Nine Great Reasons Why Point & Shoots Will Survive and Prosper in...

Nine Great Reasons Why Point & Shoots Will Survive and Prosper in 2013

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The conventional wisdom, widely and loudly proclaimed by photo industry pundits over the past few years, is that the point-and-shoot camera category is doomed, or at least destined to become a far less significant niche.

Faced with stiff competition from vibrantly expanding compact systems cameras (CSCs) and evolving DSLRs on the one hand, and ever more advanced high-res smartphone cameras on the other, the point-and-shoot category has clearly taken some hits and is not the dominant category it was, say, five years ago. But, as Mark Twain famously observed when he read his purported obituary, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

So it is with point-and-shoot cameras, which have evolved from an era of mostly competent middle-of-the-road compacts to an exciting, engaging and highly marketable group of subspecies that really comprise a new high-energy category.

Essentially, P&S is kind of a “default” category to begin with, because it automatically includes any camera that doesn’t have interchangeable lenses. However, while there is still a fair number of compact, moderate-zoom, price-point cameras in this class, it also takes in an array of scintillating upmarket niches—everything from waterproof adventure cameras to ultra-slim high-res credit-card-size compacts.

There are two significant groups in this category: 1. High-end enthusiast-aimed models sporting such features as SLR-like mode dials, high-performance sensors, fast lenses and metal bodies. 2. Ultra-long-range zoom models with astonishing wide-to-super-telephoto zoom ratios, slim or SLR-like body configurations and eye-level electronic viewfinders (EVFs).

In other words, many of the hottest new P&S models provide a sweet combination of DSLR-level performance and image control with a cool, often somewhat retro, compact form factor. These cameras have character, and that’s why they become personal possessions that not only take great pictures but also say something about their owners’ taste and discernment.

In an era when many cameras have become consumer electronics commodities, these fascinating upscale point-and-shoot models offer something different—and that’s why dealers should sit up, take notice and display and demonstrate these cameras, many of which are not often found at big-box stores.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1. If you think a P&S selling for the same price as an upscale DSLR is an anomaly, think again. This cult classic has enthusiasts waiting in line. The RX-1’s signature features are a full-frame (24x36mm) 24.3MP Exmor CMOS sensor and a 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* prime lens, making the RX-1 the first and only full-frame, fixed-lens camera. It also includes a 3.0-inch 1,229k-dot Xtra Fine LCD, dedicated focus, aperture and macro rings with MF assist, High Speed AF, JPEG + RAW capture, Full HD 1080p video capture at 24 and 60 fps, a built-in pop-up auto flash, auto HDR, quick navi controls, SteadyShot image stabilization, and a hot shoe for an external flash or viewfinder. There’s much more, plus a maximum burst rate at 5 fps at full 24MP resolution. $2,799.99. sony.com

Samsung Smart EX2F.
This sleek-looking compact boasts a full complement of enthusiast-aimed features crammed into its compact magnesium alloy body, including a 12.4MP 1/1.7-inch BSI (backside illuminated) CMOS sensor, a 3.0-inch swiveling AMOLED monitor, full manual controls with a PSAM mode dial, Wi-Fi connectivity, dual optical and digital image stabilization and an expandable ISO range from 80–12,800. The EX2F’s has a super-speed Schneider-Kreuznach 24-80mm f/1.4–2.7 equivalent zoom lens that provides extended depth-of-field control, shoots JPEG and RAW files, and can capture Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps with stereo sound. Other features include simultaneous still and video capture and 4x digital zoom. $499.99. samsung.com

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200.
This SLR-style ultra-long-range zoom camera provides the basic DSLR shooting experience in an attractive all-in-one package by virtue of its 24x, 25–600mm equivalent Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8–8.0 zoom lens and its 1,312k-dot 100% view eye-level EVF. This beauty also features a 12.1MP CMOS sensor and a 3.0-inch free-angle 460k-dot LCD. It shoots RAW, JPEG and RAW + JPEG files at a blistering 12-fps burst and captures Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps using its 24x zoom. Also notable are its LSI Venus engine image processor, 0.95-sec start-up, creative control mode with 14 filter options and a hot shoe accessory mount. $599.99. pentaximaging.com

Pentax X-5. Billed as a bridge camera, this ergonomically contoured, 26x megazoom resembles a downsized DSLR with a well-shaped right-hand grip, SLR-shaped EVF housing and 260k-dot eye-level EVF. The X-5 delivers a lot of firepower at a moderate price, including a 16MP CMOS sensor, a tiltable 3.0-inch 460k-dot LCD, an impressive maximum burst rate of 10 fps, a 22.3–580mm equivalent zoom lens, Full HD 1080p video capture, triple shake reduction image stabilization, auto picture mode with fast face detection, manual controls and focusing down to 1 cm in super macro mode. It also offers 12 creative effects and filters, a quick-set mode dial and a handheld night mode And, it’s powered by four AA batteries. $249.95. pentaximaging.com

Fujifilm X20. The brand-new Fujifilm X20 digital camera improves on the highly acclaimed X10 with an advanced 12 megapixel 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor and the EXR processor II, which combine to deliver an autofocus speed of 0.06 second and clear images with minimal graininess even at high ISO settings. The X20’s sensor technology enables the removal of the optical low pass filter to deliver a 20% improvement in resolution, and its advanced processor reduces noise by more than 30%. The X20 also employs a newly developed advanced optical viewfinder with a Digital Trans panel that displays critical imaging information and syncs with the camera’s manual zoom lens. $599.95. fujifilmusa.com

Leica X2. This ingenious minimalist camera is designed to deliver the feel and function of a classic Leica rangefinder camera in its most elemental form, and its retro design harkens back to the screw-mount Leicas of yore. However, its performance parameters are thoroughly up to date with a 16.2MP APS-C-format low-noise, high-dynamic-range CMOS sensor, a high-performance 8-element, 6-group 24mm f/2.8 Elmarit Asph (equivalent) lens, and a full complement of automatic and manual controls aimed at knowledgeable enthusiasts. Other features include: a 2.7-inch 230k-dot LCD; ISO settings from 100–12,500; a maximum burst rate of 5 fps; shutter speeds of 30–1/2,000 sec; JPEG and Adobe DNG file formats; a retractable flash; and an light weight of 11.2 ounces. $1,995. us.leica-camera.com

Canon PowerShot G15. The latest iteration of Canon’s acclaimed G series aimed at pros and serious enthusiasts, the robust G15 incorporates the Digic 5 image processor and delivers Full HD 1080p video at the touch of a dedicated movie button with zoom and high-speed AF. It boasts a very low 0.22-sec shooting time lag and an impressive full-res burst rate of 10 fps. The camera’s low-noise, high-sensitivity 12.1MP CMOS sensor provides enhanced low-light performance at ISO settings up to 12,800, and its wide-aperture 5x, 28–140mm equivalent f/1.8–2.8 zoom lens allows enhanced depth-of-field control. Other features include: multi-aspect RAW + JPEG capture; Intelligent IS image stabilization; a 3.0-inch 922k-dot LCD; a dual-axis electronic level; a separate optical viewfinder; and an EOS-like front control dial to access a range of shooting parameters, including focus, aperture, step zoom and i-contrast. $449.99. usa.canon.com

Nikon Coolpix S6500. This brand-new ultracompact Coolpix is small on size and big on features. It offers a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, a 12x, wide-angle 25–300mm equivalent lens and a 3.0-inch high-res HVGA LCD display. To capture both stills and Full HD 1080p video, it employs a lens-shift vibration-reduction system and ISOs to 3200. Also notable here is the reentry of built-in Wi-Fi in a Coolpix point-and-shoot model. Once its Wi-Fi function is turned on, the S6500 will connect to an iPad or smartphone, allowing the smart device to be used to remotely control the camera. Images and video can also be transferred wirelessly to a smartphone so shooters can use their mobile network to upload them to social networking sites. $219.95. nikonusa.com

Olympus Stylus XZ-2 iHS. An upgraded version of the iconic XZ-1 that became something of a cult classic, the 12MP XZ-2 employs a 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor and a TruePic VI image processor for enhanced speed, improved performance at high ISOs and Full HD 1080p video recording. Its signature feature, a 4x high-speed 27–108mm equivalent Zuiko f/1.8–2.5 zoom lens has been retained, and the 3.0-inch 910k-dot swiveling touch screen and dual image stabilization facilitate composition at any angle and provide easy image control while ensuring sharp handheld pictures in low light. Other features include: 11 art filters; in-camera panorama mode; RAW and JPEG capture; multiple exposure capability; auto bracketing; HDR; and a live guide. Plus, utilizing the XZ-2’s smartphone connection, users can set up a Toshiba FlashAir SDHC card with an internal wireless LAN to make a Wi-Fi connection. $599.99. olympusamerica.com

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