Canon PowerShot Digital Ixus 300 and Nikon Coolpix 995

The 2.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot Digital Ixus 300 lets you capture mini-movies (with audio) on the included 8MB CompactFlash card; you can take longer movie clips if you use a higher-capacity memory card (64MB, for example). The Digital Ixus 300 also has a 3X optical zoom lens. After downloading video clips to a computer, you can edit them using the bundled software.

The Digital Ixus 300 produces vibrant photographs at a maximum resolution of 1600x1200. Our test shots looked sharp, with accurate colour. The camera features two other resolution modes: 1024x768 and 640x480. It's well-featured, and small enough to carry anywhere.

Known for their advanced features, Nikon's impressive Coolpix "digital cameras appeal to seasoned photographers. At $2099, the new Nikon Coolpix 995 is expensive, but it's also quite powerful.

The 995 has comprehensive - albeit sometimes confusing - manual controls for adjusting such settings as aperture, shutter speed, and white balance. Like its predecessors (the 950 and the 990), the 995 sports a swivel lens for taking pictures at varying angles or for discreetly photographing your subjects. If you want to use the flash, you must press a button to flip it up. And Nikon supplies rechargeable batteries and a charger - accessories that some Coolpix models didn't have.

When shooting a photograph, you must first press the shutter button halfway so the camera can focus on the subject, a step that takes a couple of seconds. The camera then stores the image in the included 16MB CompactFlash card; although this card has a greater capacity than the Digital Ixus 300's, it has room to store only a single uncompressed TIFF image.

The 995's 3.3-megapixel CCD allows it to capture compressed, JPEG-formatted photos at a high resolution of 2048x1536. "At that resolution, you can produce sharp A4-sized prints. Most of the test shots we took with a pre-production model appeared vibrant on screen, though a couple looked gloomy. "Still, the Coolpix 995's plethora of advanced features more than make up for a few dusky images and a steep price.

Canon PowerShot Digital Ixus 300

Price $1399; Phone 1800 816 001; URL Coolpix 995Price: $2099; Distributor: Maxwell Optical Industries; Phone: (02) 9390 0200; URL:

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