2010 Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - Sub $150 Cameras

Once again, you are probably faced with deciding what digital camera you should buy for your friends and relatives for this holiday season.  Each year becomes more and more complicated, as camera companies increase their feature sets and change models multiple times a year.  In the end, however, consumers win, since increased competition has dramatically lowered prices and improved overall picture quality.  Just like last year, this guide will help you sort through the chaos that is the digital photography industry, highlighting some of the best choices for cameras in various price ranges.  While it is still generally true that more money will get a nicer camera, even spending under $150 can get you high quality digital camera takes excellent images.  Your needs, such as touch screens, HD video, facial recognition or image stabilization, will determine the right amount you need to spend.  

Take a look at the first part of our 2010 Holiday gift guide, the sub $150 digital camera range.  Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace for less than 150 dollars.

Top Pick: Sony W350 

The Sony Cybershot W350 is an excellent entry-level, ultra-compact digicam. Sporting a 14-Megapixel imaging sensor, Carl Zeiss 4x optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video capture, this tiny camera is loaded with all the features of larger models.   Sweep Panorama captures extremely wide and easy panorama images.  It also comes with Face detection mode, smart capture auto mode and a rechargeable Li-Ion battery.  However, this isn't a particularly useful low-light camera due to the weak flash.  This camera is ideal if you are looking for an easy-to-use camera that can be thrown in a pocket or purse and taken anywhere without it being a distraction..   

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Sony W350

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Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS 

One of Canon's affordable PowerShot cameras, the SD1300 IS has to be the simplest Digital ELPH to date. This unit doesn't boast any amazing features or any other "Jazz" like that. Instead, this tiny guy is straight to the point. You get 12-megapixels of resolution, plenty for large prints, a nice wide 4x optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD, Smart Auto, and SD (640x480) video recording; that's right, no HD video capture. But, let's face it, the SD1300 was designed to be an affordable ultra-compact, so in order to accommodate a more friendly price tag you're going to have to give up some features. Pick this up if you're in the market for a fun and easy to use compact digital camera to take with you, whether on vacation or an adventure in your living room.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Canon SD1300 IS

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Casio Exilim EX-Z800

One of Casio's most affordable ultra-compacts, the Exilim EX-Z800 is a petite digicam that includes many of Casio's standard features. In fact, the EX-Z800 shares very similar specifications with the EX-Z550 we reviewed earlier in the year. These include 14-megapixels of resolution, a 27mm wide 4x optical zoom lens, 2.7-inch LCD, one-button video mode with HD (1280x720) and STD (640x480) options, their intelligent Premium Auto exposure mode, and various other BS (Best Shot) scene modes. The Exilim EX-Z800 is a fashion savvy digicam that is small enough to fit into the smallest of pockets and purses. It offers good image quality and performance, however it will have some trouble focusing in low-light conditions due to not having a focus assist lamp.  Pick this camera up if you are shopping for a "cute" little digital camera for your teenager that will capture nice 14-megapixel images and decent HD video. 

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Casio EX-Z800

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Canon Powershot A3100 IS

Actually released earlier this year (but still widely available due to it's popularity), Canon's PowerShot A3100 IS is one of their most compact "A" series models, thanks in large part to the addition of a Lithium-Ion battery replacing the AA-sized batteries that are normally used to power these cameras. This camera also features a 12.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, 4x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD screen, Smart Auto shooting mode and several new and scene modes for more creative photographs. As with all "A" series models, this is one of the easiest cameras on the market to operate, making it a perfect starter camera.  Pick this up if you are looking for your first digicam, have no previous experience with photography, or if you are looking for a camera that anyone in the family/office can use.

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Canon A3100 IS

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Fujifilm FinePix XP10 

One of the very few "life-proof" cameras under $150, the Fujifilm FinePix XP10 is an incredibly tough, versatile digicam that is capable of going anywhere you go and capturing images that most other cameras cannot. Its tough construction allows it to be Waterproof up to 10ft, Dustproof, Freezeproof to 14° F and Shockproof from falls up to 3.3 ft. Capturing your images is a 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, internal Fujinon 5x optical zoom lens, Scene Recognition Auto and 720p HD video capture in case a still image just isn't enough. With SR Auto, a fully automatic shooting mode, the only thing you need to do is point and shoot while the camera picks the correct scene mode and exposure settings for your image. Pick this up if you are looking for camera that you can take with you on vacation to the beach, skiing or anywhere else you would be afraid to take a normal digicam. 

 Click on a color below to see the best price on the Fujifilm XP10

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