Compact Camera – December 2012 : Fujifilm F800EXR, Sigma SP1 Merrill, Nikon S01, Canon PowerShot SX160 IS , BenQ G1

12/27/2012 6:17:21 PM

·         Super zoom compact complete with Wi-Fi functionality

·         Price: $475.5

Key specs

·         Sensor: 16MP 1/2in EXR CMOS type

·         Lens: 25-500mm f/3.5 – 5.3

·         File formats; JPEG, RAW, RAW + JPEG, MOV

·         ISO: 80-3200 (expandable to ISO 6400 12,800)

·         Exposure modes: PASM, EXR, Auto, 17 scene

·         Movie mode: 1920 x 1080 (30FPS)

·         Screen: 3in 46K-Dot TFT LCD

·         Weight: 232g

·         Dimensions: 105.1 x 63.3 x 36mm

Fujifilm F800EXR

Fujifilm F800EXR

The F800EXR boasts Fujifilm's 16MP 1/2in EXR CMOS sensor, and as a result offers the full range of EXR shooting options.

A 20x optical zoom features with a range of 25-500mm in 35mm-equivalent terms. The F800EXR also offers a 40x Intelligent Digital Zoom expansion, a feature which has recently become commonplace.

An advanced specification continues with the presence of a large 3in 460k-dot LCS screen, as well as a full range of manual shooting control. HD video capture is also on offer at a full resolution of 1080p and 30fps, with a dedicated record button offering quick access.

The model’s Wi-Fi allows for geo-tagging of images when used in conjunction with a compatible smartphone, although the main function of the Wi-Fi is to allow for wireless image transfer between the F800EXR and either an iOS or Android device, via Fujifilm’s dedicated app. Unfortunately, remote live view or camera control like that found in other manufacturers’ implementations – is not supported.

The F800EXr retains all of the design hallmarks that make the triple digit F-series a pleasure to use. The compact features a pleasing curved body with a slightly protruding handgrip and rubberised pad on the rear which both offer a secure hold on the camera. The model’s mode dial sits at 450 angle between the camera’s top and rear, making it both easily viewable and simple to adjust.

In use, the model’s shot-to-shot speed, while swift enough when shooting just JPEG files, is noticeably tardy when Raw files are brought into the equation. The model’s AF system performs well in general, although there is some hunting for focus in low-light conditions, with accurate focus proving an issue.

It’s generally good news in the image quality department, though. The camera’s Auto White Balance system copes well in a variety of conditions, and the only time it really struggles is in low light and mixed light sources. ISO performance is respectable, although not without its own issues; up to ISO 800 images are usable, although anything above that sees a severe drop in image quality.


While the F800EXR’s Wi-Fi technology isn’t as complete as that on some other compacts, it’s still more useful than if the camera only featured GPS. Noise isn’t best handled at high ISO settings and the camera isn’t the quickest on the market, but, even in spite of these issues, it’s an impressive super zoom compact.


·         Large zoom in a slim body

·         Simplified interface

Full manual control and Raw capture


·         Slow Raw write speed

·         Difficulties with noise at higher ISO settings

·         Features: 18

·         Performance: 17

·         Design: 18

·         Image quality: 17

·         Value: 18

·         What digital camera: 88%


Sigma SP1 Merrill

·         Price: $1,267

·         46 megapixels

·         19mm fixed focal length

·         Full manual control

Sigma SP1 Merrill

Sigma SP1 Merrill

The sigma DP1 Merrill (DP1M) features an APS-C equivalent sensor and fixed-focal-length lens. The model is somewhat stripped back, featuring 640 x 480 VGA video capture and lacking auto shooting modes. Although the DP1M is certainly a bulky compact, it handles well and is enjoyable to use, with its basic focus system operating well. Image quality is some of the very best you’ll find in a compact camera, with stills featuring excellent detail and a natural tone.

Key specs

·         Sensor: 46MP, 23.5 x 15.7mm Foveon X3 CMOS sensor

·         ISO: 100 – 6400

·         Screen: 3in, 920K-Dot LCD

·         Weight: 340g

·         Dimensions: 121.5 x 66.7 x 64.3mm


The DP1M is not a camera for everyone. It excels in certain areas, although is basic in others. If you’re willing to make compromises in areas such as battery life and general shooting speed, you’ll be rewarded with some great images.

Pro: Truly excellent image quality

Con: Prohibitive price tag

Score: 82%


Nikon S01

·         Price: $237.9

·         10 megapixel

·         3x optical zoom

·         8GB internal memory

Nikon S01

Nikon S01

Nikon’s SO1 is a tiny compact that’s smaller than a credit card. It achieves this feat by forgoing removable flash storage in favor of 8GB of internal memory, as well as a fixed battery. The model also features a 2.5in touchscreen and 3x optical zoom, and is available in a host of colors. The SO1 isn’t a camera for those with large hands and can at times prove fiddly, although in general it performs well. Image quality, while generally good, struggles at times.

Key specs

·         Sensor: 10.1MP, 1/2.9in CCD

·         ISO: 80 – 1600

·         Screen: 2.5in, 230K-Dot touchscreen LCD

·         Weight: 96g

·         Dimensions: 77 x 51.2 x 17.2mm


With such a small body, the Nikon SO1 was always going to risk being seen as a novelty camera. The good news is that this isn’t the case and while image quality isn’t fantastic, the camera performs well in general and certainly has appeal.

Pro: Diminutive body

Con: Can prove fiddly for those with big hands

Score: 84%


Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

·         Price: $285.5

·         16 megapixels

·         16x optical zoom

·         AA battery powered

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

Aimed more towards the affordable end of the Canon PowerShot range, the SX160 IS still has a strong spec. A 16x optical zoom features, along with a 16MP sensor and 720p video capture. The camera is powered by AA batteries, and unfortunately battery life isn’t great. Despite being bulky, the camera is well designed, and although the model’s LCD screen makes image capture and review difficult, image quality is generally reliable.

Key specs

·         Sensor: 16MP, 1/2.3in

·         ISO: 100 – 1600

·         Screen: 3in, 230K-Dot LCD

·         Weight: 291g

·         Dimensions: 111 x 72.5 x 44.1mm


The SX160 IS tries to be affordable while offering a high spec and performance, and achieves it. There are compromises made, namely in AA battery life and LCD screen performance, although on the whole it’s a reliable model.

Pro: Generally reliable image quality

Con: AA battery life is poor

Score: 84%


BenQ G1

·         Price: $380.5

·         14 megapixels

·         4.6x optical zoom

·         3in vari-angle LCD

BenQ G1

BenQ G1

On paper, the BenQ G1 certainly appears an impressive compact, with a 14MP sensor, 4.6x optical zoom complete with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 along with a 3in vari-angle LCD screen. Unfortunately, the model’s build quality is somewhat lacking, with a plasticky body, while the LCD’s performance is rather disappointing. The G1 produces reasonable images, although it suffers from lens flare and noise issues at higher ISO settings.

Key specs

·         Sensor: 14MP, 1/2.3in CMOS

·         ISO: 100 – 6400

·         Screen: 3in, 920K-Dot vari-angle LCD

·         Weight: 195g

·         Dimensions: 114 x 62.5 x 25.5mm


While the G1 looks like an appealing prospect on paper, unfortunately once you scratch the surface a range of issues arise. Although the price tag and spec looks appealing and in general it’s a respectable model, there are better options.

Pro: Impressive specification

Con: Poor LCD performance

Score: 81%

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