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Best Point and Shoot Digital Cameras For 2010

Compact digital cameras are a great choice for the casual user, the beginner, or the budget buyer. They're sleek, small, convenient, and fit into any pocket, and overall their photo quality should meet almost everyone''s needs. Our editors went ahead and tried most of the compact point and shoots in the market and here is their top 5 list.

1) Canon Powershot S90

Canon Powershot S90

If you're a photography enthusiast looking for a compact point and shoot, the Powershot S90 is perfect for you. It features some of the best controls we found in a compact camera with excellent lens, and image quality.

The image quality for the S90 is quite impressive - it's among the best you'll see among point and shoots. We've taken many photos with it and almost all have very little noise, but it never destroys any of the details until we reach an ISO level of 3200.

We love the lens for Powershot S90, it's incredibly sharp.

Canon calls their Powershot S90 the perfect everyday camera for people who are serious about producing great photos, and we have to agree. The excellent lens, image quality, and the myriad of options/controls make it a perfect choise for photography enthusiasts. We particularly recommend it for shooting nature shots like landscapes. For other things like fast moving stuff (sports), we think the S90 falls short.

Canon Powershot S90 Sample

Canon Powershot S90 Sample

The only gripe we don't like about the S90 is its slow shutter speed, but that's about the only thing that is wrong with this otherwise high quality point and shoot.

What's great about it:
- Great controls for manual and semimanual shooting
- Wide Angle F2 lens are excellent
- Performs superbly in low light conditions

What's not so great:
- No HD movie mode.
- No optical view finder.
- Slow shutter speed.

Summary: Overall, we think the Powershot S90 is the best compact camera, and is perfect for amateurs and advanced users.

2) Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7

Panasonic DMC-ZS7

Panasonic has been known for making solid compact point and shoot cameras with great zoom capabilities, and the ZS7 is one of my favorites. The ZS7 builts upon the ZS3 by adding manual + semimanual shooting modes, as well as GPS. Like its predecessor, the ZS7 has great HD video, a 25mm wide angle lens with 12 X zoom.

It's very easy to use, and takes extremely sharp photos. The shutter speed is quite fast, and the auto setting is smart.

Some people have complained about the drop in quality with ISO above 400, and we do see their point. And it doesn't perform excellently in low light conditions (using manual controls can fix this) , so it does have some faults.

What's great about it:
- Best bang for the buck
- Many features you can choose to experiment with
- Takes very sharp images
- Very good video recording experience
- Sturdy build quality
- it contains a built-in GPS

What's not so great:
- Low-light photos can disappoint some users

Summary: Overall, we regard it as a great compact camera for its price. Great for the casual user, or as an alternative camera to bring with you when you don't want to carry around a DSLR.

3) Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V

Sony DSC HX5V

The Cybershot DSC-HX5V is a solid point and shoot megazoom camera. It's lightweight and has a very compact body. It features very easy to use controls, perfect for the beginner.

The shooting speed for this camera is outstanding as well. It features low shutter lag, and incredibly fast times. Its burst mode can handle 10 fps.

If you like tweaking and playing around with features, this camera has a bunch of useful features, such as a built-in GPS. To use the GPS, you need to enable it through the menu, since it does use up battery life. Another cool feature of this camera is the TransferJet. Basically, the TransferJet allows you to transfer photos and videos wirelessly to any TransferJet devices. Cool feature if you're into this kind of stuff.

Because of the megazoom lens, some of the photos you take aren't very sharp. Where this camera excels is in low light conditions - it definitely beats other cameras in this aspect.

What's great about it:
- Great, fast performance
- Very lightweight
- Many useful features
- Performs well in low light

What's not so great:
- Soft photos
- Not many manual controls

Summary: The Cybershot DSC HX5V is a fun camera suitable for beginners. If you're one that likes to play around with features, this camera is definitely for you.

4) Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5

Panasonic DMC-ZS5

We thought carefully whether to include the ZS5 in this list since it is so similar to the ZS7, but technically they are 2 separate cameras, so we decided to include it.

The DMC-ZS5 from Panasonic is basically a stripped down version of the ZS7. It does not have a built in GPS, has a lower resolution LCD screen and records HD video in Motion JPEG. These are very minor differences in our opinion and shouldn't affect your purchase that drastically.

The ZS5 is very lightweight - it can easily fit into any pocket or small purse. The body is solidly built, and has a comfortable grip. The LCD screen here is 2.8 inches or so, and looks visually good.

The controls are pretty easy to get used to. We have the shooting mode dial on top, with the shutter release, and the power switch. Menus are also user friendly.

In terms of performance, we have to say the performance is a tad above average. The ZS5's shot to shot time is 1.6-1.8 seconds without the flash, with the flash it's 4.8 seconds between shots.

The image quality for the ZS5 is great, especially at low ISO. At ISO 100 and so, the images look sharp with accurate colors and very fine detail. When we shot with ISO 200, the images still look pretty good. But as soon as we went up to ISO 400, that's when we started to see some noise. Thus, if you're planning to shoot a lot of photos in low light, we'd look elsewhere for a camera that does better in this aspect.

What's great about it:
- Tons of features to play around with
- Great image quality in low ISOs

What's not so great:
- Performs badly in low light

Summary: If you like the ZS7, and want a stripped down version that is less expensive, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS5 is for you.

5) Canon Powershot SD1200 IS

Canon Powershot SD1200IS

If you're looking for a cheap camera that's lightweight with solid image quality, I suggest you just stop reading this review and go out and buy the SD1200 IS. Seriously.

This camera is about the size of a deck of card.. and weighs just 4.2 ounces.. Yowzers.

We tested this camera and compared the image quality to several other cameras in this price range, and the SD1200 IS outperformed them all. It beated both the Cybershot DSC-W290 and the Powershot SX200IS.

The controls and menus are very easy to figure out. Just play around with it for a hour or so and you'll get it. The design though could be improved, as many experts hav enoted. The buttons can be difficult to press at times, and viewfinder was small to be useful. It would've been better if they just eliminated the viewfinder, or at least make the LCD screen bigger. But alas, nothing is perfect.

When shooting using this camera, you generally should not go above an ISO level of 200 or so. We tested it with higher ISO's and the photos became grainy.

What's great about it:
- Incredibly lightweight
- Very easy to use
- Contains all the basic features you need

What's not so great:
- Image quality suffers above ISO 200
- Design could be improved; buttons can be hard to press

Summary: For the low low price, we can't recommend any other camera though. Other than the design, there isn't a lot to complain about. If you're looking for a simple easy to use camera, that is lightweight and features competitive image quality, the SD1200 IS is the best camera for you.


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