At the top of this month’s list is Canon’s 4-megapixel PowerShot G3, an updated version of the successful PowerShot G2 — with a longer 4Yen zoom lens, better image-processing performance, a built-in neutral-density filter (for reducing the shutter speed, or aperture, in extremely bright light), support for wireless flashes, and more. Nikon’s Coolpix 4300 comes close in image quality and is significantly cheaper than the G3, but it’s really more of a point-and-shoot camera (though it does have some manual controls) for the casual enthusiast who wants high resolution in a small camera.
If you want even more resolution and are willing to pay for it, look at Sony’s 5-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-F717. For $999, you get an excellent Carl Zeiss 5Yen zoom lens, good manual controls, easy-to-use program settings, and one of the best autofocus systems I’ve ever seen. Two other 5-megapixel models, Minolta’s Dimage 7Hi and Nikon’s Coolpix 5700, produce high-quality images and are very good cameras — both have excellent, longer zoom lenses and more manual controls than the DSC-F717 — but Sony’s combination of value and quality is hard to beat.
Fuji’s FinePix F401, although technically a 2.1-megapixel camera, uses Fuji’s SuperCCD sensor, which lets you capture interpolated images as large as 4 megapixels. Although it doesn’t actually produce pictures as good as those of true 4-megapixel cameras, it’s a light camera that’s easy to carry around; if you’re not too worried about resolution, it’s worth a look. The Kodak EasyShare LS443 is a decent point-and-shoot camera with a few nice features, but its photo quality isn’t as good as that of the other 4-megapixel cameras on the market.