Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $200
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 15, 2008 Updated: October 22, 2008
Overview

Equipped with a 12 Megapixels resolution super CCD sensor and an excellent lens, the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is one of the latest additions in Fuji’s F series of cameras, which are renowned low light performers. Featuring useful Aperture/Shutter Priority modes and tons of useful features for shooting in low light, the Fuji F50fd is the best in class ultra compact camera that provides terrific value for your money.

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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

For the last few years, Fuji F series cameras, equipped with super CCD sensors, have become synonymous with good image quality in low light. This camera is one of the latest additions to this series. It packs a high resolution 7th generation super CCD sensor and a 3x zoom lens in a sturdy body.

Although the resolution has been doubled, its detrimental effect (smaller pixels produce more noise) on low light (i.e high ISO) performance has been mitigated somewhat by improved processing and a slight increase in sensor size. Consequently, along with its high quality optics, it just manages to retain its crown as value-for-money low light performer.

The Fuji F50fd offers many features that are useful for low light shooting:

  • Dual-stabilization mode To freeze moving subjects it automatically raises the ISO setting. It also uses mechanical image stabilization to mitigate the effects of camera shake.
  • i-flash It tries to strike a balance between flash output and high ISO that results in a good image with natural tones and without a “washed-out”; effect.
  • Dual shot mode It quickly shoots two images in rapid succession – one with the flash and one without – and saves both.
  • Face detection 2.0, featuring Automatic Red Eye Removal The camera is able to identify faces at much more extreme camera angles than before and correcting focus, exposure, and white balance automatically. It removes red-eye too.

The images retain corner-to-corner sharpness throughout the zoom range and image quality is good with rich colors and lots of detail. The Fuji F50fd is snappy performer too.

The camera also has useful Aperture/Shutter Priority modes for more experienced users.

(The Fujifilm FinePix F60fd is a more recent and more expensive minor upgrade that has a few extras features such as a larger 3.0” LCD screen, upgraded Face Detection and Auto- Scene Recognition mode.)

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD770 IS

The Fuji F50fd has slightly better low light performance (more fine details, lower noise), higher resolution, sharper lens, availability of Aperture/Shutter priority modes.

Comparison with Samsung L210

The Fuji F50fd has better low light performance (more fine details), wider angle view, higher resolution, sharper lens, availability of Aperture/Shutter priority modes.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    High resolution
  • +
    Sharp lens (best in class)
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Good high ISO performance (best in class)
  • +
    Well built
Cons
  • -
    Lacks optical viewfinder
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Max ISO: 6400
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Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
2
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS
3
Samsung L210
Customer Rating
Price $278.68 $244.00
Size (W x H x D) 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 in. 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.8 in.
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Sensor Size
8.0 x 6.0 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm 6.0 x 4.4 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.0 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 10.2 megapixels
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.6 sec 0.4 - 0.6 sec 0.6 - 0.7 sec
Power to First Shot Time 2.8 sec 1.8 sec 2.8 sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 mm 35 mm 34 mm
Optical Zoom 3.0x 3.0x 3.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/2.8 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.1 f/4.9 f/5.2
Max ISO Setting 6400 (1600 at full resolution) 1600 1600
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Viewfinder Available
No Yes No
Flash Recycling Time 3.1 sec 4.7 sec 7.0 sec
Battery Life 230 shots 300 shots 220 shots
Image Quality
Corner to corner sharpness very good good good
Low light (high ISO) performance good above average average
2
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS

This is one of the latest addition in Canon’s highly successful SD series of ultra compacts. The camera has an optical viewfinder, which is a great feature for keeping track of moving subjects in low light.

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.

Camera’s acclaimed DIGIC III processor tries to control noise at higher ISOs in low light situations resulting in images which are grainy but retain good amount of details.

Comparison with Samsung L210

The Canon PowerShot SD770 IS has better low light performance (more fine details), availability of optical viewfinder and slightly wider angle view.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
Cons
  • -
    High noise at ISO1600
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD770 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Samsung L210

Samsung is quickly trying to catch up with other leading camera manufacturers. This camera is one of their latest addition to their L series of mid-range compacts cameras. If you want clean images (albeit at the cost of fine details, e.g. for shooting portraits) then this is the camera for you. It uses heavy noise reduction at higher ISOs which results in cleaner but fuzzy images.

The lens is good though for producing images which are sharp from corner to corner.

Other useful features are:

  • Dual Image Stabilization It combines Optical Image Stabilization with Digital Image Stabilization to provide blur-free images.
  • Face Detection
  • Self Portrait It automatically detects the user’s face, adjust focus and exposure, and will only allow a photo to be taken if the subject is centered in the frame.
  • Auto Red Eye Fix mode It automatically detects and eliminates red eye from images as they are taken.
Pros
  • +
    Cleaner images at high ISO
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Cheap
Cons
  • -
    Excessive noise reduction obliterating fine details at higher ISOs
  • -
    Slow performance (focusing and shot to shot times)
Samsung L210 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $200
Where to buy
Samsung L210
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
More
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