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Lumix in St Lucia

December 2, 2011

Camera Hunting

A lot of people come to me and ask ‘What compact camera should I buy?’ without adding any more information. This is like asking what car should they buy without mentioning whether they want petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, for high mileage or cruising round town?!

Everyone’s needs and preferences in a camera are completely different.

I haven’t owned a compact camera of my own since my gorgeous (and surprisingly impressive) Minolta Dimage Xt died on me in 2007. Since then I haven’t had the chance to replace it. For my recent holiday (with plenty of sand, water and possible hiking) I didn’t want anything heavy or bulky to be carrying around with me. I also didn’t want to be living my holiday through a viewfinder.

My compact camera wish list:

  • A decent zoom lens, with a range that I felt was adequate – I wasn’t looking for the longest telephoto or the one with the widest range just something to give me choice when composing a shot.
  • A close focus distance (I love macro work!)
  • Some creative control such as manual controls of aperture and shutter speed.
  • Different metering modes
  • Small-ish design. I didn’t want a hybrid camera or a camera that looked like an SLR. So it was important to me that the lens completely retracted into the body. Weight was also important.
  • I had a budget of up to £250

Shortlist

A lot, and I mean A LOT, of cameras can meet most of these requirements. I asked around, read tonnes of reviews and narrowed it down to three cameras….

The Canon G12: This is loved by a few professional photographers that I know but, as much as this would be on my Christmas wish list, it didn’t meet the size or budget requirements that I had set.

Canon G12

Canon G12

Canon Powershot SX220HS: I came very close to purchasing this camera (to stay loyal to the Canon brand) but having played with it in the shop I felt that it was very menu driven (and not easily – A full read of the manual is essential!). I also felt that the physical controls felt quite cheap and flimsy. I am hoping that my compact camera will last a long time.

Canon SX220HS

Canon SX220HS

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20: Lumix are really popular in the compact market so all their models are worth a look. I had my doubts about choosing this camera as it offered GPS at a price, which I really wasn’t fussed about. It also had a touchscreen which many reviews said was more of a hindrance than anything. However, having played with it in the shop, this is the one I decided upon.

Lumix DMC-TZ20

Lumix DMC-TZ20

Conclusion

I used it extensively on holiday and I was surprised just how much I used some of the features that this camera had to offer. Auto-Tracking Focus was a godsend. A function I thought I would use once in a blue moon became something I used quite a bit. I think this was mainly because of the sort of angles I was shooting at and also the bright sunlight. Hard to explain in a few words in here; writing isn’t my strong suit!

Auto scenes (most cameras offer something similar) was actually pretty accurate and took away the need for me to override auto settings. This was especially good for sunsets and night scenes.

Nikki Waterlow Photography

The only thing I was disappointed about was the casing. As well as the zoom lens mechanism, there are few little holes in the casing of this camera (mic and speakers etc) and St Lucia can be windy along the coastline. Working closely to the sand (as seen in my previous blog) I think I would have been far more confident with my SLR in these sorts of conditions. My other half has a Pentax Optio W30 and I guess I have been used to having this on holidays. It’s a sealed unit (an underwater camera) so if it gets sandy, dusty, muddy, you just wash it!

Pentax Optio W30

Pentax Optio W30

So far I am very happy with my new compact camera and I purchased it in a very cool blue (it compliments all the pink that is in my handbag!).

My advice to anyone choosing a compact camera; Work out what it is you want it for and from there work out what features you require. Do a lot of research and IMPORTANTLY make sure you have a play with them in a shop.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kat permalink
    May 14, 2012 6:04 pm

    Just ordered a lovely red new Lumix TZ30 thanks in the most part to your expert advice and recommendation! Thanks Nikki!

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