back to article This year's classy compact cameras

2010: it's a wrap Arguably, migrating from a compact to a DSLR is the assumed route for those harbouring a serious passion for photography. However, this past year the path to DSLR enlightenment had plenty of appealing diversions. EVIL (electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens) cameras were in abundance and becoming more …

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stop motion

I used to own a nice little nikon coolpix L15, that apart from the usual goodies had a great stop-motion assist. The kids love(d) it. Unfortunately the camera took a tumble, and is now sorta broken.

Nikin has upgraded the coolpix formware line to do face detection and other cool stuff, but has lost the stop motion assist. Which is a bummer.

Anyone know of a compact(ish) camera that has a good stop motion assist ?

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WTF?

Compact?

Classy or not I reckon only one of those would fit in my pocket....just.

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Grenade

So not really the best compact cameras, then

Which part of "compact" is not clear? These cameras are as compact as a bloody great bulky thing with a big ol' lens slicking out of it.

Compact cameras look at Panasonic TMZ10 (phenomenal value, optical quality and control), the teenzy but quite clever Sony Cybershot TX9, and the Canon S95 (good as the G12, but much more...well... compact).

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Headmaster

Neither compact nor EVIL...

...the Leica & the Canon have (and always will have in these ranges) optical viewfinders, and I would respectfully suggest that attempting to change the lens on the Canon may invalidate one's warranty.

</pedant>

But no mention of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5? Surely a much more significant "classy compact" release for the serious photographer than the pointless Micro Four Thirds DMC-GH2 (http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/Products/LUMIX+Digital+Cameras/Stylish+Compact/DMC-LX5/Overview/5435432/index.html) - it's that or G12 I'd be (vainly) hoping to find in my stocking next Saturday!

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Boffin

real interest of EVIL cameras.

"But no mention of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5? Surely a much more significant "classy compact" release for the serious photographer than the pointless Micro Four Thirds DMC-GH2."

Don't misunderstand me - I love the panasonic LX line of cameras. Still using my LX2 by the way. But the smallish sensor is only useful in optimal conditions, at base ISO setting. µ4:3 are much better, solidly wedged between compacts and dslr low light performances.

But that's besides the point. The real interest of µ4:3, not much advertised but that's sure to score with any long time photographer, is the ability to mount *any* lens you have in your cupboard from the film era on your body with a small adapter that sells for peanuts (EOS mount lenses are a problem, though, electrical aperture being the culprit).

No more closet queens. Got m39 ? Check. LTM ? No problem. FD, Nikon, OM, MD, K, Pentax 42 mm ? All pass with flying colours. CCTV lenses ? No problems, great fisheyes for a dime. Etc., the list goes on endlessly.

In photography, the body is nothing, the glass is everything. µ4:3 revives superlative optics that can be snatched almost free because until now, you couldn't make pictures with them anymore.

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Badgers

You have a point but...

...who is the classy compact aimed at? I bet the biggest chunk of the market is to people who already have a DSLR system for those times when it's impractical to carry around body, a couple of lenses and a flash.

And for functionality the major DSLR systems kick the butt of µ4:3 every time: more/better/3rd party lenses (without any need for adapters), the option of full-frame sensors four times as big as µ4:3 (higher res., less noise, better low-light performance, etc.) and...ermm...camera bodies that aren't nothing - I wonder if you could persuade a pro to part with their Canon EOS 1D or Nikon D3 (or even the next couple of models down) in exchange for µ4:3?

µ4:3 is a nice alternative to a bugdet DSLR in the consumer - it's a different beast from cameras like the LX5 or G12.

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Boffin

You have a point too

But it really depends on your needs. I won't dispute on the usefulness of modern DSLR's amenities. They are some pros' bread and butter, especially those working in areas where speed is prime (sports and weddings comes to mind). But how many photographers are making a living on their cameras ? And which pros exactly need to suck dry their memory card capacity in less than a minute ?

One should never forget a whole generation of reporters brought back worldwide acclaimed images from all over the world using only a leica, a 35mm lens, and tri-X.

The good camera is the one that's ready in your hand when something happens. If you don't have problems carrying your EOS 1D around your neck, by any means, do it. Maybe I'd like it too, but I can't. It's too big for me, it breaks my back, it scares away people from scenes I'd like to picture, and it would be much too expensive to replace if it got stolen or damaged. My e-p1 on the other hand is always at the ready, unobtrusive, light, produces almost dslr quality, and doesn't make people think I'm pointing a shotgun at their head.

In fact, it so much fits my needs like a glove that I sold my DSLR system since I got it. It covers 90% of the pictures I wish to snatch. The 5% of situations I need something really small, I use my LX2. And the 5% I'd like faster AF, well, I'm doomed, so be it. Most of those times, I'd be doomed anyway because any DSLR would be tucked out of reach either at home or at the bottom of my bag. But if I only had a DSLR, I would miss more than half the pictures I currently make. I've been making more images with the e-p1 in a year than I made with my dslr in 4, with almost a constant keeper ratio.

So, it's really a case of "to each his own", I guess.

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Re: You have a point but...

"µ4:3 is a nice alternative to a bugdet DSLR in the consumer - it's a different beast from cameras like the LX5 or G12."

Huh? The Olympus PEN or Sony NEX are not really that different in size from stuff like the G12 (the S90/S95 is another matter), and in various markets the former cameras are not that much more expensive than the G12 or LX5. In fact, the EP-L1 is cheaper than the G12 in reputable stores where I live. Claiming that they somehow aren't compact cameras is more about clinging to "market segments" than observable reality.

It's nice to see Panasonic prop up the "enthusiast compact" arena with the LX-series, although they do so by not making their G-series stuff small enough to confuse their customers, apparently leaving that to Sony and Olympus (and Leica, if you have the money, and Fujifilm as of next year, if you don't quite have that kind of money). But beyond the Canon S95 (which doesn't really do a great deal more than re-tread the ground Fujifilm did with their earlier F-series compacts - that is, put a larger/better sensor in than the competition), there's inevitably going to be contention in terms of size and price between such "enthusiast compacts" and the mirrorless cameras we're seeing now.

Thumbs up to the article's author for not getting hung up on "which box things should be in" according to some marketing plan or other.

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Welcome

It's a shame that Sony's glass is crap

Unfortunately Sony's glass is not up to par with Panasonic, or Samsung for that matter. However Sony's pancake lens 16mm eqv. to 24mm (on 35mm format) is a desired focal length which is seriously missing from Lumix's or Samsung's line up of prime lens. Concerning Sony's pancake lens which is of poor optical quality in terms of corner sharpness and there isn't much of a sweet spot on the lens either. In general it sucks.

Once we see more wide angle pancake primes on these type of camera like 18mm, 21mm, 24mm, 35mm (or at least a price drop on the wonderful 7-14mm Lumix Zoom) then I'll get excited.

The reviews on Samsung cameras and optics seems to be very good, but Panasonic and Olympus are certainly ruling the roost in this area of the market with better choice of lens on offer.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Samsung EX1 anyone?

With this you get exactly that - 24-72mm equivalent lens, the brightest of them all - f1.8-2.4. Still the one to beat. I haven't seen yet a bad review of this one, although all find a few truly stupid bits... what is important is close to perfect on this camera, what is not so, can be dreadful. The G12 is way too big and not as bright, the P7000 looks like a flop, being so slow in operation, the LX5 is marginally better than the daddy ( the LX3, that is). I'd try the S95, though.

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Boffin

dude there is no std. 12mm prime of µ4/3

Sorry Viet 1, there is Lumix 12mm 3D which is a novelty lens really. Then there is 14mm (28 eqv) prime which is to be bundled with the GF2. But that's it, there is no mention of a 12mm standard prime for m4/3 in the near future.

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Coat

My mistake

You're absolutely right. I got confused here. Thanks for the rectification.

I'm tiptoeing -->[ ]

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How good is the 3D?

While novel, the "H-FT012E 3D lens" has a gimmicky look to it with what I guess is around 5mm separation between the view points. So the big question is, how well does it work in practice?

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Silver badge

To be honest...

..Most non-shit digital cameras are "single lense", and don't really need the "reflex" bit because the viewfinder is using the sensor anyway. No need to have a mirror bouncing the light up towards a pentaprism, yaknow?

With that fact out of the way, what precisely is the difference between DSLR and this new "EVIL" category, asides number of features? Maybe EVIL cameras should really be called mDSL or something?

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Stop

Yeah, all those pro photographers are stupid!

I mean why else would 99% of them be using DSLRs with that pointless bouncy-light-reflex-thingummy?

In case you haven't noticed, no digital display device (let alone the small LCD display/electronic viewfinder found in a camera) is remotely capable of capturing the subtlety of light, colour, contrast, dynamic range, focus and depth of field that the human eye can perceive through that mirror and pentaprism. Yaknow? I hope you do now.

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Wow.

Talk about reading things that I didn't write.

Now try reading what I actually wrote, and not what you want me to say. I didn't say DSLRs are pointless. I didn't say anything about the quality of the viewfinder.

I just suggested that "mDSL" might be a slightly better marketing term than "EVIL".

Fuxache, people are touchy today.

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Troll

Apologies...

<humble-pie>

...am off sick with man-flu trolling the comment columns *ho-hum*

</humble-pie>

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Badgers

Double wow.

Apologies? In a reg comment?

Excuse me doctor, I think I'm going to have to lie down a moment.

And for the record, the downvote wasn't me.

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Bronze badge

I wouldn't count any of these cameras as compact

My S50 barely fits in a pocket, these wouldn't at all.

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Can I has LX5?

Did you not include the Pana DMC LX5 because you didn't try it or because you didn't like it?

I'm asking because I'm seriously considering getting one (optional _digital_ viewfinder and wider angle is what gives it the edge on the G12 for me).

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Are you serious?

I know you just scrape together the consumer-junk you reviewed over the past year, that's why I only waste a single blink on asking myself why in the world there is no SIGMA DP in this lineup. 'Cause, you know, it could use a camera that is truly compact and produces outstanding pictures – if you have the slightest bit of a clue about what you're doing. No HD-3D-BS mode though, pity.

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SIGMA DPs

They make pretty decent images, granted. Especially in black and white. But the build quality is terribly poor, the AF is a joke not worth mentioning, and the announced pixel count in "bayer matrix equivalent" is borderline fraudulent (not that I believe in more pixels => better camera, but I feel cheated when true number is 1/4 of advertised one). Better save your money for this when it finally comes out (at a price, Ouch !) :

http://www.finepix-x100.com/

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FAIL

None of these are compacts.

Compacts are roughly cuboid shaped one-piecers that fit easily in your jeans / jacket / handbag.

All the cameras here defy the dictionary definition of the word compact - they're just slightly smaller DSLRs (albeit without the optical viewfinder).

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