Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 2, 2007 Updated: December 7, 2007
Overview

With a 28-300mm (10.7x) zoom that covers both the portrait and fast action range, and low shutter lag that won’t get in the way of your perfectly-timed shots, the Fuji S6000 is a capable camera that, along with many other cameras, pack the necessary tools for taking pictures of pets and children and fast action subjects. Its unique SuperCCD sensor design affords it one distinct advantage, however - great high ISO image quality that excels at freezing the fast motion of sports players or children and pets, even in indoor or night-time situations, making it more capable than any other camera on the market for fast action and children/pet portraits, and a very capable camera for general low light situations.

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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd

The Canon S5, Sony H9, and Fuji S6000 are all extremely versatile and capable cameras - all of them possess long telephoto zooms for and at least decent high ISO for catching fast action scenes, cover the midrange for portrait photos, and feature tools for low light situations.

While the S5 and H9 both have image stabilization systems to reduce camera shake, the Fuji S6000’s high ISO is far more useful because it can also freeze subject motion - the S6000 can turn out great pictures of fast-moving sports players or active children and pets in low light, while the Canon and Sony cameras just produce blurry or very noisy photos. Though its continuous shooting is not quite as fast, and it lacks the image stabilization found on other cameras, its unique ability to freeze motion, even in low light situation, make it the best choice available for fast action and portraits of children and pets, and a very competent camera in low light situations.

Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Resolution: 6.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • 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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Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9
3
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Customer Rating
Price $1299.00 $649.00
Size (W x H x D) 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in. 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.4 in. 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in.
Weight (without batteries) 21.0 oz 14.4 oz 15.7 oz
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 2.2fps for three, 0.7fps unlimited 2fps, unlimited 1.5fps, unlimited
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 31 mm 36 mm
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Image Stabilization Available
No Yes Yes
Storage Media xD-Picture Card Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type AA-size (x4) Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable AA-size (x4)
Battery Life 400 shots 280 shots 450 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO800 ISO400 ISO400
Autofocus Rating Average Average Average
Shutter Lag Rating Good Superb Good
Low light Rating Good Good Average
People/Pet Portrait Rating Superb Good Good
Fast Action Rating Good Good Average
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9

The Sony H9 is a medium-sized ultrazoom camera that is loaded with features and manual controls, although like all cameras it retains a user-friendly automatic mode for those who want to just point and shoot. The H9 has a big 31-465mm (15x) zoom that covers the middle range useful for portraits of people and pets, and has a long telephoto end that’s perfect for zooming in for close-up pictures of fast action.

The H9 uses a conventional image sensor (unlike the Fuji S6000fd), so high ISO results won’t be extraordinary. Because of Sony’s slightly more aggressive noise reduction, however, the out-of-camera high-ISO pictures will be slightly better than what you’d typically find in this class. While it may be good enough for slower subjects like simple people portraits, the H9 simply won’t be able to photograph any sort of fast action in low light situations, and will produce some slightly grainy/noisy photos even in daylight situations.

While it won’t help much for moving subjects, for static subjects in low light the H9 makes up for the lack of high ISO performance with its “Super SteadyShot” image stabilization (IS) system, which will help greatly with low-light pictures of static scenes, like buildings or landscapes. The H9 does have a pop-up flash, so flash results will be slightly better than the kind typically found on built-in camera flashes, but not by much.

The H9 can take photos continuously at 2 frames per second for an unlimited number of pictures - extremely good for a consumer camera, and allowing the H9 to capture a whole series of photos and increase your keeper rate - a useful feature for consumer cameras that otherwise struggle with things like consistently focusing. As with the S6000fd and other non-SLR cameras, the autofocus system of the H9 is simply not good enough to keep up with fast action subjects in low light, and is just barely able to keep up with the fastest subjects even in daylight situations. The Sony H9 is one of the most responsive cameras on the market; shutter lag won’t be a problem.

Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9
  • Best Price: $1299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.0s
  • Burst Speed: 2.0 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot S5 IS

The Canon S5 IS is an ultrazoom camera from Canon’s S-series. With a large 36-432mm (12x) zoom lens, the S5 is a versatile camera that covers the ideal 50-200mm zoom range for portraits of pets and people, and is also long enough to zoom in for close-ups of sports and fast action.

The S5 uses a conventional imaging sensor like the H9, so high ISO results are average. Canon does very little noise reduction on the S5 - as a result the images are more detailed but require extra post-processing work to get them to look as “clean” as pictures from the Sony H9 right out of the box. The S5’s high ISO is good enough to take pictures of pets and children in low light, although you still might need to revert to flash if it gets very dark. For fast action, the S5 is capable of producing slightly noisy photos in daylight situations, but is simply too noisy to be usable in low light.

The S5 does have an image stabilization system, which will help to take low light photos of non-moving subjects, like buildings or landscapes, for example. The S5 has a pop-up flash that will produce slightly better results than ordinary cameras with embedded flash, but won’t really produce quality results.

The S5 can take photos continuously at 1.5 frames per second for an unlimited number of pictures - slightly above average and just about fast enough to make some difference - at 1.5fps you can shoot a burst of photos and choose the best shot or moment of peak action afterwards. Using the same ‘contrast detection’ autofocus as all other cameras, the S5 really isn’t able to track fast action motion in low light situations, and is just about adequate even in daylight. The Canon S5’s shutter lag is fairly fast, so shutter lag is a minimal problem.

Canon PowerShot S5 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Child, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Burst Speed: 1.5 fps
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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