Need advice on which ultracompact camera to buy


TPF Noob!
Jan 18, 2012
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I am new here so please forgive me if this has already been answered before, but I feel that my question might be a bit more specific than others of this area.

I have been looking for a very cheap ultra-compact digital camera to buy for basic pocket camera use including going out, parties, daily activities, etc.

I'm looking for something small, cheap and effective that can be used for everyday activities without me having to lug my larger cameras around. I have not bought a compact camera in a decade so I'm at a loss.

The specs that I prefer:

Over 12 megapixels

Over 5x optical zoom

Decent macro capabilities

Fast picture taking (burst mode, quick loading, etc..)

Price under $200 (Ideally under $150)

If anyone has experience with any cameras like this please let me know. I have been considering the following (but am not limited by them):

Nikon Coolpix S5100
Samsung PL210
Nikon Coolpix S6100
FujiFilm FinePix T200
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W560
Panasonic fh24
Kodak EasyShare M580

Relying on just the specs and random contradictory buyer reviews from various websites isn't helping me make a choice.

So what is your favorite cheap ultra-compact camera? Please give me some tips. It would be a great help.

P.S. Any links to threads discussing this would be great. Thanks!
I don't know if you will find a camera to your listed specs for under $200. I would look at the Canon S100 or the s95, or other manufacturer equivilant. Cheap and quality rarely belong in the same sentence.
There are certainly many online that fit these specs, but the reviews on them are always contradictory. I can't glean anything from them useful. I know that a $130 dollar point and shoot won't equal the quality of some 500 dollar compact point and shoot, or DSLR, but I'm not looking for that kind of thing. I just need something I can bring around in my pocket for informal occasions.
I've always liked Canon's compacts, nice ergonomics... have you seen the Powershot 300?
Yeah, the 300 doesn't really appeal to me.

Has anyone ever owned or used a Nikon Coolpix S6100?
With those specs in mind may as well use your smart phone cam.
Agreed. I use the camera in my iPhone 4 for anything I don't need my dslr for and I'm more than happy with it. Works great.

I'm actually looking into a tripod mount for my iPhone because I like it so much.
If you can cough up a few more bucks you can still find some new s95's at great prices.
My phone is a cruddy 3 megapixel camera, bad quality and no flash.
Have you ordered it yet? That camera has a lot of complaints about the LCD failing...

Also 2 of the most reputable camera shops don't even sell it...

What made you choose it?
I already bought it. I decided on it by comparing dozens of different cameras. I choose that one because of the image quality, scene selections, burst mode, mega pixels, zoom and also macro capabilities. Also the price was a plus since I got it at bestbuy for $130. On sale from $180.

I read about the LCD failing but I'm probably going to end up buying the 1 year best-buy warranty for it just encase. The LCD failing would be covered under the manufacture warranty but you never know.

I've been taking pictures with it and I'm very happy with it so far. The Macro shots are amazing for a small camera. The image quality is comparable to my T1i and T2i canon rebels as far as size and clarity goes. The coloring is also great. Perhaps even better than the Canon Rebel T2i I use.

The camera also takes good pictures in low lighting.
The camera itself has a 1 year warranty also from the manufacturer. This includes any defects, and since the LCD issue is a well known defect among some then it would be covered up to a year. Though, still, I might end up buying the best buy warranty that covers everything even accidents.
Here is a comparison I did between my Canon Rebel and the Panasonic Fh24. This image was reduced in size by about 70%.

Pictures of my Bunny Rabbit taken under the same lighting conditions at the same distance from the subject. Notice how the quality and sharpness is the same, if not better with the Panasonic.

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