Nikon Coolpix S2500
With the Coolpix S2500, Nikon seems to be coming at the cheap and cheerful compact snapper from the right angle. Here is a competent camera that doesn’t overload you with features that you would otherwise have to pay extra for. At 93 x 57 x 20mm and 117g it's neither bulky nor weighty and features a 2.7in screen which is a good compromise size.
In fact, the screen is one of the big plus points as everything looks so good through it that you can snap away in complete confidence. Likewise the controls on the back are such a familiar navpad layout, with dedicated functions, that tweaks are easily enabled.
This 12Mp shooter has a 4.9-19.6mm, f/3.2-5.9 lens (35mm equivalent to 27-108 mm). Zoomed in, some images showed just a hint of purple fringing, which may be a CCD sensor issue, but the definition holds up well.
Autofocus is responsive and exposures seem spot on. If you don’t burden it with too massive a storage card, start up can be around 3s. Yet using a 32GB Class 10 card pushed it up to 5.5s. The MJPEG AVI video is standard def at 30fps, set your focal length and shoot – if you try and zoom then a digital option kicks in quite smoothly, such that it borders on useable.
For 100 quid you don’t get all the bells and whistles but what you do get is an excellent compromise that won’t disappoint.
Reg Rating 85%
More Info Nikon
The VG-130 is one of the largest camera of the bunch, at 96 x 57 x 19mm, but we’re talking cigarette papers here in comparison with the likes of the Fuji. At 125g, it’s light, yet features a 14Mp sensor, records 720p HD video at 30fps and has a 5x optical zoom. The lens range is 4.7-23.5mm, f2.8-6.5 (26-130mm, equivalent on a 35mm camera), so it has quite a decent wide angle, impressively presented by its 3in screen on the back.
The top plate is just power and shutter release, with the backplate housing the zoom rocker control along with buttons for movie recording, menu and play, plus a navpad that executes on-screen options rather than dedicated functions. Fire it up and it takes 2.5s to shoot, making it among the fastest off the blocks. Its MJPEG AVI video looks good too, but the sound is a feeble 8-bit at 8kHz.
The Olympus seems promising in many areas, yet its auto modes - which include intelligent auto - were quite bizarre for some conditions, as it would hop from ISO extremes – shooting at 80 ISO and then notching up to 800. This seemed to happen quite often. Indeed, the camera resolutely prefers to remain entrenched at ISO ratings of 125 or below.
Despite trying different modes, checking the EV and even a factory reset, the VG-130 just wants to shoot old school, as if it were loaded with Kodachrome 64. Sure, you can manually set the ISO, but in high contrast conditions, this camera needs cajoling to work at higher speeds to avoid shaky shots, as the image stabilisation can’t perform miracles.
When it does pull it off, the exposures seem extremely well calculated – vibrant colours and capturing more detail than others in the group – but it needs work, and a steady hand, to get there. If you’d rather live with noise than camera shake, the VG-130 would probably benefit from being manually set on ISO 200 and left to work around that. You’d probably have no complaints.
For those that don’t mind fiddling, the VG-130 is a bit of steal at £90, but as far a point and shoot goes, it’s just too fussy.
Reg Rating 65%
More Info Olympus
Next page: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18
Well, I like cinema type stuff
So give me 24fps. But I agree wholeheartedly about the evils of interlacing. It's ugly and stupid and has no place in the 21st century. Just kill it with fire.
It records 720p HD video as MP4 files at 29.97fps ....., although 25fps would be nice
Almost always for all but cinema type stuff, more temporal info is better. 25fps should have died a death when we moved to HD, as should interlaced (though Sony annoyingly still use the bloody thing randomly on some cameras and not others*)
*my Sony A55V shoot AVCHD 25fps** progressive (in interlaced AVCHD container), whereas my HX9V shoots it at 50i true interlaced....arggggg... die interlaced video. DIE!!!!
**Sony are still one of the arseholes that insist on selling 'PAL' cameras to PAL markets, even though there is no such thing as PAL in HD and LCD tvs. does my fucking head in but gave up trying to source a 'NTSC' model...
In perfect conditions a phone camera may look like it comes close but full size photos in anything but and the difference becomes obvious. You cannot cheat the laws of physics and the pinhole lens and microscopic sensor are the limiting factor unless you want a phone as thick as a camera etc.
Alternatively useful: a comparison of cheap WATERPROOF cams.
You know, with the holiday season an' all that?
Or as a second choice, combinations of cheap compacts + suitable waterproof covers (and compare the photo results of that setup).
Sure, the glass is a big factor, but so is the sensor. It doesn't matter how good your lens is if it's focusing the light onto a microscopic CCD. The N8 is remarkably well-endowed in this department with its 1/1.83" sensor.
Now if only Nokia had embraced Android, or some manufacturer of Android phones had taken as much care over their imaging hardware as Nokia have. :)