Best point-and-shoot camera for under $400

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The rest were closely matched, but we liked the pictures coming from Samsung's SL820 most consistently.This was a surprise, as it's not the marque we'd have guessed would come out on top before we started testingThe Samsung SL820 has the most solid feel here, and the most heft too. Slip this cam into a tube sock and you'd have a particularly effective weapon that could then be used to document the resultant crime scene. It features two standout specs, first and most important being a true 720p video mode, making it the cheapest cam in our test to break into the high-definition range. It also sports another sky-high ISO setting of 3200, and like the S630 you get a cropped resolution if you want to use it, but even then it sports far more grain than the Nikon.

Transcript of Best point-and-shoot camera for under $400

  • Link : 400/ Engadget Labs: The best point-and-shoot camera for under $400 by Tim Stevens, posted May 19th 2009 at 1:30PM The summer looms, and so too does the summer vacation season. Despite the economy there are visions of great trips brewing in the backs of peoples' minds, visions that will soon turn into (hopefully) great memories -- and (hopefully) great pictures. Some folks wouldn't dream of going on those trips without an SLR slung 'round their neck or hanging at the hip, but then there are plenty of others who'd much prefer something a little more pocketable. Even for aspiring photographers there are times when lugging around five pounds of glass just isn't going to work. There are dozens and dozens of cameras intended for casual shooters all the time or serious shooters some of the time, with models suitable for pockets of every shape and size -- and for wallets of equally varying dimensions. So, let's take a look at some of this summer's greatest, and see which comes out ahead, shall we? Gallery: Engadget compact cam summer shootout
  • The Goal We can't test every compact cam that's currently on the market, as we do have a site to run here, but we took a break from exchanging witticisms over tea for a moment to determine which of the latest cams were going to be the hottest this summer, setting a hard cap of $400 and then going down from there -- way down, as it turned out. We then set about trying to get a good selection of those players, and, while some of the ones we most wanted to test (like Panasonic's DMC-TZ7) were sadly unavailable, the group of nine we ultimately received cover a broad spectrum of designs, features, and prices, ranging from $125 up to that $400 maximum, with an average price of just over $240. So, without further ado, let's introduce the players. Cameras Canon Casio Kodak PowerShot Exilim EasyShare A1100 IS EX-FC100 M380 Kodak Nikon Nikon EasyShare Coolpix Coolpix Z915 S220 S630 Panasonic Panasonic Samsung Lumix Lumix SL820 DMC-TS1 DMC-FS25 Sections The big chart How we tested Wrap-up Nikon Coolpix S220 - The most compact Photo res: 10 megapixels Video res: 640 x 480 Zoom: Stabilized 3x, 35 - 105mm equivalent ISO: 80 - 2000 Aperture: 3.1 - 5.9 LCD size: 2.5-inches Battery size: 740 mAh Street Price: $125 The Coolpix S220 from Nikon is the cheapest of the bunch, readily available for $125 or less if you shop around. For that price you get a lot of modern tech -- at least on paper. 10 megapixels are on tap, but video maxes out at a very VGA 640 x 480. Maximum aperture for the 3x optical zoom lens is an average 3.1, though there is optical stabilization in there. Maximum ISO is 2000, but with considerable noise appearing at anything over 400 it's clear this is a camera best-suited for outdoor shooting. First impressions are of a simple, small, but by no means cheap feeling camera. Even the packing materials in the box feel like much higher-quality stuff than that found in the more expensive options -- not that it matters after the initial frantic unpacking. The metal body feels cool and solid in the hand, but the lens motor sounds sickly, not inspiring much confidence about this camera's internal durability. Gallery: Nikon Coolpix S220 unboxing
  • Kodak EasyShare M380 - Kodak's value proposition Photo res: 10.2 megapixels Video res: 640 x 480 Zoom: Stabilized 5x, 38 - 190mm equivalent ISO: 80 - 1600 Aperture: 3.1 - 5.6 LCD size: 3-inches Battery size: 1020 mAh Street Price: $180 Kodak's EasyShare M380 is next up in order of cheapest, with an MSRP and street price of $180. For $50 more than the S220 you get a bigger camera with a bigger LCD and a bigger zoom. Maximum aperture again is 3.1, with a max ISO of 1600, but again ISO 400 is the realistic max if you hate grain as much as we do. Out of the box the M380 feels a little lower end than the S220, with its plasticy body and slightly squishy buttons, but the mode-selector wheel on the top makes tweaking the camera quick and easy (even if we kept confusing it for the shutter release) and a dedicated button on top for disabling the flash is a nice touch, too. Also nice is the USB charger, which would mean one fewer AC adapter to pack. Gallery: Kodak EasyShare M380 unboxing Canon PowerShot A1100 IS - Bulging with batteries Photo res: 12.1 megapixels Video res: 640 x 480 Zoom: Stabilized 4x, 35 - 140mm equivalent ISO: 80 - 1600 Aperture: 2.7 - 5.6 LCD size: 2.5-inches Battery size: 2x AA Street Price: $190 Canon's PowerShot A1100 IS comes in at around $190 at most online retailers, and for $10 more than the Kodak you get a few more megapixels, a less powerful zoom, and a slightly wider aperture. ISO range is identical to the above, but 800 here is actually borderline acceptable. In terms of aesthetics the A1100 is one of the cheaper feeling cameras in the group, its two-tone
  • plastic body not turning any heads and that plastic shell feeling flimsy in the hand -- you can hear it creaking and rattling when recording videos. But, it is comfortable to hold, and has room for two AA batteries, making replacement in the field cheap and easy. That battery bulge does leave it looking a little... expectant, however. Gallery: Canon PowerShot A1100 IS unboxing Kodak EasyShare Z915 - The big boy Photo res: 10 megapixel Video res: 640 x 480 Zoom: Stabilized 10x, 35 - 350mm equivalent ISO: 100 - 1600 Aperture: 3.5 - 8.3 LCD size: 2.5-inch Battery size: 2x AA Street Price: $190 Remember how we said the A1100 was one of the cheaper feeling cams? Kodak's EasyShare Z915 is the winner in that unfortunate classification. The camera has a solid hefty to it, and the zoom lens extends and retracts with smooth, reassuring efficiency, but the grip is covered by this hard, textured plastic that makes it feel more like a toy than something you just dropped two Benjamins on. Add some cramped ergonomics to the mix and this is definitely not something that falls to hand comfortably. If you can get past that, you get specs comparable to the same-priced Canon, but with more than twice the zoom and effective stabilization that makes even the 350mm end of that lens quite usable freehand. It lets in a little less light than the Canon, but again ISO 800 is okay if you don't mind a hint of grain. This one is also packing AA power, and has the hump to prove it. Gallery: Kodak EasyShare Z915 unboxing
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS25 - Big screen sophistication Photo res: 12.1 megapixels Video res: 848 x 480 Zoom: Stabilized 5x, 29 - 145mm equivalent ISO: 80 - 1600 Aperture: