2010 Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $250 to $400 Cameras
2009 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
In part 2 of our 2010 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of $150 to $250 cameras that currently offer a step up in features from our first round of sub $150 cameras. In part 3, we will dive into the best cameras in the $250 to $400 price range. These cameras will feature new aspects such as great low light performance, touch screens and higher quality lenses. This lineup of digital cameras are targeted at the upper end of the point & shoot crowd, ideally for those seeking cameras for outdoor use or cameras that offer more unique features than standard point & shoot models.
So jump into the third part of our 2010 Holiday gift guide, the $250 to $400 digital camera range. Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace between $250 to $400 dollars (MSRP).
Top Pick: Canon PowerShot S95
Canon has taken their extremely popular PowerShot S90 from last year and made some key improvements that help make this new camera a bit more appealing to the masses, while at the same time possibly making some S90 owners a bit jealous. The new PowerShot S95 is in all sense a S90 with a few added options, some of which many felt should have been included to begin with. The bodies are pretty much identical, along with the control layout. The S95 still sports the same large, 10-megapixel "high sensitivity" image sensor, RAW and JPEG still image capture (RAW+JPEG option as well), DIGIC 4 processor, 3.0-inch LCD (461k pixels), fast 3.8x f/2.0 optical zoom lens, ISO settings from 80 - 3200, Li-ion power source, SD/SDHC/MMC card slot, HDMI output, and their newer Nostalgic and Low-Light scene modes. However, Canon has added HD video capture at 720p resolution, their new in-camera HDR mode, faster burst mode speed, and their Hybrid IS (Image Stabilization) system. Pick this up if you are looking for an extremely capable camera that can be easily tucked into your pants pocket or small handbag.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX75
Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-FX75 is a 14-Megapixel compact digicam sporting a Leica F2.2 5x optical zoom lens, 3-inch Touchscreen LCD, AVCHD Lite 720p HD movies, and intelligent auto shooting. With the new Leica DC VARIO SUMMICRON lens and Panasonic's Power O.I.S. (optical image stabilization), the FX75 performs amazingly in low-light situations. It also features a Sonic Speed AF system that allows the autofocus system to focus as fast as a 1/4 of a second. To make this one of the easiest cameras you'll ever use, Panasonic has included an evolving intelligent auto shooting mode to ensure that there is no motion blur or camera shake effects in you images. This mode also takes care of all of your camera settings, including choosing the correct scene mode for your current situation automatically. This guarantees that you will have the best settings for most of the shooting situations that you will find yourself in. Pick this up if you are looking for stylish and powerful digicam that contains all the bells and whistles while performing in the top of its class.
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Olympus's new SP-800UZ is a 14-Megapixel ultra-zoom camera with a 30x wide optical zoom lens that was unmatched by any other camera on the market until recently (with the introduction of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS). This zoom has a 35mm equivalent of 28-840mm, which is almost an unbelievable range. The SP-800 also sports Dual Image Stabilization, 720p HD video capture, a 3-inch LCD, Intelligent Auto and 2GB of internal memory. With all of these features and versatility packed into a body that is much smaller than any dSLR on the market, it could be the ideal camera for travel or just to keep handy around the house. Pick this up if you are looking for a camera that will get as close or closer than any other camera, while still having a very good wide end.
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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7
Sony continues to roll out powerful, ultra-compact T-series cameras, including the Cyber-Shot DSC-TX7. This unit replaces the TX1 from last year, and builds off of its platform. While they share the same 10-megapixel "Exmor R" CMOS imager and and offer a Carl Zeiss 4x optical zoom, the TX7 boasts several upgrades. These include a wider zoom range of 25-100 (compared to 35 - 140mm), a larger 3.5-inch Xtra Fine touch panel LCD with TruBlack technology, new intelligent Sweep panorama mode, and improved video options including full AVCHD format, 1080i HD video recording. Pick this up if you are in the market for a pocket-rocket with the latest and greatest of Sony's technologies, including iAuto, iSweep, Handheld Twilight, Backlight Correction HDR, and an impressive 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD.
Click on a color below to see the best price on the Sony DSC-TX7
Canon PowerShot SD4500 IS
The PowerShot SD4500 IS is Canon's first compact camera to feature full 1080p HD video recording. Leading the way for the Digital ELPH series, it features a 10.0-Megapixel High Sensitivity CMOS image sensor, 10x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, Smart Auto, High Speed burst and much more. Smart Auto mode allows anyone to just pick up the camera and shoot, without worrying about the settings needed to capture a pleasing photo. It will choose the correct exposure values as well as the correct Scene mode, if one is appropriate for your current shooting situation. Low-light shooting has also been improved greatly with the addition of Canon's HS system on the SD4500. This combines the high-sensitivity imaging sensor with a DIGIC 4 processor to help reduce noise and speed up processing. Pick this up if you have been looking for an incredibly easy-to-use camera with high-speed capabilities and great image quality.
Click on a color below to see the best price on the Canon SD4500 IS
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX700
For those looking for a powerful touchscreen equipped digicam, Panasonic has produced the Lumix DMC-FX700. This model shares very similar specifications with the DMC-FX75 we reviewed earlier this summer, however they've added a few improvements, along with some added exposure control as well. The FX700 sports a 14-Megapixel Live MOS type image sensor (compared to the CCD type found on the FX75), a Leica F2.2 5x optical zoom lens, Power O.I.S. stabilization system, 3.0-inch Touchscreen LCD, Venus Engine FHD processor, AVCHD video recording at 1080i or 720p HD resolutions with stereo sound, and various exposure programs to suit the needs of a wide variety of users. Pick this up if you want the one of the most feature packed touchscreen digicams on the market currently that offers top of its class quality and performance.