Sony has very short life cycle for many of its products lately. We’ve seen four flagship Xperia Z phones during two year period and digital cameras multiply like rabbits. This is especially the case with NEX cameras… Sorry, they are called ILCE now. Whatever the name I’ll always regard them as NEX, after all, I’ve owned one for three years and made great shots with it. Anyway, the latest newcomer is the A5100. I’ve reviewed A5000 earlier this year: it was announced in January and now in September came the new A5100. Main differences include resolution bump to 24 megapixels, more focus points, higher resolution LCD, faster burst rate and better video. Continue reading to find out if it is of any significance or Sony just makes cameras for the sake of new cameras.
What now seems a really long time ago (~ 10 years) there was a type of digital cameras called “prosumer”. Models like Canon Pro1, Olympus C8080 or Sony F828 were typical representatives of this category. These were relatively big and expensive cameras packed with advanced features, excellent optics and above average image quality. But still all of them used really small 1/2.3 image sensors what was responsible for not-that-great image quality compared to DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors. As soon as affordable DSLR cameras ($1000 or less) appeared, prosumer cameras silently disappeared from the market. After all, who would want to buy a big camera with the small sensor when there are far better DSLR options for the same or even lower price?
Times change and Smartphone cameras gradually became better and better. For most people, image quality delivered by 8 megapixel Smartphone is more than enough and the whole digital cameras market rapidly decreased. Camera manufacturers found themselves in a problem; nobody was buying compacts anymore and they finally realized there is still a small but constant demand for prosumer cameras: the ones that deliver high image quality but can’t exchange lenses. A lot of amateurs are afraid of interchangeable lens cameras since they feel obligated to buy more and more gear they do not understand or want.
True prosumer revival started last year with the Sony DSC-RX10. But this time, small 1/2.3 sensor would not suffice and Sony used large 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor with 20 megapixels. Image quality delivered by this camera was comparable to DSLR for many amateur users and there was only one lens with perfect focal range (24-200) and constant aperture of F/2.8. RX10 can work in full AUTO mode, or you can take control over numerous advanced features. RX10 was an instant hit and was only the question of time someone would produce something similar or even better.
So now we have the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000. It uses the same 1″ 20 megapixels sensor, has even more optical zoom: 25-400mm F/2.8-4, 4K video and all the bells and whistles you can pack in a digital cameras these days. And oh yes; it is cheaper from the start so Sony had to reduce RX10 price to around $1000 to make them both cost around the same.
So if you are wondering is there a particular reason why I wrote the longest intro to a review on my blog… yes there is. FZ1000 deserves it since this is one of the best products this year. I’ve gone into details about FZ1000 on the next pages and even if you have no interest in reading all of it, skip to page 4 to see direct comparison and image samples from both FZ1000 and RX10.
Canon Powershot SX170IS is an affordable compact ultra zoom. For around $200 you get a 16 megapixels sensor and 16x optical zoom with image stabilization. Compared to previous SX160, the new one has a small but important upgrade: it comes with a Li-Ion battery and a charger unlike SX160 which used AA batteries; most users prefer Li-Ion. Design and features remained mostly unchanged so you get a standard set of shooting modes as well as full manual control in case you need it what makes SX170 a great first camera. The more you learn about photography, the more manual control you will want to have.
Nikon Coolpix L29 is one of the cheapest digital cameras currently available. At around $130 it offers 5x optical zoom, 16 megapixels and HD video recording. When people ask me about cameras this cheap, I usually recommend buying several years used higher specked camera, but after a short stroll through the city I think this Nikon L29 actually might be a good choice. Keep reading to find out how it performs.
Summer is still not over, and I’ve got another underwater camera for review – Nikon Coolpix AW120. On the paper, it is similar to other price comparable competitors – it has 16 megapixels sensor, 5x optical zoom, full HD video and 3 inch LCD screen. Besides that, Nikon AW120 packs full connectivity like GPS, WiFi and motion sensor that can be used to control camera when you cannot use buttons like when wearing thick gloves.
I’ve recently reviewed Olympus TG-3, the more expensive waterproof Olympus camera and it turned out to be a solid although far from perfect performer. Now, it’s time for the cheaper one – the TG-850. The differences at least in theory, are not that big: both cameras seem to share the identical image sensor and features, but the TG-850 has 60p video (TG-3 does 30p) and tilt-LCD what is unheard of in waterproof cameras. It also has a bit wider lens (21-105mm vs. 25-100mm on TG-3) but TG-3 offers much brighter lens (F/2 on wide angle), can withstand diving to 15m vs. 10m on TG-850, has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS and can accept fisheye and telephoto converters. Keep reading to find out how it performs in real life situations.
Compact camera market is in decline for a few years already, and as a result Olympus stopped producing compact cameras some time ago. Luckily, they are still into ultra zoom market and the SP-100 is the latest top model. It sports 50x optical zoom (24-1200 mm), 16 megapixels sensor and full HD video recording. Beside all that it has a unique “Dot-sight” finder that will help you to locate your subject with the lens zoomed all the way to telephoto.
Samsung is in a way similar to Sony. They like to experiment with digital cameras. If it shows to be a flop – no problem, something else will come next year that would sell well. Samsung already has a mirrorless system based around the NX lens mount and APS-C sized sensor, several cameras and a fistful of lenses. Therefore, the next logical (?) step was to introduce another mirrorless system, based around the smaller 13 x 9 mm sensor. So there it is: the NX mini. It is obvious who are the main target group – people who want small stylish camera with network connectivity and capable of somewhat better image quality compared to theirs iPhone. But is it more than that? That’s what I wanted to find out during my time with the NX mini.
Nikon Coolpix P340 is the latest model in the line of advanced compact cameras. As expected it has a full range of manual controls and customizations including the ability to shoot in RAW file format and was developed with image quality as it main selling point. Of course, you can use it in full AUTO mode what makes it ideal for amateur users in search of a small camera with higher than usual image quality. Since most of the compact camera market share was eaten away by smartphones, advanced cameras like P340 have become very affordable, but most of them untill recently were not capable of producing image quality that could compete with larger DSLR and mirrorless cameras with significantly bigger image sensors. Well, times change and P340 turned out to be good enough to rival some of the older DSLR’s. Keep reading to find out what is so good about this camera even got me thinking into buying one!
Olympus has quite a good reputation when it comes to waterproof cameras. Theirs Tough line models have proven numerous times in real life being able to survive really harsh conditions. TG-3 is the latest top of the range model, and beside the usual specifications like back illuminated 16 megapixels sensor or full HD video offers impressive resistance to abuse: this little fellow can survive diving up to 15m (50ft), is shockproof when dropped from the height of 2m (7ft), can survive being crushed by a force of 100kg, and will happily keep shooting at -10°C.