So I know that you are always reviewing them and I thought you might be a good source.

I am the mother of an absolutely beautiful autistic little boy. Getting pictures of him actually looking at the camera is difficult as his eye contact is poor and when he does look at the camera it is only for a second.

The digital I have, as well as every friends’ camera I have used, all take too long to snap the pic. The only one I have tried that is quick enough was a friends Nikon D100 which I fell in LOVE with, but I don’t have a grand or two to drop on a camera.

Any suggestions for me? I want to be able to get a good picture of my boy more than a few times a year.

She sends a picture, and he is very cute. Here’s the reply I sent:

Sadly, speed pretty much equals price. But all cameras are getting faster. My Sony DSC-93 is MUCH faster than my earlier camera, and it’s about $300. I suspect that newer Sony cameras (like the DSC100) are faster still. If you visit the DPreview or Steve’s Digicams sites on the right of my page under “recommendations,” they have a lot of reviews and usually mention speed.

But I don’t really know a cheap and especially fast digital camera that’s especially good for taking pictures of kids. Anybody got any special recommendations?

UPDATE: Reader Greg Stasiewicz writes:

I got the Canon PowerShot S1 for Christmas, and have been experimenting with it quite a lot. With the right settings it is quite good for quick shutter shots. I don’t know how it compares with the cameras you mentioned, but priced between $300 and $400, it also has excellent resolution, zoom, and image stabilization as well as the ability to record movies with sound as well which I think Ms Taylor might also appreciate for taking pictures of her son. I picked up a 512 MB flash card as well, and at 2048×1036 superfine, I’m still able to store over 300 pictures.

And another one reader sends:

I sell cameras (among other things) for a living, and this is the, hands down, number one request. Most of the newer generation of cameras are very very fast compared to even last years models. Therefore, in no particular order, my recommendations: Fuji E550 (but not the E500 or E510, which are much slower) Casio Exilim EXZ55, Konica Minolta X50,, Konica Minolta Z3, (if an ultrazoom is required), and one of the sleeper hits of the century, the Sony DSC-W1.

The Fuji is my favorite, but it was real battle of the features between that and the Sony. The Fuji won out mainly on dynamic range and lens issues, (being both wider angle and more telephoto) but the Sony has a low light focus assist lamp and a 3:2 aspect ratio mode, plus it’s a bit easier to carry around and feels slightly better built.

The best advice for her is to go to a camera shop and try them all out. Most good shops will keep a powered display with memory, ready for use.

Sorry for the absence of links to all of these; I’m going to bed now and just don’t feel up to finding and adding them. I’ll try to add them tomorrow.

UPDATE: Links added now; sorry, but I was just wiped out last night.

Several readers email to suggest that she try a film camera — still widely available, cheap, and with no lag. And you can get the pictures put on disk at the one-hour place when they’re developed. Not a bad thought.