Digital cameras under $100 put to the test

LOS ANGELES Nikon's COOLPIX S1000pj is the first digital camera to have a small built-in projector.

"Like many new, innovative products, the Nikon is expensive," said Elias Arias, Consumer Reports. "It costs around $430."

To test the Nikon, Consumer Reports projected a 40-inch diagonal images at a distance of 6-and-a-half feet onto a white screen. But the images could only be viewed if the room was extremely dark.

"We found the projected images to be pretty good, but your photos will look better, more detailed, on a computer," said Arias.

Also, the remote control buttons don't light up, so they're tough to see in the dark. A fully charged battery will only last an hour in projector mode, or less.

"If you've been taking photos and then you want to use the projector, you're going to find it drains much more quicker," said Arias.

But if you don't need a projector, Consumer Reports found two subcompact cameras that do a very good job for a $100 or less.

"In the past, subcompacts cameras that cost under $150 usually didn't perform well enough for us to recommend," said Arias.

But that's changed with two Kodak EasyShare cameras. They are the Kodak EasyShare C160 for $90 and the Kodak EasyShare M320 for $100. Both performed very well in tests and are Consumer Reports' best buys.

Consumer Reports says if you want to get a compact digital, which are slightly larger and with controls that can be easier to operate, then testers recommend the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS ($150).

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