Thursday, April 2, 2009
Toolbox: Top Compact Cameras
For candid and casual photography, today’s fixed-lens cameras offer near-SLR performance and some unique tricks all their own
Full-featured compact cameras offer more benefits besides light weight and sleek lines. While you lose the ability to swap lenses, you gain simplicity in the transaction. Besides, many compacts have terrific zoom lenses that will handle most typical shooting situations with ease. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, for example, comes equipped with a fast ƒ/2 lens—an aperture usually found on the most expensive SLR lenses.
The Canon PowerShot G10 is packed with so many SLR-like features, it has gained a following among professionals as an alternative for from-the-hip shooting. To begin, the camera offers 14.7 megapixels with compact body stylings and a true 28mm-equivalent, 5x wide-angle zoom lens (28-140mm) that’s equipped with optical image stabilization. It features a 3.0-inch LCD and has a hot-shoe that works with all current Canon flash units. Also, it shoots in RAW file format when you choose, and provides a shutter speed range from 1⁄4000 to 15 full seconds. You can change the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure compensation easily without wading through menus, and the Face Detection feature means that grab shots of people will turn out perfectly. The PowerShot G10 is the latest in the line of Canon G-series cameras that stretches back to the G1 in the year 2000—and each generation seems just that much better. List Price: $499.
The FinePix F100fd is a slim, slick 12-megapixel beauty built around FUJIFILM’s Super CCD HR Sensor. It pushes top-end specifications out to the edges with a 5x zoom that ranges from a useful wide-angle 28mm to 140mm. The Finepix F100fd offers enhanced dynamic range settings of 100% (normal), 200% and 400% (4x wider range). Dynamic range is defined as the steps or levels of light intensities that a sensor can detect and record between total black and total white. Using the F100fd’s Wide Dynamic Range makes more shades of gray visible between pure black and pure white. Other features include high sensitivity (ISO 3200 at full resolution and up to ISO 12800 at 3 megapixels), advanced Face Detection, Auto Red-Eye Removal and IR (infrared) image transfer options. One very convenient feature: a dual memory card slot that accepts the xD-Picture Card and the popular Secure Digital (SD) card format. Estimated Street Price: $350.
Page 1 of 3