Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $400
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 9, 2010 Updated: November 15, 2010
Overview

With the technology changing and photographers expecting more from their point and shoot cameras, Nikon has taken the best qualities from their highly popular DSLR camera’s and molded them into a pocketable camera you can take anywhere and expect high quality still images and movies. Including an optical viewfinder and the ability to shoot in RAW is what makes the P7000 my Best In Class choice for compact point and shoot camera.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon Coolpix P7000

Finding a point and shoot style camera to be your main camera or compliment your DSLR has been a challenge for both amateur and professional photographers ever since cameras were invented. Lugging a DSLR with all of it’s accessories can get to be a burden some people just don’t want to deal with and crave the simplicity of a pocketable solution.

That’s why Nikon has introduced the P7000. Designed to give you all of the tools you need to unleash your creativity in a rock solid build with features like an optical viewfinder, a must for any camera, a 10mp imaging sensor, a wide-angle 7.1x zoom NIKKOR lens that opens to a light hungry f2.8-f5.6 with optical vibration reduction and, for the brains of the outfit, the EXPEED C2 image processing system.

In fact, with some of the other features that are built in you will think you are using a DSLR. Consider the zoom memory function. Simply set this feature and when you are out in the field choose a preset position to whatever focal length you desire with a single touch. It’s like having interchangeable lenses but without the hassle of actually switching lenses. Brilliant! There’s also subject tracking that keeps everything in focus while you’re panning an especially active subject.

Control your exposures with full manual settings that are conveniently located on top of the camera. Choose from Manual, aperture priority, shutter priority or auto. There is even a grey scale information feature that lets you fine tune your images according to your style. You also have the option of using external flash attachments for increased illumination.

And when you return from a day of shooting, view your images on the bright, 3” LCD screen and make even more adjustments to your images with some of the editing functions available like; exposure compensation, picture control for creative customizing, a noise reduction filter, quick retouch and D-Lighting.

For HD video shoot 720p movies with stereo sound at 30fps. Keep things straight with the virtual horizon indicator and well exposed and in focus with Nikons own autofocus and active D-Lighting tools.

With the Nikon P7000 you just might have the perfect picture taking solution wrapped up in this handsome little take-anywhere package.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS

Built solidly and with a wider f-stop than the SD4500IS, the Nikon costs a little more but the manual controls and quality makes the added expense worth it. And, if you have a Nikon flash unit, it is compatible with the P7000. The P7000 also can shoot in RAW and has an optical viewfinder.

Comparison with Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Even though the F300EXR has some real DSLR qualities, the P7000 offers a RAW setting and an optical viewfinder. The F300EXR has considerably more zoom and a wider lens capability.

Pros
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    Best shot selector
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    Zoom memory
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    Wide aperture
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    High ISO
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    5 VR image stabilization
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    Lightweight
Cons
  • -
    Only 1.3fps
Nikon Coolpix P7000 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $400
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix P7000
  • Best Price: $399
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Nikon SB-400 AF Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
    @ Amazon.com
  • SanDisk 16GB Extreme - SDHC Class 10 High Performance memory card (SDSDX3-016G-P31, Retail Packaging) - NEW 30MB/s version
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 7.1x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Nikon Coolpix P7000
2
Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS
3
Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR
Customer Rating
Price $399.99 $169.00 $209.96
Camera Format Compact Ultra Compact Compact
Size (W x H x D) 4.5 x 3.0 x 1.8 in. 4.0 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3 in.
Weight (with batteries) 12.7 oz 6.7 oz 7.6 oz
Colors Black Silver, Pink, Brown Black
Body Material Plastic Metal Metal
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Effective Sensor Resolution
10.1 megapixels 10.0 megapixels 12.0 megapixels
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 1.3 frames/sec 3.6 frames/sec 1.5 frames/sec
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Video Stereo Sound Available Yes Yes No
Video Zoom Available (while recording) Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 7.1x 10.0x 15.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.4 f/3.5
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 1600
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes No Yes
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Viewfinder Available
Yes No No
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS

Fast, slim and good looking are three attributes that best describe the Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS.

Designed to take great shots in any lighting situation without the need of a tripod, the SD4500 IS uses an integrated HS System to provide excellent performance in low light situations. Aided by a 10mp high-sensitivity CMOS sensor, the DIGIC 4 processor and a 10x image stabilized zoom lens, the 4500 IS combines technology with style to capture your most important memories. There’s even a handheld night scene mode that takes multiple shots in the blink of an eye and combines them into one perfect image.

Being able to shoot multiple images in succession and grabbing the best one is a real bonus. Called best image selection, you press the shutter and the camera takes 5 2.5mp shots at high speed and you pick the one you like. Or, for sports action you can set the shutter to continuous mode and the camera will take as many full resolution images as the card can hold at 3.7fps. A real advantage when you absolutely don’t want to miss the shot.

And for hands free exposure control, let the brains of the SD4500 IS do the thinking. Featuring smart auto with scene detection technology you can let the camera choose from 28 different scene options to ensure the best exposure possible. For flash situations, there is the smart flash exposure feature that communicates with the camera and lets it know when the scene has gotten enough light and shuts itself off, providing you with perfectly exposed images every time.

HD video also benefits from Canon’s superb technology with features like zooming during shooting. With a quiet motor that won’t interrupt your stereo recording, dynamic image stabilization that keeps your images clear even at full zoom and smart auto with 21 different situations programmed in to make sure your exposure is as correct as it is during stills shooting. If slow motion is what you’re looking for, the SD4500 IS can record at 240fps and then plays it back at 30fps for dramatic effect. A good tool for inspecting your golf swing or enjoying a child or pet in action.

When it’s time to show off your images, rely on the 3” PureColor II G LCD screen to impress your friends with a clear display and a 16:9 wide screen replay for your video clips.

Pros
  • +
    Smile and Wink detection
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    Slo mo video recording
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    Super slim and stylish
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    High sensitivity
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    Comes in a variety of colors
Cons
  • -
    No viewfinder
Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS
  • Best Price: $169
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • SanDisk 16GB Extreme - SDHC Class 10 High Performance memory card (SDSDX3-016G-P31, Retail Packaging) - NEW 30MB/s version
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: No
  • Resolution: 10.0MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

If you are looking for a point and shoot to supplement your DSLR, or want to avoid using a DSLR altogether, the Fuji F300EXR is worth your consideration.

Built to do most of the functions of a DSLR but slim enough to fit into your pocket, the F300EXR doesn’t take any shortcuts to accomplish this hard to manage feat. For starters, Fuji designed an auto focus system that is fast and accurate thanks to the pairing up of two important modes of auto focus, Contrast AF and Phase Detection AF, that you would expect in a DSLR. Add to that the 12mp image stabilized EXR CCD sensor that gives you plenty of options for creative control.

Set the F300EXR on EXR auto and the camera will choose which settings to use to get the best exposure out of any situation you find yourself in. Or, select from six different scene modes to get optimum results according to the scene you are shooting. There ar the three modes you may want to use for certain lighting needs. Choose from HR (high resolution) for bright scenes, DR (wide dynamic range) for more contrasty light or SN (high sensitivity and low noise) for darker environments. And finally, set the camera to manual and take advantage of each of those modes as your creativity dictates.

Another great feature of the F300EXR that makes it versatile is the 15x Fujinon lens that starts at a wide 24mm and zooms out to a distant 360mm. No more fussing with a bag full of lenses to go from landscape shots or group portraits to close ups of friends and family. There is also a 360 degree motion panorama feature that lets you sweep over a scene while shooting (vertically or horizontally) and the camera will then automatically stitch the images together to make a beautiful panorama.

If flash photography has given you uneven results in the past, the F300EXR has super intelligent flash that reads the scene and reports back to the camera when the foreground and background are evenly lit, reducing the possibility of washed out areas that usually occur from a single blast of unbalanced light.

Another bothersome problem in the absence of an optical viewfinder is the glare you get when viewing images on the LCD screen. Redesigned to offer a wider angle of view, the 3.0” High Contast, High Resolution LCD screen of the F300EXR can be tilted for better illumination. Perfect for reviewing images or HD movies while showing them off to friends.

For film buffs familiar with Fuji’s many different film types there are five different settings that mimic the emulsions used for years in film cameras.

Pros
  • +
    EXR sensor
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    15x zoom
  • +
    Super intelligent flash
  • +
    Manual controls
Cons
  • -
    No viewfinder
  • -
    No stereo video sound
Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR
  • Best Price: $209
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • SanDisk 16GB Extreme - SDHC Class 10 High Performance memory card (SDSDX3-016G-P31, Retail Packaging) - NEW 30MB/s version
    @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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