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Diwali 2014 buying guide: 6 advanced point and shoots worth investing in

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Everyday we keep hearing of the imminent death of the point and shoot camera category, thanks to the improvements in smartphone cameras. While that is sort of true for the entry level point and shoot cameras, as they do not offer the option to share images as soon as they are shot and most smartphones offer similar features as that of a basic point and shoots. But at the higher end of the spectrum, the advanced point and shoot cameras are improving with every generation. Not only do you get bigger sensors, complete manual control, compact sizes but you can also share images instantly. A lot of advanced point and shoot cameras are giving entry level DSLRs a run for their money. We take a look at some advanced point and shoots you should invest in if you are looking for a compact camera which offers great image quality and manual controls as well.


Sony RX100 III

Price: Rs 54,990

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The Sony RX100 III drops the accessory port, giving a dedicated EVF instead.

Sony RX100 series has been a consistent leader in this category and with the RX100 III, Sony has improved on the design by adding in a dedicated electronic viewfinder. Sony RX100 III features the same 20.1MP 1-inch Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor and pairs it with the BIONZ X image processor. The latter is seen in Sony’s high end cameras such as the Alpha 7/7R as well as the RX10. The ISO range for the RX100 III is the same as its predecessor going from ISO 80 to ISO 12800.

Sony RX100 III improves upon the RX100 II, which in itself was a great point and shoot camera. It is not just an iterative update like the RX100 II was to the RX100, but adds in some major features such as a faster lens and a dedicated viewfinder, which can appeal to those who love street and documentary photography. Its light weight and compact size allow you to easily carry it in your back pocket. In terms of image quality, ISO performance, focus handling, the RX100 III impresses.

The price point is on the higher side. But as far as advanced point and shoot cameras go, the Sony RX100 III is the camera to beat. . If you do not have a budget for the RX100 III, then you can still opt for the Sony RX100 II which is a good enthusiast point and shoot in itself.

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II

Price: Rs 58,995

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II
Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II improves upon the original G1X, but the pricing is on the higher side

Canon Powershot G1X Mark II comes with a 1.5-inch sensor which is just 20 percent smaller than the APS-C sensor which is seen in Canon DSLRs. The G1X Mark II comes with a 12.8MP CMOS sensor paired with the DIGIC 6 image processor. The other improvement that is evident is the maximum aperture range going a stop lower to f/2.0 at the widest end and f/3.9 at the telephoto end. The focal length has also gone a notch higher with 24-120mm equivalent giving a 5x optical zoom.

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II has improved a lot from the older G1X, both in terms of speed as well as usability. Image quality and ISO performance are quite good, but looking at the competition it should have been even better. Addition of Wi-fi and NFC is another plus. Touch focussing is fast and responsive, and we did not face any focus locking issues during daytime. Fast aperture at the wide and telephoto end, gives you pleasing bokehs. For someone looking at a workhorse compact camera, the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II is a good choice.

The pricing of Rs 58,995 is quite on the higher side considering the RX100 III, which is a better performer is priced for less.You can find it on Amazon for around Rs 53,900.

Nikon Coolpix P340

Price: Rs 18,950


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Nikon P340 is quite a compact camera offering a 1/1.7-inch sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 at the widest end

Nikon P340 is an advanced point-and-shoot featuring a fast f/1.8 lens and in-built Wi-Fi adapter. It houses the same 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor that is present on its predecessor – the Nikon P330. The Nikon P340 is an update to the Nikon P330. Barring the addition of wireless functionality, not much has changed between the two cameras in terms of sensor and optics.

Nikon Coolpix P340 offers impressive performance in still images. It is an ideal camera for those looking at a pocket camera for street shooting and want complete manual control. The dials on the camera help in quickly changing settings. Although, we would have loved to see an extra function button. The wireless functionality is an added incentive if you like sharing images as soon as they are shot. The fast f/1.8 lens will ensure that you do not need to use very high ISO settings and the ISO performance upto ISO 800 is good. Although we were disappointed that the telephoto end aperture is unchanged from the Nikon P330.

We like the fact that it is priced around Rs 18,950 and a quick online search will get you the camera for around Rs 17,000.

Fujifilm X20

Price: Rs 39,999

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The X Trans II CMOS sensor paired with a fast lens gives good image quality

The Fujifilm X20 is an updated version of the X10 and although a newer version has been announced in the series – X30 – it still has to launch in India. Fujifilm has really got the  retro-design right with this advanced point and shoot which features a 12MP 2/3 – inch X Trans II CMOS sensor along with the EXR II image processor. It features the same 28-112mm equivalent lens which has a maximum aperture range of f/2.0 – f/2.8 which helps you get pleasing bokehs and also works wonders in low light situations.

The X20 is built using a magnesium alloy body which is covered with textured black coloured faux leather finish. Ergonomically speaking, the X20 is a joy to use thanks to the compact size, the well placed dials and buttons on the rear side. The dedicated optical view finder helps composing images the old school way. The Fujifilm X20 also drops the optical low pass filter thanks to the X Trans sensor which gives sharp images.

While the camera is selling on Amazon for Rs 39,999, you can find the same on Snapdeal for Rs 28,320. Alternatively, you can also check out the Fujifilm XF-1 which has got a price drop and which has the same sensor as the X20. it had released and were impressed with the pocketability and good image quality. You can find this on Flipkart for almost half the original price at Rs 12,599.


Panasonic Lumix LX7


Price: Rs 34,990

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Panasonic Lumix LX7 comes with the fastest aperture range in its segment: f/1.4-f/2.3 for a 25-100mm equivalent focal length

This is a slightly older camera as compared to the ones above and we could only find it listed on Snapdeal. But for someone looking at the enthusiast point and shoot segment, needs to consider this camera. It houses a 10.2MP 1/1.7-inch sensor and features a 24-90mm equivalent length. But, the LX7 offers the fastest aperture range in the point and shoot segment, with the maximum aperture of f/1.4 at the widest end and f/2.3 at the telephoto end. And on top of that, it’s a Leica branded lens.

The Lumix LX7 comes with a metallic finish and the control dials and buttons are located at just the right places. This makes the LX7 extremely ergonomic and allows easy handling. You have a 3-inch LCD on the rear side has a 920k-dot resolution and it lacks a dedicated electronic or optical viewfinder. It offers 1-area, 23-area and face-detection AF modes as well as Macro mode for close ups. The fast lens ensures that you would not need to bump up the ISO to very high levels to get your shot right.

Considering its age, options such as wireless transferring of images are not present. It does support high bit rate full HD video recording though.

Nikon Coolpix A

Price: Rs 54,950

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Nikon Coolpix A features an 16MP APS-C sized sensor with a 28mm equivalent fixed lens with an f/2.8 aperture

Nikon Coolpix A  is a unique camera in the sense that it houses a DX-format APS-C sensor in an extremely compact body. It comes paired with a 28mm fixed focal length lens with a moderately bright f/2.8 aperture. These three things ensures that the price point is at Rs 50,000 plus. But note that this is a camera meant for the enthusiast crowd who want DSLR-like controls and imaging quality in a compact form. It’s worthy of being a primary camera if you don’t mind the prime lens, or a secondary camera if you already own a DSLR—especially a Nikon DSLR and accessories that are compatible with the Coolpix A.
The 28 mm equivalent prime lens is good for wide shots, but it feels restrictive when you want to capture close-ups or zoom into distant objects. However, the incredible level of detail won’t let you down when you crop out small portions of the frame. Another problem of the wide angle lens is distortion towards the left and right sides of the frame. Tall, towering structures appear abnormally bent towards the centre of the frame. For this, Nikon has provided Perspective Control as one of the Retouch controls in playback mode.

The large APS-C type sensor goes a long way in allowing you to shoot at high ISO without worrying about noisy results. Even at ISO 1600, the quality of images in low light is very respectable. Beyond that point, the graininess increases.

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