Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 8, 2009 Updated: November 8, 2009
Overview

Equipped with class leading low light performance, 12Megapixel resolution and the tremendous reach of a 20x zoom lens, the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS captures blur-free images of kids and pets without using the harsh light of a flash. In low light conditions (typical indoors), the camera’s DIGIC IV processor removes noise with minimal artifacts. The camera provides great value with its versatile swivel LCD and a superb movie mode.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS

The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS is the latest superzoom from Canon in its highly successful S series. SX20IS replaces its best-selling predecessor SX10IS. The camera now boasts of higher 12 Mega pixel image resolution which among the best of superzooms. It also offers enhanced movie mode resolution (1280 x 720 @ 30fps) and enhanced optical Image Stabiliser performance resulting in more blur free shots then ever. The camera is equipped with a wide-angle 20x zoom lens with tremendous reach to help capture the natural expressions of kids. Its eye-level viewfinder facilitates easy tracking of playful kids & fast-moving pets.

Equipped with the latest DIGIC IV processor, it has managed to strike a good balance between noise and detail under low light conditions which is particularly good for shooting portraits. Consequently the low light image quality (high ISO performance) is one of the best among non-DSLRs, making it possible to take noise free shots of babies without flash. A useful comparison of noise at various ISO settings can be seen at a leading camera review website Cameralabs

The camera comes with an extremely useful swivel LCD (camcorder like), which, along with a tremendous zoom range, facilitates taking photos of kids without making them take notice of you. Kids will enjoy posing for self portraits, when you turn the LCD towards them.

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection Adjusts exposure based on the 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.
  • Smart Auto Mode with Scene Detection Technology Camera automatically selects from one of 22 scene variables to optimise settings for the best results.
  • Full featured manual controls.

All above and snappy performance makes it best in class camera for taking photos of kids & pets without using a flash.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD990 IS

The Canon PowerShot SX20 has a higher zoom range, aperture/shutter priority modes, a swivel LCD, and a better movie mode (allows zooming while recording HD movies).

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

Although the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 has a brighter lens (at the tele end of the zoom range), but for photographing kid and pets the Canon SX20IS is preferable because of its longer reach (zoom range), better noise reduction, and the availability of a swivel LCD.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Swivel LCD
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Good high ISO performance (best in class)
  • +
    Manual mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS is the Best Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
  • Best Price: $519
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 20.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 sec
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
2
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35
Customer Rating
Price $519.00 $699.00 $249.99
Size (W x H x D) 4.9 x 3.5 x 3.4 in. 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. 4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in.
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Sensor Size
6.0 x 4.5 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm 6.0 x 4.4 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.1 megapixels 14.7 megapixels 12.1 megapixels
Shutter Lag Time (pre-focused) 0.02 sec 0.08 sec 0.10 sec
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
0.4 sec 0.4 - 0.6 sec 0.3 - 0.4 sec
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.1 frames/sec 1.3 frames/sec 1.3 frames/sec
Video Zoom Available (while recording) Yes - Yes
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 36 mm 27 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
560 mm 133 mm 486 mm
Optical Zoom 20.0x 3.7x 18.0x
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/5.7 f/5.8 f/4.4
Max ISO Setting 1600 3200 (reduced resolution after ISO1600) 1600
Max Usable ISO (subjective) 1600 1600 800
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes No Yes
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Face Detection Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes (Swivel LCD + EVF) Yes (Optical + EVF) Yes (LCD + EVF)
2
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS

The Canon SD990 IS is the latest top-of-line ultra compact from the market leader. The camera has an optical viewfinder, which is a great feature for keeping track of moving subjects in low light. It is the first camera in the highly successful SD series to offer manual modes, providing full control over shutter speed and the aperture.

The camera offers class-leading resolution and features a sharp lens to match it.

Thanks to DIGIC IV processor, the high ISO images are relatively clean and retain enough detail for mid-sized prints (up to 8”x10” size).

Other useful features are:

  • Face detection
  • Motion detection technology
  • LCD with wide viewing angle
Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

The Canon SD990 has higher resolution, better noise reduction resulting in better looking indoor images of kid and pets without a flash, and the availability of an optical viewfinder. Its portability is added bonus.

Pros
  • +
    Best in class resolution
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Optical viewfinder
  • +
    Rich feature set
  • +
    Well built
  • +
    Good high ISO performance
  • +
    Ultra compact size
Cons
  • -
    Lacks a RAW mode and aperture/shutter priority modes
  • -
    Zoom range no match to superzoom's
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD990 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.7x
  • Resolution: 14.7MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

This is the latest superzoom offering from Panasonic. This camera is equipped with a sharp wide-angle zoom lens with the widest aperture in its class at the tele end of the zoom range. This in turn results in quicker focusing and less noise in images shot without a flash under low light conditions (typical for indoors). You get more blur-free shots of kids and pets as the camera can choose relatively fast shutter speeds. The FZ35 improves upon its predecessor (FZ28) in the areas of focusing speed, scene recognition mode, burst shooting speed and movie mode (now offering HD movie recording).

However the high ISO (ISO 800 & above) images still suffer from splotchy artifacts from the noise reduction.

Panasonic FZ35 does offer the option to save images in RAW format, which will allow you to get better results later during post processing. It is the cheapest superzoom to do so.

Pros
  • +
    Bright lens (at tele-end)
  • +
    Rich feature set (manual, aperture/shutter priority modes)
  • +
    Cleaner high ISO images possible (by shooting in RAW mode and post processing)
Cons
  • -
    Smaller zoom range
  • -
    Splotchy noise reduction artifacts at higher ISOs
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35
  • Best Price: $249
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 18.0x
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.3 - 0.4s
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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