Dossier: the best Cameras Under 300€
The advent of smartphones has devastated the landscape of digital compact entry level. Olympus, Fujifilm and Ricoh ( Pentax ) have stopped production while other major brands (Canon, Nikon and Sony) will maintain production reluctantly, they do not emit enough income. Automakers are therefore all bar to premium devices – generating value – maintaining somehow offer mid-range in which we selected ten unit less than 300 euros for personal and family use.
Moreover this limit high price, we also imposed a lower limit: no device costs less than 139 euros. Why? Because there is a vital minimum quality components below which do not fall: for example, CMOS sensors are much better (but more expensive) than CCD sensors equipping devices at low cost. Then comes the end, essential for beautiful shots element; again to receive an optical quality, it must pay the price. Not to mention the processor image processing! So below a certain price- unless falling on old models sold off- you will not find a single device that can overshadow your smartphone.
And like all budding photographers have different photographic needs, we cut our selection uses: slims for those who want a device mat, ultra- zoom for travelers, backpackers and strengthened bridges for nature enthusiasts.
The smartphone has two strengths: it has always been about self and it fits everywhere. If it ‘s up to you to take with you, the slim compact have the advantage to fit in the pocket of a shirt they are 25 mm or less. Their main attraction compared to phones is of course their optical zoom and ergonomics, more convenient and stable than a smartphone. Premier class at the beginning of the democratization of digital compact, this range has again a little success due to the progression of zooms: once confined to x3 x5, it now reaches x10- x20!
Nikon CoolPix S6600 – 179 €
This small entry-level compact has a lethal weapon: an adjustable swivel screen. Casually, between self-portraits or shooting in odd positions (at arm’s length, at ground level, etc.). Sometimes this screen makes all the difference – in our day field tests, the swivel screen S6600 has treated the macro part avoiding the glare of the sun. The optics and sensor are models of their kind, the registration of images is a bit long, but the delivery is correct and the swivel screen a real must!
Sony Cyber -shot WX200 – € 199
Extremely fine, the WX200 offers a mini size (21.6 mm) a really powerful 10x zoom. He especially enjoys the EXMOR sensor R from Sony, the reference in the small sensor compact. Very lightweight ( 121 g ), it offers Wi -Fi, NFC and Full HD video, which is not the norm in this price segment. Intended to be used 100% automatic mode, however it does not offer a mode dial and it must pass through the software to activate many other functions (panoramic scanning, night mode, etc. . ) .
Sony Cyber -shot WX350 – 249 €
Big brother the WX200, WX350 the sensor uses the same EXMOR R 18.2 Mpix but it offers a zoom doubled x20, a record for a device of this size (27 mm to 164 g )! Unlike its little brother it offers a mode dial and the level of finish is a good notch above, with a brushed aluminum plastic kind. Equipped with NFC and Wi -Fi is also a controllable device from a smartphone.
Compact ultra- zoom
Larger than the slim compact, the utra -zoom play, as their name suggests so, map zoom in a super content that bridges format, but not as much as slim devices. These are family units travel excellence as their good grip, their many functions and generous zooms make super versatile. Formerly offered at exorbitant prices – up to 500 euros! – Ultra- zoom compact suffered the past two years democratization forced march and saw not only lower their maximum price but also their entry price, as the little Canon PowerShot SX170 IS that comes to 139 €.
Canon PowerShot SX170 IS – € 139
Device cheapest of all our selection, the PowerShot SX170 IS Canon is the minimum subsistence need to invest in a camera. In addition to its price can put it in the hands of children – which is not the case for your high-end smartphone to 600 euros – this is of course x16 optical zoom covering 80% of the needs of a family trip. For the rest of the partition is good build quality side – it’s Canon – but the equipment is minimal: HD 720p resolution screen 230,000 dots, single CCD (not CMOS) sensor, etc. . The shots are very good in daylight but smoothing is strong in low light. In short, cheap and it zooms well.
Nikon CoolPix S9600 – € 259
With very decent performance, the S9600 is a less austere device and “expert” that the Olympus SH -50. The x22 zoom covers the essential needs of a family/travel and finish lacquered colors usage makes a beautiful device- but less robust than the SH -60, the big guy from our selection. The development is almost as fast as the Olympus and ergonomics model was designed for beginners as it offers shooting modes directly on the dial: night portrait, night landscape and against the light.
Olympus Stylus SH- 50 to 279 €
The SH- 50 is the model which offers- except bridge- the largest power zoom: x24! Built like a small tank with his big body housing and rubber grip, it is also a responsive and quick to the development unit. 5-axis stabilized, it benefits from years of competition in the ultra- zoom category, offering an excellent level of equipment – rubber grip, touch screen, many creative modes and especially a x24 zoom. Bridges aside, this is the device the most expensive competition, but it is quite logical: the WX350 is also the best! Single (micro) regret: Wi -Fi is not integrated, it must pass through an Eye- Fi card.
Reinforced Units are designed for backpackers and other pig who can not take care of their business! With zooms Periscopic- ie that unfold inside the box- their power magnification is logically very moderate – x3 x5 average. Designed to collect, these compact offer resistance falls and dips variables depending on the range and then, depending on the price. Note however that the image quality since the format and constraints of these devices do not allow them to embark complex optical elements or large sensors.
Ricoh WG- 20 to 199 €
Formerly sold under the Pentax brand, the WG Ricoh are good companions for outdoor and WG -20 entry-level model, did not fail to reputation. For less than 200 euros this little beefy cash falls 1.5 m, 10 m and dips also resistant to cold and dust. The screen is not great , the rise in ISO either (attention to shadows) but it has more than one string to his bow – including 6 LED surround optics and significantly improve the macro mode.
Canon Power D30 – 299 €
The D30 is only the third Canon camera in the segment of compact reinforced, but in three models, Canon has managed to offer a serious device. His argument lighthouse is the depth to which it sinks: 18 m deep! Unlike small entry-level models, the D30 can be shipped for diving bottles a little more than half an hour, as long as you follow the depth limit. Its CMOS sensor offers 12 Mpix shots of pretty good quality as long as you stay wise with ISO – 400 max, beyond the noise is a little too far.
This is the category where devices are the most expensive : bigger than the small compact, their manufacture requires more raw materials and optical components. While there are – some models less than 200 euros, but their quality does not seem sufficient. In this price range – about 300 euros – the two selected models offer a grip reflex type and zooms are very good . But do not rely too much on the sights: they are asses bottle. Good electronic viewfinder is very expensive to produce and are reserved for more expensive cameras – Hybrid , SLR and compact expert over 600 euros. As for screens, they are fixed, only the more expensive models are equipped with adjustable screens. Keep in mind that bridge makes sense if and only if you want a huge zoom power – astronomy , animal watching, etc.. – In a compact format. It is impossible to offer appliances that are both compact, cheap and zooms with monstrous without making many compromises, including image quality.
Fujifilm – FinePix S9400W – € 294
In the genre of “old school”, the FinePix S9400W is one of the last devices to work with type batteries batteries – alkaline or rechargeable AA/LR06, . Practice when one is away from electrical outlets. Equipped with a 16 Mpix CMOS sensor offers a 50 x zoom ( 24 to 1200 mm) relatively bright wide-angle – f/2.9 . Good point, it enjoys an additional electronic zoom control on the barrel of the camera, 5-axis stabilization, Wi -Fi and Full HD video.
Sony Cyber -shot H400 – 298 €
Ranging from 24.5 to 1550 mm, the zoom is a monster ( x63 ), which holds the record for power category. This zoom Titan is the main interest of H400 since transfers to S9400 on several points- no full HD video 720p but simple, no zoom lever on the barrel of optics, no Wi-Fi the CCD 20.1 Mpix providing adequate results in daylight, but very noisy in low light.
Yes, we found a compact expert less than 200 euros: Olympus XZ-10, a device at the end of life but still widely available. Lightweight version of its big brother, the XZ-2, this compact slim expert has a far brighter than the optical competition – f/1.8 wide angle – and offers all-metal finish, the RAW mode, etc. . The XZ-10 is the only reference device expert we found in the price range imposed, the average price is more around 450 euros. For an audience of connoisseurs, experts do not compact the bidding zoom or megapixels but prefer the high quality components: bright optical zoom slanted to avoid damaging the image quality, larger sensors (even giants like the RX100 Sony) ergonomics expert, all metal finishes, etc…