Carry-on compacts

STOP MUCKING ABOUT: WE VE GOT FIVE POCKET CAMS WITH MASSIVE... ZOOMS SO YOU CAN REALLY GET CLOSE UP TO AREAS OF NATURAL BEAUTY MATRON! With smartphone cameras coming at their rears-pardon!todaycompacts need to stand out-ooh!to tempt holidaymakers. How? By offering more tech for less. This bunch of point-and-shoot "travel zooms" offer big frontage-up to 24x optical-yet remain compact enough to slip down your trunk or trouser. They re also crammed with creative extras including digital filters, manual modes, 3D and panoramic shooting, and geotagging. Phwoar! In short, with great results from minimal bulk these pocket cameras will help you avoid cockups and boobs on holiday. Meep! CANON IXUS 510 HS Credit card-sized, 12x zooming, swank-o-matic snapper Returning to the squared-off. boxy design of the decade-old original digital Ixus, the black or white-bodied 510 HS is the smallest camera on this compact test. Its 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor isn t overly burdened with pixels, which avoids grain at higher sensitivity settings; resolution here is a workable 10.1 megapixels. There s a stabilised, 12x optical zoom-not the biggest reach in its class with a maximum telephoto setting of 336mm, but much better than a bog standard 5x. The lens widest 28mm equivalent setting also ensures it s adept at cramming more expansive landscapes into the frame. The very definition of dinky, the 510 HS slots easily into a back pocket, but a solid metal build means it also feels substantial. The Ixus range has always majored on form as much as function, so buttons are as minimal as the pricing is not. You get the basics-shutter release, on/off. a zoom lever and playback button-and no more, with a 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD controlling everything else. As the shutter can be fired with a screen tap, operation is literally point and shoot. Bright, clear and colourful though its snaps may be. they re not a match for the slightly larger and less primped snappers on this test. Video is strong though, with full-HD, 1920x1080 resolution at a standard 24fps with stereo sound, an HDMI output, and a slow quiet and steady zoom. With Wi-Fi extending connectivity options on the move-although not to the point that you can upload to Facebook et al direct from the camera-this Ixus is both petite and practical. Its zoom power and VFM may fall short of some test rivals, while the 190-shot battery and use of fiddly microSD cards may irk a tad, but for portability and style it s exceedingly hard to beat. LOVE A ton of tech in a clean-lined body the size. Solid build despite the above. Smooth, silent zoom with both stills and video HATE As pricey as some compact system cameras. Relatively short battery life and zoom range NIKON COOLPIXS9300 A helluva lot of features in an attractive, high-value package It s not the most compact travel zoom, especially compared to the Canon Ixus. but this Nikon is still pocketable and an excellent option. The slightly greater girth makes room for an eight-option shooting mode dial, a stereo mic and a GPS antenna that tags snaps with shooting location data. Most impressive of all, there s a pop-up flash. The same sized-1/2.3-inch-CMOS sensor features as in the Canon, here affording a larger effective resolution of 16 megapixels. Again, it s backlit for higher sensitivity. The 18x optical zoom is longer than the Ixus too, supported by lens shift stabilisation. The S9300 powers through this range in just less than three seconds, although there is a bit of buzz as it does so. The S9300 majors on auto stills operation, with some creativity added via limited effects modes, as found on Nikon s DSLRs. Most usefully, you can pan up or down to create automatically stitched together panoramic shots of between 180 and a full 360 degrees. Some shots are soft at maximum telephoto and colours are typically a little cool, but results are otherwise good for a compact. The Nikon also offers strong. 1920x1080-pixel video, with a red video record button that falls readily under the thumb. The three-inch LCD has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which isn t ideal, but the high. 921k-dot resolution does provide a clear view. Operational buzz picked up by the stereo microphones is minimal. With a tactile rubber coating at the front plus a thumb pad at the back. Putting a big zoom in a pocketable package, it s a lot of camera for the price and size, and well worthy of your holiday dollar. LOVE Broad focal range in a pocket-sized cam. Built-in GPS is handy for holidays. High-class construction combining style and usability HATE Scroll wheel at the back is a tad slippy. Some zoom noise. No Wi-fi PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-TZ30 Reliably high quality compact gives you plenty of options Travel camera pioneer Panasonic s latest range-topper has a 20x optical zoom that serves up an ultra-wide, 24-480mm focal reach in 35mm terms. You also get GPS, 14 big megapixels and something not a million miles away from a handgrip, but with lens retracted it passes the fit-in-a-trouser-pocket test. On paper this seems to have all the right elements for a compact jack-of-all-trades. Amping up the spec is full-HD video with one-touch recording and stereo sound, while a small but reassuringly stiff shooting mode dial with manual and custom settings, as well as the usual fully automatic intelligent mode, ensures the right settings get applied whatever your experience level. In short, you can point and shoot, but override the camera s choices when you want. Touchscreen operation is also included-you can fire the shutter and zoom by sliding a finger across the screen-although the physical controls feel more natural. But then thatthe beauty of the TZ30: it offers you options rather than forcing you to use it in the way Panasonic thinks best. Pictures are bright and detail rich straight out of the camera, with colours packing plenty of punch whether youtalking video or stills. With performance consistent, delivery reliable and styling conservative, this doesn t feel in any way fresh or exciting; it just feels like yet another high quality camera from Panasonic-that s a good kind of boring. LOVE Full range of manual controls alongside the full auto settings. Useful, rubber-feel handgrip at the front. Generally strong feature set and performance HATE Small touchscreen icons. Pricey for a point-and-shoot. Drab design and styling Carry-on compactsOLYMPUS SZ-31MR A chunkier number than the others, but with smaller appeal If you prefer your compacts like downsized DSLRs rather than minimalist matchboxes with lenses, this retro-styled Olympus has the edge. Fielding a 16-meg resolution from the standard. 1/2.3-inch, back-lit CMOS sensor, with stereo mics flanking an elegant, pop-up flash, it looks like it means business. The mode dial is chunky and easy, thereone-touch. 1920x1080 HD video recording, and the SZ-"Super Zoom"-31MR has the biggest optical zoom on test at 24x, or wide angle 25-600mm 35mm equivalent. Italso digitally extendable to 48x, which is pretty phenomenal for something that just about squeezes into your pocket. It quite literally zooms through its range too. powering from wideangle to maximum telephoto in just three seconds, and the full zoom can be used for video recording to boot. Though short on manual features the SZ-31MR is big on gimmicks, such as Olympus admittedly fun Magic Filter effects. Among the 12 image-enhancing options are a miniature mode, mosaic and dynamic range filters, along with a beauty mode. These settings are navigated via a scroll wheel in place of the more conventional command pad or cross keys at the back. Its implementation here is less slippery than on NikonS9300, but itstill not an ideal arrangement. A big zoom like the one here is great... so long as you can get consistently sharp results shooting handheld at the further reaches of its extension. With pretty much the worst stills and video performance on test, this lacks the class of Olympus compact system cameras. Even so, it s a solid performer, and fans of retro chic may be swayed by its look and feel. LOVE Widest focal range on test. Big. obvious buttons and controls make it an easy step up from a smaller, cheaper compact. Some nifty digital filter effects HATE Plasticky build. Bulkier than rivals. No GPS or Wi-Fi. Soft images when shooting handheld at high zoom SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-HX20V Returning to the square-edged boxy design of the original The main sales pitch on this, the middle model in Sony s High Performance compact range, is a 20x optical zoom lens, encased within a solid-feeling, metal body of almost identical dimensions to Panasonic s TZ30. Sony s cam has the highest resolution on test at 18.2 megapixels, though the actual sensorno larger than the others at 1/2.3-inches. More pixels in a tighter space usually equals visible noise at higher sensitivity settings, and shots at IS03200 and IS012800 can look slightly artificial, but it s generally a fine stills performer. Something of a Cyber-shot "best of, the HX20V offers 1920x1080 video with stereo sound, with a 50fps frame rate giving a more cinematic feel. You also get SonySweep Panoramas, 3D files viewable on compatible TVs. and even a background defocus mode to generate impactful, DSLR-like "bokeh" portraits. With all this in a camera that can be fetched out of a back pocket, the HX20V is pretty much the ideal travel camera, with the only negatives being the high-ish asking price-although you can find it cheaper online and on the high street. There are also some minor niggles over its imaging performance, if we re nitpicking. However, results are consistently sharp, even when shooting handheld at maximum zoom, and all things considered stills are probably the best on test. With the video also being best on test and an impressively large feature set packed into an impressively compact thing, the HX20V is the best of the current batch of travel zooms, and as essential on your travels as sun block. LOVE Broad zoom range in a pocket-friendly camera. Sharp shots achievable handheld at maximum zoom. Solid build. Versatile mode dial and features galore HATE A bit pricey. Some minor issues with stills-frame and barrel distortion at wider angles, for instance

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