back to article Ten Essential... Budget Compact Cameras

The credit crunch has made many of us cost-conscious consumers, and so it’s no surprise that more people are taking a closer look at sub-£150 cameras. And with summer holidays coming up, now's the time to take a peek. Naturally, at this price point, you're looking at a compact model, but you might be surprised by some of the …

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Wrong priorities!

These 14MP resolutions have gotten ridiculous at the consumer level. It's disappointing that engineers from all brands are focusing so much energy on this non-problem.

For regular use, I don't find it necessary to go above half that, and frequently use lower resolutions just to reduce storage.

All things being equal, it would not be so bad, however engineering is always about striking a balance between competing goals. The high resolution comes at the cost of graininess, higher processor requirements, more battery power, slower shutter speed. At this point, all of those are more important to me than the resolution.

The main flaw I find with all consumer cameras I've tried is terrible graininess at the high ISO settings required to prevent hand held night/indoor shots from blurring. It's a real shame to resort to grainy high ISO modes at museums that, understandably, only permit no-flash photography.

Reducing graininess should be engineering priority #1 for the sensors.

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Boffin

Flash? No, not THAT Flash...

As these happy-snappers are likely to pocketed for use on nights out a sample shot with flash in low light would have been useful - it's also an area that produces a lot more variability of performance between brands/models as it's tricky to do well with a small lens/sensor/flash.

Oh and a landscape too next time? Surely Vulture Towers can stretch to bus fare and a sandwich to get the intrepid Mr Cole away from the ceramic frog in his back garden...

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Flame

George Cole

I'd always wondered what Mr Cole did since retiring from filming Minder.

What an excellent name for a reviewer.

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Big MP

Unfortunately it's consumers and retail in the UK driving for more MP as it's a simple quantative number that people use as a more == better comparison. Other markets do not care so much about it. The vendors are just repsonding to market demand.

Until consumers get educated and demand better image quality then it will stay this way. Image quality is hard to compare though.

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WTF?

Do you understand the definition of essential?

I think not, these might be desireable, but not essential - and even for those who really can't do without I suspect they only need one of them, not all 10. Can we stop with this silly insertion of the word essential in every group test title please?

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@ lou

completely agree, and you can see how Canon (off the top of my head) have responded to this with the G11 - however, would you not think at this level though, the kind of customer these will be aimed at is just going to think 'more MP = better pictures'?

and Pat 3 - let's face it, anyone who wants really good results from a compact is going to do a bit more research than just striding into the high street Currys and asking the spotty herbert behind the counter for his recommendation. the fact that Curry's are still in business show that there will always be a sector of the market for that type of buyer, imo.

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Dead Vulture

Please state what's included!

Please indicate if rechargeable batteries and cards are included in the box! you could double the costs if they arn't!

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Re:Big MP

Ummm... for starters, some measure of noise at low ISO + chromatic abberations of the lens - should be easy enough to put it numerically and then assign a scale to it like Microsoft did for its infamous 'performance index'.

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FAIL

No viewfinders!

None of these cameras has a viewfinder - so they will all be useless in bright sunshine.

I'd far rather have 4MP and a viewfinder (as on my 5 year old Olympus compact) that 12MP and no viewfinder.

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@viewfinders

I went for the Canon IXUS IS-95 for that reason, it still has an optical viewfinder for the odd very bright day use. It may not be 'current', but you can probably pick them up new for under £150 for a while. Generally a good camera, only downside (at the price/size) is the lack of a real manual mode.

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JB
Thumb Up

Canon Ixus cameras

Just wanted to thumbs-up the Canon Ixus line of cameras. My first digital camera was the original Ixus in 2000 (2Mp and cost almost 400 quid!) and now we have the SD1100IS (not sure what it's called in Europe).

Alright, you're having to compromise on the picture quality, but that metal body, nice screen and, above all, pocketability make it ideal.

And I'd stay clear of Kodak cameras, they might make some interesting professional digital equipment, but their consumer stuff is very mediocre.

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I agree

I support the contributors who argue that pixel numbers are not important. I have owned a 5 MP camera for five years and pixels have never been a problem. Resolution is excellent, certainly better than old fashioned silver film.

15 MP is adequate for a B3 print, that is a Guardian double spread, at 150 dots per inch. Does an amateur needs this ?

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Pint

Ah the MP race...

So long as the numbers keep rising the punters keep paying. You whack up the MP but fit these things will shonky pinhole lenses. Everyone whacks up the quality settings and wonders why there is grain and noise and the clarity is not so great. No viewefinders, so a nice bright sunny day when you are most likely to use these and you can see precisely bugger all in the screen while you're shooting!

The other thing is these camera produce huge resolution pictures, so as soon as you offload the pictures, you end up constantly clicking sharpen and denoise filters in your favourite software and reducing the resolution to get something half decent that doesn't make you wince when you see a nice single colour area iike a solid blue sky.

Just like all other industries, numbers make good PR and help shift units, so on the race goes!

Give me a Nikon D2X anyday, might be long in the tooth now but still knocks out pukka shot!

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Dead Vulture

untitled

What happened to the round-up page? If you are going to split an article like this over ten pages so that it is impossible to just scroll between them, you could at least devote one page to a quick summary/comparison of them all.

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Meaning of BUDGET!

Geez, do you understand the meaning of BUDGET! Clearly not, I wouldn't spend that much on a camera, the most I spent was £79, (6 years ago).

When you say budget I would expect to see offerings from £50 to £100, not £99 to £150! We are in a recession! Who has that kind of money to splash on cameras! (clearly not me!).

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Budget?

Sorry, but to most people sub-£100 is budget in regards to cameras. Compared to a Ferrari a BMW is a budget car, but hardly cheap.

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Anonymous Coward

Budget

Under £150 is under £100 if you shop around on-line. Plus these things drop in price very fast.

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Dead Vulture

Why use percentages...?

Seriously guys, why the hell bother using a scale with 101 discrete options if you're only going to use 3 of them?

Were the four cameras rated at 80% really identically good? Or the three at 75%? or the three at 70%?

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