Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs taken with equipment costing less than $500.

[Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3; $180]

The secret to taking beautiful photographs with inexpensive digicams is to exploit what the little cameras do well (an impressive depth of field) and avoid situations that bring out their weak points. Digicams don't perform well for action, and their on-camera flash is ugly and nearly unusable for most artistic purposes. Still-life photographs in natural light- especially diffuse, shaded light- are one application where these little cameras shine.