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Ultra Portable Digicams

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Ultra Portable Digicams

These are a few, though rare, tips that you need to look into before buying any ultra portable digital camera. A camera’s functionality and convenience are what should determine your choice. Here are a few tips that could swing the pendulum either way.

Form Factor

Ultra compact sized cameras might be easy to fit into your pocket and carry around, but there is a downside to them. They can make controlling your shots quite difficult. Particularly, models like the Fuji Z3, Nikon S7 and the Samsung NV3, all of which are exceptionally thin. However, Canon IXUS and Panasonic FX01 provide the right balance of shape and size. They are small, but a bit stout, so they fit in the hand really well and make it easier to shoot. The other good ones include the Kodak dual lens cameras with their V610 and V705 models.

Types of Lenses

Different cameras have different lenses. Take a look at the four different types and decide what suits you best. There is the telephoto lens that offers zoom capabilities that are usually 3X optical. There’s the wide angle lens, which offers a much larger frame, allowing you to capture better landscape shots. The dual lens cameras combine a wide angle and telephoto lens together to give you the best of both worlds. However, in the small size lenses, they end up compromising quality in favor of versatility. Lastly, telescopic lenses enable a much sleeker look with no protruding lenses. The Samsung NV3 and Fuji that use these lenses appear compact, but they might suffer a bit on quality. But, go ahead if you are looking for extreme portability. For good quality, go for the telephoto lens with wide angle capabilities, like the Canon IXUS 850IS and Panasonic Lumix FX01.


Technological marvels abound in every camera model. It’s important to know what you want from the camera before you decide on any model. Take the Samsung NV3, for instance. It is the only camera in its price range that has a Personal Media Player and MP3 player with it. You can play both Mpeg4 videos and MP3 audio. It also has a built in speaker if you find your headphones uncomfortable. Besides that, its LCD resolution, refresh rate and viewing angle make it a great pick. On the other hand, Nikon sports the biggest three inch screen, but Panasonic has the most responsive LCD. Theirs gives good refresh rates and color reproduction. Canon is good as well, but not as much as Panasonic. The Kodak cameras have the worst refresh screens and they are exceptionally grainy. Cameras come with various scene modes to help you shoot pictures in different settings, come rain, sunshine or snow. Most have 10 modes, however, the Kodak V610 has 21 different shooting modes. It’s a problem of plenty. Can you find the right mode before the moment has passed? One big reason we carry ultra portable cameras is to take a shot whenever, wherever and most times, as soon as we spot a Kodak moment. Therefore, start up times become critical. However, most cameras score on this, so no worries there.


It’s also important to have the best controls to enhance your photo taking capabilities. Nikon, Fuji and Canon provide immaculate menus to access all the features in a jiffy. Kodaks are great for two handed operations, as the controls are well spread out and well marked. However, some Samsung models don’t score well on this front. The cameras also need to be of outstanding build quality to withstand the situations they go through. Thankfully, most branded cameras are good, particularly Nikon and Canon. They feel nice and are rugged to boot!

Photo Challenge

The best way to check the photo taking capabilities is to do a test run before buying them. And what are you checking for? A few things: Do they fare better in good light conditions and bad in low light or vice versa? How well is the macro feature (extreme close up?) Do they capture the correct skin tones? How good is the detailing and focusing capabilities? How good are they in outdoor and indoor shooting? I found that Fuji, Canon and Nikon score well in this feature. The Kodaks lose out at the cost of providing versatility. Panasonic scores well with indoor photography.


Fujifinepix, Panasonic and Canon come out trumps on most of the capabilities mentioned above. But then again, the choice is left to you and what you want. However, don’t go by the megapixels. Most digital cameras are used to printing 4×6 photographs, for which even a 5.1 megapixel camera is good enough. It can produce as good of a result as any other camera that has a 10.1 megapixel function.

Have fun picking out your new digital camera!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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