With more features than most will ever use and a gentle learning curve, the Canon S5 leads the pack above a host of competitors in offering bang for the buck. It’s 8mp sensor allows for large print sizes and fairly aggressive cropping, while the 12x Image Stabilized zoom lens are ideal for capturing moving subjects, like pets, in action. Throw in a video mode, and you have a versatile tool for capturing your children’s special moments for posterity.
My Best In Class Pick
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Canon S5 Pro. This is a crowded field, with almost every major digicam manufacturer offering several impressive models which could fit our stated criteria and price range. But for a combination of attractive features and attractive price, it’s hard to top the Canon S5. It has almost everything the competitors do, but one thing the others don’t have: a tilt-and-swivel LCD monitor that can be used to capture shots that would be otherwise impossible to compose properly. This feature pushes the S5 to the top of the ranks, since it allows for overhead or angled shots. While basic enough for a beginner, this is a camera that can grow with you from parent of a toddler to soccer mom, perhaps without ever exhausting every single function the S5 has.
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices
|Product||Canon PowerShot S5 IS||Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3||Nikon Coolpix P5000|
|Size (W x H x D)||4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in.||4.1 x 2.3 x 1.4 in.||3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6|
Close Effective Sensor Resolution The Effective Sensor Resolution tells you the total number of pixels that are recorded when you take a picture. The units are MP, which stands for megapixels or millions of pixels. For outstanding fine compression prints, 3MP is required for 5x7's, 7.1MP for 8x10's, and 10.9MP for 11x14's. The effective sensor resolution is only one of many important factors that will determine the quality of the photograph when displayed or printed at different sizes.
|8.0 megapixels||7.2 megapixels||10 million pixels|
|Max Shooting Speed (burst)||2.3 frames/sec||3.0 frames/sec||0.8 frames/sec|
|Max Video Resolution||640 x 480 pixels||848 x 480 pixels||640 x 480 pixels|
|Max Video Frame Rate (any resolution)||60 frames/sec||30 frames/sec||30 frames/sec|
Close Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent) The 35 mm equivalent focal length is a measure that indicates the angle of view of a particular combination of a camera lens and the sensor size. The term originates from the time when the vast majority of photography was done with 35 mm film. On any 35 mm film camera, a 30 mm or less lens is considered a wide-angle lens.
|36 mm||28 mm||36-126 mm|
Close Image Stabilization Available Image stabilization features are designed to reduce the blur that results from normal, minute shaking of a lens due to hand-held shooting. However, image stabilization does not prevent motion blur caused by the movement of the subject or by extreme movements of the camera.
|Image Stabilization Type||Optical||Optical||Optical|
Close Max Aperture (wide-angle) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (wide-angle) is the largest possible size at the wide-angle limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
Close Max Aperture (tele-photo) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (tele-photo) is the largest possible size at the tele-photo limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
|Max Shutter Speed||1/3200 sec||1/2000 sec||1/2000 sec|
|Max ISO Setting||1600||3200||3200|
|Full Manual Exposure Mode Available||Yes||No||Yes|
Close LCD Screen Size The LCD Screen Size is the length of the miniature LCD monitor measured diagonally.
|2.5 in.||3.0 in.||2.5 in|
|LCD Screen Resolution||207000 pixels||230000 pixels||230,000 pixels|
|Storage Media||SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card||SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card||SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card|
|Sensor Raw Format Available||No||No||No|
|Battery Type||AA-size (x4)||Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable||Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable|
|Battery Life||450 shots||270 shots||n/a|
Close Face Detection Available Face detection technology will try to set the focus, exposure, and color balance so that faces appear sharp, well-exposed, and with the proper color.
|External Flash Connection Type||Hot Shoe||-||Hot Shoe|
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
The 7.2 MP Panasonic TZ3 is one of the smallest cameras to feature a 10x zoom, and allows photographers to go from a 28mm wide-angle to 280mm telephoto (film equivalent). It has a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens for stunning images, and the Venus III processing engine for silky-smooth noise reduction at high ISOs. The proprietary MEGA O.I.S. feature for stabilization keeps things steady and the ISO goes up to 1250 with full resolution. There’s also a High Sensitivity mode, which ups the ISO to 3200 – more than most people will ever need. It can record video at 30 frames per second, has 20 scene modes, a 3” LCD monitor, a .006 second lag time, and can fire off 3 FPS in continuous-shooting mode – better than some entry-level DSLRS. It offers to some the best of both words – reasonable size, like a compact, combined with a powerful zoom that blows away any ELPH or Exilim in existence.
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Nikon Coolpix P5000
The Nikon Coolpix P500 features retro styling that might remind some of their old manual-focus rangefinder cameras. It offers a generous 10 MP for huge print sizes, and benefits from trickle-down technology from Nikon’s D-series cameras. At ISO 100, its optical performance even rivals that of Nikon’s D40 DSLR, and its VR (Vibration Reduction) system can also be found in Nikon’s expensive pro lenses. Like a rangefinder or SLR, it has a control dial located atop the camera, which allows you to quickly lock in scene, anti-shake, and high sensitivity modes on the fly without wasting time scrolling through menus. It features a tough magnesium-alloy front panel for durability; a 3.5x zoom, offering the equivalent of a 36-126mm film camera; and can go to 3200 ISO if necessary. It also has three metering modes (matrix, center-weighted, and spot), another feature borrowed from Nikon’s DSLRs. Its continuous-shooting mode is a sloth-like 1.6 FPS, however, so it’s not the greatest for capturing moving targets. While the Coolpix line has suffered from subpar offerings in recent years, the P5000 shows that Nikon can still make competitive models in the P&S arena.
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How to Pick Digital Cameras
- For Travel Photos
- For Photos of Children or Pets
- For Action or Sports Photos
- For Photos in Low Light