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Moms, Dads and Grads Buyer's Guide 2010
by Allison Johnson -  5/3/2010

As spring arrives, your mom, dad or grad may be dusting off an old point-and-shoot, gearing up for vacations and memory-making all summer. If you're still searching for a good Mother's Day, Father's Day, or graduation present, then maybe it's time to update his or her photographic equipment.

Moms, Dads, and Grads

Below you'll find some of our favorite new cameras with prices starting well below $200. Click the product name to find our detailed review of each camera and do a little comparison shopping. Still not sure which camera is right? There's a forum for that. Take a look at our "What Camera Should I Buy?" forum and ask our moderators and discussion community for a little more help.

Under $200 | $200-$400 | Over $400 | More Guides...

arrow Under $200

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS


The Canon A3100 offers wonderful value for a sub-$200 price. Image quality is at the top of the class, and its 4x zoom lens is optically stabilized. Users are supplied with traditional scene modes and two new artistic filters. Since it's powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, it's also lighter and slimmer than previous A-series PowerShots.

Casio Exilim EX-S7


You'll be hard pressed to find a slimmer camera than the Casio S7 at this price point. It's one of Casio's appropriately named "card" cameras, and it's available in a subdued black or splashy pink. It doesn't lead the category in speed or features, but it offers basic functions and good image quality. And for portability, it's hard to beat a camera that's just 0.78mm thick.

arrow Looking for a camcorder?

DSLR

While just about every point-and-shoot records video, not all of them capture high-quality HD video. If a dedicated video recorder is what your mom, dad or grad needs, then take a look at our Camcorder Guide. Since one size doesn't fit all, We take a look at camcorders that will help Dad work on his golf swing as well as portable Flip cams with easy Facebook uploads that would appeal to the college-bound student.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S2100


The Sony Cyber-shot S2100 is a AA powered compact camera. It's a good option for those who want very minimal user input in Easy mode as well as more advanced options in program mode. It accepts SD memory cards in addition to Sony's MemoryStick format, so there's no need to invest in a proprietary memory format.

arrow $200-$400

Nikon Coolpix P100


The Nikon P100 is built like a mini-DSLR with a sculpted handgrip and a generous 26x optical zoom. For just under $400 it offers the wide-to-telephoto range of a much more expensive DSLR and lens. Image quality is very good, though it won't rival that of a true DSLR.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1
The WX1 uses an innovative 10 megapixel CMOS sensor to produce good quality images. It also offers unique features like Sweep Panorama mode, a setting that stitches together 10 images captured in quick succession to make one, virtually seamless panoramic photo.

arrow Stepping up from a point-and-shoot?

lens

Compact point-and-shoots offer a great way to learn the basics of photography without investing in an expensive DSLR system. However, a photographer with greater ambitions might outgrow a point-and-shoot and start looking for something with a little more speed and flexibility. Though they're more costly and bigger than a compact camera, DSLRs and Micro Four Thirds cameras offer many performance gains over a point-and-shoot. If your mom, dad or grad is ready to expand his or her photographic equipment to include a more advanced camera, take a look at some of our pointers for stepping up into the right system.


Canon PowerShot S90


The S90 uses the same sensor as the top-of-the-line G11 and likewise produces very good images. Unlike the G11, it's compact enough for a large pocket and is easily carried in a purse or bag. A control ring around the lens can be assigned a variety of functions, and the camera offers a full set of manual control options.

arrow Over $400

Pentax K-x


The Pentax K-x impressed in our studio tests with good results in low-light and fast overall performance. Pentax offers a great line of prime lenses, so once you've invested in the compact, entry-level K-x, there are some nice options for expansion. Video recording isn't a strength, but the K-x offers great bang for the buck.

Olympus E-PL1


The E-PL1 is Olympus's latest Micro Four Thirds camera. It's equipped with a relatively large image sensor in a compact camera body. The E-PL1 offers automatic shooting modes and tips for beginners as well as the full array of manual controls. Build quality isn't as impressive as the higher-priced E-P1 and E-P2, but for a significantly lower price it offers the same sensor and many of the same features.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7


The Lumix ZS7 is the latest in a line of high-quality pocket ultrazooms from Panasonic. It garnered a DCR Editor's Choice award for superb image quality, a good 12x optical zoom lens, and a solid set of features including GPS with geotagging functionality.

arrow Looking for more?

Moms, Dads, and Grads

Has Dad been dropping hints that he'd really like an iPhone this year rather than another "#1 Dad" mug? Is your grad ready for a new notebook? Let the editors of TechnologyGuide.com help you pick the right camera, smartphone, printer, desktop, or notebook, with our Moms, Dads and Grads Buyer's Guide.

To see our top tech picks in all categories – not just cameras – visit our main buyer's guide page on TechnologyGuide.com.