Top Compact Cameras for all price ranges

Small enough to fit in your pocket and a similar standard to some DSLRs, compact cameras offer quality and flexibility. DSLR cameras can be chunky, so compact cameras are the perfect way to take professional-looking shots without having to lug around cumbersome equipment.

Compact cameras are an excellent compromise when you want to travel light, as they have many of the same features as a DSLR, including interchangeable lenses, within the size of a smaller point-and-shoot camera. The compact camera market has grown steadily over the past few years, so we’ve saved you time and research by compiling a list of the top compact cameras on the market right now.

compact-cameras

£0-£500

The Samsung NX100 is one of the most affordable compact cameras around that doesn’t scrimp on quality. This camera isn’t exactly new – it first hit the shelves in 2010 – but it still holds up against contemporary, more expensive models and offers an affordable alternative to users on a budget. The camera and a lens kit retail for anything between £200 and £250.

The Sony Cybershot DSC PX100 benefits from simplicity. It doesn’t come with some of the other bells and whistles that other compact cameras and DSLRs enjoy, but it takes excellent pictures – after all, that’s what a camera’s for. The sensor is about four times as large as that found in a typical point-and-shoot camera and, unlike most compacts, doesn’t have an interchangeable lens. The camera retails for around £450 to £500.

£500-£1,000

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 is a sophisticated mirrorless compact. It’s larger than other models, but its light weight makes up for that. The 16 megapixel sensor produces sharp photos and movies in a variety of conditions and the camera has DSLR-style features like zero shutter lag, face detection and multi-area auto focus. The Lumix DMC-G5 starts at around £600.

Olympus PEN E-P3 is for advanced photographers and a comes with a capacitive touchscreen, similar to that found on the iPhone, as well as a 12.3 megapixel sensor. The camera has a number of functions, like a two-axis electronic level, that enable more proficient users to take quality shots. It also has a range of automated modes that will prove helpful to less experienced photographers, as well as a selection of art filters. The Olympus PEN E-P3 retails for around £630.

£1,000+

Starting at over £1,000 just for the body (no lenses included), the Fuji X-Pro1 doesn’t come cheap. It does, however, come with features and specifications that make the hefty price tag worthwhile for anyone who is looking to invest in a top quality compact.

The camera has a hybrid viewfinder, 16.3 megapixel sensor, a new colour filter array that improves picture colouring and a nifty eye sensor, which turns on the electronic viewfinder when the camera is held over an eye. It comes with enough features to keep photo enthusiasts happy, but still manages to avoid those that are unlikely to be useful. The in-camera previewer allows you to see how pictures will look with various settings applied, before you even take a picture. The camera retails between £1,100 and £1,300.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100: Big sensor, big price

Sony is targeting the high-end compact camera market with its latest release – the Cyber-shot RX100. This is the first time the company has produced a compact camera with a large sensor, which they say is the world’s first1 1.0-type 20.2 effective megapixel sensor.

Usually a big sensor means a bigger body and lens, but Sony has managed to keep its new baby little bigger than the Canon PowerShot 100, one of the best compacts on the market at the moment. The sensor cannot compete with those found in DSLRs, but it’s certainly at the top of the tree for compacts.

sony-cyber-shot-RX100

Looks-wise the camera is made out of aluminium and has a sleek design, and at its heart is the world’s first1 1.0-type Exmor CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. The sensor has an area that’s around four times larger than the 1/2.3-type imager in your average point-and-shoot snapper, which means it can capture far more light than small-sensor cameras. So you should get beautiful, detail packed images as well as Full HD movie clips with very low noise.

And what about the lens? Well that’s a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom range. There is also a very large F1.8 maximum aperture, which lets in more light to complement the resolving power of the CMOS sensor.

The aluminium body looks sleek and stylish, and if you’re a DSLR user you’ll like the control ring that surrounds the lens body and lets you use fingertip adjustment for exposure, zoom, ‘Picture Effect’ and other functions. In fact for DSLR users, the RX100 makes a good, pocketable, second camera.

So that’s some of the technical stuff – let’s get down to what you really want – the pricetag. Here’s a clue – the camera is being plugged as “the professional’s compact camera”, so sit down now.

The camera will sell for around £579, which means it’s one of the most expensive fixed-lens cameras we’ve seen. You could, for instance, buy an entry-level DSLR or a compact interchangeable-lens snapper with a kit lens for the same price. But if you want power in a pocketable snapper, this sounds like the one to choose.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 will be available at the end of July 2012.

Is the GR Digital IV camera worth the price?

Ricoh has updated its premium compact camera, from the GR Digital III to the – surprise surprise – GR Digital IV.

So what’s new about the latest model? Well, Ricoh has updated its image processors, and introduced an image stabilisation system to help prevent camera shake. Its autofocus speed should also be faster thanks to Ricoh’s Hybrid AF system. Ricoh claims it has cut focusing time to just 0.2 seconds. There has also been a change in the LED screen – which now uses Sony’s WhiteMagic RGBW technology, so should be brighter than your average screen, while using less power.

ricoh-gr4

There is also an electronic level that is capable of highlighting inclination from the horizontal, and tilting, which is useful if you take a lot of shots of buildings, for instance.

Looks-wise, the Digital IV looks much like its predecessor, which means it’s not exactly beautiful to look at. In fact, some may find its plain boxy black body decidedly unappealing. However, if you’re happy to spend a bit more, you can take advantage of Ricoh’s grip customization service – this means you can choose between a leather, carbon or metal hand grip, which is an unusual feature. Or look out for the limited edition model, which comes in white with a leather camera strap and metal lens cap.

While pundits praised the Digital III a couple of years ago, they were not so keen on its pricetag – at £530 it was pricey for a compact – and the Digital IV is little better – priced at £500. Plus, by the way, an extra cost if you want a camera strap or lens cap.

Image quality was excellent on its predecessor and Ricoh reckons it has got even better thanks to a tweaked optical filter, and new processing engine, even though it sports the same 10 megapixel CCD sensor under the hood.

Get more information at www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gr/gr_digital4/

Canon packs a powerful punch in its latest Powershots

Canon is going for power with the latest additions to its PowerShot stable, the S100 and SX40 HS. Canon is bridging the gap between the point-and-shoot and DSLR brigade with these two models, both of which are the first to feature the latest generation of Canon’s DIGIC image processor which, it says, offers faster speeds – up to 9.6 frames per second on the S100 on the new High-Speed Burst mode.

Canon-S100

The s100 also boats a longer range (5X) zoom while keeping an aperture of f/2.0 at the wide-angle end. This means that you can use faster shutter speeds in low light, which is good news. And the new DIGIC 5 is claimed to produce exceptional, low noise pictures in all kinds of conditions.

The S100 replaces the S95, and is still small enough to slip in a pocket. There is no viewfinder – all composition is done using the 3-inch LCD.

The cameras also now boast GPS – an interesting use for this is that you can take out your compact camera on a long walk or bike ride, for instance, and then go back on a dedicated day and find the same shots to work on with your DSLR – a handy addition for keen landscape photographers.

The PowerShot SX40 HS, meanwhile is a superzoom camera – it boasts a zoom of x35 and a 12MP sensor. Its ‘Intelligent IS’ system has been designed to assess the shooting conditions and set up the best stabilisation mode, so that the photographer can make the most of the massive lens range. It also works when using the Full HD (1080p) movie capture mode, to help your video footage stay clear and smooth.

There’s also a Super Slow Motion Movie mode, allowing you to add creativity to your movies, or analyse your sporting performance.

The PowerShot SX40 HS offers full manual control, along with creative filters such as Poster Effect, Fish-Eye and Miniature.

There is much debate among users about the benefits of superzooms. While some love them, and see them as excellent cameras for ‘travel’, without having to carry around a bag full of extra lenses, others believe that the zoom quality is little better than digital zoom. At the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference. Very keen photographers will probably stick with their lens kits but for anyone, who, for whatever reason, just wants to carry one reasonable portable, the superzoom is probably a decent compromise.

There is similar debate around the addition of GPS – its usefulness will depend on how many images you take, how much travelling you do and how organised you are. If you take excellent notes, and label your images quickly, you probably don’t care whether a camera has GPS, but for the rest of us mere mortals who download images and then forget about them for a few weeks/months/years, it can be a really useful tool.

The PowerShot SX40 will cost around £459 and the PowerShot S100 around £439.

Budding wildlife photographers rejoice with the launch of the Samsung WB750!

Compact, digital cameras seem to be fixated on delivering more sophisticated and proficient lenses in recent months, a focus, which I believe, is well overdue.  The latest camera to be promoting its assets predominantly on its lens is Samsung’s new WB750, which, in featuring the longest ever zoom in the company’s compact camera portfolio, “takes you further and faster than ever before”.

Samsung-WB750

Asides from its 18x Optical Zoom, 24x Smart-Zoom and 24mm Ultra Wide Angle Lens, meaning users can actually manipulate an image to their likening prior to taking the shot, the WB750 does seem to be bulging with innovative goodies. Topping its internal ‘goodie’ list must be the camera’s 12.5 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. This is the first time, we are told, that Samsung has introduced its pioneering BSI CMOS technology to its compact camera range, which is designed to reduce distortion and replace it with clear, precise images and videos, even in low-lit conditions, whilst reducing image noise. This, alongside a high speed continuous still shot of 10fps and a movie recording speed of up to 1000 fps, means the WB750 delivers impeccable quality in real-time.

Also ranking high in its internal goodie bag is the camera’s Creative Movie Maker function. This creative feature means users can create a fun and shareable slide show in four easy steps. Impressive effects and music can be added to a movie on the camera itself without having to load it to a PC.

Panoramic shots are heavily focused on with Samsung’s latest toy. In featuring Live Panorama, 3D Panorama or Action Panorama, users have the option of capturing those unforgettable sights and memories with a depth and clarity usually lost in the less refined of digital cameras.

This dedication to producing images that standout brings me swiftly on to the WB750’s HDR – High Dynamic Range. Not just realistic, but, Samsung assure us, ‘hyper-realistic’ images can be achieved with the HDR function, as it opens up the colour spectrum for the ‘most vibrant results’.

Long gone are the days when a stubborn subject – namely a child or a dog – refuses to keep still while having their photo taken and the net result being an unrecognisable and completely hopeless photo with a blurred subject! As in containing an Intelligent Object Tracking feature, the camera automatically focuses on an object even whilst in motion – Could be a great choice for any budding wildlife photographers out there, whereby getting a shot of a wild animal in frame is often nigh impossible!

Canon expands its PowerShot, IXUS and PIXMA ranges.

Mention the name Canon to many camera aficionados and it will be greeted with an almost god like reverence, for Canon is for many, the first and last word in compact cameras. That said, the printer range is not too shabby either. So Canon fans rejoice, as not content to sit around sitting on its laurels, it has announced enhancements to its already lauded PowerShot, IXUS and Pixma ranges.

 

Powershot

The IXUS 1100 HS at just 21.9 mm is billed as the slimmest 12X optical zoom compact in the world, with an impressive 28mm wide angle lens and a 3.2” high colour touch screen. The IXUS 230 HS together with its slim 22.1mm figure gets an increased zoom to 8X, a larger 3” screen and full 1080 HD movie recording capability.

The PowerShot SX150 IS has an improved 14.1 ccd sensor up from the previous model’s 12.1 megapixels and Intelligent IS which chooses the most appropriate settings and stability according to the shot you’re looking for.

The PIXMA range of all in one printers has had a revamp with five new models. The high end wireless PIXMA MG6250 and MG8250 versions are aimed at photographers who want quick professional quality prints with 9600 dpi from the 6 ink engine on a 10x15cm borderless print in 20 seconds, whilst the MG8250 also offers a 35mm film and slide scanner. Both versions use Canon’s Intelligent touch system using a built in 8” TFT colour screen.

The mid range MG5350 is up next, with its 5 ink print engine producing photos and documents at 9600 dpi. It also has a 3” TFT screen and wireless connectivity. All three printers feature a cloud printing link giving you access to print your online pics directly and also through mobile devices with Google cloud print.

 

The budget value PIXMA MG2150 and 3150 printers are suitable for a compact everyday all in one solution, with Canon’s FINE cartridge  outputting at 4,800 dpi resolution.

 

The new PIXMA range is available from £49.99 to £300

 

Is five better than four? Ricoh CX5 review

It was about eight months ago when I reviewed the CX5’s predecessor, the CX4 – and as I pulled the latest release out of the box, I did a double-take as I thought I’d seen this camera already.

Ricoh-CX5

Body wise, there is little to distinguish the two of them. The CX5 is a bit dearer than the CX4 (at a smidge under £300), but boasts the same solid, all-metal body of the earlier model. This makes you feel like you’ve really got a substantial piece of kit in your hands, rather than a flimsy ‘toy’.

Beautiful detail on macro mode

Inside that rather small body lurks a pretty big lens – it can run from 28mm (wide-angle to you and me) up to an impressive 300mm. I have a Sigma lens for my DSLR that can do the same thing, and believe me, that won’t fit in my jacket pocket! (In fact it’s got me stopped at the X-ray machine at the airport on at least two occasions – I’ve still not worked out what it looks like when it goes through the scanner!). But to use that top range of zoom you will need a tripod or you’ll suffer with some major shake!

The big selling point of the CX5, though is its speed – it can shoot 15 full-res frames in 2.8 seconds – now that’s fast, although I started tapping my foot as I waited for the camera to store them – but hey, I’m impatient! And this is a £300 camera, not a far more pricey DSLR.

The CX5 has the same 10 megapixel back-illuminated sensor – and you’ll get noise-free shots from ISO 100-200, while those from 400-800 are fine. Higher than that and you might be disappointed with the results.

The CX5 also has the same High definition 720p video mode, which means the AVI format results in large file sizes, there’s no stereo sound and you can’t zoom or focus once you’re recording.

That long zoom can lead to some serious camera shake!

Despite the fact that it can cover such a huge range, allowing you to shoot everything from macro shots to landscapes and wildlife, there is not much in the way of manual control for the more experienced photographer, so don’t expect this to necessarily be a good catch-all to replace a DSLR is you want a more portable option for a day out.

However, for keen photographers who like to just set a choice of mode, and point and shoot, you’ll be assured of pretty decent results.

The TX-10 Cybershot and two other ‘summer holiday proof’ cameras

Packing for your summer holiday simply wouldn’t be complete without a camera. Taking photos and videos to remember your holiday is priceless and therefore your choice of camera shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt. If you are on the lookout for a new camera ahead of your couldn’t-come-fast-enough holiday take a look at three of the best cameras available geared up for sun, sea, sand and surf.

Summer-Cameras

The TX-10 Cybershot

Being waterproof, drop-proof, dust-proof and freeze-proof, you can safely assume the TX-10 Cybershot will be robust enough to handle all the technology-damaging components a beach holiday comprises of, although let’s hope the latter resilient feature won’t need to be tested on a summer vacation. This stylish camera takes 16-megapixel photographs, shoots HD videos and is available in five different colours, meaning it will impress your mates and not fall apart when you pull it out of your handbag at a foam party in Ibiza!

It doesn’t come cheap though, as the TX-10 Cybershot costs approximately £330, quite an expensive to fork out just ahead of a holiday!

Panasonic DMC-FT10

For a less expensive £159.95 you could own a Panasonic DMS-FT10, which, weighing just 157g and measuring a minute 21.6mm, this stealthily sturdy little snapper won’t take up much of your precious weight allowance on the aeroplane. Not only does the SMC-FT10 boast Panasonic Intelligent Auto Mode, as well as Intelligent ISO control and face detection, but, like the TX-10 Cybershot, its shockproof, dustproof, waterproof and can handle Icelandic temperatures – Great if your holidaying to the southern hemisphere this summer.

Olympus TG-810

With a ‘tank-like chassis’ this little ultra-tough camera is capable of withstanding a load of up to 100kg. Whilst this rock hard snapper may be a great addition to an extreme sportsman’s backpack, it’s perhaps not the ‘coolest’ looking camera to pull out at a club in Ayai Napa. Nonetheless its crushproof credentials makes the TG-810 a safe option to weather the potential injuring elements a summer holiday can pose on our gadgets.

You can pick up the TG-810 and pop it in your hand luggage for £219.