Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Ultra Zoom Compact Review Conclusion

This group test has been weeks in the making. The extensive use of the cameras over the past month has given us some pretty clear indications about what each camera does well, and things they’re not good at.

Summary

It had become pretty evident that this was becoming a race with 3 cameras. The longer we tested, the more obvious it was becoming.

In good, even, bright light, just about every camera will give you a decent 4 x6 inch print. Here, the Ricoh CX3 and the Panasonic TZ10 excelled. In harsher light, the Ricoh and the Panasonic held the highlights well, and maintained good colour. The CX3 was noticeably more accurate in the colour reproduction than the TZ10 though these could be somewhat manipulated in the camera settings.

The colour from the TZ10 wasn’t actually bad, in fact the overall picture was more punchy, so every photo looked like it was done in the Bahama’s. IT just didn’t have quite the accuracy of the Ricoh.

All the cameras performed poorly in low light. The Canon G11 and S90 and the new Samsung EX1 have set the bar in the low light shootings stakes from a compact these days and that’s because they’ve only got 10 Megapixels in a large chip (1/1.7″ inch type).  The sensor in these cameras is much larger and better than the 1/2.3″ inch type sensors in all of the cameras test.

Interesting though, the Nikon S8000 actually did the best in the low light tests. We can’t explain why because in good light it was about average.

The Nikon S8000 and the Panasonic performed best in the artificial light too. Luckily, the Ricoh does have some good white balance options.

The CX3 and the TZ10 had the best lenses as well. The Panasonic’s excellent Leica lens starting at 25mm and going to 300mm is a series benchmark in this category of camera.The Panasonic has very little distortion at all focal lengths.

The CX3 has the best macro. Bar none.

The Canon lens did not live up to expectations and goes to show the limitations of have a small 14x zoom. Canon would have been better off trying to stick with a 10 or 12x zoom design.

Ease of use would would have to put down to the CX3 and the Panasonic again. The Sony was not easy to use, in fact it was dreadful as was the Canon. I’ll go as far as to say that the Sony has one of the worst user interfaces ever implemented in a camera. Current users o the Canon at least will be somewhat familiar with the interface. Quite frankly though, that’s just not good enough.

The Olympus has been spoken about much in this review. That’s because it’s the most average camera of the group. The Fuji is pretty much in the same boat.

Recommendations

There’s no obsolute winner in this group. That’s because each has it’s benefits.

The Nikon S8000 performed better than we had expected. It had an excellent screen, fast AF, and better than average low light shooting. It’s small size actually makes it a good alternative to the two cameras below.

The Panasonic TZ10 and the Ricoh CX3 are the clear top two favourites in this test. Both have enough features to keep users happy, both can be used in easy mode

If you want to control the camera with Aperture, Shutter, Manual control; or you like/need the 25mm equiv lens, then get the Panasonic.

If you want to easiest camera to use, or love your macro photography,  get the Ricoh.

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