This year's classy compact cameras
2010: it's a wrap
Arguably, migrating from a compact to a DSLR is the assumed route for those harbouring a serious passion for photography. However, this past year the path to DSLR enlightenment had plenty of appealing diversions. EVIL (electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens) cameras were in abundance and becoming more affordable too. The range of Micro Four Thirds cameras – the system of choice for Olympus and Panasonic – was not only expanded but there were a few models introduced for at least half the price of their fully-loaded siblings.
Currently, it appears that Samsung has thrown in the towel on DSLRs. Its Pentax K-mount GX20 from 2008 is still showing on its UK website, but if on-line shopping is anything to go by, the shelves are hardly brimming with them. In 2010 the company focused on EVIL things and brought out the NX range of cameras based around its new proprietary NX lens mount. No doubt eyes were sent rolling – that’s all we need, another lens mount – but Samsung wasn’t the only company guilty of such. To accommodate different lenses on its new compacts, Sony introduced the E-mount for its NEX range of cameras.
For DSLRs it’s always a tough call deciding on which lens mount and thus, which range of lenses to invest in, and now it's become harder with EVIL compacts too. This year’s models proved that, if you can live without the optical reflex viewfinder, there was plenty on offer to fill that need for focal flexibility. Here’s a summary of the more versatile cameras that appeared in 2010 to help put you in the picture.
Leica M9 Titanium
Leica introduced the M9 in September 2009 and a year on, the company unveiled a special edition to celebrate. The Titanium M9 was certainly one of the cameras of the year, if you could find one... or afford it. With a run of only 500 units and an eye-watering price of just under £20k including lens, it was an instant collectors' item. Apart from design input from VW/Audi man Walter de'Silva, the standard M9‘s bright line window was absent, with the Titanium model featuring LED framing for use with interchangeable lenses. As always, a coupled rangefinder took care of focusing tasks and an 18Mp full-frame sensor ensured image quality excellence for a compact.
Featured on the Titanium model was Leica’s Summilux-M 35mm/f1.4 lens. Originally introduced in more conventional livery in the summer for M-series owners with rather shallower pockets, this bright, wide-angle M-mount lens went for £3375, which combined with £4950 for a standard M9 body worked out at about half the price of the Titanium model. With over 20 lenses currently available and adapters for many more, regardless of version, the Leica M9 held its own as a unique camera, maintaining its favoured position among photojournalists and its reputation for photographic excellence.
dude there is no std. 12mm prime of µ4/3
Sorry Viet 1, there is Lumix 12mm 3D which is a novelty lens really. Then there is 14mm (28 eqv) prime which is to be bundled with the GF2. But that's it, there is no mention of a 12mm standard prime for m4/3 in the near future.
...am off sick with man-flu trolling the comment columns *ho-hum*
You have a point too
But it really depends on your needs. I won't dispute on the usefulness of modern DSLR's amenities. They are some pros' bread and butter, especially those working in areas where speed is prime (sports and weddings comes to mind). But how many photographers are making a living on their cameras ? And which pros exactly need to suck dry their memory card capacity in less than a minute ?
One should never forget a whole generation of reporters brought back worldwide acclaimed images from all over the world using only a leica, a 35mm lens, and tri-X.
The good camera is the one that's ready in your hand when something happens. If you don't have problems carrying your EOS 1D around your neck, by any means, do it. Maybe I'd like it too, but I can't. It's too big for me, it breaks my back, it scares away people from scenes I'd like to picture, and it would be much too expensive to replace if it got stolen or damaged. My e-p1 on the other hand is always at the ready, unobtrusive, light, produces almost dslr quality, and doesn't make people think I'm pointing a shotgun at their head.
In fact, it so much fits my needs like a glove that I sold my DSLR system since I got it. It covers 90% of the pictures I wish to snatch. The 5% of situations I need something really small, I use my LX2. And the 5% I'd like faster AF, well, I'm doomed, so be it. Most of those times, I'd be doomed anyway because any DSLR would be tucked out of reach either at home or at the bottom of my bag. But if I only had a DSLR, I would miss more than half the pictures I currently make. I've been making more images with the e-p1 in a year than I made with my dslr in 4, with almost a constant keeper ratio.
So, it's really a case of "to each his own", I guess.
So not really the best compact cameras, then
Which part of "compact" is not clear? These cameras are as compact as a bloody great bulky thing with a big ol' lens slicking out of it.
Compact cameras look at Panasonic TMZ10 (phenomenal value, optical quality and control), the teenzy but quite clever Sony Cybershot TX9, and the Canon S95 (good as the G12, but much more...well... compact).
None of these are compacts.
Compacts are roughly cuboid shaped one-piecers that fit easily in your jeans / jacket / handbag.
All the cameras here defy the dictionary definition of the word compact - they're just slightly smaller DSLRs (albeit without the optical viewfinder).