Best creative compacts 2011
- Wed, 12 Oct 2011
If you are off travelling and want to photograph your trip in detail without having to lug a camera bag full of kit around with you, a creative compact could be just the job.
Panasonic Lumix LX3 - £350
Small but perfectly formed, the stunning LX3 has been the ultimate pocket-sized creative compact since its launch, with full exposure control, must-have DSLR features such as Raw capture and a Leica-made 24-60mm f/2-2.8 wideangle lens.
Canon Powershot G11 - £570
The G series has long been Canon's premium compact range, with its DSLR-like handling and features. The latest model, the G11 (tested on page 78) drops the pixel count from 14.7MP to 10MP to focus more on better image quality performance in low light. Also back is the articulating LCD screen.
Ricoh GRD III - £520
It may look a bit unfinished but its understated, chrome free, matt black finish is part of its ‘let the pictures do the talking' philosophy. With its fixed 28mm super-bright f/1.9 wideangle lens, 3inch 920k-dot LCD screen, raw capture option and full PASM controls, this is a camera that means business.
Nikon P6000 - £320
Nikon's flagship compact offers a fully loaded spec sheet for those who want a decent zoom range and good image quality in a sub DSLR-sized package. The 28-120mm zoom is complemented by high-end features like Raw capture, D-Lighting and Distortion Control.
Canon S90 - £450
Less bulky than the G11, the S90 nevertheless packs in plenty of advanced features, including a fast f/2 maximum aperture and the ability to record Raw. Adding to the creative feel is a control ring around the lens that can be twisted to adjust camera settings such as focal length, shutter speed or aperture.
Best creative compact for... Zoom Range
Superzooms offer the convenience of a huge focal range. No need to carry large telephoto lenses - simply crank the zoom to its maximum length and you'll be able to capture the nostril hairs of an on-stage musician at the far end of Wembley stadium!
Fujifilm Finepix S200EXR - £430
The S200 looks like a standard DSLR and kit lens, but in fact the lens is fixed, and extends to over 400mm (equivalent to 600mm in 35mm terms). To get that kind of package in a proper DSLR would cost you double what the Fuji costs, making it worthy of consideration for sports and wildlife fans on a budget.
Sony Cybershot HX1 - £390
A shrunken DSLR that packs in a DSLR-style Exmor CMOS sensor and Bionz processor for top-notch image quality, along with a 20x zoom lens and some cutting- edge technology like the jaw-dropping Sweep Panorama. Probably the best superzoom on the market.
Best creative compact for... Interchangeable Lenses
Jointly developed by Olympus and Panasonic, Micro Four Thirds cameras - sometimes called ‘hybrids' - are compact-sized cameras but with the twin benefits of interchangeable lenses and DSLR-quality sensors. What is Micro-Four thirds?
Olympus Pen E-P1 - £700
It's no coincidence that the E-P1 looks like a compact from the 1960s. Its retro styling is based on the classic Pen of 1959. But unlike the original the lenses are interchangeable. In addition to its own range of lenses you can use any from the four-thirds DSLR system, via an adaptor, and the sensor is the same as the one used in Olympus DSLRs, so you can expect cracking image quality too.
Panasonic Lumix GF1 - £780
The E-P1's main challenger, Panasonic's GF1 trumps its Olympus rival in several areas. It's fractionally smaller, quite a bit lighter, has a high-resolution 900k- dot LCD screen and a built-in flash. The optional viewfinder is electronic, so it zooms in sync with the lens.