We've had a chance to check out some newly announced compact cameras on the show floor, and the verdict is in: they mean business. Read on for impressions and hands-on photos with the Nikon P7000, Casio Exilim H20, and the elusive Fujifilm FinePix X100.
Nikon Coolpix P7000
The P7000 gained some attention when it was launched for the serious upgrades it made to its predecessor. With a 10.1 megapixel 1/1.7-inch sensor, 7.1x optical zoom lens and HD video recording, it brought P7000 up to speed.
Nikon's website calls the P7000's optical viewfinder "large." After testing it out in person, I wouldn't give it that description. It was small, and I could see it might become frustrating to use for a long period of time. It is present, though, for those who prefer it over squinting at a washed out LCD in bright sunlight.
Operation is intuitive with the command dial on the back panel. In aperture priority mode, it predictably controls aperture. The 7.1x zoom range leads this advanced compact class. It has the solid look and feel that it should as a "P for Performance" Nikon Coolpix.
Fujifilm FinePix X100
There isn't a lot more to say about the Fujifilm X100 at this point. It's a thing of retro beauty, it's going to feature a fixed-focal length lens, and it's going to cost around $1000. That prices it right out of the G12/P7000 league, but not out of the game. If you think of it as a low-cost Leica competitor, the high price makes a little more sense.
No luck on digging this thing from out behind the glass, though Fujifilm didn't have a working unit at the show. Still, it's a sight to behold. Count us as very interested to see where this concept ends up.
Casio Exilim EX-H20G
Rounding out this group is Casio H20, the camera with a highly functional GPS embedded inside. Its greatest claim at the time of launch was that it will remember its position when it moves indoors and, with some help from an accelerometer, continue to keep tabs on where you are.
I stepped up to the H20 and flipped it into GPS mode. Sure enough, it found me Cologne, Germany, with plenty of photos of the Cologne Cathedral just across the river. To be sure, this was a controlled environment and a best case scenario, but the interface was surprisingly engaging.
Does it stand a chance against the growing contingent of smartphones equipped with improved cameras and GPS apps? The H20 offers geotagging and the benefit of maps with images of landmarks, but that's nothing a quick search on a smartphone can't uncover. Without having used it in the wild, it's hard to say. The H20 might be a geotagging fanatic's dream.
Viva la Compact
If these announcements say anything, it's that we still believe in the power of a compact, fixed-lens camera. Manufacturers can certainly move more cheap point-and-shoots off of store shelves, but the advanced compact camera is having a very good year and a strong showing at Photokina.