 in.
  • Battery Life: 210 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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