Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $450
By Fotoguy
Expert (27 Recommendations and 7 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 26, 2008
Overview

Panasonic has again raised the bar on point-n-shoot cameras with its Lumix DMC-FX37 and its unprecedented Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 5x 25mm to 125mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens. Coupled with a 10.1 megapixel sensor, optical image stabilization, and an array of useful features, it’s no wonder that this camera is a “Best in Class” for Interiors.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37’s Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens is what sets this camera apart from the competition. With its impressive 25mm (35mm equivalent) focal length, it has the extra coverage to meet those situations that most point-n-shoots cannot hope to match. With little or no distortion throughout its zoom range, excellent contrast, plus the built-in Panasonic Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization, you’ll get razor sharp images even at very slow shutter speeds. The lens’ only caveat is some image softening in the corners; however, this would only be apparent, and only if you looked closely, in an extreme enlargement, say 16x20 or larger. In real world use, you’ll never see it.

To ease your shooting burdens, this camera comes with a host of useful features including macro focusing down to two inches, ISOs from 100 to 6400, 5 preset white balance options, plus manual; shutter speeds from 60 seconds to 1/2000th second, 5 flash options, +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, Intelligent multi-segment metering, a plethora of shooting modes, including Intelligent Auto, which lets the camera pick the mode that best suits the scene conditions; up to 2.5 frames per second, 5 resolutions of movie mode with two frame rates, three still formats (4:3, 3:2, 16:9), and USB 2.0 Hi-Speed for fast image transfers.

All in all, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37 is a great little camera, and with its reasonable street price, a deal.

Comparison with Nikon Coolpix S610

Its lessor zoom range of 28-112mm (equivalent) and 4 sec to 1/1500th shutter speeds relegated this fine little camera to the Number 2 position. However, it still has a very good lens with optical image stabilization, and produces sharp, low noise images. Additionally, Nikon’s exclusive D-Lighting feature corrects overly dark shadows in high contrast scenes or grossly underexposed images automatically.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD870 IS

Traditionally, Canon cameras, whether point-n-shoots or pro models, produce some of the most remarkable noise free images I ever seen, but this model from 2007 with its 28mm - 105mm equivalent lens, no internal RAM, slightly, but insignificantly less resolution (8.0 MP) earned it a Number 3 position. However, it is superbly built and finished, has optical image stablization, and produces amazingly good images. If it had had a 25mm wide zoom lens, regardless of the maximum focal length, it would have been my Number 1 “Best in Class” pick. Still, it’s an excellent little camera.

Pros
  • +
    Outstanding lens
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    Optical Image Stabilization
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    Excellent, sharp, very low noise images
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    Manual compensation (exposure, white balance, flash)
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    Orientation sensor
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    50MB internal storage
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    Price
Cons
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    No full manual exposure modes
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    Images slightly soft in corners
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    2.5" LCD
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    No optical viewfinder
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37 is the Best Ultra Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $450
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

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37
2
Nikon Coolpix S610
3
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
Customer Rating
Price $249.96 $161.65 $445.00
Easy to Use Yes Yes Yes
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
25 mm 28 mm 28 mm
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) Optical (lens shift) Optical (lens shift)
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV +/- 2.0 EV
?
LCD Screen Size
2.5 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
2
Nikon Coolpix S610

The newly announce (August 2008) Nikon Coolpix S610 packs a host of features into a slim (22.5mm), compact body featuring a 10 megapixel sensor, a Nikon 28-112mm equivalent 4x zoom lens with VR (Vibration Reduction) optical image stabilization, and a 3.0 inch 230,000 pixel LCD with anti-reflective coating. Additionally, it has 16 scene modes, Auto Scene Selector, AF modes that recognize faces or tracks movements automatically, ISOs from 100 to 3200, 45 megabyte internal memory, USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, and Nikon’s exclusive D-Lighting to automatically correct underexposure and overly dark shadows in contrasty scenes. With a reasonable under $300 retail price, the Nikon Coolpix S610 is a good choice for either the occassional or serious snapshooter.

Nikon Coolpix S610 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $450
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix S610
  • Best Price: $161
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
3
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS

Don’t be put off just because this model is over a year old and “only” has an 8.0 megapixel sensor. It can match or better the image quality of a lot of the newer point-n-shoots sporting up to 12 or more megapixel sensors. The reason? Canon, early on, seems to have solved the problem of reducing noise while still maintaining image sharpness. Images from Canon cameras are so “smooth” that one just has to say “Wow!” Add to this the SD870’s abundance of features, build quality, and very low street price, and you’ve got a “sleeper” that will take a beating and still produce quality images for a long time.

Canon PowerShot SD870 IS is one of the Best Ultra Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $450
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

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