what are the best ‘high end’ digital compact cameras?

we hear an awful lot about digital SLR cameras, both in terms of news, updates, prices and upcoming releases. The budget range consists of a wide range of cameras which largely compete on price, with people simply looking at the basis stats to see which camera will offer them the most ‘bang for their buck’. Today, i am going to turn my attention to the often overlooked high-end compact digital market, the one which bridges the compact digital and the SLR, the market where you keen amateurs lurk…

so what are the best ‘high end’ compact digital cameras?

I am going to open this series up by looking at the Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera (10 Megapixel, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.8 inch LCD.
This camera targets the SLR owner who is looking for a backup camera, or for the very keen amateur photographer who is seeking a more portable version of an SLR (SLR functionality minus the bulk). Whilst outwardly similar to its predecessor the Canon PowerShot G10 14.7MP Digital Camera – 5x Optical Zoom, 3 inch PureColor LCD II Viewfinder – Black it does differ in a number of significant ways.

Canon have dropped the mega pixel count from 14.1 on the g10 to 10 on the G11, as it targets image quality as opposed to outright high resolution. According to Canon, this has led to a 2-stop increase in image quality. Canon have also added a multi angle LCD screen as a result of customer demand.

other features prevalent on the G11 include its 5x, 28-140mm zoom lens, RAW shooting mode, optical image stabilizer which helps eliminate camera-shake, optical viewfinder, flash hotshoe, 1cm macro mode, and a full range of manual shooting modes, which will obviously appeal to its target market.

Look and feel

Outwardly, nothing much has changed from the G10 to the G11. The same robust black shell remains, and the dimensions are almost bob on. In looking to appeal to the SLR market, Canon have created a popular line of bridge cameras, and in terms of the way these cameras look and feel, they have approached their updates with the attitude of ‘if it isnt broken, we wont fix it’.

The new multi angle LCD screen is smaller and has a lower dot resolution then its predecessor (2.8″ to 3″, and 460 to 461 dot-res). Canon claims it has listened to feedback from its customers in creating the multi-angle screen, and that its multi-angle technology more than offsets and lowering of the spec.

all things taken into consideration, the camera is portable and compact, whilst being robust and sturdy; meaning that it meets the demands of the SLR photographer who needs something a little more portable. Therefore, it is doing exactly what it claims to be trying to do.
Interestingly, the G10 and G11 are priced very similarly, making it a straight choice between the nifty new multi angle screen and higher ISO settings on the G11, and the higher resolution of the G10. The 28-140 lens on the G11 allows for a huge range of creative options, from landscapes to portraits, which is a very appealing feature in a compact digital. If you are looking to avoid bulk, then versatility is something you are surely looking for.

The G11 is something of a standout, in terms of the fact that on paper it could easy to conceive that this camera has gone backwards from the G10. The lower pixel count (by a significant amount), the smaller LCD screen, the lower dot-resolution. Canon is refusing to play the ever growing numbers game. They arent adding pixels for pixels sake, and have instead concentrated on making a camera which takes better pictures, and that is, after all, what we are looking for isn’t it? they are trusting that you, the target market, know that there is more to digital photography, and the pictures you produce, then the numbers of mega-pixels on your camera…

so is this the ‘ultimate compact’ (canons claim and aim)? maybe not, the Panasonic Lumix GF1 12.1MP Digital System Camera 14-45mm Lens Kit – Black offers interchangeable lenses and yet is almost exactly the same size as the Canon. Considering we are looking at the keen amateur/semi-pro/pro market, this is a huge benefit. Of course, cameras such as the Panasonic come at an extra cost, and the lenses cost extra on-top, and the Canon is giving you pretty much everything you need in one compact design. So if it is a true ‘compact camera’ that you are after, and as such are not looking for swap-able lenses, then the Canon’s remain a great choice. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to go for the G10 or the G11 though!

~ by onlinecamerawarehouse on June 7, 2010.

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