Three candid snapshots

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 04, 2012 20:01 hrs

Despite lying on the desk with its cumbersome charging gear attached, a colleague walking by took one glance and declared the Nikon Cool Pix S800c “sexy”. Undoubtedly, it is. The sleek and almost slippery white body, with silver detailing, appears more of a communication device (it partly is) than the world’s — and Nikon’s — first Android-powered point-and-shoot camera. Go through the rather exasperating charging process, and the instant reward is a bright and clear 3.5-inch, 819L dot OLED touch panel, the centrepiece of the S800.

To be fair, as it must be for any Android device worth its salt, the screen holds the entire camera together, allowing easy access to the bevy of applications that come loaded. That means your Gmail, maps, messenger, music, YouTube and pretty much anything else that works on Android can now be on your camera. Essentially, it’s the perfect point-and-shoot-and-share device for social networking nuts, because even the camera specs aren’t a let-down. The S800c holds in a 16MP CMOS sensor, with a 10X optical zoom and 17 pre-set scene modes, making it a standard shooting package.

So, all together, does it work? Not really. The biggest let-down is the S800c only hooks up to a Wi-Fi connection, which means the power of the Android platform to send and share will work mostly indoors. Then, the camera isn’t great guns, offering only limited control, a shame considering the specs. The touch-screen focusing in particular lacks accuracy.

Full marks to Nikon for crafting the technology, but the S800c is neither a great camera nor a superb android device. For something in between, a price of Rs 20,950 isn’t entirely palatable.

From the way it looks, it could be part of the Canon PowerShot G series. After all, this is what the Nikon COOLPIX P7700’s predecessors were supposed to be but didn’t exactly succeed. Yet, this high-end Nikon compact looks — and for the most part acts — a cracker, with a body that, though a tad chunky, has the right curves at the right places and a particularly nice patch of rubber for a comfortable right-hand grip. Given its rather limited space, the controls are well-placed. There are two thumbwheel controls, one in front, another behind, like most Nikon DSLRs, and pretty much everything you might need for instant adjustments are there on the deck. Only thing missing: an optical viewfinder.

Instead, Nikon has attached a seemingly sturdy three-inch, 921k-dot, Vari-Angle TFT LCD monitor that twists and turns in almost every direction, and despite the usual reservations against monitors, this one isn’t a complete let-down. Neither are the two other crucial specs: the 7.1X optical zoom NIKKOR Lens with f/2.0-4.0 maximum aperture and the 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, which, though not the largest in the segment, delivers well enough. Also, part of the package is full-HD video capability and, interestingly, a built-in neutral density (ND) filter that helps control the amount of light that comes through a lens. Useful, especially in the subcontinent.

But, its price of Rs 29,000 will get some thinking, since the low-end of the Nikon’s DSLR range starts at the same price bracket. The COOLPIX P7700 is either for those who want to start out without the bulk of the DLSRs, or want a smaller but satisfactory compact to run alongside the big boys. For both the groups, the Nikon is likely to deliver. But the optical viewfinder may be missed.

The Canon PowerShot A2300 comes with a booklet in Hindi. So, this little camera isn’t just for the English-speaking population — and priced at a little above Rs 6,000, it isn’t for the well-heeled either. With 16 mega pixels and a 5x optical zoom, the PowerShot A2300 is a standard, bottom-of-the-range camera you’d pick up to shoot a beach holiday or a birthday party when the focus is on capturing moments, than serious photography.

The controls are frugal, if a little cramped, bunched behind a little curve next to the 2.7-inch LCD at the back. There are a set of standard shooting modes to choose from, but the standout selling point is its 720p HD video, which, though useful, may not be something most users would fully utilise on this Canon. Yet, what this cheap compact lacks is what most users will miss: Proper image stabilisation.

That’s exactly why it makes more sense to shell out an extra Rs 1,000 to pick up the Canon PowerShot A2400 IS that has an ‘Intelligent IS (Image Stabilisation)’ function to cut out the shakes, a constant companion for most amateur shooters. But if you’d want to gift your kid an inexpensive first camera, or pick something cheap to snap away at a holiday or two, then at least have a look at the Canon PowerShot A2300.

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