When it comes to digital cameras, there’s a time and place for function, and one for fashion instead. Case in point: The hefty five-pound DSLR cameras you see pros muscling around at press conferences and football games are the tools of the trade for shooting magazine covers and Pulitzer award winners. But when it’s time for a night out on the town? That’s when you leave the big guns and tripods at home. Whether club hopping or twirling around a ballroom, the ideal point-and-shoot digital camera needs to fit the tiniest suit pockets and handbags, fire up at a moment’s notice, and, most of all, look good doing so. Here are a few of our favorite models that fit the bill.
Asking the waitress to take a picture works for those big group shots, but let’s face it: Most of your night-out photos are self-portraits taken at arm’s length with fingers crossed that you actually manage to make it in the frame. Unless you want to whip out a QuikPod at Privé (which we suspect your friends will frown upon), the process can result in some dodgy snapshots. Happily, Samsung solves this problem with the TL225, a digital camera with an outward-facing screen so you can actively frame up your shot while standing in front of the camera as you’re taking it. Our only question: Why did it take so long for someone to think of this? Of course, a 3.5-inch rear touchscreen, 5x optical zoom and 12.2-megapixel sensor don’t hurt, either.
Fuji FinePix Z37$150
Fuji breaks the decidedly rectangular digicam mold with its curvaceous, candy-colored Z37. This spritely 10-megapixel shooter offers 3x optical zoom and scene recognition auto and face detection, as well as more fun-focused features, like a “micro thumbnail” mode that tiles 100 different photos onto the 2.5-inch LCD. Thickness of just 19.1 millimeters and a sliding cover that protects the lens when not in use also make it easy to pocket on the go.
Canon SD780 IS$250
No part of Canon’s SD780 IS goes untouched by color, which helps it radiate attitude from case to lens barrel, giving the camera a distinctly stylized look. Black and silver make perfectly conservative choices, or you can instead go with the eye-popping red and gold combination to make a statement. Inside, the 18.4mm-thick camera boasts a 12.1-megapixel image sensor, optical image stabilization, and Canon’s powerful Digic 4 processor. It also offers a 2.5-inch LCD, 3x zoom, and the ability to shoot high-def 720p video clips.
Who needs buttons? Nikon’s trendsetting S70 strips off all the clicky controls in favor of a mesmerizing 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen instead. As with an iPhone, you can swipe to scroll, pinch to zoom, and even tap an area of the screen to focus on it. Sporting an incredibly clean industrial aesthetic, the camera’s outside packs a dual-texture design with a patch of faux leather or diamond-print material accenting the metallic case. And your pictures will look just as good too, as the S70 offers a 12.1-megapixel sensor, 5x zoom with optical and electronic image stabilization, and ISO speeds all the way up to 6400, plus the ability to capture HD videos.
The optics in most digital cameras typically force you to choose between an eagle-eye zoom, or a wide angle for capturing the whole picture in tight indoor spaces. Not so with Olympus’ 12-megapixel Stylus-7010, which offers both 7x optical zoom and a wide-angle lens, all wrapped up in one exceptionally slick package. The versatile shooter also delivers a 2.7-inch LCD, optical image stabilization, and even the ability to stitch three side-to-side shots together in the camera to create instant panoramic images.