Samsung in the middle?

Between my Sony NEX-F3D for higher-end photography needs and iOS devices for daily snaps, I’m usually set for photos (especially since I’m not some photography buff and don’t know anything about the technical aspects of the art).

Still, there are occasions where I want to use something that better than my phone but don’t want to lug out the (small but still surprisingly heavy) F3D and that’s where compact digicams come in. For the past few years, I’ve been using my trusty old Canon Ixus 870IS but it has unfortunately decided to go to a better place (where, I assume, there’s better lighting and an endless supply of SD cards).

Thus, I’ve decided to get a new compact digicam that falls smack into that middle ground between a phone camera and an interchangeable lens, DSLR/micro four-thirds shooter. And that’s where I need your help, because I don’t know crap the options are overwhelming.

Different people focus on different things when choosing cameras and my requirements for a compact digicam are pretty simple in that I think most cameras will cover most of them. Finding one that has all the elements, though, has been difficult, especially considering different sites doing those “Best Compact Digicam” comparisons often seem to compare totally different brands and models and I have no idea what the definitive stance on something is. My ideal compact digicam has to be:

  1. Well, compact: this should be a pretty foregone conclusion, but since smallness is pretty subjective, I’m looking specifically for something that is lighter and takes up less space (especially in a case) than my Sony (which isn’t all that big in the first place but is significantly heftier than most compact digicams).
  2. Has decent-to-good image quality: at the very least, it has to be significantly better than anything I can take with my iPhone (given that my level of photography expertise is consistent throughout the devices)
  3. Have really good macro: which is a duh, given that most of my shots will be of food
  4. Competitively priced: again, since this is something that’s a significant downgrade from my Nex, the price has to be a significant downgrade as well. I’m looking for something that’s preferably in the <S$450 range.
  5. Swivel screens (or equivalent features that allow for effortless selfies): this is one of my hardest-to-fulfil criteria but it is also one of the ones that I really want. Having used the F3D (which has an 180deg flip-up screen), I really don’t understand why more cameras don’t have this since it allows for much easier coordinated group shots (that don’t rely on socially-awkward people like me having to approach random strangers to take shots that might or might not turn out good)
  6. Wifi: this is perhaps the most optional of all the features as I figure that I’d still be sending my photos to the computer first for some post-processing before uploading them anywhere but it might be really useful for times when I just want to send something nice over to my phone to upload on the spot; also, this can be compensated for by getting a Wifi-able card instead

Other features that others focus on that are optional for me but would be nice to have:

  • Great battery life (since I won’t usually take that many shots on each occasion, this isn’t a must have);
  • Amazing zoom (again, since most of my shots are of friends at events and/or food, huge zoom isn’t a necessity for me)

So far, I’ve managed to come up with, after a whole slew of Googling, a couple of units that fit some (though not all) my criteria:

Samsung EX2F

This is actually the only one I’ve handled in real life and I remember being really impressed by it (especially its macro feature, which in its auto mode took better macro shots than I could get out of my NEX, although that’s probably just me being camera-obtuse). It has decent image quality (though not as good as some of the others), comes with a swivel screen, looks pretty decent (and has a nice, solid grip), has wifi, and, if I’m not wrong, is pretty competitively priced (I found it for below S$450 on a reliable-looking shop on eBay).

It’s still a tad large, though. I don’t think it’s as big as the Nex but it’s definitely not as compact as my Canon used to be.

Still, for now this is the main choice that I’m looking at.

Canon Powershot S110

Having used a Canon for years, I know how good and sturdy they are and this one is supposedly a great mix between pocketability (its consistently the smallest one in the comparisons and is definitely more compact than the Samsung one above) and great image quality (arguably more so than the Samsung, too). It also has built-in wifi and, if I’m not wrong, is priced pretty decently.

Its macro features are not that good, though (one review placed it at the bottom of the pack), which means that it might take great photos but not in the situations I want. Also, it does not have a swivel screen.

Sony DSC-RX100

My very first compact digicam was a Sony and I really loved its image quality, although running on AA batteries constantly made it a thorn in my teenaged ass. According to every single review and almost every comparison post I’ve read (and this is the camera that appears the most consistently in them), the RX100 continues that trend by having insane image quality nearing that of a low-range DSLR or micro four-thirds.

It apparently has the best image quality across any compact digicam bar none, has pretty good macro and decent battery life, which makes it tempting.

Still, it doesn’t have wifi (although like I said, this is not that big an issue) and, more importantly, doesn’t have a swivel screen and, even more importantly, is really expensive. I’m not sure what’s the best price I can get it for locally but its premium price is mentioned in every single review I’ve come across and, although I’m all for great image quality, I’d rather have a more comfortable compromise between quality and price.

Samsung Multiview MV900F

Coming back to Samsung, this seems another possible choice as it comes with a whole host of image-customization options, a really compact size, that swivel screen that is apparently its trademark, wifi capability and is priced, presumably, pretty decent. It also doesn’t look all that bad.

While there aren’t many reviews on it yet (since it only comes out in August), the few that mention it say that its image quality and macro aren’t that great and it should only be used primarily for social media purposes, which means that it might not take great photos of what I usually take and might not be good enough for blogging with.

While I’m going to continue researching possible models, checking out price packages (and what freebies come with them) and will be trying to actually get my hands on these models to try them out in real life (since spec sheets often don’t corroborate real-life experiences), I’m hoping to get some help with them.

Have you used any of these cameras? What do you think of them? Do you know of any other cameras I should take a swing at?

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