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You are hereHome > Articles > Editor's Choice 2005

October 2005

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005

The Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 -
Best Digital Cameras
 
The year 2005 saw no less than 100 new digital camera models introduced, featuring higher resolution and better image processing technology. It is hard today to buy a digital camera that does not give very good image quality. But there's more to what makes a good digital camera than features on paper.
 

Out of these 100+ digital cameras, the editors of Photoxels selected 11 that particularly impressed them in the following three criteria: very good to excellent image quality, low noise, and fast operations.

Besides these three criteria, we also considered how a digital camera really performs in the field, the frustration -- or lack thereof -- in using its many features, and the overall user's experience in being able to "get the shot." Digital cameras, after all, are made to be used.

So, here they are, in no particular order:

 

Olympus EVOLT E-300

Category: Pro / Advanced Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Olympus EVOLT E-300We like the one-of-a-kind image quality that the Olympus EVOLT E-300 delivers. It's a special quality that's hard to put into words. Colours have a particular depth of tonality that sets them apart from "candy" colours. Images maintain good details in both the shadows and highlights.

Noise is very low at ISO 100 and 200, but disappointingly visible at ISO 400 and above, for a dSLR with a large image sensor.

There is no practical shutter lag and AF is very fast and precise. The "made for digital" lenses are smooth in operation, and the camera handles superbly, despite its non-conformist design.

The Olympus E-300 innovates with a Supersonic Wave Filter that activates everytime the camera is turned on so as to keep the image sensor dust-free -- a major headache in all other digital SLRs.

We found this camera hard to put down once we picked it up; it is intuitive to use with no frustration or long learning curve.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Fujifilm FinePix F10

Category: Point-and-Shoot

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Fujifilm FinePix F10We like the low noise capability of the Fujifilm FinePix F10. The very low noise obtained at ISO 400 means that indoors low-light photography is very much a possibility and sets the Fujifilm F10 apart from its competitors, who will have to respond with either an improved image sensor and image processing technology or use a larger image sensor -- both developments good for consumers.

The Fujifilm F10 has good handling, long battery life, a large 2.5 in. LCD monitor that is easy on the eyes and gains up in low-light situations. It is also really fast on startup and operations.

We found it easy to obtain excellent image quality with the Fujifilm F10 in Point-and-Shoot mode.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5We like the effective image stabilization built into the excellent Leica lens of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 which permits hand holding without camera shake at long focal lengths.

Its 12x optical zoom provides one of the longest reach currently available in a compact consumer digital camera.

Image quality is very good, with lots of detail, though noise is finely visible as the lowest ISO of 80. Even then, we believe this does not detract from the images and the main audience of this digital camera will not notice it when displaying for the Web or printing at 4x6 in. Well exposed images should print at 8x10 in. without problem.

The Panasonic FZ5 is fast, with no practical shutter/AF lag. In fact, auto focus is incredibly fast, approaching dSLR speed. The camera is very responsive and this responsiveness makes it a pleasure to use.

Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 makes a great all-round family digital camera. Beginner amateur photographers (and the proverbial "soccer moms") will find it easy to use, and more serious amateur photographers will appreciate all the useful and immensely practical features -- all in a well-designed and very compact body.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Canon PowerShot A520

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Canon PowerShot A520The Canon PowerShot A520 is one of our recommended affordable entry level digital cameras for someone just starting out in photography. It is feature-packed and will grow with you as you learn more about digital photography.

We like how the Canon A520 is point-and-shoot easy to use, yet is equipped with lots of features found in more expensive digital cameras: full exposure flexibility, a 15-1/2000 sec. shutter speed range, custom white balance for accurate colour reproduction, optional tele and wide-angle converters, and even an optional waterproof case effective at depths of up to 40 meters (130 feet).

It is compact, produces very good image quality for its category, with excellent image detail and low noise at ISO 50. There is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is also fast, except at the long end of the zoom when it can take a couple of seconds to lock.

We like the feel and construction of the Canon PowerShot A520: excellent for a budget-priced digital camera despite its plastic body, and the camera handles very well.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Kodak EasyShare Z740 Zoom

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Kodak EasyShare Z740 ZoomWe find the Kodak EasyShare Z740 Zoom to be a true point-and-shoot 10x optical long zoom digital camera: easy to use for the whole family in that famed Kodak "Press the button and the camera will do the rest" ease of use promise.

The Kodak Z740 produces very good quality images that are sharp and rich in colours straight out of the camera. If you do not want to post-process any images in an image editing software, then you will like the images that come out already sharpened and saturated in colours.

Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3Noise is very low, though finely visible, at ISO 80. AF works fast with no practical lag, except at full telephoto when, depending on the subject matter, it may hunt to lock focus. AF is precise even in complete darkness: the AF Illuminator works well, and the LCD even gains up a bit (in colour, though very gainy).

Not only is this camera point-and-shoot easy to use, but it has full exposure flexibility, giving beginner amateur photographers lots of room to learn and grow. Bundled with the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3 printer, it is one of the easiest to use camera and printer combo available for "One-Touch printing."

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Nikon Coolpix 7900

Category: Point-and-Shoot

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Nikon Coolpix 7900We like how easy the Nikon Coolpix 7900 is to use and how it effortlessly captures well-exposed images with point-and-shoot simplicity. Nikon is well-known for its many useful Scene Modes that automate most picture-taking situations, including a new Underwater Scene Mode.

The Nikon 7900 is light, pocketable and fuss-free in its operations. AF is fast and works very well even in low-light. We like its many practical features, including Blur Warning, Best Shot Selector, and Manual AF Area that lets you tell the camera where to lock focus, which is tremendously useful for off-center subjects, especially in macro photography.

Noise is very low at ISO 50, and there is no practical shutter lag. Other useful features that we have found that really work include D-Lighting and Face-priority AF.

Even though it is a point-and-shoot digital camera, advanced amateur photographers desiring a pocketable, take-anywhere digital camera will appreciate its intuitive controls, fast operations and very good image quality.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom

Category: Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Olympus C-5500 ZoomSome cameras you just love as soon as you pick it up, and the Olympus Camedia C-5500 Sport Zoom is one of those.

It feels comfortable and right in the hand with a generous sized hand grip. It starts up fast and has no practical shutter lag, so there's no reason to miss any shot. It focuses fast and accurately.

We like the 5x optical zoom, which is above the average zoom range; the flexible exposure control; and the excellent quality images with great detail and low noise. And the Olympus C-5500 allows you to do all that without aggravation and frustration, making it extremely easy to take good pictures with it.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom

Category: Serious to Advanced Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Olympus C-7070 WZThe final judgment on a digital camera is the images it allows us to capture. And when we look back at the digital cameras we reviewed, we remember the Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom as the one that allowed us to capture a range of images with ease.

We especially like the wide-angle (27mm) coverage of the Olympus C-7070 WZ and the 4x optical zoom. The construction of the all-black magnesium body is excellent, with a good heft and solid feel.

Noise is very low at ISO 80 and 100, and image quality is very good, with accurate colour reproduction and good detail.

We also like the swivel LCD monitor with 130K pixels resolution and fast refresh rate for a clear and smooth display. Pulled out at about 30-45 degrees, it is perfect for low-angle macro shots without body-bending gymnastics. There is no practical shutter lag, and AF is very good and fast, though it will sometimes hunt in low-light.

The Olympus C-7070 WZ packs a lot of professional features in a digital camera that obviously targets the serious to advanced amateur photographers. It would be overkill for someone just looking for a Point-and-Shoot, but for those prepared to put in the effort required to master all its available features, it is a very rewarding camera.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Fujifilm FinePix S9000

Category: Advanced Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Fujifilm FinePix S9000There is no doubt that the Fujifilm FinePix S9000 has all the features an advanced amateur photographer want in a fixed lens digital camera.

Not only does the Fujifilm S9000 sports a rare 28mm wide-angle lens, that lens also zooms 10.7x times to a 35mm equivalent of 300mm -- using a smooth zoom ring. Image quality is excellent, at 9MP resolution and using the new 5th Generation SuperCCD HR image sensor with low-light capability up to ISO 1600 (very low noise up to ISO 400).

It's fast in startup and shot to shot, with no practical shutter lag, and handles like a true SLR.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Fujifilm FinePix S5200

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Fujifilm FinePix S5200Here is one digital camera I wished I had when I first started photography.

The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 has 5.1MP resolution, 10x optical zoom, low noise capability to ISO 1600 (very low noise up to ISO 400), and is easily one of the best looking digital camera around.

It is fast with no practical shutter lag and gives excellent image quality. It is full featured and will give you lots of room to learn and grow.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

Canon PowerShot A620

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

View the QuickFact Sheet for the Canon PowerShot A620The Canon PowerShot A620 has 7.1MP resolution, 4x optical zoom, and full exposure flexibility.

Its large 2 in. LCD flips out and rotates, and the camera accepts optional lenses and even an underwater case.

It takes 4 AA Alkaline batteries and battery life is very good.

We found the image quality to be excellent -- even better than on some of the more expensive models!

At less than US$400, it's one of the best value for your money.

[ Photo Samples | Review ]

 

There are certainly many more deserving digital cameras, but these were the ones we were particularly impressed with.

The Editors

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