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Top 10 Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras for 2009 - Buyers Guide

written by: Ryan C.•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/23/2011

In this guide, we cover the ten best point-and-shoot digital cameras available right now. They are divided up into three categories (superzoom, compact, and enthusiast) so that you can find the best camera for you and your photography needs!

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    Canon S90 and Panasonic LX3 (Page 2) 

    2009 was a great year for new cameras. Features once only available to digital SLR cameras began making their way to their smaller companions. 2009 saw the introduction of new technologies that are now widely available to consumer point-and-shoot cameras such as image stabilization, HD movie recording, the ability to shoot RAW on premium models, and better image quality all around (through better optics and camera sensors).

    Regardless of which camera you choose for the new year, find one that you will want to use all the time. The best camera is the one that is always on you and ready to use. It does no good to have the best camera in the world, only to be leaving it at home because it is too big. That said, you should be able to find a camera that is right for you among these ten point-and-shoots. Two features I recommend looking for which I consider useful are a wide angle lens (28mm or less equivalent) and HD movie recording. Disregard the megapixel ratings for these cameras. They all feature enough (10MP or more) megapixels for large prints and are very comparable to each other.

    Listed in no particular order, they have been divided up by their size, lens, and functionality.

    Photo by saebaryo

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    These cameras are good multipurpose cameras for general use. They work best in bright light and are perfect for vacations, as you never know what kinds of pictures you will be taking. They offer 12-18x optical zooms for subjects far away.

    pansonic dmcTZ7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 / TZ7 – The is the smallest of the bunch, but certainly not the least. This is probably the best all-round compact camera for its feature set, compact size, and sharp pictures.

    • Wide angle lens with a 12x stabilized zoom
    • HD movie recording (720p) with HDMI connectivity.
    • Sharp 460k pixel LCD (double the resolution of the others in this category)

    Click here for a detail review.

    FZ35 front fl Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 / FZ38 – A larger Panasonic for those that need a larger zoom. Unlike the TZ7/ZS3, it can shoot RAW images.

    • Wide angle lens with 18x stabilized zoom
    • HD movie mode (720p) with HDMI connectivity
    • RAW recording

    20090217 loRes sx1is 3q Canon PowerShot SX1 IS – An excellent hybrid camera that excels in picture taking and movie recording. It can shoot movies at 1080p and shoot fast continuous still pictures at 4 frames per second (fps).

    • Wide angle lens with 20x stabilized zoom
    • HD movie mode (1080p) with HDMI connectivity
    • Articulating (flip-out, rotatable) LCD screen
    • Flash Hot Shoe

    Click here for a detailed review.

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    These cameras are great for carrying around anywhere. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, purse, or bag. They are perfect for spur of the moment photos of friends and family and candid shots where perhaps your cell phone camera just isn’t going to cut it.

    DSC-TX1 Silver Front-Open Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 – This new Sony compact was released with the WX1 (see below). The new Exmor R backlit sensor in these two compacts allow you to take low-light images with less image noise than other cameras at comparable ISOs. Hand-held twilight takes several pictures and merges the best ones together to create blur free shots in the dark.

    • Exmor R sensor for enhanced sensitivity and low noise resulting in better images in low light
    • Hand-held Twilight mode
    • Large 3” touch screen LCD
    • Unique Sony Sweep Panorama mode for easy panorama pictures
    • Capable of 10 fps at full 10.2 MP resolution
    • HD movie mode (720p) with HDMI connectivity
    • 4x optical zoom with stabilization

    DSC-WX1 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 – This camera shares many of the features of the DSC-TX1, but has a better wide angle lens and lacks the touch screen.

    • Bright F/2.4 wide angle lens with a 5x stabilized zoom
    • HD movie mode (720p) with HDMI connectivity
    • Exmor R sensor
    • Hand-held twilight
    • Sweep Panorama
    • 10 fps

    20090819 loRes sd980is s front Canon PowerShot SD980 IS (others to compare with SD940 IS and SD960 IS) – These three cameras have very similar specifications with the SD980 having the widest angle lens at 24mm (versus 28mm in the latter two). They also differ slightly in their physical shape, size, and weight and come in a variety of colors.

    • Wide angle lens with 5x stabilized zoom (SD940 and SD960 have a 4x optical zoom)
    • HD movie mode (720p) with HDMI connectivity

    20090217 loRes d10 3q Canon PowerShot D10 – This new camera deserves a special mention because it is the top-rated underwater point-and-shoot camera with the best image quality. Also compare with the rugged waterproof Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 which shoots equally excellent photos.

    • Waterproof to 33 feet
    • Shockproof from 4 feet
    • Freezeproof to +14°F
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    Compacts for Enthusiasts

    These cameras are for more advanced photographers who like to be able to manually change their camera settings, have the ability to shoot RAW, and perhaps have a hot shoe to mount a flash or use off-camera lighting. These work well as a companion to a digital SLR where you want the functionality of a professional-grade camera without the weight and bulk.

    dmc-lx3k Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 – This is my favorite compact camera. Even though it has been on the market for a year and a half, it is still hard to find because of its capabilities.

    • Bright wide-angle F/2.0-2.8 (24-60mm) lens (with stabilization)
    • Full manual controls
    • RAW recording
    • Large 3.0” LCD screen with 460K pixels
    • HD movie mode (720p)
    • Smaller and Lighter than the rival Canon G11
    • Flash Hot Shoe

    Click here for a detailed review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3.

    20090819 loRes g11 front Canon PowerShot G11 – Comparable to the legendary Panasonic LX3 although this has a unique body (more rugged looking), with an articulating screen. It lacks HD movie recording.

    • Wide angle 28-140mm F/2.8-4.5 lens (with stabilization)
    • Full manual controls
    • RAW recording
    • Articulating 2.8” LCD screen with 460K pixels
    • Flash Hot Shoe

    20090819 loRes s90 front Canon PowerShot S90 – Similar to the Panasonic LX3, this small camera has the ability to shoot RAW and features a bright f/2.0-2.8 zoom lens. Unlike the LX3 however, it lacks a hot shoe and cannot record HD movies (only VGA sized clips). This camera shares the same sensor as the Canon G11 (above).

    • Wide angle (28-105mm F/2.0-4.9) lens (with stabilization)
    • Small, sleek body
    • Full manual controls
    • RAW recording
    • Large 3.0” LCD screen with 460K pixels