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When you say “quality camera”, everyone instantly thinks about DSLRs or medium format cameras. While these are indeed the cameras that provide the highest quality available, they are massively drawn back by their size and weight. Let’s face it, even if you are the biggest DSLR fan out there, and the bigger the camera, the happier you are ( in this case , nothing short of a D4 is enough), you have to admit, at least to yourself, secretly , that there are times when you wish the weight and size would go away. So what is a photographer to do when he wants to perform his art in a quiet, discreet manner or when he simply doesn’t feel like carrying the massive shoulder bag full of metal and glass? He could turn to his iPhone, but that again the sensor is the size of a sand grain and using apps does tend to get annoying after a while. Instead, he could make a smarter choice and go for one of these 5, extremely capable compact cameras. They were designed to pack incredible image quality into a small size and reduced weight. Here they are.
1. Fujifilm X20
It is the successor of the X10, which was already a very decent camera, but there are some improvements. It is said to have an overall increased speed of operation and Fuji even claim it has the “world’s fastest autofocus in its class” at 0,06 seconds. If it’s true, it will sure make it a highly attractive option for those photographers who are interested in fast, street snapshots. It has a manual zoom ring and a focal range of 28-112mm converted to full frame. The sensor is a 2/3 inch X-Trans CMOS II and because it is a bit larger than what is on other cameras, it has superior low light performance.
It may not be the prettiest compact camera you’ll see, but it packs a lot! First of all, something pros will most likely appreciate is the removable handgrip. The sensor is a backlit, 1/1.7 inch, CMOS that is designed to produce the least amount of noise in low light situations. The 3 inch LCD screen is articulated and the zoom lens has a range of 28-112mm with a very sweet maximum aperture of f1.8. Overall, the XZ-2 is clear proof of Olympus’s tradition and ability of producing excellent quality compact cameras.
This camera is a little different from the rest and it is certainly very interesting! Sigma is best known for making lenses, but they occasionally make cameras as well. Each time they build a camera, they make sure it’s completely different than anything else on the market. With that said, the DP3 is built around a Foveon X3 sensor that is just under the size of a regular APS-c sensor you would find on a DSLR, but that is also considerably larger than what most compact cameras have to offer. Sigma claims the resolution is 46 megapixels, but industry professionals report a real number close to 15. Either way, the image quality is very impressive, the build quality as well, and what’s really interesting about it is the fixed lens. It has a focal length of 50mm at f 2.8 (75mm equivalent), which kind of makes it an ideal camera to carry around for portraits.
A great successor to a series of very popular and loved cameras, the S110 is here to remind us of how Canon has always done an excellent job with compact cameras. It has a standard 1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor at 12.1 megapixels, but this time, the ISO range is 80-12800. Another great feature is its capability of shooting RAW (along with jpg) photos. The zoom lens is a stabilized 24-120mm with a maximum aperture of f2, so this too should be a performer in low light conditions.
This camera has some very impressive specifications at first glance. It has a 20 megapixel resolution that is provided by a 1 inch Exmor CMOS sensor. This is translated to clean images at high ISO values and sharp, crisp details. The optics is equally impressive. The RX100 is fitted with a Carl Zeiss 28-100mm zoom with a maximum aperture of, wait for it, f 1.4. Ad that up to a frame rate of 10 fps and you come up with a very attractive pocket camera.