COMPACTS

Card SDHC

PANASONIC FX80 12.1 MEGAPIXELS 5X OPTICAL ZOOM

Panasonic s FX range sees its latest FX80 squeeze in a 3in touchscreen and capable 24-120mm lens, along with a range of filter effects and a surprisingly comprehensive suite of portrait retouching options in the Beauty Retouch setting. There s also MEGA O.I.S. technology to keep images sharp and full HD video recording with stereo sound.

At just under 20mm thick the camera is pocket friendly, with the metal body rigid enough to withstand knocks and pressure. In order to maintain the minimal aesthetic the camera is equipped with a fiddly vertical rocker on the top-plate for zoom operation; this may not be to everyone s taste.

Start up and powering down times are average for such a camera, although operation is impeded by the responsiveness of the (resistive) touchscreen display. Focusing speeds are on a par with similar cameras, and the zoom moves steadily through its range.

Sadly, even at the camera s base sensitivity of ISO 100, noise and noise reduction rob images of the finest details, although high ISO results are still usable at smaller viewing/print sizes.

The histograms of captured images show reasonably accurate exposures, with perhaps a slight bias towards overexposure, and purple fringing is also more evident than desired. Overall, the FX-80 exhibits a number of positive traits, but it s badly let down by the combination of its tardy operation and lacklustre image quality.

Sensor 121MP, 1/2.33in CCD

Lens 24-120mm f/2.5-6.4

LCD 3in, 230,000 dots

File Formats JPEG, MTS

ISO Range 100-1600 (up to 6400 in High Sensitivity mode)

Memory Card SD, SDHC, SDXC (internal memory approx. 60MB)

Dimensions 96.3x 56 x 19.4mm

Weight Approx. 114g (with battery and memorycard)

PROS Slim, attractive body, touch-control focus and shutter release works promptly

CONS Touchscreen not as responsive as desited, general lack of detail in images

Score 79%

OLYMPUS SH-25MR

Card SDHC

16.1 MEGAPIXELS

12.5X OPTICAL ZOOM

The Olympus SH-25MR is a neat if bland-looking digital compact camera aimed at the traveller and as such it offers a high-resolution 16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor with dual TruePic V imaging engines.

The 24-300mm 12.5x optical zoom lens is good if a little bit soft at the edges and in the corners.

The touch display is good to use in terms of controlling the camera and the Touch AF system, but it s less good to actually see in bright conditions. The Multi Recording system allows you to shoot and video Full HD 1080P video at the same time, which is great. The camera s focusing and metering is good, colour reproduction is great on most things and overall the camera performs well. It offers good value and provides enough snapping scope for almost any situation-worth serious consideration if you re in the game for a new compact, particularly if you re after a compact travel camera.

Sensor 16MP CMOS, 1/2.3in

Lens 24-300mm, f/3-5.9

LCD 3in, 460k-dot touchscreen

File Formats JPEG, MPEG

ISO Range 80-6400

Memory Card SD, SDHC, SDXC

Dimensions 109.2 x 61.8x30.6mm

Weight Approx 208g (with battery and memory card)

PROS Zoom range, GPS and compass system

PROS Odd flash control, soft images at comers

Score 87%

OLYMPUS TG-620

Card SDHC

12 MEGAPIXELS

5X OPTICAL ZOOM

The Olympus Tough range is a series of ruggedised cameras that allow you to take them underwater, use them for adventure sports and tasks where they are likely to get bashed about and in subzero temperatures.

The Olympus TG-620 is waterproof to 5m, can be dropped from a height up to 1,5m and is usable in temperatures as low as-10°C. It sports a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 1080p HD video capability and the usual suite of Magic filters and scene modes. Image quality is good though in use there are a couple of handling idiosyncrasies that include a fiddly zoom lever and direct video record button.

However, features such as 3D photo capture, HDR capture, tracking and face AF, super macro shooting and much more make it a great-value snapper worthy of closer consideration. Image quality, colour and detail are good, the lens is sharp in all but the tightest corners and some purple fringing can be seen too.

Performance is very good on the whole, though scrolling menus is fairly sluggish via the small OK/ Jog button on the camera s back next to the very nice 3in 460k-dot LCD screen.

Compact, pocketable and capable, the Olympus Tough TG-620 is certainly worth close consideration.

Sensor 12MP CMOS,1/2.3in

Lens 28-140mm, f/3.9-5.9

LCD 3in, 460k-dot LCD

File Formats JPEG, MPEG

ISO Range 100-6400

Memory Card SD, SDHC, SDXC

Dimensions 98.4 x 65.9 x 21.9mm

Weight Approx. 167g (with battery and memory card)

PROS Image quality, rugged build, 1080p video

PROS Wayward jog controller, video focus issues

Score 86%

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