What started as being intrigued by the concept of Sony’s lens cameras, has evolved into a search for a decent quality, medium to high zoom but small camera I can throw in my laptop bag but at the same time connect to my phone to be able to share the photos online immediately.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was very interested by the concept of Sony’s lens cameras, essentially a camera that uses a wireless connection to a smartphone app for control as well as being the viewfinder and enabling syncing copies of the photos immediately for online sharing. The problem though, based on having read lots of reviews, is in the execution. While the image quality, especially on the more expensive of the two, is great, there are numerous reports of issues with lag when using the phone as the control for the camera, and a few comments about problems connecting in areas with lots of other Wi-Fi devices (the connection to the smartphone is Wi-Fi Direct). So, I decided to pass on these for a while, perhaps until I can try one out in a store. But it got me thinking about what really attracted me to these cameras.
Wireless in cameras has always been something that manufacturers seemed to believe was a cable replacement technology for syncing photos at home. Problem with that is that there isn’t much value in that for a consumer to pay the premium. Where wireless becomes interesting is when you can connect and share photos away from home. Whether that is simply uploading them to your phone to share from there, or being able to upload them directly to a sharing site.
Several current cameras though offer Wi-Fi connections to smartphones specifically for sharing the images online sooner than normal. Of course, since I already have an EyeFi card, this is also a feature that I could skip in the camera as long as the camera was compatible with the EyeFi card.
Another of my dilemmas with the Sony cameras was which of the two to get. On the one hand, the higher quality glass and better sensor in the more expensive option appealed to me, but the low zoom was a definite negative. The cheaper option had a much better zoom option, but lower quality glass and sensor.
The idea of having a very long telephoto appeals, but then I also wonder just how good those images will be from a hand held compact. Most have so e form of image stabilization technology, but that can only go so far.
My DSLR is old enough that it doesn’t offer video capabilities, and to be honest that was fine until recently. Video has never been that attractive to me as a medium; I much prefer shooting stills. But a toddler adds a new reason for video, and rather than buying a relatively bulky camcorder, I was hoping I could get HD video from the point and shoot.
Looking around at the available medium to high zoom cameras (10x to 20x), there are a few good looking options out there. But with every one, as I was reading the reviews on Amazon I found lurking issues that concern me. My preference would have been the Canon SX280 HS, perhaps even in the vibrant red colour shown to the right.
After reading the reviews on Amazon though, it seems as if plenty of people are having serious battery issues with this camera while shooting video, and while there was a firmware upgrade that was meant to fix it, several said they still have the problem. That could if course be due to the upgrade not being completed properly, but it worried me enough to look for other options. Several of the pro review sites also mentioned poor battery life,especially if using GPS, Wi-Fi or shooting video.
Just as I was about to give up, with none of the options I found getting good ratings for all the areas I was interested in, I came across a review of the Canon S120.
Even better, the Amazon reviews (not that there were many) were all relatively positive. Although the zoom is only 5x, the camera seems to have better glass, a larger sensor, better Wi-Fi UI and still be small enough to carry around all the time.
It doesn’t have GPS, but that seems to me to be an advantage anyway; GPS is notoriously power hungry in mobile phones where it is typically A-GPS (assisted by the cellular network). In a camera, it will be more conventional GPS which will take longer to get a fix, and consume more power doing it, so not having it doesn’t seem like a loss. From what I can tell, the smartphone app can be used to tag any photos where I feel geotags are necessary (rare that I feel the need for it). It also has more manual controls and supports raw format like my Canon DSLR. The only negative is that it is more expensive than the SX280 by a significant margin, but Black Friday is coming, so maybe I’ll be able to snag a deal on it. I’ll post a full review once I get it (or for whatever else I get if I change my mind again before pulling the trigger on this one).