Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $700
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
January 6, 2010 Updated: January 7, 2010
Overview

In a world of choices, a camera has to stand out to get noticed these days. And that is why I am making the Leica D-Lux 4 my Best in Class pick for Low Light photos under $700. Built with a light absorbing f/2.0 lens and a variety of settings, including aperture priority and manual, this stylish camera is a must-have when spontaneous shots are the order of the day. Slim, trim and desired by photographers the world over, the Leica D-Lux 4 makes a great personal camera all by itself or as a companion to your DSLR.

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My Best In Class Pick
Leica D-Lux 4

Very few photographers have been able to swap their bulky DSLR’s for a more versatile point and shoot camera without losing valuable features. Until now.

Creating high quality photos in low light situations or wide angle shots when shooting interiors has always been the realm of the DSLR. That’s because the shutters are faster and lens options are almost infinite. With the Leica D-Lux 4, those kind of shots are possible, and you can enjoy the freedom of mobility because of it’s smaller, stylish size.

Starting with a Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens 1:2.0-2.8/5.1-12.8 ASPH, both low light and wide angle shooting are effortless, the D-Lux 4 has a level of quality that is second to none thanks to Leica’s long history as a leader in all-around camera production (The Leica M8 is a film camera desired by professional photographers for many years).

Add a 10.1mp imaging sensor, a 3.0-inch TFT LCD screen, HD still and video recording and an ergonomically designed body that makes creativity a priority, and you’ve got the complete package to satisfy your imaging needs for a long time to come.

The D-Lux 4 does not have an optical viewfinder, but there is an optional one that fits on the cameras hot shoe. The only problem with the optional viewfinder is that it stays at the 24mm setting which doesn’t give you a true look when zooming out.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

These two cameras have a lot of similarities, but the Leica D-Lux 4 comes with a valuable software package that you won’t find with the LX3. And thanks to firmware/software, the D-Lux 4 also does a slightly better job of creating warmer images.

Pros
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    Slim and stylish
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    Lightweight
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    Excellent low light capabilities
  • +
    HD video
Cons
  • -
    No optical viewfinder
Leica D-LUX 4 is the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera Overall Under $700
Where to buy
Leica D-LUX 4
Recommended with
  • Leica D-LUX 4 Brilliant Viewfinder
    $257.22 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 2.5x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Leica D-LUX 4
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
3
Samsung TL320
Customer Rating
Price $1736.95 $402.09 $141.53
Camera Format Compact Compact Ultra Compact
Easy to Use Yes Yes Yes
Body Material Metal Metal Stainless Steel
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Effective Sensor Resolution
10.1 megapixels 10.1 megapixels 12.2 megapixels
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 2.5x 2.5x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.0 f/2.0 f/2.8
Max ISO Setting 3200 6400 3200
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
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Viewfinder Available
No Yes No
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
24 mm 24 mm 24 mm
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Already making a name for themselves in the compact camera world, Panasonic has raised the bar even more with the Lumix DMC-LX3.

With the newly designed Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens 1:2.0-2.8/5.1-12.8 ASPH you can take in a huge area in less than perfect lighting conditions and still expect to get a gorgeous image. You don’t usually see that kind of creative control in a compact point and shoot camera.

Spur of the moment shots are easy too! Whether you like to set the camera on auto or fiddle with the controls to get just the right amount of depth of field or shutter speed, take advantage of the robust power of the LX3 thanks to a 10.1mp imaging sensor and the Venus Engine IV image processor.

Built smart and looking stylish, the LX3 fits nicely in your hand with the push button controls and dials conveniently located right where your thumb and forefinger are likely to be resting.

Composing and viewing are also a joy thanks to the bright 3.0” LCD screen with 460,000-dot resolution. And like other intelligent aspects of the LX3, the LCD adjusts automatically to ambient light. If you’re a big fan of optical viewfinders (the LX3 hasn’t got one built in), try the optional external viewfinder that attaches easily to the hot shoe located on top of the camera.

Pros
  • +
    Great in low light
  • +
    Stylish design
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    Ultra wide angle
  • +
    HD video
Cons
  • -
    No optical viewfinder
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $700
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Best Price: $402
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Panasonic DMW-VF1 External Optical Viewfinder
    $134.11 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 2.5x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
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Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Samsung TL320

In an effort to stay right with the competition in the wide angle, low light feature race, Samsung has designed a camera that is easy to use and easy on the pocketbook. And they threw in some extra zoom to set themselves apart.

Ideal for interior shots, group shots and spontaneous flash-free shots, the TL320 has a 5x optical zoom and 24mm ultra wide lens with a variety of shooting modes that allow you to either set the shot up creatively with manual controls or use the Smart Auto mode, allowing the TL320 to adjust the settings for perfect exposure.

The design of the TL320 makes it a worthy competitor too, featuring the world’s first 3.0” hVGA AMOLED screen, you can compose or view your images without worry that glare will stop you in your tracks (The TL320 has no optical viewfinder). And the dials and control buttons are located right where you can find them for quick adjustments. In fact, the top of the camera has a cool look that is reminiscent of a racecar’s dashboard with it’s black and silver styling and red dials.

Packed with a great lens, HD video recording, Face Detection, Dual Image Stabilization and a Smart Album to help you organize your photos right in the camera, the Samsung TL320 is definitely worth a look no matter what shooting situations will crop up.

Pros
  • +
    Good looking
  • +
    Smart Album feature
  • +
    HD video
Cons
  • -
    No optical viewfinder
Samsung TL320 is one of the Best Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras Overall Under $700
Where to buy
Samsung TL320
  • Best Price: $141
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.2MP
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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