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They say you get what you pay for, and $200 certainly isn't peanuts. When it comes to new point-and-shoot digital cameras, however, that price represents a line in the sand: Below that mark are generally bare-bones entry-level models, while hovering around the $200 mark are a growing number of feature-rich cameras that offer great bang for the buck.
You can now find a few models priced at about $200 that have wide-angle lenses; some include big, 3-inch-diagonal LCD screens; and others come with handy features, such as the ability to use AA batteries for power. We looked at ten new cameras selling in the vicinity of $200 and rated them in several different categories. Read on to discover which of these models offer the best image quality, the best battery life, the best feature sets, and the best overall value for the price.
Though we tried to test all of the most notable new bargain cameras as part of this roundup, we weren't able to obtain a couple of exciting models in time for this roundup: The $200 Kodak EasyShare Z915 packs a 10X optical zoom, while the $200 Samsung SL620 looks sharp and offers an appealing range of features. As for the cameras we were able to test, here's a look at our overall top four picks.
Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras
For overall bang for the buck, Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FS25 shines thanks to its great battery life (320 shots on a single charge of its lithium ion battery), a 29mm film equivalent on the wide-angle end of its 5X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, and the third-best picture quality here. It finished in the top three of most categories (image quality, widest-angle lens, battery life, and LCD size), making it our number-one pick for the best overall performer.
It does cost a tad more: Its suggested retail price is $250, though we were able to find it online for about $200. If the extra $50 breaks your budget, the Nikon Coolpix L20, which is priced at just $130 merits your attention: It earned the best overall image-quality score in this roundup.
Rounding out our overall picks among bargain-bin point-and-shoots are the Pentax Optio P70 and the 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot A1100 IS. The $180 Pentax has an amazing feature set for such a low-cost camera: a 720p high-definition video mode, the widest-angle lens of the lot (a 27.5mm film equivalent on the wide end), and a compact design that makes it look fancier than most $200 cameras we've seen.
The Canon boasts excellent image quality as well as optical image stabilization and AA-battery friendliness for the $200 asking price.
The other models we tested:
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W230
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85
- Olympus FE-5010
- Pentax Optio E70
- Canon PowerShot A480
- Fujifilm Finepix Z30
And be sure to see our Top 10 chart of Bargain Point-and-Shoot Cameras.
This story, "Point, Shoot, and Save: Best Cameras Around $200" was originally published by PCWorld.