Canon Powershot 710IS
A small camera with manual settings and more zoom, all for $210

I had so much fun shooting the Harvard campus while we were visiting our daugther that I could hardly stop myself. I left the big cameras home, and just carried around my little champ, the Canon Powershot 710IS. Sams used to sell the newer version (720IS) for $210. There is another camera that takes the same great shots, but only has 4x optical zoom compared to the 6x on the 720IS. So I often recommend the Powershot 590IS. Sams now has it for only $120, and it has all the manual modes too: P, AV, TV, M. The IS (Image Stabilzation) really does eliminate most of the blurry shots. It is not the smallest compact out there, but the smaller ones often take a high percentage of blurry shots. Double AA batteries go forever if you get those quick rechargeable ones made for digital cameras. I like the EverReady brand that charges up in 15-30 minutes. Again, Sams Club.

Anyway, this little camera will easily fit in a small bag so you don’t even look like a geek with all that photo gear. But if you want to use your Aperture priority to blur the background, you can. It has a great Indoor Scene Mode that captures amazing shots in lower light without a flash. This sweet little camera just takes great shots! I sometimes even prefer it to my big Nikon 200D or Canon 30D SLRs, especially if you don’t want to lug around all the extra lenses, etc. The macro is awesome and you can easily adjust the flash and spot metering.

So if you want a smaller camera with great zoom, great price, and manual settings, this is a gem. The downside is a slow recovery time when you use the flash, but for me, it is worth it to get all the other features. Every camera has its weakness. I always like to Google the camera make and model, and “reviews.” Then you can read about the good and bad from consumers who have tried it out.

Digital SLRs are great, but not always handy to have along…
So everyone needs a smaller camera that will have manual options and take killer shots.

Here are the features I look for in a smaller camera:
1. $150 – $200 price range (who wants to spend more than this on a compact?)
2. Manual Settings, look for all these: P, AV, TV, M or (P, A, S, M on some brands)
3. Image stabilization (Canon’s “IS” is the best)
4. User-friendly (I love Nikons too, but Canons are easier to use)
5. Spot metering (this is a must for controlling your focus)
6. Double AA batteries (just spend $30 and buy the EverReady quick re-charger [15 min], with the car adapter. Those batteries last longer, and you will never be caught without fresh batteries)
7. 4X or 6X optical zoom. (digital zoom is worthless; The 6X is nice, but adds about $50 – $100)
Don’t worry about how many megapixels it has. Anything over 7mp is adequate and bigger than that just fills up your hard drives faster.

I found that if I wanted all these features, the Canon Powershots are the best. Just avoid the little tiny Powershot models. They get too many blurry shots, even if they have the IS feature. Over the past few years, I have seen many of my students get the greatest shots with these cameras, time and time again. I finally bought one to have a smaller option, and I have never regretted it!

Happy shooting!