Makes hard shots possible, and easy shots slightly fiddly.
I mainly use this camera outdoors on climbing/hiking trips, and that's my main interest. By far the biggest plus point is the speed and quality of the lens. By far the biggest minus point is the battery life. The camera produces excellent images (I have a recent one, so no orbs) and in particular it's dynamic range in EXR mode is very good, and really helps with landscapes. The viewfinder is far from useless, and it's a massive help in sunny conditions.
The lack of an automatic lens cover is annoying, and means two hands are needed to take a shot - although with the manual zoom, it's more of a two hand camera anyway. I use a UV filter to protect the lense, but without the cap, the filter soon gets dirty. For a camera that's usually chucked in a jacket pocket or rucksac, that's annoying.
On the control side, the menus are slightly annoying, and this makes setting up manual shooting modes a little tedious and time consuming. But all the controls are there when you need them. If using PASM modes, the external controls work well, and the external exposure compensation is really useful. The EXR auto (full auto..) mode is very good.
High ISO performance is great, and together with the fast lense, this allows handheld shots that simply wouldn't work with other cameras.
The battery life is dire. This is a real issue, and compounded by the battery meter going from 2/3rds full to completely empty almost instantly, so you really never know when it's going to die on you. This is a nuisance on any trips away from home, and requires taking multiple spare batteries. For a day trip, it's not an issue (but fully charge before you go).
This camera really requires a bit of thought and time to get the best shots. If you enjoy setting up shots, that's fine, if you just want something to whip out of a pocket, frame a shot and press the button, this isn't the best option. While the full auto mode is actually excellent, the camera is bulky enough, and the lens cap fiddly enough, that this isn't the best approach.
If you are willing to spend a minute or two setting up, you can get fantastic shots. I've successfully taken shots of bonfires, waterfalls, sports, sunsets, stars, and very high contrast scenes. Depth of field control is good, and the camera is comfortable to hold. The manual zoom is excellent.
Overall, this camera lets me do much more than a normal compact could. It's bulky and fiddly for casual shots of social events, but delivers excellent results when you are in the mood to take serious photos.
Poor battery life
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= community average