Bridging the Gap Between “Point and Shoot’s” and DSLR’s
These cameras look good, feel good, and as the term “advanced digital compact” suggests, you have tons of manual controls at your fingertips including shutter priority, aperture priority and full manual!
These digicams have a lot of the advantages of more professional cameras but without the expense, bulk or need to carry around loads of accessories.
The right camera here will offer a powerful zoom lens, manual override for aperture or shutter speed settings, different ISO’s, higher pixel count with a larger CCD or CMOS sensor and even maybe built-in image stabilisation, face recognition and even smile detection.
(If you are a relative “Newbie” to photography, go to my Terminology page for explanations on wordings)
Why would I need manual control?
Having the ability to set camera controls manually or even semi-automatically is where photography really starts to become fun. The possibilities are endless but for starters…
- Slow Shutter speeds for creative night photography and blurry images
- Fast shutter speeds for action photography (Sport, wildlife etc.)
- Aperture control to alter depth of field (you control how much of the background is blurred)
- External or off-camera flash (Flashlight or studio) for different and endless lighting effects
- Large files for bigger prints
- Large zoom lens for wildlife, weddings and sports photography
These cameras are for the enthusiasts that have a creative “Itch” they need to scratch. The beauty is that they can also act as a simple point and shoot which is great for family parties, events and weddings.
Reading many of the forums online, it would appear that after a year or two of using one of these advanced digital compacts, many users upgrade to a Digital SLR. That is not to suggest that you give these a miss, I carry one with me as a back-up at all times.
It is a great way to get on the digital photography learning curve without breaking the bank!
What is the image quality like?
For your every day photography whether shooting at a wedding as a bystander or a family event, the quality is actually very good indeed. However, because they have a sensor which is so much smaller than a typical DSLR, the quality in many cases doesn’t even come close.
Some of the later cameras such as the Canon G16 produce excellent quality and even some of the older cameras produce great results like the G11 or G12 (which actually had a smaller sensor than its predecessor).
This is great news because it means that the manufacturers are concentrating more on image quality and other features rather than simply trying to increase the pixel count with each new model. Be aware though that the quality of images produced by an advanced digital compact camera is not good enough for the more professional photographic pursuits such as stock or paid wedding photography.
How do I choose one of these?
Unlike the smaller compacts, there are fewer of these digital compact cameras to choose from, and the manufacturers spend a lot more time, money and effort in producing them and have now even started producing the more “retro” style cameras.
This means that the majority of cameras produced over the last couple of years will be of excellent quality. My advice? Budget permitting, get the best you can afford in relation to pixel count (or quality), lens quality and features combined.
Ergonomics play a part too. Some of these cameras are of very strange design and need to feel good in your hand. Some look like their smaller counterparts and others look more like the Digital SLR’s, you will know what is right for you when you see and feel it. Just make sure it has all the features you need before you buy, don’t go for looks alone.
My personal favourites, and which also get top marks from professional photography magazines, are the Canon Powershot Pro G16 12mp and the older Nikon Coolpix P5100 12.1. Go to B and H Photo Video, read the customer reviews and make your own mind up. The minute you have one of these advanced digital compact cameras in your hands, you just won’t stop shooting, trust me.