Budget Camera Grouptest - Performance and Value
Budget Cameras - Performance
Each camera had a few limitations to work through, whether it was a digitally stabilised image or a restrictive focal length. The fact that the cameras are budget-priced doesn't necessarily mean any of them can't be criticised for poor results, especially for the likes of landscape and macro images which should be every camera's bread and butter.
The Samsung PL80 tended to produce slightly overexposed results when presented with scenes of varied dynamic range, although colour was extremely eye-catching due to a higher level of saturation. Pixel smoothing was quite visible from an annoyingly low level, making shots in darker conditions something of a disappointment. The Canon A495, in spite of feeling the ‘cheapest' by quite a distance, produced some stunning images in most conditions. The digital stabilisation meant the top end of the zoom could cause a few issues, but for the most part the results were impressively sharp and balanced with rapid and accurate focus. Sony's W310 was a touch of a let down, as the dynamic range and image noise levels weren't aided by the shortened zoom or wide lens despite the focus being extremely quick.
The Nikon S3000 had a fair few issues centring on the post-processing, which was overly aggressive making the colours muddy and without a decent tone graduation. Focal range was imited at the tele end though the 27mm wideangle made it the widest in this test. The Fuji Z70 did well to hide any issues with image noise produced by the small lens by using the post-processing in a more controlled manner, even when the ISO-based image stabilisation got involved. At the top end of the zoom focus wasn't easy to achieve, and tones tended to be a touch too dark. Panasonic struck the right chords with the FS25, tempering the saturation to turn out deeper tones which marginally favoured the darker end of the scale, but didn't completely lose the highlights. Sharpness was impressive, as was the speed in which it achieved it.
Budget Cameras - Value
With only a £20 difference in street prices to pick between six cameras, the question of which gives the best value for money isn't a straightforward one to answer. For starters, those which look and feel cheap often hide far better image quality than is expected, and those attempting to offer too much fall short in the same department.
For instance the Canon PowerShot A495 feels ‘cheap', but produced some of the best image quality of the cameras on test. Running from AA batteries can provide a cheaper avenue, and a more convenient one, to those likely to run out when shooting away from a power point.
benefit of an extra £20, for the majority of the examples, was the
addition of optical image stabilisation. This removed the need to
increase the ISO to compensate for any movement, which would often force
the camera to smooth out the results or simply display more image
None of the cameras boasted a huge list of extra features, instead offering a decent array of the basics which should lead to high-quality images. At this level the FS25 was the clearest victor, as the optical image stabilisation and larger LCD made the extra few pounds worthwhile.
This article has more pages:
- 1. Best budget cameras: Group test of cheap digital cameras
- 2. Budget Camera Grouptest - Verdict
- 3. Budget Camera Grouptest - Performance and Value
- 4. Budget Camera Grouptest - Canon A495
- 5. Budget Camera Grouptest - Fujifilm Z70
- 6. Budget Camera Grouptest - Nikon S3000
- 7. Budget Camera Grouptest - Samsung PL80
- 8. Budget Camera Grouptest - Panasonic FS25
- 9. Budget Camera Grouptest - Sony W310