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Which? digital camera tests reveal three new Best Buys and two to avoid

The latest digital camera results from the Which? test lab have uncovered three new models worth buying. However, our tough testing also found two cameras that scored so poorly that they were close to being Don’t Buys. Typically, new cameras to market include a wealth of new features and options but how much do you need to spend to get what you need?

We’ve looked at five digital cameras in our latest round of tests, including the mirrorless Fujifilm X-H1 and Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9, plus a compact camera and two bridge cameras. They range from as little as GBP99 to a hefty GBP2,649, so click on the links to our reviews below to see whether you get what you pay for. Best Buy mirrorless cameras[1] – see which are the best of the best.

Compact camera

Panasonic Lumix TZ200, GBP729

The highly anticipated upgrade to the TZ100, the Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ200 is the latest addition to the TZ-series from Panasonic.

Billed as the camera for all your travel needs, this model is pocket-sized and packs a serious 20Mp sensor and 4K video recording. Does it live up to our high expectations? Read our Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ200 review[2] to see whether this camera achieved Best Buy status.

Mirrorless cameras

Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9, GBP729

Adding to the GX series of cameras, the Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9[3] is the update to the two-year-old GX8.

Aimed at the enthusiast user who wants a high-performance camera in a compact form, the GX9 is available in a choice of two colours (silver or black), and with two different lens configurations. The DC-GX9M includes the larger but more versatile 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (GBP879), while the DC-GX9K includes the more compact 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (GBP789).

Fujifilm X-H1, GBP2,649

The new flagship in Fujifilm’s mirrorless X-series, the Fujifilm X-H1 is a comprehensive camera with some exciting features. With a faster and quieter shutter mechanism, plus in-body image stabilisation, does the X-H1 tempt DSLR owners to switch to a mirrorless camera?

Find out whether this camera is a contender for your shortlist despite its high price (which includes a GBP949 lens) by reading our Fujifilm X-H1 review[4].

Bridge cameras

Kodak AZ401, GBP99

Available in a red or black finish, the Kodak Pixpro AZ401 aims to entice budget-minded photographers with its 40x zoom lens. It has a light and compact design, but it lacks some of the features seen in more expensive cameras. Is this the right model for you?

Read the Kodak Pixpro AZ401 review[5] for our expert opinion.

Kodak AZ527, GBP239

The Kodak Pixpro AZ527 is a new superzoom camera that provides a massive 52x zoom lens and is competitively priced. Our testing found it has a zippy operating speed and a decent LCD screen, but are these the AZ527’s only advantages? Read our full Kodak Pixpro AZ527 review[6] to find out.

What makes a good digital camera?

With a range of cameras available from well-known brands such as Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony, there are plenty to choose from for all budgets.

However, there are big differences in picture quality, advanced features and how easy they are to use. So if you want to find the best camera for your needs, here are the key specifications to consider:

  • Megapixels (Mp) A higher megapixel count is no guarantee of quality when it comes to actual results, however, even a 5Mp camera can produce good prints at 4×6, 5×7 or 9×10 inches – the kind that easily fit in a photo frame. Most cheap digital cameras offer at least 14Mp.
  • Zoom When you want to zoom in on faraway subjects, such as buildings, optical zoom is important – the camera’s lens magnifies the image for much sharper results.

    Aim for 10x optical zoom as the minimum to get the best results.

  • Sensor sizes This is one of the most important factors when buying a camera – the larger the sensor, the more light it can let in, which results in more detailed photos and video. For more on the importance of sensor size, see camera sensor sizes explained[7].
  • Build quality Some digital cameras may be pocket-sized and lightweight, but you shouldn’t settle for one that feels flimsy. Be sure to choose a camera with a metal or high-density plastic casing that feels robust in your hands.

    Additionally, if you plan to use your camera out in the elements, look for a model that has weather-resistant casing (also called weather sealing).

References

  1. ^ Best Buy mirrorless cameras (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ200 review (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Fujifilm X-H1 review (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Kodak Pixpro AZ401 review (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Kodak Pixpro AZ527 review (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ camera sensor sizes explained (www.which.co.uk)

Is the £800 Sony Cyber-shot RX0 a Best Buy digital camera?

We’ve recently completed testing on two premium cameras – the Sony Cyber-shot RX0 and Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III. How do they compare against our top-rated Best Buys? As newer cameras are released each year, the line between affordability and performance can sometimes be blurred.

Even though we don’t factor pricing into our test evaluation, there are times when it can’t be overlooked. Below, we discuss a few key things about both cameras, and point you to our full review. We explore whether either camera is worth the asking price, and what to expect if you splash out on an expensive model.

Compact camera reviews[1] – browse our reviews of more than 40 models tested

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0

The GBP800 Sony Cyber-shot RX0 has a large 1-inch CMOS sensor, which is quite unusual for a camera of this size. This means it can capture more light, especially in low-light conditions, compared with other compact or action cameras with smaller sensors. It’s also built to be able to withstand quite a bit of punishment, rated as waterproof to 10 metres, shockproof from heights of up to 2 metres, and crushproof under weights of up to 200kg.

But what’s the picture quality like, and how easy is the camera to handle on a day-to-day basis? Take a look at our full Sony Cyber-Shot RX0 review[2] to find out whether this expensive camera can really justify the high price.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III

An enthusiast-focused camera, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is the first compact-sized camera based on an APS-C sensor to include a zoom lens. In theory, this means the G1 X Mark III should be on par for image quality with many DSLRs.

This latest model includes a built-in electronic viewfinder for framing your shots, and an articulated touchscreen, which is very useful for capturing images or video at awkward angles. You can buy the G1 X Mark III for GBP1,149, but does it deserve a spot in your camera bag? Find out in our full Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III review[3].

Should you spend more on a digital camera?

With 2017 now behind us, we saw many new camera releases in the past year costing more than GBP600, with some even costing more than GBP2,500.

But if you’re spending a significant amount of money, what do you get in return? Typically, you should expect the best of the best. For example, the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 IV[4] looks to appeal with a 25x optical zoom, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5[5] was noteworthy as one of the first mirrorless cameras to support unlimited 4K video recording.

Expensive cameras should also have the latest processors, which allows for faster shutter speeds, and quicker transfer of images or video to storage.

The camera should also be easy to handle and have wireless connectivity (for transferring images and backing up to cloud storage), but this isn’t always the case.

If you’re looking for an excellent camera bargain, head to our top five cheap compact cameras[6] or top five best cheap DSLRs[7] – we reveal the highest-rated cameras from our tests.

References

  1. ^ Compact camera reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sony Cyber-Shot RX0 review (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III review (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 IV (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ top five cheap compact cameras (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ top five best cheap DSLRs (www.which.co.uk)

Sony a6300 review

The a6300 is Sony s latest and greatest compact system camera (CSC), and an update to the Sony a60001. Back in 2014 I wrote that the a6000 hits a home run for quality, performance, features and price , so the a6300 has big boots to fill.

There are quite a few similarities. They both use a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor – the same size that s found in consumer SLRs – and they re virtually identical to look at, too, with a slim, rangefinder-style design that s common to all Sony CSCs. There s just enough room for an electronic viewfinder, flash hotshoe, integrated flash, mode dial and command dial along the top plate.

Power, shutter release and a custom button are mounted on top of the handgrip, which is big enough for a secure fit in the hand. The rear is home to a tilting 3in screen, a wheel and a small collection of buttons. All of this matches the a6000, but with two years of development and a price that s around 400 more than the a6000 cost at launch, the a6300 needs to do a lot more to justify its existence.

The big news is an upgraded autofocus system with 425 phase-detect points on the main imaging sensor. It s hard to quantify the performance of an autofocus system in absolute terms as there are so many variables, but on balance I d say this is as good as I ve seen from a CSC.

Subject tracking was extremely responsive, and the 9fps burst mode with continuous autofocus produced a decent proportion of pixel-sharp shots when shooting moving subjects. Best of all, this 9fps mode includes a live view stream with minimal blackout for each frame. The experience was much closer to shooting with a professional-grade SLR than most CSCs manage.

There s a decent-sized buffer, allowing 48 JPEGs or 23 RAW frames to be captured before continuous shooting slowed down. Shooting in the single drive mode wasn t so impressive, averaging 0.7 seconds between shots.

This sensor has a higher maximum ISO speed, up from the a6000’s 25600 to 51200. This is only useful if the sensor has the noise performance to back it up, but in this instance the a6300 delivers the goods. JPEGs at ISO 1600 and above exhibited cleaner, sharper fine details than the a6000, particularly in subtle textures such as hair and skin. In fact, the a6300 wasn t far behind the full frame Sony a7R II2 for noise levels, although the a7R II established a clear lead at ISO 12800 and above.

The other significant advance is the introduction of 4K video. It may be a while before we re all using 4K TVs, but it makes sense to shoot at this resolution now. Footage will stand the test of time better, and 4K footage invariably looks sharper than 1080p even when scaled down to fit a 1080p screen.

The a6300 s 4K footage looked excellent, with precise details and little evidence of noise at ISO 3200. 4K videos also had a pleasingly neutral colour palette that’s a good starting point for colour grading in editing software. Autofocus was decisive, too, thanks no doubt in part to the phase-detect autofocus points.

However, the lack of a touchscreen is a baffling omission. It’s an extremely useful feature for moving the autofocus point when taking photos, and the only practical way to do so while recording videos. Some videographers will prefer to focus manually, but it seems daft not to allow touchscreen-controlled autofocus as an option.

The 3in LCD screen has a widescreen aspect ratio that suits video better than photo capture. However, as with other recent Sony CSCs, it was too dim to use outdoors. A Sunny Weather setting significantly boosted the screen’s brightness to help resolve the problem, but for some reason this Sunny Weather setting is bypassed when recording 4K video. Perhaps colour accuracy is better without it, but that’s little comfort if you can barely see the picture at all when shooting outside.

A microphone socket is included a feature that was noticeably absent from the a6000 but it s not a huge amount of use as there s no headphone socket for monitoring. It’s also frustrating that memory cards must be reformatted in order to switch between NTSC and PAL frame rates. Admittedly, it’s not a setting that gets changed often, but it’d be pretty annoying to have to choose between shooting at the wrong frame rate or deleting all your existing photos and videos.

References

  1. ^ Sony a6000 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sony a7R II (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
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