Expert Recommendation

.
Best Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 21, 2008
Overview

With an ultra wide-angle view from a sharp lens, a good zoom range, and a well-built compact body, the Panasonic FX500 is the best-in-class compact and ultra compact digital camera for photographing interiors, producing images with class-leading minimal distortion.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500

Interior photography invariably requires a wide-angle view. Unfortunately with wider angle views comes increased barrel distortion (inward bending of straight vertical objects near the corners) because of optical design constraints. Panasonic’s partnership with Leica, the leading lens manufacturer, has produced a camera that meets these requirements. It has a 25mm (focal length equivalent to that on a 35mm film camera) ultra wide-angle Leica DC lens with minimal barrel distortion.

The camera produces images with class-leading low barrel distortion (merely 0.3%, which approaches zero as you zoom in) at the widest angle view zoom setting.

The camera also offers full-featured manual controls and a useful Aperture Priority mode (i.e. one can set the lens aperture while the camera decides on the other parameters). Frequently, small f/8 settings are used to improve the depth of field, which is a required feature for photographing interiors to have a sharp focus everywhere.

The Intelligent Exposure function automatically controls the ISO sensitivity. It increases the exposure of only the darkened areas because of backlighting (e.g sunlight coming through windows, etc.) or insufficient flash lighting to capture the scene as you see it by suppressing the extreme brightness and darkness in the picture. The overall image quality is good.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37

The Panasonic FX500 offers more manual controls (e.g. Aperture/Shutter Priority modes) and is better suited for interior shots.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has slight edge in image quality (sharper and less noisy images). However for photographing interiors one wants more manual controls (e.g. Aperture/Shutter Priority modes) thus the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is the preferred choice. It has a wider angle view lens too.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Low barrel distortion in images
  • +
    Useful features (Aperture priority, Shutter priority, full manual modes & noise reduction control)
  • +
    Well built body
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is the Best Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
  • Best Price: $279
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 25mm (40% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37
3
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
Customer Rating
Price $279.00 $249.96 $299.95
Size (W x H x D) 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
?
Effective Sensor Resolution
10.1 megapixels 10.1 megapixels 12.0 megapixels
?
Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6 sec 0.3 sec 0.6 - 0.8 sec
?
Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
25 mm 25 mm 28 mm
Optical Zoom 5.0x 5.0x 5.0x
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes No No
Battery Life 280 shots 310 shots 230 shots
Image Quality
Barrel Distortion (%) 0.3% (lower than average) 0.3% (lower than average) 0.7% (average)
Corner to corner sharpness Good Good Very good
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37

This camera is essentially a stripped down version of the flagship Panasonic FX500. It has a similar 5x ultra wide low distortion zoom lens but lacks the touch-screen interface, manual mode and aperture/shutter priority modes. However it does include Intelligent Exposure function, which is a useful feature for interior shots. Some of the scene modes (e.g. night scenery mode) might also be useful for the purpose.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

Wider angle view lens and lower barrel distortion in images.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Low barrel distortion in images
  • +
    Well built body
Cons
  • -
    Lacks Aperture priority, Shutter priority, full manual modes & noise reduction control
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37
  • Best Price: $249
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 25mm (40% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
3
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

This camera is one of the latest additions to highly successful F series, featuring a 28mm wide angle view lens. The images retain corner-to-corner sharpness throughout the zoom range and image quality is good with low distortion (0.7% at widest angle view) and lots of detail.

The camera comes with wide dynamic range feature for correcting problems with high contrast images (e.g . typically lit indoors have wider brightness range than what conventional cameras can capture. The feature helps avoid blown out highlights while retaining shadow details in such situations).

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD870 IS

Lower barrel distortion, better sharpness and details in images.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    High resolution
  • +
    Well built
Cons
  • -
    Lacks Aperture/Shutter Priority modes
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
  • Best Price: $299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
4
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS

Canon is the pioneer of digital camera revolution and is the market leader. The camera produces images with minimal processing artifacts, rich colors and lots of details. However it produces images with higher than average (1.1%) barrel distortion at the widest angle setting, which is not desirable for interior shots. It also lacks aperture/shutter priority modes.

Pros
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    Cheap
Cons
  • -
    Poor corner sharpness in images
  • -
    High barrel distortion in images
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.8x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best digital camera for you.

Advertisement

best hdtv Looking for an HDTV? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best HDTV for you.