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Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New digital cameras shoot, score

August 19, 2009

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Consumer Reports’ list of recommended cameras includes four new point-and-shoot models from among 26 it recently evaluated as part of its ongoing camera tests. CR found that as a group, the newest models offer some excellent buys.

For the most part, cameras in the latest batch are similar to previous models, offering a few more megapixels or a slightly larger LCD, for example. But three subcompacts and one superzoom — all recommended — are noteworthy because they’re innovative or offer an appealing blend of performance and features:

• The Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Elph, $230, turned in a blemish-free performance and offers an optical viewfinder, a feature that’s highly prized by CR’s subscribers but is increasingly rare on new models. In addition, it has a face detection self-timer.

• The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR, $380, has a very innovative feature: a flexible light sensor that can automatically adapt to a wide variety of shooting situations. It also has manual controls and more zoom than most subcompacts.

• The Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Elph, $280, can capture high-quality images in low light without a flash at ISO settings as high as 1600, which is very unusual for a point-and-shoot. It also features an optical viewfinder and can shoot HD-resolution video (though it’s a few notches below the quality of even the lowest-rated HD camcorder CR has tested).

• The superzoom Canon PowerShot SX200 IS, $350, is slimmer and lighter than most superzooms, has a 12x zoom, and can record HD-resolution video (though of lower quality than any HD camcorder CR has tested).

ACR found that another subcompact worth considering: The Nikon Coolpix S630, $280, can capture high-quality images in low light without a flash at ISO settings up to 1600. It’s one of the few subcompacts with a 7x zoom. Its only real flaw is that its first-shot delay is just fair — not ideal when you need speed.

These high-scoring models are recommended and stand out for the reasons below:

For a camera that fits in a pocket:

• Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Elph, $230

• Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR, $380

• Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Elph, $280

The Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Elph has an optical viewfinder and a face detection self-timer. The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR has a special sensor that can adapt to a variety of shooting situations, plus manual controls and more zoom than most subcompacts. The Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Elph is one of the few point-and-shoots that can capture high-quality images in very low light without a flash. Though it’s pricey, consider the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3, $500, if you need its ability to wirelessly upload both stills and videos to online sites.

Best point-and-shoots for under $150:

• Samsung SL102, $130

• Canon Powershot A1000 IS, $130

The Samsung SL102 is small enough to fit in a pocket and has decent low-light performance without a flash, but it has only a simulated stabilizer. The Canon Powershot A1000 IS has better battery life than most point-and-shoots and includes a viewfinder. But it was recently discontinued, so it might be hard to find in stores.

For flexible editing and composition:

• Canon PowerShot G10, $470

This is full-featured, with short next-shot delay, excellent dynamic range and wide-angle capability. It has manual focus, an optical viewfinder, RAW-file capability, and a hot shoe to mount an external flash.

If a long zoom is a priority:

• Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, $380

• Canon PowerShot SX110 IS, $240 CR Best Buy

• Samsung HZ10W, $300

Both Canons have longer battery life than most point-and-shoots. The Canon PowerShot SX10 IS’s very long zoom includes wide-angle capability. It also has a swiveling display. Both the Canon PowerShot SX110 IS and the Samsung HZ10W are slim. The Canon PowerShot SX110 IS has a 3-inch LCD; the Samsung HZ10W a 2.7-inch. The Canon PowerShot SX110 IS has been discontinued and might be hard to find in retail stores. The Samsung HZ10W has one of the widest wide-angle lenses among point-and-shoots, equivalent to 24mm on a film camera.

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