Wednesday, April 6, 2011

High-Performance Compact Cameras

By Mike Stensvold Published in SLRs
High-Performance Compact Cameras

SAMSUNG TL500


TOP FEATURES

Video: 640x480/30p
Eye-Level Finder: None
RAW-Capable: Yes
List Price: $449

SIZE/WEIGHT

Dimensions: 4.5x2.6x1.2 inches
Weight: 12.5 ounces
Samsung’s top “serious” compact, the TL500 offers a high-speed CMOS sensor and optical image stabilization. A very fast lens (throughout its zoom range) and a big, bright swiveling OLED monitor are its standout features. Control dials make it easier to set many camera functions than with many DSLRs.

Verdict: This max-aperture rival for the Olympus XZ-1 and the Panasonic LX5 has a bright, swiveling AMOLED monitor.

Power: Li-ion SBL-11A
Sensor: 10 MP CCD 1/1.7 inch
Lens: 24-72mm ƒ/1.8-2.4
ISO Range: 80-3200

LCD Monitor: 3.0-inch, 414K AMOLED
Max. Burst Rate: Not stated
Media: SD/SDHC

SAMSUNG TL350


TOP FEATURES

Video: 1080/30p
Eye-Level Finder: None
RAW-Capable: Yes
List Price: $349

SIZE/WEIGHT

Dimensions: 3.9x2.3x0.9 inches
Weight: 6.4 ounces
This very compact camera can shoot 1080p full HD video, slow-motion video at 1000 fps, still images at 10 fps and eight-shot in-camera stitched panoramas. It also can shoot full-res still images and HD video simultaneously. A dial atop the mode provides direct setting of shooting modes, including manual. Despite the small size, there’s a big, bright, 3.0-inch AMOLED monitor.

Verdict: Among the smallest models here, the TL350 is nonetheless a high-speed powerhouse and a solid value.

Power: Li-ion SBL-11A
Sensor: 10 MP CMOS 1/2.4 inch
Lens: 24-120mm ƒ/2.5-5.8
ISO Range: Not stated

LCD Monitor: 3.0-inch, 614K AMOLED
Max. Burst Rate: 10 fps at full res
Media: SD/SDHC

SIGMA DP1x


TOP FEATURES

Video: 320x240/30p
Eye-Level Finder: Optional optical
RAW-Capable: Yes
List Price: $800

SIZE/WEIGHT

Dimensions: 4.5x2.3x2.0 inches
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Sigma’s original DP1 was the first compact digital camera with a DSLR-format image sensor, achieved by putting the company’s unique Foveon X3 sensor in a new compact body. The DP1x is the third generation of this fine photo device, featuring improved speed and battery life. But the key features are that Foveon sensor, which, unlike conventional digital-camera sensors, records all three primary colors (red, green and blue) at every pixel site and a 16.6mm ƒ/4 lens designed specifically for the sensor (the sensor’s 1.7x focal length factor makes this equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera). The body is a sturdy, attractive, no-nonsense housing with straightforward operation and full control over everything, along with automation when desired.

Verdict: Sigma’s compact cameras are a unique hybrid, featuring the same sensor used in their pro DSLRs, but with a fixed lens.

Power: Li-ion BP-31
Sensor: 4.7x3 MP APS-C CMOS, 20.7x13.8mm
Lens: 28mm ƒ/4 (35mm equivalent)
ISO Range: 100-3200

LCD Monitor: 2.5-inch, 230K
Max. Burst Rate:Not stated
Media: SD/SDHC


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