“What’s wrong with the camera on your phone?” I asked.
“It’s slow (to focus), the pictures don’t always come out good, I can’t take pictures indoors and its flash isn’t very good.”
“Ok, take my D7000.”
“What?!? I’m not dragging that bulky thing wherever I go! Get me a compact!”
So that’s how I ended up researching compact cameras for my wife. The original budget was something around the region of RM600-1000. But I quickly realised, that in that price range, alot of compromises were being made. For example, the LCD screens came out of the early 2000s, or the zoom reach was poor, or the image quality was no better than a mobile phone camera.
Looking slightly above the budget, I narrowed my decision to two cameras, the abovementioned Sony and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60. Both were very similar cameras, they were essentially travel zooms. The Sony bore the G monicker for its glass while the Panasonic boasted the Leica L, which said that at the very least, these cameras meant some tiny bit of business. Both are 30x zooms, both have 10fps shooting, both have built-in flashes and both offer manual control. They also have GPS and Wi-Fi.
The differences are minor, the Sony has 20MP vs the 18MP of the Panasonic. The Panasonic has a viewfinder and the Sony doesn’t, but the Sony has a flash hotshoe while the Panasonic doesn’t. Oh, and the Panasonic supports RAW shooting while the Sony doesn’t.
In the end, I based my decision to go for the Sony DSC-HX50V based purely on Photographyblog.com which had a review for both cameras. The one that sealed it for me was the portrait shot of a person stood in front of a wall. The Sony’s shot was simply better exposed, more evenly lit and with better skin tones. And because the HX50V is outgoing, it can be had for less than RM1,200 (at time of writing) from a suggested retail price of RM1,499.
So, why do I think it is ideal for travel?
Considering that this camera will be used by my wife, it needed to fulfil a few simple criteria:
1. Small and light enough to fit in a handbag or backpack
Whilst not the smallest camera you can find, it is small for what it does. It along with only a handful of others offers a 24-720mm zoom equivalent, with manual controls.
2. Easy to use
The buttons are nicely laid out, there’s an exposure compensation dial for quick adjustments and there’s a nice comfy grip.
3. Flexible zoom range
When on travel, you want a camera that can snap pics which are just slightly out of reach.. and that’s where a 720mm comes in. During my initial play testing with the camera, the anti shake works well even at 720mm and focus locks with confidence with high contrast subjects (as it should!).
4. Acceptable performance at high ISO
With a sensor the size of 7.82mm diagonally, the camera can’t be faulted for slightly poor performance over say ISO400-800, but I think it is still quite acceptable.
5. Wi-Fi and GPS
GPS is really useful to have if you’re going travelling as it would be nice to locate the photos taken on a map after a long and memorable trip. Wi-Fi is a must have for that social media junkie who just has to share that funny moment or that pic of that really yummy cake.
Noticeably absent from this write-up are details like minimum aperture, shot to shot times and all other photography geek stuff. But really, you probably already know all this if you’re reading up on this camera. And a camera is really a personal choice, so you’re here reading why I decided to go with this camera.. and to see if my personal choices align with yours. 😉
So no, there won’t be other techy details, but yes, sample photos will probably follow this article soon, so check back again!