Buyer's Guide 2006: Cutting-Edge Compact Cameras
Big features find their way into the smallest of pocket-sized cameras
With digital SLRs now widely available at advanced compact prices, you might be wondering if the ultracompact cameras are destined to devolve into an amateur-only plaything. Those of us who have been photographing for many years remember that 35mm compact cameras were feature-anemic compared to 35mm SLRs and usually warranted the "point-and-shoot" moniker.
That's not what has been happening with digital compact cameras. Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach of 35mm compacts, digital compact cameras, even at lower price points, boast robust performance, a variety of exposure control options and unique features.
There's a lot of competition in the segment as the market is flooded with an array of models priced for even the most modest budget, but in this sea of similarity, the major players also are introducing models that feature something special to help distinguish them from the pack.
One of our favorite features on high-end compact cameras is the flip-out and swivel LCD. The handy design lets you compose unique shots without having to bend yourself into uncomfortable positions. It also allows you to adjust the LCD for better viewing in the midday sun. The Canon PowerShot A95 is one of the few inexpensive and ultracompact cameras to offer this feature, usually reserved for pricier models.