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CR's best new point-and-shoots

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  February 7, 2009 11:52 PM

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Most of you own DSLRs, but some of you use high-quality point-and-shoots. Others carry a point-and-shoot when your bigger camera is too much to lug with you to an event. In any case, you may want to supplement your DSLR with a convenient point-and-shoot, or upgrade your current model. Perhaps you want to buy a camera for a friend who is just getting started in photography or a relative who needs a new camera.

In its March issue, Consumer Reports (subscription required) rates 15 point-and-shoot digitals, ranking them according to category: Subcompact (for those who need a camera that fits into a purse or pocket), Compact (for those who want the basics at a low price or advanced features), and Superzoom (for people who need an extremely versatile zoom lens).

Canon dominates the class; it has 7 of the 15 rated models (Nikon is nowhere to be found). In this class of camera, you'll pay from $120 to $470 (that's full retail price; there always are sales and discounts). And for that, my friends, you'll get anywhere from 7 to a whopping 15 megapixels!

The editors found that the image quality of this level of digital camera has improved dramatically, and many produce very good images in low light without using a flash. They singled out the Samsung SL310W ($160) and the Kodak EasyShare Z1012 IS ($240) for capturing good quality images even when set at ISO 800.

They also found that face detection technology has gotten better, and the automatic settings for color balance, focus, and exposure when shooting people work well. The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS ($370) even has a Face Detection Self-Timer.

And for those who want a good zoom, say, 10x or 20x, the editors advise to make sure the zoom is also wide-angle, as low as 24mm or 28mm. If zoom is your priority, they recommend the Canon PowerShot G10 ($470).

Here are their top-rated cameras in each category:

Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS ELPH: 68 points out of a possible 100. $180, 8 megapixels, 5 oz., 3x zoom, 400 maximum ISO with best quality.

Canon PowerShot G10: 74 out of 100 points. $470, 15 megapixels, 14 oz., 5x zoom, 200 maximum ISO with best quality.

   A CR Best Buy -- Canon PowerShot A590 IS: 70 out of 100 points. $140, 8 megapixels, 8 oz., 4x zoom, 100 maximum ISO with best quality.

Canon PowerShot SX10 IS: 78 out of 100 points. $370, 10 megapixels, 24 oz., 20x zoom, 400 maximum ISO with best quality.

   A CR Best Buy -- Canon PowerShot SX110 IS: 69 out of 100 points. $230, 9 megapixels, 10 oz., 10x zoom, 200 maximum ISO with best quality.

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