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Digicams: New Little Megapixel Monsters, Part II

Digicams: New Little Megapixel Monsters, Part II

With digital cameras, the Japanese have come up with an irresistible concept. When you think about it, it seems incredible that such tiny things can actually produce photos. But they can, and these U10s, PowerShots and so forth will convert even the most adamant refuseniks to the digicam. In Japan, these minute cameras (the Casio Exilim weighs less than 100 grams and is less than 1 cm deep) have been through the sales ceiling for several months already. So now's the time to take advantage - it's Christmas! So you've bought the Barbie Wedding Coach that your daughter has been dreaming of, and the Super Mario Sunshine for your son, and you still have some extra cash left over? Go on, spoil yourself! With 1 to 3 megapixels, zoom or no zoom, $200 to $499, the choice is yours. Here are the best digicams now available.

  • Sony DSC-U10 . In Japan they already have the U20. Europe and the States still have to make do with the one-megapixel version, the U10. Advanced scientific bench tests at parties and nightclubs prove that the U10 is the definitive must-have digicam. What counts are its flashy looks that anyone is prepared to kill for.
  • Casio Exilim EX-M2 . This credit card-sized camera is a beauty both in terms of its looks and features. At the back it has an excellent LCD screen 4 cm in diagonal, it has 20 MB of internal memory to record its photos, it takes SD cards and can also be used as an MP3 player. How about that!
  • Canon PowerShot S230 (Ixus V3 in Europe) . As you'd expect, the S230 (Ixus V3) takes over from the S200 (Ixus V2), except that the sensor captures up to 3 megapixels. Canon has also changed the processor; the new one has a more powerful autofocus and burst mode.
  • Minolta Dimage Xi . There's a new version too for Minolta, except they have only changed the sensor to reach 2048x1536 pixels instead of the 1600x1200 on the previous Dimage X.
  • Toshiba PDR-T30 . The T30 follows the T20. It is hardly any bigger than the Sony U10, has a proper 3x zoom lens and a 3-megapixel sensor.

Now is perhaps the moment to say a word about sensors. If you don't use your camera for professional reasons, if you don't print your photos in a format of more than 20x30 cm, then you will not need anything fantastic in the way of megapixels. The U10 and the EX-M2 are quite adequate for 10x15 photos and a 3-megapixel for A4 or 20x30 border-free prints. If you have a good printer or photo studio, you will hardly be able to tell them from work by a conventional compact.

Credit where credit is due. For our results layout we have used a basis similar to the photo site , which is a reference in this area. We have also enhanced our own method with new tests on vignetting, distortion, indoor and outdoor white balance, etc. But pictures speak louder than words, so what digicam should you choose? Here is the verdict.