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Simple But Sophisticated Point-And-Shoots

These five cameras offer high quality pictures at a reasonable price.

If you crave the simplicity (and lower price) of a point-and-shoot camera but want some digital SLR features, these cameras are solid choices.

For ultra-high-resolution shots, the Casio EX-Z1000 ($280) and the Sony DSC-N2 ($390) squeeze about 10 megapixels into their petite, pocket-size frames. Both have a shorter shutter lag (less than a second) than earlier models and offer higher light sensitivity with less blurriness at fast shutter speeds.


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The new FujiFilm FinePix F40fd ($300) is an 8-megapixel model that boasts face-recognition technology. That is, it can detect as many as ten human faces in a shot and automatically set the correct exposure and focus.

Zoom lenses are improving, too. Most consumer-grade cameras have tiny lenses with only a 3X or 5X optical zoom. But the 10.1-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 ($500), which is a relatively bulky point-and-shoot with the heart of a DSLR, offers an impressive 12X zoom. Although its 2-inch LCD is a tad small (particularly for such a large camera), it also has an optical viewfinder for framing shots.


Canon offers a wide range of powerful point-and-shoots. The PowerShot A710 IS ($280) offers 7.1 megapixels, a 6X optical zoom, a viewfinder and a 2.5-inch LCD.