Summary

Compact digital cameras appeal to a broad range of photographers, from those who want the simplest point-and-shoot, to enthusiasts who are after a pocketable alternative to their serious equipment. In our first compact camera group test, we've tested Canon's chunky but powerful PowerShot A620, Fujifilm's highly sensitive FinePix F11, the tiny Pentax Optio S6 and the futuristic touch-screen action of Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-N1. Which one's the best?

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Compact digital camera group test

Samples

For this group test gallery, we’ve presented three images from each camera. Each image was taken using the camera’s Auto mode and its best quality JPEG settings. The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Canon PowerShot A620

City: 3.14MB, Auto, 1/125, f4.1, ISO 100, 7.3-29.2mm lens at 29mm (140mm equivalent)

City: 2.94MB, Auto, 1/200, f4, ISO 100, 7.3-29.2mm lens at 15mm (72mm equivalent)

Canon Powershot A620 at 15mm This shot of The London Eye, was taken with the Canon PowerShot A620 on a sunny winter’s day.The A620’s flip out screen makes photos like these easy to take without crooning your neck.

Canon Powershot A620 at 15mm lower left

Again, there’s plenty of detail, while Canon’s image processing has maintained low noise levels.

Canon Powershot A620 at 15mm middle crop Canon Powershot A620 at 15mm upper right crop

Macro: 1.93MB, Auto, 1/636, f4, ISO 200, 7.3-29.2mm lens at 7.3mm (35mm equivalent)

Canon Powershot A620 macro at 7.3mm This close-up shot of a leaf demonstrates the excellent macro capabilities of the Canon PowerShot A620.The A620 is capable of focusing as close as 1cm from a subject.

Canon Powershot A620 macro at 7.3mm middle left crop

We were actually positioned about 8cm from this particular leaf, which therefore posed no problem for the camera.

Canon Powershot A620 macro at 7.3mm middle crop Canon Powershot A620 macro at 7.3mm right crop

 

 

 

 

Canon Powershot A620 at 29mm middle crop


 

 

 

 

Canon Powershot A620 at 29mm middle right crop

For this group test gallery, we’ve presented three images from each camera. Each image was taken using the camera’s Auto mode and its best quality JPEG settings. The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Fujifilm FinePix F11

City: 2.89MB, Auto, 1/260, f4.9, ISO 200, 8-24mm lens at at 24mm (108mm equivalent)

City: 2.84MB, Auto, 1/300, f4.3, ISO 200, 8-24mm lens at at 18mm (81mm equivalent)

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 18mm This shot of The London Eye, was taken with the Fujifilm FinePix F11 on a sunny winter’s day.As before, the F11 has opted to open the aperture and set the ISO to 200 to allow a faster shutter speed and avoid potential camera shake.

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 18mm lower left crop

Again this has been done with little compromise to quality. The crops are detailed and there’s only a little noise visible in shadow areas.

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 18mm middle crop Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 18mm upper right crop

Portrait: 2.81MB, Auto, 1/4, f4.9, ISO 800, 8-24mm lens at at 24mm (108mm equivalent)

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm upper left crop This portrait shot was taken using the Fujifilm FinePix F11.It demonstrates the F11’s ability to take photos in dim conditions without the need for a flash.

The F11 has increased its sensitivity to 800 ISO for this shot, although it could have gone to 1600 ISO and given us a quicker shutter speed.

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm middle crop

Either way, noise levels are surprisingly low for 800 ISO and it’s very useful to have this flexibility.

     
     
Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm lower middle crop

 

 

 

 

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm middle crop


 

 

 

 

Fujifilm FinePix F11 at 24mm middle right crop

For this group test gallery, we’ve presented three images from each camera. Each image was taken using the camera’s Auto mode and its best quality JPEG settings. The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Pentax Optio S6

City: 2.04MB, Auto, 1/250, f5.2, ISO 200, 6.2-18.6mm lens at 18.6mm (112mm equivalent)

City: 1.99MB, Auto, 1/200, f3.6, ISO 64, 6.2-18.6mm lens at 11mm (66mm equivalent)

Pentax Optio S6 at 11mm This shot of The London Eye, was taken with the Pentax Optio S6 on a sunny winter’s day.Given bright conditions, the S6 selected its slowest sensitivity of 64 ISO, although revealingly there’s still visible noise in the shadow areas of the crops.

Pentax Optio S6 at 11mm lower left crop

There is however plenty of detail in the crops.

Pentax Optio S6 at 11mm middle crop Pentax Optio S6 at 11mm upper right crop

Portrait: 1.63MB, Auto, 1/40, f5.2, ISO 200, 6.2-18.6mm lens at 18.6mm (112mm equivalent)

Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm This portrait shot was taken with the Pentax Optio S6 with its lens fully zoomed-in.The conditions were challenging, with a bright setting Sun just to the left. The S6 coped well with the exposure, although at 200 ISO, there’s visible noise throughout the image.

Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm left crop

Noise is a problem for cameras with physically small sensors like the S6, but is the price you pay for an ultra-slim model.

Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm middle crop Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm lower right crop

 

 

 

 

Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm middle crop


 

 

 

 

Pentax Optio S6 at 18.6mm middle right crop

For this group test gallery, we’ve presented three images from each camera. Each image was taken using the camera’s Auto mode and its best quality JPEG settings. The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1

City: 3.16MB, Auto, 1/100, f5, ISO 125, 7.9-23.7mm lens at 23.7mm (114mm equivalent)

City: 3.07MB, Auto, 1/160, f4.5, ISO 64, 7.9-23.7mm lens at 10mm (48mm equivalent)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 10mm This shot of The London Eye, was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 on a sunny winter’s day.Like the Pentax S6, the Sony selected its lowest sensitivity for these bright conditions. Unlike the smaller S6 though, the noise levels here are subsequently very low, even in shadow areas.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 10mm lower left crop

Detail, as you’d expect from an 8.1 Megapixel model, is very high.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 10mm lower middle crop Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 10mm lower right crop

Portrait: 3.29MB, Auto, 1/100, f4.5, ISO 400, 7.9-23.7mm lens at 23.7mm (114mm equivalent)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm This portrait shot was taken with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1, zoomed-in as far as it would allow.As with the Pentax example, this was taken almost facing into a bright setting Sun, and here some flare can be seen in the lower right corner.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm lower left crop

With failing light conditions, the N1 selected 400 ISO sensitivity and there’s some noise visible, although revealingly less than the Pentax S6 at 200 ISO.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm middle crop Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm lower right crop

 

 

 

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm middle crop


 

 

 

 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 at 23.7mm middle right crop
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