The performance gap between digital and film cameras has snapped shut. The latest digital models power up more quickly, snap photos faster and zoom further than their predecessors. And if portability is a priority, a pocket-size digital camera may be exactly what you need.

The rap against pocket-size digital cameras used to be their pocketful of compromises, including small viewing screens and meager megapixels.

Why do megapixels matter? They are the key to getting digital photos that match film photos in quality. For example, you can get a sharp 4-inch-by-6-inch print from a two-megapixel camera, and a sharp 5-inch-by-7-inch print from three megapixels. Five or six megapixels can deliver prints that are 11-inch-by-17-inch or larger.

Two small digicams that are big in both memory and screen size are the five-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z55, priced at $400, and the five-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7, at $400. Both have generous 2.5-inch liquid-crystal displays, measured diagonally, which fill the back of the cameras and seem huge, given that the cameras measure only about 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches high. They're also less than 1 inch thick.

Small cameras traditionally lacked the features and ease of use of bigger ones, but these two digicams don't scrimp in either area.

For example, the Lumix has a Leica lens and an autofocus-assist light, which improves focusing speed in dim light. It's easy to use, with a simple dial that lets you change modes, such as snapshot or movie. The Exilim depends more on viewing screen menus, but these menus are logical and usually clear. Its features include a Pentax lens.

When it comes to the screen scene in smaller cameras, the Kodak EasyShare-One, due on the market in June at $600, will be the one to beat. This camera has only four megapixels, but it has a whopping 3-inch display that rotates and flips out to the side, like many camcorder screens.

And although most of these cameras have no built-in memory, the Kodak EasyShare-One packs a whopping 256 megabytes of storage space before you plug in a memory card.

The EasyShare-One will also be the first Wi-Fi-enabled consumer camera. Add a Kodak Wi-Fi card for $100, and you can e-mail photos right from the camera when you're in range of a Wi-Fi network. Simply crop and send pictures by touching the screen with a fingertip or stylus, then import e-mail addresses from your computer or type them on the screen's video keyboard.