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HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2012: Editor's Choice - Part 1

HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2012: Editor's Choice - Part 1



Best Prosumer Digital Camera

Best Prosumer Digital Camera

Your basic digital compact camera is getting better and better these days, with higher megapixel count, further zooms and larger sensors. Some even come with controls normally seen on DSLR cameras, letting you dictate shutter speed and aperture settings.

There are two types of users looking for an advanced or prosumer digital compact camera, one is the enthusiast who already owns a DSLR camera and wants something smaller (than a mirrorless camera) to carry around but with good image quality. The other is a casual user who wants to upgrade to a better compact camera and get better looking shots. In this segment, we focused on prosumer digital cameras which would satisfy both camps, looking for a camera which would offer both advanced controls and image quality, but still be friendly enough for anyone to use.

Nominees:

  • Canon PowerShot S100
  • Fujifilm X10
  • Nikon Coolpix P300
  • Olympus XZ-1

And the Winner Is...

The Canon S100's combination of performance and function make it nearly perfect. The image quality is impeccable and above what an average compact camera will give you (thanks to the S100's larger than average image sensor). The camera is fast to respond, and it's more comfortable to hold than the S95 predecessor with its new front grip. Zoom range has been lengthened, from 3.8x on the S95 to 5x on the S100, and there's even a built-in GPS module.

Casual shooters will find the camera performing well in Auto mode, but advanced users can switch over to manual modes and take control easily with the front control ring around the lens and the back scroll wheel. Best of all, this little shooter even records in RAW. We love how the S100 combines a digital compact camera's ease of use with advanced functionality in one little package.

We said that the S100 was nearly perfect, and it almost is - if not for its short battery life. The S100's battery is rated at 200 shots (by CIPA), which will hopefully last a day or two on an eventful vacation (maybe less, if the weather is cold). If you're going to buy a S100, we recommend you ask for an extra battery.

Why wouldn't we recommend the Fujifilm X10, which has image quality that is just as good and better battery life (rated for 270 shots), over the S100 then? The X10, with its protruding lens and bigger profile, isn't as pocketable as the S100. The X10's auto-focus is more sluggish than the S100, you'll need to spend time working with it and it isn't a camera you can just pick up and use like the S100. The X10 is also S$300 more expensive. The X10 is a great camera, with excellent build and image quality, but it just isn't something that every compact camera user will appreciate, unlike the S100.

Scoring Breakdown
 Criteria/Model Canon S100 Fujifilm X10 Nikon P300 Olympus XZ-1
Physique 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.0
Features 9.0 9.0 8.5 8.5
User-Friendliness 8.5 7.5 8.5 8.0
Performance 8.5 8.5 9.0 8.5
Value 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0
Overall 9.0 8.5 9.0 9.0
Price S$699 S$999 S$599 S$748

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.