@happyflier (check his blog out if you want some great Air Mile runs) asks for a camera with good zoom, low light capable and still fit in a pocket for less than $250. What started the question was an Amazon lightning deal on the Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera with Fujinon 15x Super Wide Angle Zoom Lens – During the deal it was $199. Its a good camera and good buy at that price but now that it is back up several notches above $200 are there any other options?
Starting at the top of my list Canon PowerShot SX230HS 12 MP Digital Camera with 14x zoom at $279 is this the priciest of the bunch and nearly $30 over budget but consistently receives high praise and offers 14x zoom, 1080p video with stereo sound and the newer HS sensors which do quite well in lower light, loads better than last generations sensors. Bonus feature, built in GPS that automatically tags your photos with latitude and longitude- a traveling dude like happyflier might find that pretty cool. Another fun feature – slo-mo movie mode, at low resolutions you can record at 120 or 240 fps and then play back at normal speeds- not much practical use here but it is fun. One more nice feature, I mean I do have to justify sticking a camera over budget here, is the built in eye-fi menu. I reviewed an eye-fi this summer and some of the newer canon P&S and DSLRs offer in camera support for the cards making them even more useful. In short eye-fi cards let you wirelessly upload your images to your computer, online through wifi or to a smartphone. Snazzy but does impact your battery life.
Second option is the Panasonic DMC-ZS9 14.1MP Digital Camera with 16x zoom for less than two hundred you get a 16x zoom that starts at 24mm, wider than most of the other options here except the F500 which also starts at 24mm. At the longer end of the zoom, and this is true of just about all the cameras on this list, it will suffer from noise as it cranks up the ISO to keep the images properly exposed.
I am going to throw the Nikon COOLPIX S9100 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 18x in this list as well. I have never used it, reviews are mixed but it certainly offers the most zoom and the silver version is currently $220. Beyond the zoom it has the highest resolution LCD with 921,000 dots crammed into 3″, all the other cameras in this list have 460,00 or in the case of the sx150 only 231,000. It also offers 1080P recording, something you see in the SX230 and the Fuji.
If I was buying for myself and I had to stay under $250 I would pick up the ZS9, an earlier model was a long-time favorite and my top recommended camera. It offers lots of features and having just that little bit of wider lens can make a nice difference in your walk around travel shots. You can’t expect amazing lower light images out of it but it does very well and only by spending ~$80 more and moving up to the HS sensor of the canon, can you get better.
Don’t forget to pick up a Transcend 8 GB Class 10 SDHC
Happyflier if you or anyone else has questions about this post or the cameras discussed give me a shout @camerarec and until Nov 28th I am giving away a really nice camera bag- all the details at Facebook
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