Expert Recommendation

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Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Expert (9 Recommendations)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 24, 2007 Updated: December 12, 2007
Overview

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.

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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.

Canon PowerShot S5 IS is the Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Specifications
  • Zoom: 12.0x
  • Resolution: 8.0MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.5 sec
  • 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

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Canon PowerShot S5 IS
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
3
Nikon Coolpix P5000
Customer Rating
Price $649.00 $549.00
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
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Effective Sensor Resolution
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
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
36 mm 28 mm 36-126 mm
Optical Zoom 12.0x 10.0x 3.5x
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Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Type Optical Optical Optical
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Max Aperture (wide-angle)
f/2.7 f/3.3 f/2.7
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Max Aperture (tele-photo)
f/3.5 f/4.9 f/5.3
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
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LCD Screen Size
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
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Face Detection Available
No No Yes
External Flash Connection Type Hot Shoe - Hot Shoe
2
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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
Specifications
  • Zoom: 10.0x
  • Resolution: 7.2MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.4 - 0.8s
  • Easy to Use: Yes
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (6 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
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.

Nikon Coolpix P5000 is one of the Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras for Photos of Children or Pets Under $400
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix P5000
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