September 20, 2009

Power Pixels

CAMERAS Perfect holiday snaps don't necessarily require a weighty digital SLR that costs more than your hotel room and flights combined. In fact, it's possible to find a higperformance lens, a healthy portion of megapixels and a slew of top-notch features lurking in a compact camera costing Rs. 15,000 or less. Read on to find out

Best…Overall spec

Sony Cyber-Shot W210
It just doesn’t feel right getting so much camera for such small money. Proving just how far the budget compact camera market has come, the W210 is spec’ed to the back teeth, with a 12.1-meg sensor and 4x optical zoom. Not only does it bo ast all the features you’ve come to expect — Smile Shutter, Face Detection et al — it also allows you more control over your shots. You can endlessly tweak shooting modes and then tweak the results using the in-camera editing tools. Top quality photos and features in a typically dapper Sony package. A storming camera. Look up

Love Striking, natural photos and fab features
Hate Dodgy movie mode
Price: Rs. 11,990

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7
There’s a flash of style on the fascia, but for the most part the FS7 lacks design finesse. The menu system is simple to the point of being childlike and the controls at the rear don’t share the robust build quality of the casing, but tha t doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done. While not as smart as the rest of the field, the 10.1-meg, 4x zoom FS7 packs enough auto modes to aid even the most ham-fi sted snapper. Portraits are warm, natural and detail filled and the 848x480- pixel movie clips are similarly stirring. Look up

Love Consistently good pics with warm skin tones. Decent video
Hate Hardly exciting. Rudimentary menu
Price: Rs. 11,000

Fujifilm Finepix Z30
Don’t be fooled by the diamante-effect sliding cover: the Z30 is no airhead. In fact, it’s primed with the very latest technology. All the usual face detection and scene recognition modes are available, as well as a 10-meg sensor and 3x o ptical zoom, but it’s the Z30’s Internet abilities that take centre stage. The “auction” setting neatly stitches together snaps of your unwanted tat ready to be re-scaled and uploaded to Ebay. The Z30 produces some pleasing results. The only downside is that its flash can be as overpowering as its garish colour scheme. Look up

Love Features for the Internet-savvy
Hate Grainy shots
Price: Rs. 12,000

Samsung ST50
Clad in a classic, black paint job and measuring just 14.2mm in depth, the ST50 is a triumph of intelligent design. The sophisticated menu layout is as attractive as it is intuitive, allowing you to scroll through menu options including the Smart Aut o mode, advanced portrait settings and MPEG4 movie shooter with consummate ease. With a 12-megapixel sensor also on the spec list, the expectations are high, so it’s a crushing blow to discover that
behind the style lurks very little substance, with stills and videos being merely competent. Look up

Love The chic looks and effortless menu system
Hate Uninspiring picture and video quality
Price: Rs. 15,900

Nikon Coolpix s220
The Coolpix S220 is from the finest image-making stock, having inherited the attractive, brightly coloured looks of the compact side of the family and the brains of its Nikon SLR forefathers. Containing a tasty 10-megapixel sensor and a 3x optical zo om NIKKOR lens, the S220 is capable of producing eye-popping, realistic colours and precision detail. It’s also got a large bag of tricks, including smile detection and an on-board retouching studio. There’s a movie mode available too, but alas, even the most undemanding YouTube viewer would baulk at the quality of its footage. Look up

Love Vibrant, realistic pictures in all conditions
Hate Fizzy, shaky video
Price: Rs. 9,950

Casio Exilim EX -Z1
The folks at Casio are keen to push this 10.1-meg camera as something a little out of the ordinary — a camera that shoots decent video footage. There’s a YouTube setting for video gems involving animals or babies and bundled software that ’ll take you step-by step through uploading them to the Internet. The 848x480 resolution is none too shabby for an inexpensive compact. It’s a shame, then, that the same attention to detail wasn’t applied to the taking of still images. Shots appear washed out and loaded with more grain than a bowl of shredded wheat. Look up

Love Movie magic
Hate Stills are (comparatively) tragic
Price: Rs. 10,000

Why is it the boiling point of sea water more than that of pure water?
Sea water contains salt, and other impurities which cause an elevation in the boiling point.