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Premium Compact Cameras

Ideal as a backup camera for your SLR and for those times when you need a small camera that doesn’t sacrifice control and features, the upper tier of compact cameras can do some amazing things. They have capabilities that you’d expect to find in more expensive SLRs—some can even do tricks that SLRs don’t—and offer zooms that will meet or exceed the range you’ll need for most subjects.

Canon Powershot G11

LIST PRICE: $499
INTRODUCED 8/2009

1. The G11 includes a built-in flash and is compatible with the EOS DSLR system’s Speedlite flash series for more extensive options like wireless multiple flash control with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2.
2. There are more than 20 shooting modes, with full manual control and customizable settings.
3. The Smart AUTO mode selects appropriate settings by determining the shooting conditions.

Canon made a brave choice when it released its flagship in the PowerShot series, the G11, by ignoring the megapixel wars and downgrading the megapixel count from 14.7 megapixels in its predecessor to 10 megapixels. Despite the lower resolution, this resulted in better image quality and more versatile low-light shooting with an expandable ISO range of 320 to 12,800. The 5x optical zoom is a 28-140mm (35mm equivalent), which extends from wide-angle to telephoto, and Optical Image Stabilizer Technology assists with blur reduction. The G11’s 2.8-inch PureColor System LCD screen with a Vari-Angle articulating design allows composition of images from unusual vantage points, like low to the ground or above a crowd, and the camera includes RAW+JPEG simultaneous shooting for a combination of convenience and flexibility during image editing. The G11 includes a built-in flash and is compatible with the EOS DSLR system’s Speedlite flash series for more extensive options like wireless multiple flash control with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The G11’s 2.8-inch PureColor System LCD screen with a Vari-Angle hinged design allows composition of images from unusual vantage points, like low to the ground or above a crowd.

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Casio EX-FH25

ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $359
INTRODUCED 11/2009

1. The 20x optical zoom offers a 35mm equivalent focal range of 26-520mm.
2. CMOS shift stabilization helps to reduce the image blur that high zooms are prone to at the telephoto end.
3. A Prerecord continuous shooting mode lets you begin taking pictures before you press the shutter by storing up to 40 images in a buffer before you ever even take a shot.

Back-illuminated sensors are the next big thing in compacts, and possibly DSLRs. The 20x 26-520mm (35mm equivalent) megazoom Casio EX-FH25 improves on its predecessor, the EX-FH20, by adding a new Back-Illuminated 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor for better efficiency and increased light sensitivity up to an ISO of 3200, as well as faster shutter speeds in lower light. The sensor also offers a higher resolution of 3456×2592 pixels versus 3072×2304 pixels in the FH20. There are new modes in the FH25, including an HDR-esque Best Shot mode that combines several exposures to achieve a single image that exceeds the capabilities of a single capture. There’s high-definition 720p video in 30 fps and a variety of standard-definition, fast-shutter Hi-Speed Movie rates that extend all the way up to an incredible 1000 fps for finely detailed slow-motion video capture. In full resolution, high-speed still-image burst rates max out at a stunningly fast 40 fps, and shots can be composed via the 3.0-inch LCD screen or through the electronic viewfinder. CMOS shift stabilization helps to reduce the image blur that high zooms are prone to at the telephoto end.

STANDOUT FEATURE: Back-illuminated sensors are the next big thing in compacts (and possibly DSLRs), and the EX-FH25 incorporates the design in its new sensor for better efficiency and increased light sensitivity, as well as faster shutter speeds in lower light.

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