Expert Recommendation

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Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $400
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
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June 7, 2010 Updated: June 14, 2010
Overview

Two of the most important qualities in a camera destined for travel are compactness and functionality. With the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7 you get that and a whole lot more. Add Intelligent Sweep Panorama, Full HD movie capabilities and incredible speed to it’s long list of other excellent features and you have a solution to any problem you can come up with at home or on vacation.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7

When your needs are as specific as 1) Style, 2) Quality and, 3) Fit-in your pocket Compactness, the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7 is made for you.

Not only does it satisfy most point and shoot camera user’s top requirements, it does it with some of the best technology available today. Consider the Exmor R CMOS 10.2 mp Sensor, Sony’s own BIONZ processor and AVCHD 1080i Full HD movie capabilities with stereo sound.

Enjoy watching your videos and images on the large, 3.5” LCD screen with TruBlack screen technology or immediately share your images with the built-in Picture Motion Browser by simply hooking the camera up to an internet-ready computer for instant downloads.

Sleek, slim and stylish, the TX7 has a Carl Zeiss 4x optical zoom lens that opens to a 25mm wide angle range. And if that’s not enough when you’re out on that lonesome prairie, use the Intelligent Sweep Panorama to take in all that you see (up to 258 degrees), not something available on most other cameras without annoying stitching software.

The TX7 comes with a Lithium-Ion NP-BN1 battery & charger, but I recommend picking up a spare, batteries don’t last forever!

Comparison with Sony Cybershot DSC-H55

Even though the H55 has more megapixels and zoom, I still like the TX7 for it’s Intelligent Sweep Panorama and Full HD capabilities.

Pros
  • +
    HD Video
  • +
    Intelligent Sweep Panorama
  • +
    3.5" LCD
Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7 is the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Travel Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7
  • Best Price: $225
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Sony NPBN1 Rechargeable Battery Pack
    $37.23 @ Amazon.com
  • Sony 4 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo Flash Memory Card MSMT4G
    $8.67 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 4.0x
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
  • Size: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 230 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H55
3
Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z2000
Customer Rating
Price $225.59 $184.50
Camera Format Ultra Compact Compact Ultra Compact
Weight (with batteries) 5.3 oz 7.0 oz 5.3 oz
Easy to Use Yes Yes Yes
Colors Silver, Blue, Red Black, Silver Silver, Black, Purple, Red, Pink
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Sensor Size
5.9 x 4.4 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm 6.0 x 4.5 mm
HD Video Available Yes Yes Yes
Optical Zoom 4.0x 10.0x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 3200
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LCD Screen Size
3.5 in. 3.0 in. 3.0 in.
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Size (W x H x D) 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.7 in. 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.7 in.
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 11.2 frames/sec 1.8 frames/sec 0.7 frames/sec
Video Stereo Sound Available Yes No No
Video Zoom Available (while recording) Yes Yes No
Max Video Frame Rate (max resolution) 60 frames/sec 30 frames/sec 30 frames/sec
Image Stabilization Type Optical (lens shift) Optical (lens shift) Optical (sensor shift)
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/3.5 f/3.5 f/2.8
2
Sony Cybershot DSC-H55

For an excellent Sony Cybershot camera that doesn’t cost a lot of money, but has all of the great features Sony offers to make your picture taking a success, I recommend the DSC-H55.

Loaded with a powerful 14.1mp Super HAD CCD Sensor, the H55 has the ability to create large enough images that allow you to make beautiful enlargements or crop in to just a portion of your image and still be able to make a quality print. And the BIONZ image processor has the power and speed to keep up with the demands of quick face detection, intelligent auto focus, intelligent scene recognition, sweep panorama’s, steady shot image stabilization and the wide variety of options, including the many scene modes that are available.

Taking this camera to the beach, travel destinations, birthday parties and other social events will ensure that you’ll get the shot you want, whether it’s still photos or HD video. The H55 has a 10x optical zoom and 25mm wide angle lens for capturing group shots, close ups of friends and pets and even a self-portrait mode that waits until you are comfortably in front of the camera before tripping the shutter. The 720p MP4 HD Movie Mode makes it easy to upload your video to the internet thanks to it’s compressed single file format. And with the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode, you can feel confident shooting video while on the move without worrying about too much blur.

And after the shooting is done, you can organize, add music, retouch and resize your photos in the camera and share them with friends on the bright, 3.0” LCD screen. There is even software included for uploading your videos directly to your computer or for burning them to a DVD.

The Sony H55 also comes with a Lithium-Ion (NP-BG1) & charger but I’d pick up a spare because batteries will run out of power at the worst time.

Comparison with Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z2000

For travel photos a lot of zoom is a good thing. The H55 has double what the Z2000 has. But the Z2000 has some great post-shooting creativity features that make it a good buy.

Pros
  • +
    Intelligent Sweep Panorama
  • +
    10x Zoom
  • +
    Image Stabilization with Active Mode
Sony Cybershot DSC-H55 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Sony Cybershot DSC-H55
  • Best Price: $184
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Replacement Lithium Ion Battery for Sony NP-BG1
    $5.98 @ Amazon.com
  • Sony 4 GB Memory Stick PRO Duo Flash Memory Card MSMT4G
    $8.67 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 14.1MP
  • Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
  • Battery Life: 310 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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3
Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z2000

For creative people who want power, innovation and speed when setting out to photograph an event or record the trip of a lifetime, the Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z2000 should be right at the top of your list of cameras to do the job.

Built with Casio’s own EXILIM Engine 5.0 processor and stabilized 14.1MP CCD sensor, you can expand the boundaries of what a photo should be. Included in this stylish camera is a new feature, the Dynamic Photo function. DPF is a feature that allows you to cut and paste , moving images to different still backgrounds or onto other moving images. That’s a function that offers a whole new meaning to the world of digital creativity. Use the included software and uploading your own creations to the internet is a snap.

Or try the Art Shot function and create beautiful images that look like an oil painting, a crayon drawing, or a watercolor painting.

With a wide-angle 26 mm lens and a 5X optical zoom and Premium Auto, taking great shots in the first place is virtually a slam dunk. Premium Auto is a breakthrough feature that optimizes settings for exposure, ISO sensitivity, point of focus, photo blur correction, tonal range and color balance, and level of noise reduction. There are other settings, 40 different scene modes to choose from, but for all that Premium Auto does for you, I would recommend leaving it set there and using your creative skills for composing your many shot opportunities.

With all that packed into a curvy, stylish and thin camera body, and with features like a 3.0” LCD Screen, CCD-shift image stabilization and HD Movie function, you can’t go wrong slipping the Casio Exilim EX-Z2000 into your purse or pants pocket and setting out to expand your artistic creativity.

The Casio Z2000 also comes with a Rechargeable lithium ion battery and charger. The battery is designed to last up to 580 shots before running out, but when the battery is dead, the fun stops. I’d recommend a backup, the price is right.

Pros
  • +
    Premium Auto
  • +
    Dynamic Photo Function
  • +
    Art Shot Function
Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z2000 is one of the Best Ultra Compact Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Travel Photos Under $400
Where to buy
Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z2000
Recommended with
  • Lithium Ion Digital Cameras Battery For Casio NP-110
    $6.52 @ Amazon.com
  • SanDisk 8 GB Class 2 SDHC Flash Memory Card SDSDB-8192 (Bulk Packaging)
    $9.03 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Resolution: 14.1MP
  • Size: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.7 in.
  • Battery Life: 580 shots
  • Easy to Use: Yes
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