Buyer's Guide 2008: Advanced Compact Cameras
Travel light with high-megapixel, long-range zoom cameras
Leica's V-Lux 1 has a 12x optical zoom with a range of 35-420mm. Equipped with a 10.1-megapixel CCD sensor and optical image stabilization, the V-Lux 1 can deliver superb image quality in nearly any situation. By pushing a button on the back of the camera, you can quickly switch between the electronic viewfinder and the swiveling 2-inch TFT color display when composing your shots. It has both manual and auto modes, 16 scene modes, adjustable white balance, ISO sensitivity up to 3200, and captures 2 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. List Price: $849.
The 8-megapixel Olympus SP-560 UZ has an 18x wide-angle zoom with a focal range of 27-486mm (35mm equivalent) and records up to 15 frames per second in continuous shooting mode—complete with Pre-Capture technology, which archives five shots as soon as the focus is locked. So even if you snap the shutter a little late, chances are, the shot you wanted has already been recorded. The SP-560 UZ also features a 2.5-inch LCD, a dual image-stabilization system, full manual exposure control and 33 shooting and scene modes, including in-camera panorama. List Price: $500.
Panasonic's DMC-FZ18K is an 8.1-megapixel Super Zoom with a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens that has the largest focal range of any camera in its class-28-504mm (35mm equivalent). Mega Optical Image Stabilization detects even the tiniest movement and automatically adjusts the lens to compensate. The new Face Detection and Scene Detection functions automatically select the mode and the settings for the best exposure. If you're not pleased with the results, you can opt to shoot manually or choose from 20-plus shooting/scene modes or 17 advanced scene modes. Either the electronic viewfinder or the 2.5-inch LCD can be used to frame shots. It also has ISO sensitivity up to 6400, adjustable white balance and can shoot 3 frames per second at full resolution in burst shooting mode. List Price: $400.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9 features a 15x optical Carl Zeiss lens with a focal range of 31-465mm (35mm equivalent), Super Steady Shot optical image stabilization, an 8.1-megapixel Super HAD CCD image sensor, plus a 3-inch tilt-up LCD monitor that can be used to frame your shots along with the electronic viewfinder. New Face Detection technology automatically controls focus, exposure and flash to capture optimum color and detail in portraits and group shots. The DSC-H9 has both manual and auto modes, 8 scene modes, adjustable white balance, ISO sensitivity up to 3200 and records approximately 2 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. It also comes equipped with a NightShot Infrared System that provides infrared illumination for shooting in near-dark or totally dark conditions without using a flash. List Price: $479.