Enthusiast Compact group test – Shot-to-shot speed and Controls

Enthusiast group test opener | Buying Advice | What Digital Camera

Controls

One area where these seven cameras differ greatly is with physical controls. While some provide these in abundance, others keep things as minimal as possible. This is, of course, a personal preference: while some may prefer a camera with a streamlined design for pocketability, others may prefer a substantial grip and a physical set-up more akin to a DSLR. The slow take-up of touchscreen displays on such cameras indicates that manufacturers still believe  most enthusiasts prefer physical rather than virtual controls, which perhaps explains why Olympus has complemented the XZ-2's touchscreen functionality with plenty of buttons around the body.

Also welcome is Nikon's and Olympus's decison to add a function control around the front where it can be conveniently accessed by the middle finger, something which has also been observed on recent DSLRs. The P7700 is also the only compact of the seven to provide a control dial on both the front and back, and one of two cameras - the G15 being the other - to sport a dedicated dial for exposure compensation, which is perhaps just as well given the tendency for both cameras to overexpose on occasion. Only the LX7 and EX2F lack a circular menu pad dial, something which benefits the others when zipping through menus.

 

Shot-to-shot speed

The time it takes for a camera to ready itself for the next frame is subject to a range of factors, such as whether you're shooting Raw images, what processing options you have activated and also the type of card you happen to be using. When a series of images is captured these are temporarily stored in the camera's buffer before they are written to the card, and the size of the buffer will determine how many images can be stored. This may not be an issue for more casual photo taking, but when capturing an unfolding scene, or for sports or other action photography, such delays can make all the difference between getting and missing the shot.

Some cameras such as the Samsung EX2F allow you to continue shooting while images are emptied from the buffer and processed (the buffer can also be a repository for processed images before they are written to the memory card), while other cameras, such as the Nikon P7700, can freeze most of their functionality as this happens, which prohibits further images from being taken. This is often overlooked as it is something that can only be determined through use, but it's worth thinking about if you use continuous shooting - particularly in Raw - with some frequency. Most cameras now support UHS SDHC and SDXC cards which promise high-speed  transfer rates, although some still do not.