Lately – say in the last two years – I’ve been trying to find an excellent, excellent camera for my own use. (This began after the battery on my old Sony would no longer hold a charge, and batteries for that old 3MP model were no longer available.) Let’s examine all the ones I’ve tried, on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the Holy Grail of point & shoot, and 1 is “puts out a smudged mess that doesn’t even look like a photo.”
Last March (2013) I bought the Nikon Coolpix P510. This was truly an excellent camera. 42x zoom, nice sharp pictures. This one ranks as a 7. Unfortunately it was hugely bulky. It is technically a point-and-shoot, but because of the zoom lens, its size is nearer a DSLR. I did carry it periodically and took some photos, but in the end just couldn’t be bothered hauling it around, so I traded it in.
With the proceeds I first bought a Nikon S02 (tiny, fits on a credit card, and adorably cute, but only takes good pictures when there is a lot – almost an excessive amount – of light). Returned this within the original 30 days. This ranks about a 3; the pictures from my Nokia phone are consistently much better quality.
When I returned it, I tried a Nikon S9400. This sounded good on paper, and my test pics were good, but for some reason I returned it. Memory tells me to put it about a 7. It did as well as the older Coolpix, and it was a slimline point-and-shoot, but maybe didn’t have as much zoom? I like zoom for outdoor stuff, like when we go to the beach. I really don’t know why I returned it.
After that, I spent about six weeks on the internet, reading and researching cameras. Finally I thought “the hell with the zoom” and purchased a Sony DSC-RX100 (the first iteration, not the II or the new III). This camera is a 9 or even a 9.5 on everything…except that it only has a 3x zoom. But I kept it and used it a lot, in non-zoom situations, and have been exceedingly happy with it. Factoring in the serious lack of zoom brings that 9.5 down to about a 7.5, but the photos I do take are very strikingly crisp.
A few weeks ago I started to feel the lack of zoom keenly. It was after we went to the beach that day. So I poked around, and we found the Canon Elph 340, which has a pretty good zoom and comes in purple! So we got one. It’s pretty good! Not always, though. This is about a 7 or 7.5. I didn’t award bonus points for the color 🙂
And then, when I couldn’t stand it any longer (and when Sony dropped the price by a large margin), I got the DSC-HX50V. 30x zoom (yeah!), and takes very crisp photos. Weighs more than any of the other ones (except that old Coolpix, which was a beast), and I can’t yet find a nice slipcase for it, but otherwise when you factor in all the different features, I rank it a solid 8. Zoomed photos could stand to be a little crisper at 100%, but usually they get compressed for blog viewing, and so the fuzzy edges aren’t that important. Here is a shot of the test pen setup.
The HX50V will probably become my default camera for taking out and about, while the RX100 will continue to be my at-home camera. I don’t really need both, but the RX100 is just too crisp and perfect with non-zoom situations. Chris has taken the purple Elph for his own, and Alex still shows very little interest in photography. I think we’re all set for a while, don’t you?
Some other sample photos:
Note the caption above. After playing with the settings a little more, and actually reading the user manual, I learned that that was not the 60x full digital zoom. I was a bit suspicious since it doesn’t look that much more zoomed than the previous picture. Turns out I had on a setting called something like Clear Image Zoom. This sort of assists you if you need to go slightly higher than the 30x optical zoom to focus properly. When I discovered that, I left it on, and turned on Digital Zoom to do some experiments. It turns out this camera will go to 120x zoom! WOW. Now, I have no actual pictures of this to show you, because I was wobbling around so badly trying to hold the camera steady. This weekend I’ll get out the tripod, mount this camera (the HX50V) and take some 120x zoom photos, just for comparison.
I hope this may help someone make an informed camera-buying decision!