CNET Asia’s Top 10 cameras



Consumer interest for entry-level compacts and advanced dSLRs seems to have faded, which could have been attributed to the growing convenience of smartphone cameras–with their ability to instantly share images to popular social networks.

Based on actual figures, it seems that the average shutterbug places more emphasis in a camera’s ability to capture quality images in low-light conditions as well as shooting versatility in terms of long-zoom optics This is why shooters such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 and Canon PowerShot S100 continue to dominate the list in the compact camera arena.

Note: Results are based on readership and polls conducted with selected retailers–Cathay Photo Store, Courts, TK Foto Technic and MS Color Service–in Singapore.

Top 5 compact cameras

1.  Canon PowerShot S100

CNET Asia rating: 7.8 out of 10

The good: Sleek and compact design; excellent image quality; good noise performance; bright F2 lens optics.
The bad: Judder in video recording; limited GPS functionality; slow aperture at telephoto end.
The bottom line: The S100 provides better low-light performance than its predecessor and should appeal to advanced users with its F2 aperture, wider lens and SLR-like control ring. However, some judder in full-HD video and limited GPS functionality prevent us from making a full recommendation

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2.  Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

CNET Asia rating: 8 out of 10

The good: Better pictures compared with LX3; improved autofocus performance; redesign of button layout facilitates operation; accessory port for EVF and other peripherals.
The bad: AF box gets resized each time camera is switched off; hassle to remove lens cap before shooting.
The bottom line: The LX5 may seem to have just incremental upgrades over its LX3 predecessor, but the improvements are in actual fact pretty significant.

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3.  Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20

CNET Asia rating: 7.8 out of 10

The good: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 has fast shooting performance and an extensive feature set.
The bad: Touchscreen should have more functions; no RAW capture option; noisy photos; short battery life.
The bottom line: This is a very good long-zoom compact as long as you don’t mind paying more for features and speedy performance than photo quality.

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4.  Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V

CNET Asia rating: 8.3 out of 10

The good: Brilliant LCD screen; excellent build quality; very good low-light image quality; manual exposure control; beautifully colored images; very good video quality.
The bad: Video recording takes a few seconds to initialize; can blow highlights when using auto modes, in-camera battery charging is a bit of a pain; no RAW capture.
The bottom line: The HX9V makes an ideal travel companion for those who enjoy life on the road, with a great feature set, including a 16x optical zoom lens.

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5.  Canon Ixus 220 HS

CNET Asia rating: 8.2 out of 10

The good: Fun-to-use ultracompact; excellent photo quality even in Auto.
The bad: Might be too small for some; accessing its shooting modes other than Auto is laborious.
The bottom line: If you’re looking for a nice, simple ultracompact for use indoors and out, you’ll want to seriously consider the Canon Ixus 220 HS.

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Top 5 dSLRs and ILCs

1.  Canon EOS 600D

CNET Asia rating: 7.8 out of 10

The good: Excellent video capabilities; good image and video quality.
The bad: Controls can be frustrating to operate when shooting both still and video; not terribly fast for burst shooting sports, kids, or pets.
The bottom line: For the money, the Canon EOS 600D is a great choice for dSLR videographers–though the cheaper Canon EOS 550D can still suffice if you don’t need the articulated LCD–and it’s a solid choice for creative still shooters. But while the image quality and general shooting performance are top-notch, if you’re upgrading to capture sports, kids or pets, the EOS 600D may not be able to keep up.

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2.  Nikon D5100

CNET Asia rating: 7.7 out of 10

The good: Excellent photo quality with a good noise profile; Streamlined shooting design for photo and video; Broad and practical feature set
The bad: Some aspects of the D5100’s performance still lag behind its class.
The bottom line: Though it doesn’t rank first based on any individual aspect of the camera, the Nikon D5100 delivers a solid combination of image quality, performance, features, and design that puts it out in front if you’re looking for a well-rounded entry-level camera.

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3.  Olympus Pen E-P3

CNET Asia rating: 7.8 out of 10

The good: Pleasing and accurate colors; fast autofocus speeds; interchangeable grips.
The bad: Noise at high ISO levels (with noise reduction off); wobbling effect in videos.
The bottom line: An attractive retro-styled camera with fast autofocus speeds that produces images with accurate and pleasing colors.

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4.  Sony Alpha NEX-5N  

CNET Asia rating: 8.2 out of 10

The good: Excellent image quality; superior noise performance; useful tilting screen; handy button and touchscreen user interface.
The bad: In-camera menu interface could be more intuitive; can be bulky when paired with the 18-55mm kit lens.
The bottom line: The NEX-5N offers more shooting flexibility with some internal upgrades while providing excellent image quality with superior low-light performance.

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5.  Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

CNET Asia rating: 7.6 out of 10

The good: Responsive touchscreen interface; pancake zoom lens optimized for videos; excellent combination of physical buttons and touchscreen controls; customizable buttons.
The bad: Four-way keypad hard to view in dim light; pancake lens’ zoom function not intuitive.
The bottom line: The GX1 stays true to the Lumix G-series cameras with its user-friendly hybrid touchscreen and physical button interface. The camera also comes with a useful host of features and customizable buttons that would satisfy the advanced user.

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