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These days, many people are searching for the perfect ultra-compact digital camera. At the same time, camera companies are continually finding ways to increase the pixel output while decreasing camera size. This leads to a vast array of small cameras that are becoming more and more affordable. Today, we take a look at three recently released ultra-compact cameras: Canon PowerShot S410, Casio Exilim Ex-Z40, and Pentax Optio S40. They share a similar size along with a 3x optical zoom and 4 megapixel output.



All three of these cameras are popular choices for small camera enthusiasts. In our roundup, we are going to take some of the guesswork out of your hunt for the best ultra-compact camera.

Specifications
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  • stephencaston - Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - link

    #11: For the continuous drive section of the specs, we use the results of our test. Canon is rated at 2.5 fps, but we found that in the highest resolution and SuperFine mode, we were able to take 3 shots at 2.8 fps.

    Thanks, I'll add a little note in the specs table.
    Reply
  • flexy - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    i love my S230 with its 640x480 video capability. Believe me, once you get started with vids and a good editing program like Vegas you wont get back and pics are only the bonus :) And all that fun with such a tiny cam :)

    I consider the picture quality/optics of the Canon Powershots "ok" - if you consider it's a shoot and point and not a SLR with hyper-great image quality/zoom etc.

    Its picture quality is 'overall good' - a great allround camera with nice features (esp. the vids :). I would prefer my S230 (or newer) any time over a big/bulky camera.

    Pros:
    nice 640x480 vids
    IQ good for a point/shoot
    size
    stylish

    Cons:
    weak zoom
    Reply
  • xand - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    Also, the continous drive information for the cannon in the specifications table is wrong. Reply
  • xand - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    The "best pictures" of this lot of cameras are almost a given; the S410 has a sensor of the same generation with an area of 38.2mm(1/1.8"), as compared to the others, which have 24.7mm (1/2.5") sensors.

    What would be more interesting would be a comparison of newer cameras by major manufacturers; generally they now all come with 1/2.5" sensors, including the new canons.
    Reply
  • stephencaston - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    #8, Unfortunately, we were limited by which cameras we could choose and the S4i was unavailable at the time. However, we feel that the S40 is comparable to the other two cameras with respect to exposure options, size, etc. The S4i would have been a good option and we would have included it if it was available. Reply
  • rliao - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    How come the S4i wasn't reviewed? Isn't it more of an appropriate comparison? Reply
  • SleepNoMore - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    I looked at the Canon S series - they are very nice - almost bought one - THEN I found the Pentax Optio 33WR (now it's upgraded to 4 MP and called the Optio 43WR).

    It's WONDERFUL.

    First of all, it's highly water resistant, has gaskets all through it.

    Has about 13 programmed modes but I never need them really I just point and shoot and things look great. White balance is always right on.
    Panorama/stitch modes, close-up modes, etc.

    Takes SD cards.

    Quicktime movies are a bit cheesy (320 X 160) it's more the sound I have issues with than anything but most of the time it's acceptable.

    I'm guessing the Pentax 43WR goes for around 280 bucks - havent checked lately.

    If you want a camera you can take skiing, snowboarding, to the beach or stand out in the rain without worrying about damage to the electronics, this is the one. It's also not gooney looking (i.e. bright yellow etc) like some other water resistant cameras.
    Reply
  • stephencaston - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    #5 thanks, I have fixed the mistake Reply
  • Gumbico - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    Actually, the S410 only allows 3 mins of vid time. That's my only gripe about this camera. Reply
  • TheAudit - Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - link

    I have the Canon and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never been one to read through a manual and this camera was easy enough to figure out so I did not have to do so. I am always surprised at how crisp the pictures are. Of course, I am not a professional photographer but this camera provides everything that I want in a camera – good pictures and small size because I hate carrying stuff around. Reply

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