Ultra Compact digital cameras are easily slipped into a pocket or purse, making them a great choice for photographers on the go.
Don’t let their small size fool you, however — while they may not offer all the manual controls of their heftier counterparts, these are serious cameras that can take superb pictures without weighing you down.
1. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS
The Canon Powershot SD1100 IS (IXUS 80 IS in Europe) is as fresh off the Canon engineers’ drawing boards as it can get. The camera comes as a replacement for the SD1000 (IXUS 70).
Canon’s SD1100 IS adds optical image stabilization to last year’s hit SD1000, while delivering just as impressive image quality. You’ll get fast start-up, focus, and shooting speed on this sleek Canon compact camera.
Read the complete review on Canon Powershot SD1100 IS .
2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70
Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-T70 is an 8 Megapixel compact with a 3x optically-stabilised zoom lens. The ultra compact Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T70 packs impressive performance and image quality into a sexy little camera body, but its touchy touch screen left us a tad teed.
3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
This Panasonic Lumix compact camera takes very accurate exposures and lets you snap photos in wide-screen format. The Lumix DMC-LX2 earned excellent scores in nearly all of our image-quality tests. Most shots–even magnified enlargements–looked sharp, and the camera earned our top score for exposure quality.
Read more on Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
4. Kodak EasyShare C653
You get a lot for relatively few dollars in the EasyShare C653: 6.1-megapixel imaging, a 2.4-inch LCD screen, and good-looking photos. On the downside, the EasyShare C653 runs on AA batteries, which lasted just 160 shots in our tests, far fewer than the average of 260 frames.
But its simplicity is a perfect fit for someone who just wants to take the occasional family snapshot
5. Nikon Coolpix L10
This latest version of Nikon’s Wi-Fi camera captures nice images and lets you e-mail them straight from the camera via T-Mobile or private access points, but since it lacks a browser you can’t gain access to most free Wi-Fi access points.
6. Nikon Coolpix S500
The tiny Coolpix S500 delivers top-notch image quality. In a compact camera so small, you still find features such as face detection and image stabilization, to make shooting faultless photos easy.
However, the Coolpix has no room for an optical viewfinder, so you must compose all of your shots on the LCD screen.
7. Fujifilm FinePix A610
The FinePix A610 has few manual controls, so it’s best for people who rarely make camera adjustments. Overall, the FinePix A610’s scores in our image quality tests were about average, but impressive for a budget-priced camera.
8. Fujifilm FinePix F05fd
The Fujifilm FinePix F50fd may look dull, but its looks are only shell-deep. Though it weighs more than most of the units in this roundup, it also has a larger-than-average LCD panel, at 2.7 inches, and a higher resolution (12 megapixels) than most.
Fujifilm gave the FinePix F50fd all the latest gee-whiz digital camera features too, including image stabilization.
9. Canon PowerShot A460
The sophisticated and durable-looking Canon PowerShot A460 has a 4X optical zoom, whereas most cameras at this price level have only a 3X zoom. The A460 starts up quickly, in 2 seconds, and offers both an eye-level viewfinder and a bright 2-inch LCD screen.
A simple mode dial lets you select full auto, manual (still automatic, but with some user settings), scene modes, and movie mode.
10. HP Photosmart R37
The HP Photosmart R937 may be the coolest touch-screen toy you could carry. It features a huge 3.6-inch LCD that is touch-sensitive, making the Photosmart R37 a breeze to operate.
11. Canon PowerShot A470
The 7.1-megapixel PowerShot A470, an inexpensive compact camera, performed as well as several far more expensive compact models.The PowerShot A470 lacks a viewfinder, so you have to rely on the 2.5-inch LCD screen.