Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Child Photos Under $400
Expert (4 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
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October 9, 2007 Updated: October 22, 2007
Overview

The Lumix TZ3 is a Swiss Army knife of cameras, with a versatile lens and image stabilization, but doesn’t trade in usability for neat features.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

Families can be pretty demanding, and they demand a versatile camera that can handle all of their photogenic adventures! The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 has an amazing collection of features that make it ideal for family pictures, both at home and one the road.

First off, the camera needs to have the options you need without giving you too much to deal with when you just need to get that shot. The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 is meant to be a point-and-shoot camera, so it has several modes that are just that – point the camera and click away! It even has a “Simple Mode” that makes things really easy. It also has a standard automatic mode, which works in most situations, and an intelligent ISO mode, which adjusts the speed of the digital film to the light available, making sure that your pictures aren’t too dark or blurry. It also has other specific modes like “Party” “Beach” or even “Baby” – that last one will let you put in a date of birth and print the baby’s age on each picture. One of my favorite features is that the basic modes and the 2 special modes you like best on a physical dial that you turn – no fumbling through menus to get what you need.

This camera has an amazing 10x zoom, more than three times as much as most compact cameras. This means no more having to point to a confused picture of 20 kids and saying “That’s her…or is it THAT her?” A very important companion feature is the camera’s optical image stabilization, which means that even when you are zoomed way out, the pictures won’t come out like there was an earthquake going on. This camera also features a wide angle lens, so you aren’t sacrificing the ability to take sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon – or Disneyland!

The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 is almost pocket sized - if you have big pockets - and will fit easily into a purse or jacket pocket. This means it can be with you and ready to go anytime.

All these fancy features don’t mean a thing if the camera isn’t built out of quality materials, and this camera delivers. The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 uses a lens made by Leica, one of the most highly regarded lens makers in the world. The body of the camera is durable and feels very solid. The camera has a 7.2 megapixel resolution, which will make prints that are comparable to film, even with some cropping. The plentiful 3” screen makes composing and viewing pictures a breeze, and it can take about 250 pictures on one battery charge.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel and Child Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.8s
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.
  • Battery Life: 270 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
2
Canon PowerShot S5 IS

This “mega-zoom” camera has a very impressive 12x zoom range and is easy to hold than many cameras thanks to its more substantial size. It has the excellent Canon user interface, and plenty of physical controls (think dials and buttons) so you can get to the options you want quickly. It also uses AA batteries, so you can pick up spares easily if you run out at an inconvenient time. The less expensive S3 IS is still availible at many retailers, as well.

Canon PowerShot S5 IS is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel and Child Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • Size: 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 450 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (5 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Canon PowerShot TX1

This innovative camera is made to serve two purposes - an excellent still camera, and a pretty good high definition video camera, too! It has a powerul 10x zoom, and a rotating view screen so you can take shots from up high or down low. It is also the same size as other Canon ultra-compact Elph cameras and easily fits in any pocket, so you can carry everything you need to record memories anytime.

Canon PowerShot TX1 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel and Child Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot TX1
  • Best Price: $704
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