Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 29, 2007 Updated: November 28, 2007
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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd

While both cameras mentioned here make good travel cameras, and even competent low-light cameras to an extent, fast action photography is perhaps the most demanding of all (one of the reasons sports photographers spend thousands of dollars on equipment - they need every last ounce of performance they can get). While SLR cameras are very competent, ordinary consumer cameras can’t focus nearly as fast, can’t continuously shoot as frequently, and can’t produce anywhere near the same high ISO performance needed to freeze action - outside of outdoor, daylight situations, all non-SLR cameras will struggle mightily to get usable pictures.

In many ways, the Sony H9 is the better fast action camera. It can take many continuous pictures in a row (which the S6000fd can’t do), and has a much longer telephoto lens to zoom in for close-up pictures. Despite all this, the overriding factor for fast action is high ISO and the ability to use fast shutter speeds - it doesn’t matter what features a camera has to more consistently take action photos, if all the photos are too blurry or too grainy to be usable. For this reason, the S6000fd is the best fast action camera, even if it is slightly inferior in all other fast action aspects, simply because it can freeze motion while no other consumer camera can.

Outside of fast action, the Fuji S6000fd is clearly a better camera for travel (where its wider 28mm lens makes it more versatile than the 31mm on the H9) and for low-light (where its high ISO ability works on moving subjects, where as the H9’s image stabilization only works for static subjects). Perhaps the only drawback to the S6000fd is its somewhat large size - the H9 is certainly a more portable camera, something that should be a consideration if you’re planning to carry around a camera all day on travel.

Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.7x
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Resolution: 6.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 0.6s
  • Burst Speed: 2.3 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Size: 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in.
  • Battery Life: 400 shots
  • 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

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9
Customer Rating
Price $1299.00
Size (W x H x D) 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in. 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.4 in.
Weight (with batteries) 23.3 oz 19.5 oz
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 2.2fps for first 3, 0.7 frames/sec after 2.0 frames/sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 31 mm
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Image Stabilization Available
No Yes
Storage Media xD-Picture Card Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo
Battery Type AA-size (x4) Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 400 shots 280 shots
Max Usable ISO (subjective) ISO800 ISO400
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9

The Sony H9 is a medium-sized ultrazoom camera that is loaded with features and manual controls, although like all cameras it retains a user-friendly automatic mode for those who want to just point and shoot. The H9 has a big 31-465mm (15x) zoom range which isn’t quite as wide as the 28mm on other cameras, but is still a big step up from the 35mm or 36mm of most other cameras, and is adequate enough to cover most travel situations. The long telephoto end of the zoom is perfect for zooming in for close-up pictures of fast action.

The H9 uses a conventional image sensor (unlike the Fuji S6000fd), so high ISO results won’t be extraordinary. Because of Sony’s slightly more aggressive noise reduction, however, the out-of-camera high-ISO pictures will be slightly better than what you’d typically find in this class. While it may be good enough for slower subjects like simple people portraits, the H9 simply won’t be able to photograph any sort of fast action in low light situations, and will produce some grainy/noisy photos even in daylight situations.

While it won’t help much for moving subjects, for static subjects in low light the H9 makes up for the lack of high ISO performance with its “Super SteadyShot” image stabilization (IS) system, which will help greatly with low-light pictures of static scenes, like buildings or landscapes. The H9 does have a pop-up flash, so flash results will be slightly better than the kind typically found on built-in camera flashes, but not by much.

The H9 can take photos continuously at 2 frames per second for an unlimited number of pictures - extremely good for a consumer camera, and allowing the H9 to capture a whole series of photos and increase your keeper rate - a useful feature for consumer cameras that otherwise struggle with things like consistently focusing. As with the S6000fd and other non-SLR cameras, the autofocus system of the H9, while among the best in the consumer market, is simply not good enough to keep up with fast action subjects in low light, and is just barely able to keep up with the fastest subjects even in daylight situations.

The H9 uses a Sony battery which lasts 280 shots (CIPA standard) - a bit below average for cameras in this class, but still good enough to last a day of travel for most people.

While not the leading camera in terms of image quality (especially in low-light and fast-action situations), the Sony H9 is still above average, and the more compact size makes it a better option for those who don’t want to carry something as big as an SLR or bridge camera.

Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel, Action, and Low Light Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H9
  • Best Price: $1299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 15.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 - 1.0s
  • Burst Speed: 2.0 fps
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Size: 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 280 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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