advanced comPacT cameras
by Theano niki Tas
PORTABLE? YES. POWERFUL AND SOPHISTICATED ENOUGH FOR SERIOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS? YES.
Little cameras with big controls are the new normal for photographers who want a small model to throw in a bag or slide in a pocket
but don’t want to sacrifice image quality or manual controls. These advanced models generally have larger sensors than typical
compact cameras (and, therefore, better image quality) and a full complement of auto, manual and semi-manual exposure modes.
Here’s a look at some of the latest advanced compact cameras that will keep you shooting when you leave the DSLR at home.
CANON POWERSHOT S100
Shipping this month, the new Canon PowerShot S100 is the successor to
one of my favorite cameras, the S95. Built around a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor versus the S95’s 10MP CCD, the S100 can now deliver full 1080p video
at 24fps. Under the hood is Canon’s latest processor, the DIGIC 5, which
helps speed along the new 10fps high speed burst mode that will capture
up to 8 full resolution JPEG images. The camera maintains an f/2.0 lens
but Canon has extended the focal range to 24-120mm. Light sensitivity has
been expanded as well, with native ISO settings from 80-6400. Available
in black or silver, a slight redesign has added a grip to make it easier to hold
but maintains the lens’ control ring that is one of the S-series’ trademarks.
Optical image stabilization is a given for most advanced compact cameras
but the S100 incorporates Intelligent IS, which benefits both still and video
capture. Essentially, the camera automatically selects the appropriate type
of image stabilization for the shot. (For example, if you’re shooting a flower,
the camera will recognize macro mode and correct for that type of shake.)
Additional scene modes include toy camera, monochrome and handheld night scene. The latter captures and merges multiple shots to create
an image with less blur and less image noise. But perhaps the biggest news for the S100 is the addition of GPS. Not only does it geotag images
but, using special Canon software, you can use Google maps to see where you’ve been. There’s also a logging feature that will track your travels
and show a trail, minus the breadcrumbs.
Fuji has added a new member to its X-series family: the 12MP
X10, the little brother to the X100. At the core of this retro-look
compact camera is a 2/3-inch EXR CMOS sensor that provides
Fujifilm’s trademark trio of shooting options: SN (Signal to Noise)
for high sensitivity/low noise shots; DR (Dynamic Range) and HR
(High Resolution). ISO ranges from 100 to 12,800 although the
higher ISOs can only be achieved when image quality is set to
lower resolution. The EXR processor powers the X10’s high speed
continuous shooting of up to 7 frames per second at full resolution. The X10 can also achieve 10 frames per second by dropping
the resolution. The camera is equipped with a new Fujinon 4x
manual zoom lens with a focal range of 28-112mm, a decent
range for a compact camera. At the other end of the spectrum,
the X10 can capture macro images as close as 1cm. In addition to the standard manual and semi-manual exposure modes,
the X10 also features exposure, ISO, dynamic range and film simulation bracketing. An electronic horizon-leveling gauge is
included in the feature set and the camera is capable of shooting RAW (in-camera processing is available). Other features
of note include a 360-degree panorama mode, along with full HD 1080p video with stereo sound.