Pocket Cameras

This Article Features Photo Zoom

SOMETIMES CARRYING A DSLR just isn’t practical and actually may get in the way of taking great shots. When a camera you can slip into your pocket for candid photo opportunities is more of an advantage than having big sensors, fast frame rates and interchangeable lenses, consider today’s ultracompacts, many of which pack plenty of punch with higher-megapixel sensors, HD video recording, GPS navigation, in-camera editing and more.

Canon Powershot S95
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $399

With Hybrid IS technology, the Canon PowerShot S95 is especially well suited for macro photography. The image-stabilization system compensates for camera shake in multiple directions, not just vertical or horizontal, allowing you to take sharp-looking close-ups. The 10-megapixel camera shoots 720p high-definition video at 30 fps and has in-camera HDR processing that automatically combines exposure-bracketed shots. The camera also has a 28-105mm (35mm equivalent) ƒ/2.0 lens, 3.8x optical zoom, manual exposure controls and RAW shooting capabilities.

Casio EXILIM Card EX-S200
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $179
The 14.1-megapixel Casio EXILIM Card EX-S200 uses a flat lens barrel and lens ring to maintain a body that’s just 0.5 inches at its thinnest point. In addition to recording 1280×720 high-def video at 20 fps, the camera can shoot 1280×960-pixel images at 10 fps for up to 20 shots. A unique Landscape Enhancement Mode includes a Mist Removal feature for clearing up hazy outdoor scenes.

Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $499
Capture high-resolution 3D stills and movies in 3D HD at 720p using the 10-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3. Images are processed by the newly developed RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D HD, which merges the left and right images into a single image. A mini-HDMI port allows for easy playback on most 3D television systems. The W3 includes a 3.5-inch, 16:9 LCD and HDMI 1.4 for dropping images and videos directly into a 3D-ready TV.

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Leica V-Lux 20
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $699

With the Leica V-Lux 20’s built-in GPS tagging, you’ll always know exactly where an image was taken. Besides recording location coordinates into an image’s EXIF data, the camera also displays local sights and places of interest. The 12.1-megapixel shooter has a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.1-49.2mm ƒ/3.3-4.9 ASPH zoom lens that’s equivalent to 25-300mm in 35mm format. Rounding out the top features are a three-inch TFT display and HD movie recording.

Nikon Coolpix S1100pj
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $349
Share your photos and videos by projecting with the Nikon Coolpix S1100pj. The camera has a built-in projector that’s 40% brighter than the previous model and can project up to 47 inches from more than seven feet away. Additional features include a built-in slideshow function that plays photos with music and one-touch HD 720p movie recording. The 14.1-megapixel camera also has a 5x zoom lens (28-140mm).

Olympus FE-4020
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $199
Add some flair to your images using the Creative Art Filters that are built right into the Olympus FE-4020. Filter effects such as Pop Art, Pinhole, Fisheye and Drawing can be previewed on the 2.7-inch LCD before you take the shot and then applied in-camera. The camera has a 14-megapixel sensor, AF Tracking that locks in on fast-moving subjects and continuously adjusts focus and brightness, and 21 shooting modes.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $499

RAW mode shooting capabilities, fast autofocus and a wide-angle zoom make the 10-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 quite a versatile camera. The bright 24mm ƒ/2.0 Lecia DC Vario-Summicron lens and redesigned CCD sensor allow you to take sharp images in low light. Another key feature is the ability to shoot 720p high-definition video in AVCHD Lite and motion JPEG formats. This is the first LX camera to offer the Sonic Speed AF focus system.

Pentax Optio W90
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $299
If most of your shooting takes place outdoors, the rugged Pentax Optio W90 is waterproof down to 20 feet, shockproof up to four feet and can withstand subfreezing temperatures. It has a 12.1-megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD and captures 720p HD video at 30 fps. The W90 has a Digital Microscope mode with LED lens lighting for capturing subjects as close as one cm from the camera. You also can capture images remotely with infrared remote-control capabilities.

Samsung DualView ST100
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $349

Samsung made a splash last year with its DualView point-and-shoots offering front and back LCD screens—handy for those who like taking self-portraits. The latest DualView ST100 features a larger front LCD, measuring 1.8 inches compared to the 1.5-inch screens of its predecessors. Sleek and stylish, the 14.2-megapixel camera is designed with a metallic finish. It also uses Samsung’s Smart Gesture User Interface for quickly accessing key features with either a tilt or hand gesture.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX9
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $399

Shoot in 3D with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX9. Using the camera’s 3D Sweep Panorama setting, you press the shutter once, pan across a scene, and the camera stitches together a panoramic image. When the image is viewed through special glasses on a compatible HDTV set, the resulting image shows a 3D effect. The DSC-TX9 offers a 4x zoom lens equivalent to 25-100mm in 35mm format, a 12.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, a 3.5-inch touch-screen LCD, and the ability to capture 1080i AVCHD video.

POCKET CAMERA VS. MOBILE PHONE

You know that old saying: The best camera is the one you have with you. Chances are, you have a camera with you all the time on your mobile phone. Early phone cameras produced pictures with poor image quality and couldn’t store very many of them.

Today, with higher megapixel counts, more internal storage, bigger screens, Internet connectivity and other capabilities, it’s no wonder that the iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr.

Some high-end cell-phone cameras have become really powerful and increasingly come with more of the features found in dedicated compact cameras and even DSLRs. These include higher shutter speeds, automatic smile detection and even built-in flash.

Still, the image quality doesn’t equal that of a point-and-shoot—there’s just not a lot of room for a large image sensor or high-quality lens.
Here are some pros and cons when it comes to each type:

POCKET CAMERA
Pros:
•?Larger sensors mean better light gathering and higher image quality
•?Better low-light capability
•?Higher-quality lenses with optical zooms

Cons:
•?Physically larger
•?Less spontaneity

MOBILE PHONE
Pros:
•?Built-in Internet connectivity for instant sharing
•?Some are capable of running specialty photo applications
•?Always with you for spur-of-the-moment shots

Cons:
•?No optical zoom—zooming is essentially a digital crop
•?Smaller sensors mean more noise in low light and lower image quality overall