2009 Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - Part 2

In part 1 of our 2009 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of sub $150 cameras that currently offer the best value for bargain camera shoppers seeking high quality and excellent features for their next gift.  In part 2, we will dive into the best cameras in the $150 to $250 price range.  These cameras feature higher levels of optical zoom, HD video recording, greater megapixels and larger LCD screens.  This lineup of digital cameras are still targeted at the point & shoot crowd, but for those seeking a higher level of quality and control in taking excellent photos.  

So take a look at the second part of our 2009 Holiday gift guide, the $150 to $250 digital camera range.  Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace between $150 to $250 dollars.

Top Pick: Fuji Finepix F70EXR 

Fuji takes their Super CCD technology to the next level with this 10 megapixel point and shoot camera.  With a massive 10x optical zoom, this camera is great for long range shooting.  The Super CCD EXR sensor in this camera has an incredible amount of dynamic range, making it very useful in low light situations.  There is even an "EXR Auto" mode that can adjust the functions of the sensor to get the best shot in a wide variety of lighting conditions.  "Pro Focus" mode can combine multiple images in-camera with different focus points, allowing for a plethora of creative options while shooting.  Nostalgic for the film days?  With Fuji's Film Simulation mode, the F70EXR can mimic the look of 5 different types of film.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Fuji F70EXR


Canon PowerShot SD780 IS 

One of the latest offerings in Canon's PowerShot SD lines, this camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and 12 megapixels.  A standout feature is its 3" LCD screen with 230k dots, which means it is extremely sharp and easy to read.  The camera also offers HD video capture, and has an HDMI port to play full HD video back onto any HDTV.  Optical image stabilization helps keep blurry shots at bay.  This is one of the smallest cameras in Canon's line up, making it an ideal "walk around" camera.  Anyone familiar with the Canon PowerShot menu system will feel right at home with this model, those who aren't will discover it is quite intuitive.  Rounding out this excellent camera's feature set are speedy response times and excellent image quality.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Canon SD780 IS

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Kodak Easyshare Z915

Kodak's Z915 is a 10 megapixel camera with a long-reaching 10x optical zoom lens.  Its form factor makes it a bit less pocket-friendly, but makes it comfortable and easy to handle.  The Z915 offers optical image stabilization and some manual controls along with its automatic controls, ideal for amateur photographers looking to have more control over their photography.  The menu system is incredibly easy to navigate, and the various scene modes of the camera are augmented with thorough descriptions, a unique feature among feature-laden point and shoot cameras.  The camera itself is above average but not exceptional.  However, it is priced extremely competitively for the feature set that it does offer.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Kodak Z915

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Nikon Coolpix S570

A 12 megapixel ultracompact camera from Nikon, the S570 sports a 5x optical zoom lens and a high-resolution 2.7" LCD screen.  Also, unlike many cameras in this guide, offers a wide angle 28mm lens, great for interior shots in tight spaces.  The "Smart Portrait" system combines many of Nikon's advanced automatic features, such as smile and blink detection, making frequent portrait shooters get the most out of even disagreeable subjects.  Its metal body gives it a sturdy, high end feel, a great bonus considering its price tag.  Be aware that this camera does not offer optical image stabilization, only the electronic variety, which is not nearly as effective.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Nikon S570

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 

The Lumix DMC-FS15's long name belies its diminutive stature and excellent design.  It has 12 megapixels, and a 29mm wide angle lens with a 5x optical zoom.  A button on the top of the camera allows for easy access to "Intelligent Auto" mode that helps select the best settings for the current shooting conditions.  Controls are simple and ideal for beginner and intermediate level photographers alike.  Manual controls are lacking, but the automatic features of the camera work quite well.  The DMC-FS15's slim form factor is ideal for travel. 

 Click on a color below to see the best price on the Panasonic DMC-FS15

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Pentax Optio P80 

This super-slim camera has 12.1 megapixels and a 4x optical zoom.  The P80 also offers HD video at 30 frames per second.  Pentax's advanced Face Detection technology detects up to 32 faces in an image, optimizing exposure and focus for them.  The ISO goes up to 6400, meaning that in a pinch, you can even make images in near-dark conditions, albeit at the sacrifice of image quality.  Autofocus tracking helps keep moving subjects in focus.  An interesting feature is the Small Face filter, which makes a subject's face appear smaller in relation to the size of their body than in reality. 

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