These are exciting times for camera lovers. Manufacturers are innovating like never before, making smaller cameras that offer the picture quality previously only achieved by digital SLRs. But when will they be perfect?
I feel we’re closer than ever to seeing what I’d consider to be ‘the perfect digital camera’… but we’re not quite there yet.
There are now smaller-than-ever compact system cameras (CSCs), suped-up bridge cameras that boast Digital SLR (DSLR)-matching specs, and the kind of picture-taking speed in affordable models that you’d formerly have to pay over a grand for.
Ideally, I’d like an all-in-one camera that doesn’t need a kit bag and set of lenses, but can take top quality photos even in low light. Ultimately, its low light photography that’s a make-or-break for me, and this is what keeps me coming back to my DSLR and its large image sensor.
CSCs not quite doing it for me
I love the idea of CSCs like the Panasonic G-series, Olympus Pens or Sony NEX cameras, which have DSLR-sized sensors in much smaller bodies. But the second you put a typical kit lens on them, they stop being so portable and you certainly wouldn’t fit them in a pocket. And that’s before you start juggling secondary lenses for them.
Yes, CSCs have large sensors, but they’re still not portable enough for me. And I find it frustrating that, by and large, they’re still more expensive than most entry-level DSLRs. Also, the smallest CSCs don’t have built-in viewfinders – something I simply can’t live without.
Are bridge cameras a solution?
I do love the manual control options you’ll get with a bridge camera, and superzoom bridge cameras give you the kind of zoom range you’d need a colossal DSLR lens to match.
The downside to bridge cameras for me? Those tiny sensors inside them tend to mean grainy images in low light. If I take a bridge camera out with me, sooner or later I always end up regretting not packing my DSLR – usually as the light fades!
Has Canon served up a winner?
It’s true, I’m fussy. But I’m not impossible to please, and when Canon announced the Canon PowerShot G1X this January, I was genuinely excited by its potential.
Here’s a compact bridge camera that you can fit into your pocket, that has a fixed 4x zoom lens, an optical viewfinder and full manual controls. But most importantly (to me!), it has an image sensor nearly as large as a DSLR’s.
Could this mean reliable photo quality from a camera you can fit in your jacket pocket? I certainly hope so – we’ll be testing the Canon G1X as soon as it’s available to find out. But great as it sounds, I have a few reservations that keep it from being my perfect camera:
- I’d like a faster aperture – the f2.8 lens on the Canon G1X sounds ‘ok’ to me. Had it been f2.0, I’d be so much happier (the small the f-stop the better the low light potential).
- The optical viewfinder on the G1X wasn’t brilliant when I tried it out – it’s a smaller window that’s hard to work with. A quality viewfinder like the Fujifilm X10’s would have been better!
- The price, the price, the price…£700 at launch? When you can buy a DSLR for £350, this really does seem daft.
So my perfect camera? It has to be cheaper than a DSLR, but ideally will have a comparable image sensor for those low light shots. Full manual controls, a useable viewfinder and a generous aperture, and I’m a happy man. And no thanks, I don’t want to change lenses, I have my DSLR for that!
But that’s just me, what about you? What would your perfect camera look like?
If the Canon G1X sounds the business to you, then you have a chance of winning one by entering our competition, which runs until 9 March 2012.