The fastest & best action-shot digital cameras

Written by paz stephens
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The fastest & best action-shot digital cameras
Make action photography fun instead of frustrating with the right camera. (Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you're taking photographs of fast-moving action --- such as sports, wildlife or children playing --- you want a digital camera that can keep up with you. Depending on your needs and price range, digital cameras of all sizes and from all major manufacturers offer continuous shooting and bracketing burst modes. Camera makers are constantly introducing new models, so if the cameras listed below aren't available, look for newer versions in the same line.

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Pocket-Sized Cameras

Often called point-and-shoots, these digital cameras will fit in a pocket or purse. Some are "idiot-proof," and others are surprisingly sophisticated. They range in price from £65 to £260 or more and are ideal for busy families. For shooting kids, school sports and other action photography, shop for a camera with an optical viewfinder that you look through instead of just an LCD you look at. Viewfinders make it easier to follow the action. Image stabilisation is another must-have feature to reduce blurry photos. Check out the Panasonic Lumix FX700, Casio Exilim EX-FC100, Sony DSC WX1 and the Canon PowerShot SD970 IS.

Compact Cameras

Compact digital cameras are a bridge between pocket-sized cameras and full-sized DSLRs. They look like a "real" camera and can perform as well as a DSLR, but they have built-in rather than interchangeable lenses, making them more convenient and affordable. The lack of lenses doesn't have to compromise flexibility, though; "superzooms" of 10x or greater are popular in this category. Compact cameras cost around £325, plus or minus a hundred bucks. Explore the Olympus SP-800UZ, Panasonic DMC-FZ45, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, Nikon Coolpix P100, Canon PowerShot SX30IS and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1.

Digital SLRs

If you want the ultimate in speed, performance and flexibility --- and you can handle the price tag, size and weight --- a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera is for you. DSLRs are distinguished from other cameras by their bigger sensors and interchangeable lenses. Simple models start around £390, but DSLRs can cost upwards of £3,250. You'll also need to take into consideration the additional expense of lenses -- and fast lenses can get pricey. Be sure to invest in a fast flash card, too. For action photography, look for DSLRs with continuous shooting speeds of at least six to 10 frames per second. But consider other variables, too, like shutter speed, autofocus speed, maximum ISO and buffer size. You'll want to compare the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (used by official White House photographer Pete Souza, and with good reason -- it's fast), the Canon EOS 7D, the Olympus E-3 (billed as having the fastest autofocus), the Nikon D3S and D300, and the Pentax K-X.

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