Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - Sub $150 Cameras
2013 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
Canon PowerShot A2600
The Canon PowerShot A2600 is compact and affordable, and offers a basic set of features for beginners. At just 0.8 inch thick, it slips into a shirt or coat pocket easily, and won't feel too obtrusive, at under 5 ounces. The buttons on the back panel are well laid out for easy operation. The camera has a 16-megapixel sensor and a modest 5X zoom lens that offers a wide angle (28 mm) for shooting broad landscapes or in tight quarters. The features are well designed for beginning photographers. On the back panel, the top position on the four-way control launches Auto mode so you don't have to navigate a menu. Pressing this position again returns you to the previously selected shooting mode, such as Portrait or Live View Control mode. This latter mode is worth mentioning because it is one of the few places you can make manual adjustments to settings and use your artistic eye. In Live View Control, you are given three parameters to adjust: dark to light, neutral to vivid, and cool to warm. This offers beginners an introduction to creative photography. Pick this up if you need a beginner's camera for simple snapshots that does not need to offer high image quality, a lot of shooting modes, or many sophisticated manual controls.
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Canon PowerShot A1400
The Canon PowerShot A1400 is a basic, affordable camera that's relatively compact. At just over an inch thick at the handgrip, it is not extremely thin, but still sits relatively comfortably in a jacket pocket. The lightweight plastic shell does not inspire much confidence that it could survive many hard knocks, though the buttons on the body are well laid out for easy operation. This 16-megapixel model offers a modest 5X zoom lens with a 28mm wide angle and basic features aimed at beginning photographers. For example, the top position on the four-way control toggles you between Auto mode and the previously selected shooting mode. Being able to do this is more convenient than having to navigate a menu and, to boot, the flash setting is associated with each mode. Pick this up if you have a beginning photographer who will be happy taking basic snapshots and is not looking to stray too far from Auto mode.
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Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS
Canon's Digital ELHPs have been popular for years, and for 2013, Canon continues to add to this legendary line of compact, yet capable point-n-shoot cameras. Their latest entry is the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS, a petite camera that is loaded with appealing features for a camera of this size and price. You can tuck this gem into just about any pocket or handbag, and with three color options (red, silver, and gray) you can even match your own personal style. Canon packed a versatile 8x optical zoom lens into the S130, along with their proven Image Stabilization, 16-megapixels of resolution, a 3.0-inch LCD screen, full 1080p HD video recording, their newly enhanced Wi-Fi functionality, and much more. Pick this up if you're looking for an extremely easy-to-use, thin camera at a reasonable price, you don't need advanced photography features, and average performance will suit your needs.
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New for 2013, The Cyber-Shot DSC-W730 is about as compact as they come, measuring a scant 3 3/4" x 2 1/8" x 29/32". Although small, Sony has still packed it with appealing features for those in the market for pocket sized, affordable digicam. These include 16.1-megapixels of resolution, an 8x Carl Zeiss lens, intelligent Auto mode, Full 1080p HD video (MP4 format), and Intelligent Sweep Panorama to name a few. Pick up this camera if you are looking for a bargain camera for a beginner who will more entertained by Beauty Effects than annoyed by poor image quality.
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Canon PowerShot SX160 IS
The Canon PowerShot SX160 IS occupies the middle ground of super zoom cameras. Outfitted with a powerful 16X optical zoom and full manual controls, it is aimed at the aspiring photographer who wants to control his camera rather than rely on its automatic settings, but isn't ready to break open the piggy bank to do so. The powerful zoom lens offers both a wide-angle and 16x magnification (35mm equivalent of 28mm-448mm). This will easily get you close to distant subjects, while the wide angle will help capture broad vistas. Also, the macro AF will get you very close to small subjects as close as 0.4 inch from the lens (see IMG_0106 on the Samples Page). Like a dSLR, this PowerShot has a mode dial with full Auto and full Manual positions, as well as aperture and shutter priority modes. Pick this up if you are looking for a feature-rich super zoom at a very modest price and don't need fast autofocus, fast burst speeds, or great low-light performance.
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