Bestest Smallest Camera?

Hey folks,
So I love to death my 4.5-year-old Olympus C-2100, with 2 whole megapixels :wink: and an awesome 10x optical zoom. The problem is that it’s so darn big, I always find myself places where I wish I’d brought it but just didn’t want to lug the weight around. All said and done I prefer the heft of a decent-size camera but it’s hardly worth it if I leave the camera at home all the time!
So, the question: do you have a suggestion as to the smallest camera that’ll take the best pictures? I’m sure I’ll have to give up on the excellent zoom lens, but otherwise I’m sure it’s possible to get a quality CCD and list o’ features in a small package. I wanna have pictures I can frame (for hiking/biking trips etc).
Your thoughts?

At my job at a newspaper I do a lot of filming for the website. The camera we use is the Sanyo Xacti VPC-C6. It’s slightly bigger than my cell phone and has awsome quality movies. It’s a 6 megapixel.

However, if you don’t have a Mac you might have issues. I think it records in a format that Mac only recognizes for movies at the moment. Windows Vista is supposed to recognize it. And it records regular old .jpg’s for photos. The price is pretty good considering how good the quality is.


That looks great, thanks for the advice, but I was actually looking for the bestest smallest STILL camera. (If you’d recommend this for primarily still-photo taking, then so much the better!)

I’ve got a Casio Exilim EX-Z3. It’s really small and takes decent pictures. It also has a retracting zoom lens.

My model is a few years old and probably not sold any more. There are newer ones in the same series now. The first reason I picked it was because of the small size.

It takes excellent outdoor daytime pictures. Indoors it does pretty well. I’ve never had a problem with battery life either.

I absolutely love my Canon SD20. It has NO zoom lens at all; as I understand it, optical zoom was sacrificed to allow for a better lens in such a small package. The pictures I’ve taken with it are remarkably good for a point and shoot, and it’s so small that I have it in my pocket at all times.

They’ve replaced it with the SD30, which does have a zoom lens, and I’ve heard the image quality suffers a little. Just skimming the reviews on Amazon, however, it seems people love their SD30s as well.

I’d like to chime in here and tout my Canon SD500. If you want to see examples of the pics, here’s my (crappy) blog .

The big thing I like about it is how tough it is. It’s pretty small, and takes great pictures, but the cool thing is that I’ve dropped that thing on cement and brick and what have you a million times and it works like a charm. Good camera for the clumsy, that.

What you are looking for is called an ultracompact. There are good models by Canon (SD450, SD550, SD630, and SD700), Casio, Sony, and Nikon. I’m fond of the Canons, I think they have an excellent combination of image quality, movie mode, and features. They are completely P&S, so if you want to be creative these are not the cameras for you. Most of the ultracompacts are pure P&S.

None of these cameras use AA batteries, so if you want a spare battery it’ll cost a bit more. Most have a 3x zoom (roughly 35-105mm equiv zoom) and some have Image Stabilization but I question its value with these cameras. Most use SD memory, a few use xD, and the Sonys use Memory Sticks (boo).

Expect to spend between $200 and $300, plus about $40-50 for a 1 Gig memory card. Visit DCResource or DPReview for full listings and reviews.

Canon makes great compact digital cameras, but the lens cover seems to be a weak point. If you carry it in your purse* without a case, like I do, it fails eventually. The one on my A510 is starting to misbehave (i.e. occasionally failing to open all the way), and the same happened to my last Canon (A75). It looks like the SD series cameras have the same design lens cover. It’s probably fine if you use a soft case, or if you carry it in a pocket by itself.
*Yes I carry a man-purse.

I’ve taken some awsome stills with this camera, including a really nice one of Carson City, my hometown, at night from a hill. It’s definitely worth it, for both video and stills.


I’ve abused the heck out of mine and it hasn’t failed. I take it skiing, backpacking, climbing, etc and it has never had a problem, especially not with the lens cover. The lens cover design isn’t any different than the vast majority of compact and ultracompact cameras. Whatever you are doing to your Canons would probably do the same to any other camera.

As you said, if you get a soft case I bet you won’t see this problem anymore.

Do you carry it in the same pocket/bag as other objects? I think mine failed because it got poked by other objects in the bag.

Except some cameras have a solid plastic cover that slides over the lens. Though this style seems to be falling out of favor - Olympus seems to have dropped it. SONY still uses it for sub-compact cameras.

Anyway as I said, no big deal if you use a soft case, and it’ll also prevent scratches. Which improves resale value. (I usually try to sell digital cameras on eBay before it’s too obsolete to sell.)

Yes, I always keep it in a soft case. I have no doubt that being poked with sharp objects would eventually cause a failure, but it’s pretty easy to solve. :slight_smile:

Those are going out of favor because they have an awful failure rate. The sliding switch wears out (especially on the Olys) and the camera will turn off suddenly in mid-use. PITA.

My SD20 fits perfectly in one of those silly iPod socks, which adds virtually no bulk to the camera, but has protected it nicely.

Also, the battery life is quite good; it’s the first digital camera for which I haven’t needed a backup battery.

Okay, I’ll stop shilling for Canon now.

How small does it have to be? Since you love your Olympus, how about getting an Olympus Stylus? I gave the 500 to my son for Christmas and I think it’s great, I wish I had one!

Frankly, the Olympus don’t have as good image quality as other brands right now. Their weatherproof cameras are nice, but if you don’t need that, there are better options for image quality.

I’ve got a Canon Ixy 6mp and it is absolutely wonderful. This is my second Ixy - the first one was a 4mp and a little bigger with a smaller screen. We bought it in 2003 and it has been badly abused but still works well. It is now my husband’s camera for when he goes out on work stuff that involves lots of dirt/snow/sweat/bangs etc. I got the shiny new camera!

I keep it in my bag or on the shelf of my classroom mostly without a pouch and it has held up well so far.

I really would not like to be without the optical zoom - we bought one of the non-optical canons mentioned earlier for my Mum and I found that the pictures came out a bit grainy using the digital zoom at its extreme limits. On the other hand, for point and click it’s great.

I got a $20 Phillips camera at Walgreens that doubles as a video camera when plugged into your USB port. Really hard to frame pictures because it has only an eyehole, not a display, but it’s only 1" x2" so you can really carry it along anywhere.

Don’t ever use digital zoom. You’re just throwing away pixels. If you want to crop, do so on the computer with software that is much better at the task. Digital zoom is an awful feature.

I just bought a Sony DSC-P200 Cybershot (7.2 mp) for $199 at Sam’s club last night. It is discontinued, and not all Sam’s have them, but it looks to be highly rated (per some online review sites I visted) and it is very small. I like it because I have had Sony digi cams for awhile and already have memory sticks.


But I was buying that camera for my mother, who wouldn’t know what a computer was if it bit her in the bum…

I warned her not to zoom but to step in to frame the shot if at all possible (she mostly takes pics of the grandkids and friends so that’s fairly doable.)