2017 Roundup: Compact Enthusiast Zoom Cameras
The enthusiast compact market has exploded over the last couple of years, with several manufacturers offering a product with 1"-type sensors. Most of these cameras are small (and sometimes pocketable) and feature fast (but short) lenses. They also vary in terms of design, control points, video specs and whether they have an EVF, so you'll have some decisions to make. In this roundup, we'll try to help.
Here are the cameras that we'll be covering in this article:
- Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
- Canon PowerShot G5 X
- Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
- Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V
As mentioned above, the majority of offerings in this category utilize 1"-type sensor, however two cameras offer even larger sensors. The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is built around the largest sensor of the bunch at 1.5"-type, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 uses most of the area of a slightly smaller Four Thirds chip.
Sensor size tends to be a major indicator of potential - particularly low light - image quality. Also, cameras with larger sensors will generally allow for much more control over depth of field.
To further help you pick the right camera in this class, we've also created the chart above, which breaks down the equivalent aperture for each camera, as you work your way through the zoom range. Our article here explains the concept of equivalence, but at a high level all you need to know is that the lower the line is on the graph above, the blurrier the backgrounds you'll be able to get and typically, though not always, the better the overall low-light performance.
The camera that stays the 'fastest' longest is the Panasonic LX100, due both to its F1.7-2.8 lens and Four Thirds sensor (which it uses a crop of). A number of cameras sit in the middle, including the Canon G1 X II and G7 X II as well as the Sony RX100 I/II. The Panasonic ZS100 is the slowest of the bunch, but it also has the longest reach by a decent margin.
On the following pages, you'll find what we liked and didn't like about each camera, links to our test scenes for image quality comparisons, and real-world galleries to give you a sense of how each performs outside the lab. Given that there are five Sony RX100s in this comparison, you might find this article helpful in making a decision between those.
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