Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2006: Cutting-Edge Compact Cameras
Big features find their way into the smallest of pocket-sized cameras
If you're going for the easy portability of compact cameras, chances are you don't want to carry a tripod. That's where the Konica Minolta DiMAGE X1's Anti-Shake technology can make a big difference. The system counters the unavoidable movement you make when holding a camera, and can help you get sharp shots at up to three shutter speeds slower than you could without it. Normally found on high-end lenses and cameras, it's a terrific feature to have for the spontaneous photography to which compacts are so well-suited.
Some of the best photo opportunities come during less than perfect weather. If you find yourself caught in a sudden shower with the Olympus Stylus 800, no problem. The All-Weather design means you don't have to worry about getting the camera wet. Use it in the rain or by the pool—just don't drop it in because it's not submersible. This extra protection also is nice at the beach for shielding the camera from damp, salty marine air.
We've got enough wires in our lives as it is, so anytime we can ditch one, it's a welcome alternative. Formerly reserved as an option for select professional D-SLRs, Wi-Fi connectivity is built in to the compact Nikon Coolpix P1. If you have a wireless network at home, you can connect the camera to your computer via the network for fast downloads from the couch. And if you're shooting within range of your network, you even can have shots sent directly to your computer as you capture them and bypass the camera's storage card.
Compact cameras are infamous for longer startup times and shutter lag. Recent models have been reducing the lag, and it's not a big problem when you're shooting still objects, but the waiting can be a real obstacle when trying to capture action. Fujifilm's FinePix Z1 quickens the pace of compact camera photography with a fast startup of 0.6 seconds and a minimized shutter lag of 0.01 seconds. When you're trying to capture a fleeting moment, even a few milliseconds can make a practical difference.
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