Point-and-shoot cameras have come a long way
*Steve Makris is a technology expert who does a weekly Tech Talk segment during Edmonton’s Sunday Morning News. You can watch the segment above.
Good Sunday morning folks. If you caught my Global News Sunday Morning News Tech Talk segment, you will want to read up on my latest take on how the newest point-and-shoot cameras stack up against smartphones and on the other side of the scale, pricier interchangeable lens cameras.
Two new point-and-shoot-type pocket cameras with wireless features are arriving in stores now. And they’re marketing themselves as better than smartphone cameras – a must if you travel and still want to share photos online.
But are they?
The new Nikon Coolpix s810C 16 megapixel 12X optical zoom, $369.95, and the Sony RX100 III 20.1 megapixel 3X optical zoom, $899.99, run wirelessly for sharing pictures online. But price-wise they are clearly meant for different needs and wallets.
-The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is undoubtedly the Rolls Royce of point-and-shoot pocket digital cameras.
This third generation model features a first, flip-up and out sharp OLED digital viewfinder and a 24mm-70mm equiv. 3X zoom lens at an impressive f1.8-f2.8 aperture. It still has the selfie-ready multi-angle 3” extra fine LCD display. Not only a fast zoom lens, but also sharp corner to corner at it widest aperture. There is a huge dollar value to that.
The RX100III leaves all other point-and-shoots from here on, in a category of its own. Why? Because its oversized sensor, unlike the pinky-fingernail size of all other cameras, shoots similar quality to large body and interchangeable cameras from Sony itself, Samsung and Fujifilm. This means less noise and sharper images with more detail. The videos, at maximum quality, are camcorder quality due to the almost twice as much video information it captures. There is less shaking and smoother playback. It also had HDMI out for smooth outbound video play.
It has built-in Neutral Density (ND) filters for shooting in bright places or keeping your lens aperture open more, a little real photography trick for creating fuzzier backgrounds in portraits. The control ring on the lens manually sets different exposure setting while you shoot.
The panoramas, as in past Cyber-shot models, are exceptional quality with a choice of extra-wide mode and the D-range optimizer off/on makes or breaks crucial photo scenes. The scene modes make for shooting touch scenes, but I found the Intelligent Auto mode pretty much takes the guesswork out of any photo.
For me, the piece de resistance is the RX100III wireless connectivity options starting with NFC, for taping and instantly connecting to an NFC equipped phone (still waiting for iPhones to catch up on this). For example, when I first tapped the camera to my Samsung Note 3, the smartphone went directly to the Android Play site to the Nikon App for downloading. Subsequent taps make for faster and easier Bluetooth transfer of photos from camera to phone.
In wireless you can send your image(s) to a smartphone, using WiFi to you networked PC or Mac computer. For the next version IV, I would like to see a direct eMail client, better full keyboard, a touch screen and longer zoom lens. Not that I am not pleased with this model. The RX100III is all metal, as compact as a camera of this calibre can be, and needless to say, tough.
It’s best suited for folks with the best smartphones, who want the most uncompromising picture and video quality matching larger and heavier prosumer cameras.
-The Coolpix s810C sets itself apart from most cameras running on the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. It has Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS like any smart phone (but no phone functionality). It strikes a good balance for being small, yet with a large and sharp enough screen to not only see and take sharp photos, but run it like a smartphone with familiar Android icons and functions, including full email, social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or any Play store app you want.
Despite it only being 16 MP its backlighted sensor makes for less noise when shooting in dark places without a flash. It is touchscreen for all functions other than an on/off, has three Android buttons, and a shutter release, although you can also focus and shoot by touching the screen.
Its photos, shot at equivalent smartphone wide angle mode, are better than even the best Samsung phone and iPhone cameras during daylight photography. But when shooting inside without flash, iPhone 5s actually can shoot better flashless pictures.
But when you start pulling far away scenes with the 1x zoom lens, the s810C excels with quality closeup photos. One little surprise but something we will see more of, is that it uses a micro SD card.
The full HD video quality is on par with similar cameras, better than smartphones, as is the operating speed with a built in HDMI port.
The s810C is best suited for folks happy with older smartphones, but wanting better all-round travel pictures and wireless connectivity for sharing or backing up their photos on the go.
© Shaw Media, 2014