Point-and-Shoots We're Preparing For

From fashionable pocket cams to high-zoom beasts to feature-loaded shooters, many major camera vendors have just announced key additions to their 2009 point-and-shoot lines. Here are the models we're most excited about.

Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR

Back in the days of yore, you needed a tripod and some slick photo-editing tricks to create high-dynamic-range photos like this shot of Trencin, Czechoslovakia. Among other fancy features, the Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR's Wide Dynamic Range setting aims to move all that photo trickery inside the camera. The 12-megapixel Finepix F200 EXR boasts Fujifilm's brand-new Extreme Super CCD EXR sensor, which the company claims can create high-dynamic-range photos, as well as high-resolution and high-sensitivity/noise-free shots. The FinePix F200 EXR should be hitting stores this month (February) for $400.

Canon PowerShot SD780 IS

Here's a camera you won't just want to take a picture with; you'll also want to take pictures of it. The slick-looking PowerShot SD780 IS comes in black, red, silver, and gold, but its beauty isn't just skin-deep. It has a "Smart Auto" mode that optimizes settings automatically based on the shooting environment, face detection, blink detection, motion detection, red-eye removal, and a 720p HD movie mode with HDMI output. It will be available in April for $280.

Nikon Coolpix P90

Thankfully, this camera doesn't come with a long-distance bill. The Nikon Coolpix P90 serves up a 24mm to 624mm, 24X optical zoom Nikkor lens and features the same Nikkor ED glass found in Nikon's digital SLR cameras. To go along with the megazoom, the P90 provides four-way image stabilization, full manual controls for shutter and exposure, in-camera editing features, and a 15-frames-per-second burst mode. It hits stores in April for $400.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1

If you'd rather not pamper your camera, or if you spend a lot of time underwater (or dropping things), then the tank-like Lumix DMC-TS1 may be a good pick for you. It's waterproof down to 10 feet underwater, shockproof to drops up to 5 feet, and dustproof. That protective case also houses some nice features, such as a 28mm wide-angle lens with optical image stabilization, HD video shooting in AVCHD Lite format, and a 10-frames-per-second high-speed burst mode. Due in April, the DMC-TS1 comes in silver, orange, or green for $400.

Samsung SL820

One of four new point-and-shoots just announced by Samsung, the 12-megapixel SL820 has a nice, big 3-inch-diagonal LCD screen, 720p high-definition movie recording using the H.264 codec, Smart Auto mode (which automatically selects scene modes to fit the shot), and a Smart Album mode (which the company says simplifies searching and sorting photos in the camera). The SL820 will sell for $280 starting in May.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T900

Thanks to a whopping 3.5-inch-diagonal touch screen that takes up the full back of the camera, the Cyber-shot DSC-T900 is practially a television set. It also recognizes and tags faces in images, and can sort pics depending on who's in the shot. Its intelligent auto mode is enabled by default, and the camera will optimize scene modes, facial recognition, lighting settings, and image stabilization accordingly. For $380, you can buy the T900 in March.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

Megazoom cameras are usually pretty bulky, but the PowerShot SX200 IS manages to cram a 12X optical zoom lens (28mm to 336mm) in a compact frame. For the $350 price of admission, you also get 720p HD movie mode, a big 3-inch LCD screen, optical image stabilization, Smart Auto mode, motion detection, face detection, blink detection, and red-eye correction. It will be available in black, blue, and red at the end of March.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3

Joining the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS at the upper echelon of high-zoom compact cameras is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. It's just 1.3 inches deep but offers an impressive 12X-optical-zoom Leica lens with a 25mm film equivalent on the wide end. Equally impressive its ability to identify and tag familiar faces, as well as save focus and exposure settings assigned to those faces. The Lumix DMC-ZS3 also records 720p high-def video in AVCHD Lite format. In addition, Panasonic submits the following features for your consideration: optical image stabilization; a 3-inch LCD screen; a high-speed burst mode that takes up to 10 pictures per second; and blue, black, red, and silver color options. It hits stores in April for $400.

Nikon Coolpix S620

Sick of missing a shot while you wait for your camera to boot up? Nikon claims that the Coolpix S620 has the "fastest start-up time in its class," at 0.7 second. This 12-megapixel, $270 Coolpix also boasts a 28mm wide-angle lens on the low end of its 4X optical zoom lens as well as four-way image stabilization, automatic scene selection, in-camera editing features, and motion-tracking autofocus. It will be available in black, purple, silver, pink, blue, and white starting in March.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290

New to the midrange W series of Cyber-shot models is the 12-megapixel Cyber-shot W290, which offers Sony's new intelligent auto and face-recognition features. Its 5X optical zoom starts at 28mm on the wide-angle end, and it keeps shots steady with optical image stabilization. Rounding out the spec list are a 720p HD movie mode, a 3-inch LCD screen, and four color options (black, silver, blue, and bronze). It will be available in April for $250.

Fujifilm FinePix Z30

Forget subtlety with this camera. The bright, blingy FinePix Z30 is geared toward teens--it will be available in bright orange, bright pink, and (gothic?) black. Other than the eye-catching frame, the specs are kind of so-so: a 2.7-inch LCD screen, a 3X optical zoom starting at 35mm, digital image stabilization, a mode that captures images in rapid succession with the flash on and with the flash off, and a motion-JPEG movie mode. The FinePix Z30 will be available in March for $180.

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