Canon PowerShot SD900
Weight: 5.8 oz. $500; www.usa.canon.com
3 1/2 stars
PROS Unlike many soap-slippery compacts, this titanium-cased Canon is easy to grip, and it has some features rarely seen in a camera this small: an optical viewfinder for shooting in bright light and the high-ISO capability to take flashless photos in low light. Switching modes is a cinch. All scene choices benefit from a face-recognition system that makes portrait photography simple and effective.
CONS Don't let the "manual" option fool you--the SD900 is about as programmable as a toaster. (You can't, for instance, manipulate shutter speed.) And while its images are good, it can't deliver the detail of a larger camera.
BUY THIS ONE IF ... You refuse to settle for muddy smartphone snaps but still want a no-fuss pocket-size camera.