Camera Shootout of the Advanced Kind (Part 2)

3/6/2013 9:27:20 AM

Now that we’ve got the bigwigs out of the way, we can focus on the smaller, more basic point-n-shoot cameras that we got. For this category, we restricted the models to those that fell below a price cap of $22,500 and only included those that were released after October 2012.

Features and design

In this matchup, we’ve got three compact point and shoot cameras: The Nikon Coolpix S8200, Fujifilm F660 EXR and the BenQ GH210 and two ultra-zoom cameras: the Nikon Coolpix L610 and the BenQ GH650.

The GH650 offers the maximum zoom in this category, with the lens capable of pulling off shots in the 22-580 mm range. We were actually quite surprised to see the lens go down to 22 mm, something we have not seen in a lot of point and shoot cameras as they generally tend to favor 24 or 28 mm as a starting point.

The Nikon Coolpix  S8200

The Nikon Coolpix S8200

The Nikon Coolpix S8200 and the BenQ GH210 ship with a very standard set of features, f/3.5-5.8 aperture lens, a focal length of roughly 25-350 mm and a 1/2.3-inch sensor , but the shocker on the GH210 is that it uses a CCD sensor, a type that is now being phased out by most manufacturers. However, it’s interesting to note that the BenQ site lists the sensor on the GH210 as one made by Sony, while the one on the GH650 as made by Panasonic. Similarly, the optics on the BenQ cameras also come from Sony, although we have serious doubts whether these optics match the quality found on Sony’s own cameras.

The Fujifilm F660 EXR uses an unconventionally sized 1/2-inch sensor, making it the largest amongst those we compared. Other than that, it also has some rather nice ergonomics, with smooth curves and a well finished body, but the real winner for us is the mode-dial which is placed at a slight angle on the back. It’s really easy to turn without really having to move the thumb a lot. This did, however, at times pose a problem as we found the dial switching on us unexpectedly even with the slightest brush of the thumb.

Build and ergonomics

The comfort of holding a camera can be quite subjective to the hands of the user. However, certain things remain universal, such as the placement of the shutter button, the placement of the zoom toggle and other buttons that are needed to access features. The ergonomics on each of these five cameras were quite decent, though we weren’t quite taken in by the sharp corners on the GH210. The best fit-ting camera (in our hands) was the Fujifilm F660 EXR, which did surprise us a little, seeing how the X10 is anything but an ergonomic marvel.

The Fujifilm F660 EXR

The Fujifilm F660 EXR

When we started to play with the Nikon Coolpix L610, we were really intrigued by the design of the camera. It has a really gentle bulge at the top, probably as a result of the large lens, but we haven’t seen such curvaceous design cues being implemented in cameras off late. If anything, they have been becoming more angular and clean cut, so the curves are a welcome change. We do however, feel that you might run into issues fitting this into a camera case that you might have lying around. What we loved the most about the L610, a feature that definitely made it stand out from the rest of the cameras in this competition was the ribbed grip that’s replaced the smooth rubber grip that’s normally found on such cameras. Speaking of build quality, the Nikons, though obviously made of plastic, they didn’t feel flimsy at all. The Fujifilm in fact, in spite of the plastic, felt like it could withstand a drop or two. The BenQ cameras on the other hand felt as fragile as egg shells in our hands. The battery door was one of the flimsiest we’ve ever seen, operating on a very delicate spring-hinge mechanism. The GH210 felt mostly like a toy camera with an incredibly thin plastic shell that creaked at the slightest pressure from our fingers. Overall, the Fujifilm F660 EXR was the best built camera out of the five with a well-polished finish, sturdy but-tons that were placed just perfectly and the camera itself was a treat to handle.


The in-studio performance results showed that throughout the range, the Fujifilm F660 EXR dominated the test. Thanks to the slightly larger sensor. It was just ahead of the Nikons up until ISO 1600 and at ISO 3200, the retention of detail was visibly higher compared to the Nikons and the BenQs.

the BenQs

The real world tests were a rather exciting comparison, with the performance becoming quite hard to gauge. For example, the Nikon S8200 had a very pleasing level of saturation, with a strong emphasis on greens. The Fuji on the other hand had slightly lower saturation (on default set-ting), but the greens were not over emphasized. While land-scape photographers, or those who love shooting leaves might enjoy the Nikons, the F660 EXR offers a better balance of colors. The BenQs offered the same balanced saturation as the Fujifilm F660 EXR, but there is more to the overall story. When we factored in contrast and dynamic range, the F660 did better just by a little bit thanks to its emphasis on shadows in strongly lit scenes. We ended up with lesser “unintentional” silhouettes with the Fuji than we did when shooting with the Nikon or BenQ models.


In cameras that are under `15,000, we do not really expect stellar performance, especially when we’re used to using more high-end imaging devices and these cameras were no exception. We decided that the Fuji-film F660 EXR should win our Best Buyaward for its better performance over the competition (though just by a little bit). The build quality on the Fuji was also surprisingly good, as we’re normally used to dealing with cameras that have a flimsy build or poor finish if they cost under 15K. But it looks like Fuji-film cut no corners with this little beauty. We do however wish that it had a faster lens, as that would definitely make this the camera of choice when going anywhere, especially clubbing.

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