Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $300
Expert (97 Recommendations and 21 Compliments)
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August 12, 2008 Updated: August 14, 2008
Overview

Equipped with Fujifilm’s renowned SuperCCD sensor, the Fuji F50fd boasts some of the cleanest high-ISO images in a non-SLR camera, allowing users to freeze action and avoid camera shake in low-light situations.

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My Best In Class Pick
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

Fuji’s line of F-series ultracompacts have long been famed for their low-light ability, and Fuji’s midrange offering, the F50fd, boasts both good high-ISO performance to combat blur and a sensor-shift image stabilization system to reduce camera shake.

While its high-ISO ability doesn’t approach SLR quality, it does deliver significantly less noisy images than the average non-SLR camera, allowing you to freeze most kinds of motion in low-light situations. The F50fd also features a sensor-shift IS system, which doesn’t work quite as well as the more mature lens-shift technology in other cameras, but still helps to reduce camera shake.

The F50fd covers a fairly typical 35-105mm (3x) zoom range, which is good for everyday photography. The lens aperture is f2.8-5.1, somewhat small and typical for an ultracompact, and requiring a higher ISO or longer shutter speed.

The built-in flash for the F50fd is embedded into the camera body, making it susceptible to red-eye effects.

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Overall, the H10 is a much more versatile camera, with its 10x zoom, although the Fuji F50fd is much more compact. In terms of low-light performance, the H10 has a slightly more effective IS system, but the Fuji F50fd ultimately is the better camera with its less noisy high-ISO performance and slightly larger aperture at the wide-angle end.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

As a 10x ultrazoom compact, the Canon SX100IS is a much more versatile and bulkier camera than Fuji’s ultracompact F50fd. The F50fd is a better overall low-light performer - although it has a smaller aperture, the F50fd performs much better at high-ISO situations than the SX100IS.

Pros
  • +
    Superb high-ISO among non-SLRs
  • +
    Image-stabilized sensor
Cons
  • -
    Embedded flash susceptible to red eye
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.0MP
  • Max ISO: 6400
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
3
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
Customer Rating
Price $278.68 $699.95
Size (W x H x D) 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in. 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.8 in.
Weight (without batteries) 5.5 oz 9.3 oz 9.4 oz
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
35 mm 38mm 36 mm
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Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
108 mm 380mm 360 mm
Optical Zoom 3.0x 10.0x 10.0x
Important low-light features
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.8 f/3.5 f/2.8
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/5.1 f/4.4 f/4.3
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical (sensor shift) Optical (lens shift) Optical (lens shift)
Flash type Embedded Pop-up Pop-up
Battery Life 230 shots 310 shots 400 shots
High ISO quality Good Good Average
Low-light rating Good Average Average
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10

Part of its series of compact ultrazoom cameras, Sony’s H10 is a full-featured camera that packs a versatile 10x (38-380mm) image-stabilized zoom into a compact 1.9” thick package.

In terms of high-ISO ability, the H10 is above average, allowing you to take usable noise-free photos while avoiding blur from camera shake or motion. The lens aperture is f3.5-4.4, which is somewhat poor for an ultrazoom, forcing the H10 to rely more on high ISO and longer shutter speeds

The H10 uses a pop-up flash that places the flash away from the lens, so red-eye shouldn’t be a problem.

Comparison with Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The H10’s featureset is similar to that of the Canon SX100 - they both feature versatile 10x zoom ranges that cover the range for most photography, have image-stabilized lenses, popup flashes, and come in fairly compact sizes. What differentiates the cameras are their high-ISO abilities and lens apertures - the H10 performs slightly better at high-ISO thanks to its more aggressive noise reduction, while the SX100 has a slightly larger aperture than the H10, allowing it to rely less on high-ISO ability. Overall, the cameras are approximately equal in terms of low-light ability, so you may want to consider what other features or uses you’re looking for when deciding between them.

Pros
  • +
    Above-average high-ISO
  • +
    Image-stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Somewhat small aperture for an ultazoom
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H10
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.1MP
  • Max ISO: 3200
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS

The SX100IS is the little brother of Canon’s full-featured S5 IS - the SX100 packs a slightly smaller 36-360mm (10x) zoom range and comes in a much smaller 1.8” thick size.

Like the other Canon cameras, the SX100IS uses a more conservative noise reduction method, retaining more detail but also making the images very grainy, although they can be cleaned up with noise reduction software.

The SX100’s image-stabilized lens will help to reduce camera shake. The lens aperture is f2.7-4.3, typical for an ultrazoom and above average compared to most cameras.

The SX100 has a popup flash, so redeye shouldn’t be an issue.

Pros
  • +
    Large lens aperture
  • +
    Image stabilized lens
Cons
  • -
    Extremely grainy high-ISO images, unless edited with noise reduction software
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Low Light Photos Under $300
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS
  • Best Price: $699
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • Max ISO: 1600
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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