Snap happy

The hum­ble com­pact cam­era

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

As smart­phones be­come bet­ter at tak­ing pho­tos it’s hard to see why any­one would want a com­pact cam­era any more.

Once a sta­ple of ev­ery fam­ily hol­i­day, the hum­ble com­pact, also known as a point and shoot cam­era, is fad­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as peo­ple pre­fer to rely on their phones. But de­pend­ing on your needs, there still may be a place in your dig­i­tal life for a small, pow­er­ful cam­era.

Here’s a run­down of why they can still be use­ful, and what to look for if you do buy one.

Do I need one?

Why have a sep­a­rate cam­era if you al­ready have a phone that can take OK pho­tos? Well, there are a few rea­sons.

First, have you looked at the pho­tos you’ve taken with your phone? Are they any good or are they slightly blurry or pix­e­lated?

If you feel your pho­tos are a bit aver­age and you’d like bet­ter qual­ity images to cap­ture your mem­o­ries then you may ben­e­fit from a com­pact cam­era.

This is es­pe­cially the case if you’re head­ing on an over­seas trip or you want to take bet­ter pho­tos of your grow­ing fam­ily.

Most cam­eras on low or midrange smart­phones are pretty aver­age. They do OK when the sub­ject is still and there is good light but they can strug­gle when con­di­tions are chal­leng­ing.

How­ever, if you own one of the lat­est high-end smart­phones, such as the Sam­sung S9, Pixel 3 or iPhone Xs, then you prob­a­bly don’t need a com­pact cam­era as they can take great pho­tos, but you will have to pay well over $1000 to get a phone like that.

What to look for

There are sev­eral things to look for when buy­ing a cam­era: photo qual­ity, the lens, porta­bil­ity, and ease of use.

All the ma­jor cam­era brands make great cam­eras that can take ex­cel­lent pho­tos. All of them have good sen­sors, which is one of the keys to get­ting high-qual­ity images.

The best cam­eras have a oneinch or an APS-C sen­sor, which is big­ger than those in more af­ford­able cam­eras and much larger than those found in smart­phones.

Of course, the big­ger sen­sors are more ex­pen­sive but they’re ca­pa­ble of tak­ing sim­i­lar qual­ity pho­tos to some DSLRs.

The other ma­jor fac­tor in­flu­enc­ing pic­ture qual­ity and price is the lens. You’ll have three op­tions to con­sider: a high-qual­ity fixed lens, an all-pur­pose zoom or a su­per-zoom.

A fixed lens is a set size, such as 23 mil­lime­tres. They’re usu­ally ‘‘fast’’ lenses which means they have a large aper­ture to let in a lot of light so it’s eas­ier to cap­ture mov­ing ob­jects in low light.

An all-pur­pose lens will of­ten range from about 24mm to 100mm. This lets you take wide-an­gle shots as well as be­ing able to zoom into the ac­tion with­out los­ing pic­ture qual­ity like you would with a smart­phone.

Su­per-zooms can go up to 600mm but they tend to be ex­pen­sive and quite big.

Hav­ing a cam­era small enough to fit into your jacket pocket or hand­bag is quite im­por­tant. If it’s too big then you’ll be re­luc­tant to take it. A smaller size also means it’s great for tak­ing hik­ing or back­pack­ing.

Find­ing a cam­era that is fun to use is also key. Un­for­tu­nately, none are as easy to use as a smart­phone, though some do have touch­screens which can make it eas­ier to nav­i­gate menus. They have di­als and but­tons to ad­just the most com­mon set­tings so you rarely need to use the LCD to make ad­just­ments.

Your best op­tion is to go into a cam­era shop and try dif­fer­ent brands to see which one you find the eas­i­est to use.

Cam­eras to con­sider

There are dozens of op­tions avail­able so you’ll need to con­sider your needs and your bud­get.

If you’re look­ing for some­thing af­ford­able and good for ev­ery­thing, then take a look at the Pana­sonic LX-100 ($895) which has a large sen­sor and a 24mm to 75mm lens.

Also, con­sider the Canon GX9 Mark II ($690) which has a slim pro­file and a one-inch sen­sor.

For some­thing more durable, then look at the Olym­pus Tough TG-5 ($749) which is wa­ter­proof to 15m and is great for out­door ad­ven­tures. An­other op­tion here is the Nikon Coolpix W100 ($280) which is also wa­ter and dust proof and is also a great cam­era for chil­dren.

For those want­ing a fixed lens com­bined with a retro look, then the Fu­ji­film X100T ($1690) is highly re­garded. It has a high-end 23mm lens paired with a DSLR-sized APSC sen­sor. Fu­ji­film also does a more af­ford­able ver­sion of a fixed-lens cam­era, the Fu­ji­film XF10 ($875).

If you want some­thing more high-end then take a look at the Sony RX-100 VI ($1840) which has a one-inch sen­sor and a 24-200mm. Older ver­sions of this cam­era are also very good and are cheaper. An­other op­tion in this cat­e­gory is the Pana­sonic TZ220 ($1350).

Hav­ing a cam­era small enough to fit into your jacket pocket or hand­bag is quite im­por­tant.

The Pana­sonic LX-100 cam­era is at the higher end of the mar­ket.

If you want some­thing more high-end then take a look at the Sony RX-100 VI.

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