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Pocketable Memories

Biswajit.HD

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They are small, versatile and are easily pocketable. These pixel-packed cameras offer much more than they used to a year ago.
Capturing moments and the very essence of life; that’s what cameras are all about. Remember the days when film cameras were actually in vogue? The endless number of film rolls that one would purchase since they could capture just about 36 shots? Then the reel had to be given for processing which would take another two to three days before you actually get to see the snaps. With the advent of digital cameras, photography has taken a rather roundabout turn. With the plethora of choices from every major brand, photography is no longer limited to only professionals. The number of options that one gets when purchasing a camera is so huge that everyone from a beginner to a professional can find what he/she is looking for in a camera.
Well, one cannot argue about the convenience that digital cameras have brought. Unlike older models the newer ones come with added features such as face, smile and blink detection along with a wide range of preset scenes that make usability almost foolproof. That’s not all; cameras such as the Canon IXUS 200 IS feature a 24mm lens which basically gives you a wider view of the subject being shot. Capturing videos is another added advantage that digital cameras offer. They are no longer limited to low resolutions, for example the Sony DSC-WX1, Samsung ST550 and Canon IXUS 200 IS are capable of capturing high definition videos which translates into better picture quality and smoother playback. Transferring and sharing files is also not a problem since all images are stored digitally and can be easily transferred whenever required.
The sheer compactness that these cameras offer is simply amazing considering the number of features they are able to accommodate. You can in fact pocket a 12-megapixel camera which was considered impossible a year ago. Companies are also implementing innovative ideas such as touch screen interfaces devoid of buttons thereby giving you a larger screen area to view your pictures.
The most confusing part is to be able to choose one! With a plethora of cameras that come in various sizes and price categories it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information. So if you are looking to pick up a compact digital camera this holiday season flip over to find out which suits you best.

CANON IXUS 200 IS

The Canon IXUS 200IS leaves all its competitors behind with its best-in-class performance and gorgeous looks. It beat the runner up, the IXUS 110IS, by a very close margin because of its ergonomics. This camera, equipped with a 12.1-megapixel sensor, is very rich in features. With a max shutter speed of 1/3000 second, one can capture high speed objects without any trouble. A variety of preset scenes makes it easy for any beginner to shoot without the need to set the camera functions manually.
The 5x optical zoom and 1600 top ISO are also key features. Even with video recording, this camera is superior. Recorded at 1280x720 resolution, the videos are very clear and smooth when shot during daytime. A jog dial integrated with the navigation pad makes it very convenient to zip through the menus. The most interesting feature is the touchscreen which allows one to focus on an object by just touching it on the screen. It even allows one to navigate through the images captured by flipping them with your fingers somewhat like an iPhone. Even better, it has an accelerometer built in, with which one can flip through images by just shaking the camera upwards or downwards. But other than this, the touchscreen has no practical functions.
The build quality is excellent and so are its ergonomics. It’s very compact but slightly heavier than the other cameras. The buttons are tactile enough and very well spaced; so is the navigation pad. Though the IXUS 110IS outperformed it in the indoor and outdoor shoot, the picture quality is sharp and commendable. Producing great images at high ISO levels is its strongest point, making it the best performer of the lot. But for a basic compact camera, it's a bit expensive.

VERDICT: This camera commands a hefty premium for its brilliant feature set.
FOR: Good ergonomics, touchscreen.
AGAINST: Would have been a great deal for Rs 18,000.


FUJIFILM FINEPIX A170

The Fujifilm FinePix A170 is the cheapest camera in the lot that performed very well. Those, with a tight budget and who do not want to compromise on features, can go for this model because it has a lot of features that the top performers have. With a resolution of 10.2 megapixels, 3X optical zoom and 1600 ISO, this camera is a sweet deal. Its 2.7-inch LCD screen is quite big for one to shoot and view pictures. Nothing gaudy about its looks, but it does have a good design. A useful feature in this camera is the panorama mode which allows automatic stitching of images.
Menu navigation is simple and ergonomics are excellent. There are very few buttons but they do the job just fine. They are well spaced also. There are eight LEDs at the back, but only one does all the indication work. The build quality is excellent; the camera is very sturdy. It’s convenient to hold and shoot photos with.
When it comes to performance, this camera doesn’t fall back. It produced good images both indoors and outdoors. The pictures shot in panorama mode were intelligently merged, producing pretty good composites. The high ISO images were a bit disappointing though;.at 400 ISO the images were very noisy. Video recording is just average. But the most frustrating part of the camera is its macro mode. It refused to focus on any object which was less than 10 cm from the lens, thereby defeating the purpose of a macro mode. Even the Finepix J27 had the same issue. One can definitely conclude that A170 is not meant for those who enjoy taking macro shots. The company should take care of this problem in their future models.
For the price, this camera certainly does a good job, thereby making it the best value offering.

VERDICT: A very affordable camera with all the right features.
FOR: Build Quality, affordable.
AGAINST: Terrible macro range, below average at high ISO.


CANON IXUS 110IS

The runner up, Canon's IXUS 110IS is a good performer. In some tests it even surpassed the best performer, the IXUS 200IS. It looks great, making it a style statement by itself.
Feature-wise this camera is very similar to the winner with a 12.1-megapixel sensor and 4X optical zoom. It also has an interface similar to it thereby similar menu navigation. The build quality is the same; but this camera has a better battery compartment lid. Even the number of modes, preset scenes, white balance modes and color modes are the same. It’s almost a replica of the 200IS with very few features different. Well, there are a few things missing in the 110IS compared to the 200IS. It does not have a touchscreen and accelerometer; though these are not that important. The only field that this camera lost out on is its ergonomics. The navigation pad which is also a jog-dial, is quite comfortable, but not as great as the one in 200IS. The buttons are recessed inside the body which makes it less comfortable. When it comes to performance, the 110IS has slightly better scores. Its images had better details than the latter's in both indoor and outdoor tests. It even fared well in the noise tests. The videos captured by it were similar to the 200IS too.
There’s very little difference between the 110IS and 200IS, and had it not been for its ergonomics, this one would have emerged as the best performance winner. People who are confused about which one to buy can very well go for this camera because it costs a bit less than the 200IS. But then again, its price is still high compared to the other compact cameras available.

VERDICT: A great compact camera that is almost as good to use as the best performer.
FOR: Good performance, compact design, wide-angle lens
AGAINST: Price, recessed keys.

SAMSUNG ST550

The Samsung ST550 is a marvelous piece of work. Those with a fetish for touchscreens and deep pockets can definitely consider this model. A combination of looks, features and performance can be the definition of this sleek baby. It features a 12.2-megapixel sensor, 4.6X optical zoom and a large 3.5 inch touchscreen LCD. A nice little feature is the 1.5 inch LCD in the front which helps in taking self portraits. One can store 10 images at max resolution on its inbuilt 55 MB of memory.
Being a completely touchscreen camera, there are no buttons except for the power, shoot, zoom and view controls. Navigating through the menu is a cakewalk after one gets used to it. It might take some time to learn all its functions. All the basic settings are available on one screen without having to struggle to look for them. The touchscreen is very responsive but is prone to fingerprints, naturally. This camera is the heaviest of the lot and doesn’t look that sturdy, though the build quality is good. One has to be careful while handling it. Its inbuilt accelerometer is more sensitive than the IXUS 200IS’s; but at times becomes less responsive.
This baby performs as well as it looks. Images taken both indoors and outdoors were sharp and detailed. It even produced good results at high ISO levels. The video quality was spectacular with great clarity and smoothness. The videos captured by the ST550 were almost as good as the ones captured by the Sony WX1; which was the best performer in the videos category. Overall it’s a neat camera fom Samsung, but it loses out in part because of its extreme pricing. If you are a photography enthusiast and willing to spend the amount, it would be wiser to get yourself an entry-level DSLR.
VERDICT: A great touchscreen camera with excellent video recording.
FOR: Dual screen, killer looks.
AGAINST: Very high pricing, no color modes.


Source : Chip magazine.
 
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