Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $400
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
May 9, 2007 Updated: October 22, 2007
Overview

Equipped with 12x super-zoom and fast performance, the Canon S3 IS will freeze action at the press of a button, and you won’t miss the winner’s moment of glory at the finish line.

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My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot S3 IS

The Panasonic DMC-FZ8 and the Canon S3 IS score higher than the Fujifilm S6000fd because of their larger reach and brighter lenses (the usable aperture is wider) at maximum zoom. Both have image-stabilized lenses, which compensate for camera shake while permitting horizontal panning in “Panning Mode,” and good continuous shooting performance (2.1 shots/sec till the card fills up).

For action photography, the Canon S3 IS is the better choice over the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 because of its fast start-up (1.7 seconds), lower full-press shutter lag time (0.5 seconds without pre-focusing), and ‘normal’ Continuous Shooting Mode where the live view is available on the LCD, while the camera continues to take shot after shot. The camera has a great battery life too (560 shots/charge), which is a needed for continuous shooting. The zoom’s reach can further be extended by using the optional tele-converter lens. Image quality at high ISO is also better (fewer artifacts and more fine details). Although the noise is a bit more, it is film-like fine grain that is less offensive. The Canon S3 IS is our Top Pick.

If you’re waiting for the upgrade, the Canon S5 IS, you will be disappointed to note that its continuous shooting performance is not as good (1.5 shots/sec in high speed mode and 0.9 shots/sec in normal mode).

Canon PowerShot S3 IS is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 6.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.5s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
2
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd

One of the best super-zoom cameras in Fujifilm’s catalog is the FinePix S6000fd. It has a 6 megapixel resolution super-CCD sensor, wide-angle lens with 10.7x optical zoom (equivalent to 28-300mm on a 35mm camera). The zoom is manually operated, which is useful for fast and precise control. The lens is sharp so finer details are captured. It has a start-up time of 1.8 seconds and a pre-focus shutter lag (half-press to full-press of shutter button) of 0.03 seconds. The full-press shutter lag (without pre-focusing) is 0.45 seconds (0.35 seconds in high speed mode). In the Continuous Shooting Mode, the camera can take 0.6 pictures/second until the memory card fills up. It also has a “Top 3 Burst Mode” where it can take 3 shots at 2.2 pictures/second by holding down the shutter button. The shot-to-shot speed is 2.0 seconds (without a flash). The maximum usable aperture at maximum zoom (i.e. tele-photo end) is f4.9 (the lower the value, the wider the lens aperture, meaning more light gathering ability). It has a Natural Light Mode, Face Detection feature and full manual controls (e.g. aperture priority, shutter priority, raw mode, etc.) for additional versatility. The battery life is approximately 400 shots/charge (using 4 AA-size NiMH batteries).

The camera received “Highly Recommended” rating at Digital Photography Review, which is one of the most popular, independent digital camera review sites. It also is one of “Dave’s Pick” at Imaging-Resource.

Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Resolution: 6.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8

The Lumix DMC-FZ8 is the latest big zoom budget offering from Panasonic. This camera has a 7 megapixel resolution sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm camera). The lens is sharp, and the zoom is motor operated. It has a start-up time of 2.6 seconds and a pre-focus shutter lag (half-press to full-press of the shutter button) of 0.07 seconds. The full-press shutter lag (without pre-focusing) is 0.70 seconds. In the Continuous Shooting Mode, the camera can take 2.1 pictures/second until the memory card fills up. The shot-to-shot speed is 1.3 seconds (without a flash). The maximum usable aperture at the tele-photo end is f3.1. It has an Intelligent ISO Mode (auto-boosting the ISO to freeze action) and full manual control options (e.g. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Raw Mode, etc.) for additional versatility. The camera has an Image Stabilization feature to help avoid blurry pictures because of camera shake. The life of the proprietary batteries is approximately 380shots/charge.

The camera received a “Highly-Recommended” rating at Digital Photography Review.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Action Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.7 sec
  • Burst Speed: 2.8 fps
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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