Feeds

Buyer's Guide: Premium Compact Cameras

What to shoot for

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Group Test There's a compact camera for all wallets, whether you're spending under £100 or as much as you could on an entry-level digital SLR. The crowded bit of the market is the mid-range, where compact cameras blend into a mess of near-identical features and specifications. The high end occupies more of a niche, with cameras costing over £200 frequently marketed as sidekicks to a decent DSLR.

There are a few things you should expect from a good, high-end compact camera. The most important is manual control. Not all the cameras offer this, but most do and for serious photographers it’s crucial. Control over important features such as white balance, ISO and exposure compensation can make the difference between getting exactly the shot you want and missing your chance for good.

Premium Compact Cameras

The second thing to consider is the lens. There are various schools of thought on non-DSLR camera lenses. Some go for length above all else, offering 10x zoom and greater. Others opt for more modest focal lengths, but prioritise aperture size and image sharpness.

Which is best for you depends on your style of photography. If you're a constant presence at your local wildlife park a long lens will be better. More general photography, such as group shots, portraits and landscapes, will be better served by a wider, faster lens.

Another important thing to consider is a compact's video mode. VGA recording - 640 x 480 pixels - has been offered for donkey's years, but HD is here. The ability to record HD video from a compact camera will be revelatory to anyone who's merely dabbled in video recording in the past. Being able to grab half a minute of good-quality footage is tremendously useful, and cameras which only offer VGA resolution video are marked down.

Almost all compact cameras come with a burst mode. These speeds are measured in frames-per-second, and manufacturer's claims tend to be fairly accurate, but they're not the whole story. A speed of 10f/s is little use if camera's picture-storage buffer fills in a second, so we time cameras for longer to see how much buffer space they have. How many pictures you get and how fast depends on the camera.

Some will capture shots as long as you keep your finger on the shutter release, while others will conk out after half a dozen frames. A good burst mode is particularly handy on a camera with a long zoom.

Premium Compact Cameras

There's more to a camera burst mode than its frame rate

There are a few other DSLR-like traits to look for in a high-end compact: build quality, for instance. A camera in this price range should have a rugged, comfortable body that feels like it won't shatter if it takes a few knocks.

Cameras also fare better here if they offer a RAW mode. JPEG is fine for most uses, but more serious snappers will appreciate the white balance flexibility and extra tonal data encoded within a RAW file, both of which mean you can salvage shots taken with the wrong settings. ®

Next: Canon PowerShot G11

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Chipmaker FTDI bricking counterfeit kit
USB-serial imitators whacked by driver update
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.