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Nikon Coolpix L830 Review: Swivel and Zoom

Nikon Coolpix L830 Review

Nikon recently updated its Coolpix range of cameras including the Life (L) series. At the high end of the L series is the Nikon Coolpix L830 which is an update to the Coolpix L820. This is a bridge camera with a 34x optical zoom lens, which is slightly lower than Sony DSC-H300’s 35x optical zoom.

While the Coolpix L830 seems to have a lot going for it, we find out if this camera has the actual chops to capture great images.

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Design
Truly bridging the gap between DSLRs and compact digital cameras, the Coolpix L830 is a super-zoom digital camera trapped in a DSLR frame, only much smaller. While it is available in plain black as well as red, the plum colour variant which we got for review is very striking. The body is made entirely of plastic with a glossy coat of paint on top, but it does feel sturdy. On the whole, for the amount it costs, the camera looks premium.

The most striking feature of the camera is the variangle LCD monitor which can be tilted and lowered to an angle of approximately 85 degrees. This makes it easy to capture dramatic shots and we found it useful in awkward situations.

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The grip features a rubber padding that makes holding the camera easier. On the flip side, we couldn’t hold the camera properly with both hands, like one would a DSLR, since it has a really small frame. Holding the lens with the other hand was slightly disorienting as either the thumb came in the way of the flash or it got captured by the lens.

You can use the Coolpix L830 easily with a single hand, but its 508g weight (including batteries) makes it slightly unwieldy and this adds to image stabilization issues that are inherent to super-zoom cameras. We feel that the ergonomics are slightly off, though there isn’t much Nikon could have done in this case.

On the top edge is the power button, with the shutter release and zoom ring further forward on the grip. There is also an ugly-looking perforated speaker on the top which detracts from the otherwise decent design of the camera. There is another zoom control on the side of the lens barrel. Right above this is a small button to pop the flash open. On the left edge are the micro-HDMI and proprietary PC connection ports. On the right edge is the DC input connector. The bottom has the tripod socket and the compartment for four AA batteries and a memory card.

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Features and specifications
The Nikon Coolpix L830 has a class-standard 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that can capture images at 16 megapixels. This is a super-zoom camera with a 34x optical zoom lens, which means it can go as far as 765mm on the higher end and as close as 22.5mm on the lower end. The camera operates in the ISO sensitivity range of 125 to 3200.

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The L830 can shoot in a variety of modes: Easy Auto, Auto, Special effects, Smart portrait and Scene (which includes Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Backlighting, Easy panorama and Pet portrait).

While operating the camera, we found that the software buries the scene mode options really deep and it was tough to actually locate them. The software fails a little bit in this respect. Moreover, there are no manual controls at all, which will be a deterrent to users who want a little bit of flexibility in their photography. There is no Wi-Fi connectivity either, which is a bit of a letdown.

The 3-inch TFT LCD has a 921k dot resolution. It has really good viewing angles but the sunlight legibility is just about average.

Performance
Despite the small sensor size, it lets in a sufficient amount of light. The focusing ability of the lens in macro mode is not that great, though. In our daylight testing, we found that the camera managed to capture some really good details, even when zoomed in all the way to 34x. Pictures had a good depth of field, too.

When zoomed in, we noticed some amount of noise. Moreover, the photos had an overall cool tonal quality to them. Printing pictures at full resolution might not produce ideal results, but you should be able to get away with 4×5-inch sized prints.

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In our more intensive ISO sensitivity test, the camera performs below par as evident from the picture below. Looking closely, it’s possible to discern a small dent in the upper left corner of the image at ISO 125 and ISO 200 which becomes less visible at higher ISO levels. This could also be why we noticed noise in Auto mode, as the camera probably chose higher sensitivity levels to shoot images.

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Nikon claims that the camera can go as close as 1cm of the subject in Macro mode. We found it difficult to focus at such close range, but the results were nothing short of stunning. In low light mode, the the L830 does a really decent job by capturing a good amount of light and details, and performs better than many other cameras in the same price range. But please note that you will need a tripod or at least stable hands to capture good shots in the night. The image stabilization is not really good, and we ended up with a lot of blurred shots.

The quality of captured 1080p video was decent and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of background noise the microphones filtered out, leaving good quality sound. The flash module on the Nikon Coolpix L830 is one of the best we’ve used. It lit up the room evenly and the light wasn’t too harsh either.

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We mentioned earlier that the camera uses four AA batteries, which means that battery life and the number of shots will vary according to the type of battery one uses. We used four regular alkaline batteries and got around 80 shots before the battery dipped to 75 percent. Lithium batteries will give you more shots per charge.

Verdict
This low-end bridge camera is priced at Rs. 15,450 but can be found cheaper online. At this price and with such a great feature set, the camera might look like a killer deal but the slightly high noise levels are a downer. The lack of Wi-Fi is also another letdown.

On the other hand, it captures some decent shots in the night and macro photographs come out well too. We’d suggest picking it up if size and weight are not too much of an issue, and if the you won’t ever need to print banner-sized cutouts. Alternatively, take a look at the Sony DSC-H300 and Canon Powershot SX510.

Price: Rs. 15,450
Pros

  • 34x optical zoom lens
  • Good performance in low light
  • Good macro performance

Cons

  • Noise even in daylight shots
  • A bit too heavy

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 3.5
  • Image Quality: 3.5
  • Video: 3.5
  • Battery Life: 3.5
  • Value For money: 4
  • Overall: 3.5

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Gionee Marathon M5 Review

Gionee Marathon M5 Review

Battery life was never a problem back in the pre-smartphone era, but ever since we became slaves to touchscreens, it has been a major concern. Until new technology is developed, we are stuck with Lithium Ion batteries and there’s only so much it can deliver. The most obvious way to get more battery life is increase size and capacity, which is exactly what Gionee has been doing with its Marathon series.

We reviewed the Marathon M4 (Review | Pictures) quite recently, which shattered our internal battery life record in a test of continuous video playback. We’re expecting the Marathon M5 to do even better, as this time, Gionee has squeezed in two 3010mAh batteries for good measure. But is the Marathon M5 a phone you can actually live with or is it merely a power bank masquerading as a phone? Has Gionee fixed all the issues with its predecessor to make it more likable? Let’s find out.

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Look and feel
The Marathon M5 features a combination of metal and plastic which feels sturdy and durable. You could probably knock someone unconscious with a well-aimed headshot! Gionee has managed to trim the thickness down to 8.6mm by increasing the length and width. However, the larger battery has made the Marathon M5 a lot heavier. Weighing in at 211g, it’s one of the heaviest smartphones out there.

The 5.5-inch Amoled display has a disappointingly low HD resolution, which should have ideally been full-HD. Since the pixel density is low, images and text aren’t as sharp as they should be. Colours tend to get oversaturated and feel jarring at times. Sadly, there’s no option to calibrate the screen in the settings app. There’s a 5-megapixel front camera, Gorilla Glass 3, and non-backlit capacitive navigation buttons.

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The microSD card slot sits on the right and can accept cards of up to 128GB. The two 4G Micro-SIM slots are placed on the left. The power and volume buttons are ergonomically placed and have good tactile feedback. Gionee has also added a IR blaster near the 3.5mm headphone socket on the top.

Around the back, we have a 13-megapixel camera and a single-LED flash. The unit ships with a charger, data cable, headset, manuals, screen guard, and a flip cover. The cover isn’t windowed or magnetic so it won’t turn the phone’s screen on and off automatically. It’s also completely devoid of branding, which masks the identity of the phone.

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We’re happy that Gionee made the Marathon M4’s successor slimmer but we guess the added weight was unavoidable with the larger battery. Some areas continue to remain pain points however, like the low screen resolution and non-backlit buttons. Gionee also talks about an ‘on-the-go’ cable on its website, for using the Marathon M5 as power bank but that cable wasn’t part of the bundle with our review unit.

Specifications and software
Powering the Marathon M5 is the same quad-core MediaTek MT6735 SoC we saw in the previous version. However, Gionee has upgraded some of the other specifications, so we now have 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. You also get Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, FM Radio, and USB OTG support. The Marathon M5 also supports Dual-LTE 4G on both SIMs for most bands, including Band 40.

On the software front, the Marathon M5 runs the Amigo 3.1 user interface (UI) which is a heavily skinned version of Android Lollipop 5.1. Since we’ve covered most of the UI’s features and quirks in in our Marathon M4 review, we’ll just gloss over the notable ones here. The interface is single-layered which means all your apps are spread out across multiple home screens, which can feels cluttered. Gionee installs a host of trial games and some third-party utilities but thankfully, you can uninstall them if they aren’t to your liking. The notifications shade only gives you notifications while the rest of the toggle switches and shortcut to some apps are placed in the ‘Control Centre’, which can be activated with a swipe up from the bottom.

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Gionee bundles Peel Smart Remote to go with the IR blaster. Setting it up is simple and the app has presets for Indian DTH providers. Another very interesting app is Gionee Xender. This lets you connect your phone to another smartphone (provided the app is installed on that device too) via Wi-Fi and transfer files between the two without an Internet connection. The advantage of using this is that transfer speeds are faster as compared to Bluetooth and the app consolidates all your media into different tabs, making it easier to share. The app is also compatible with Apple devices and PCs, provided you’re on the same network. Finally, the Chameleon app lets you chose a custom colour scheme for your phone’s theme by pointing the camera at anything and picking colours out of the result.

Performance
General interface and app performance is quite good. We didn’t encounter any noticeable lag or stutter during our usage, and swiping through home screens was very fluid. The phone handles demanding games surprisingly well, and we barely had any lag or drops in the frame rate in games like Dead Trigger 2. Call quality is also satisfactory and we didn’t encounter any call drops during our usage.

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Looking purely at the benchmarks, the numbers aren’t very good when you consider other phones in this price segment. We got a score of just 28,638 in AnTuTu while 3DMark Ice Storm recorded a score of 5,933. Once again, this only tells half the story as you’ll never feel any lack of power during actual usage.

The M5 supports DTS audio for the stock music and video player. This enhancement is not system-wide as it can only be accessed within the music player app. You can tweak the sound by selecting the type of headset you’re using and add effects from a bunch of presets or customise one yourself.

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The volume level is sufficiently loud for a small room but the sound is feels a little muddy due to the mono speaker. The bundled headset fares a lot better. The earphones have good build and feature flat cables. The silicon tips provide decent isolation from ambient noise and have a good enough sound signature.

The upgraded 13-megapixel camera does a good job with landscapes and macros in daylight. The level of detail is very good, even when zoomed in all the way, and colours are quite accurate. Pictures taken indoors tend to get a bit noisy, especially in low light. Night shots exhibit a bit of noise and details aren’t great but this can be remedied to an extent by playing around with the shutter speed and ISO settings in pro mode. The flash does help a bit but it isn’t very powerful. The front-facing camera is strictly ok since it lacks auto-focus, and indoor selfies aren’t the sharpest. Video recording maxes out at 1080p and video quality is, once again, pretty decent in daylight. The software stabilisation also helps eliminate minor movement by your hands.

Gionee_Marathon_M5_sample_ndtv.jpgGionee_Marathon_M5_sample2_ndtv.jpg(Click for full-sized image)

The camera interface is clean and easy to navigate. You have your basic toggle switches right on the main screen while the different shooting modes are hidden behind a separate menu. Gionee adds a professional mode, which lets you take control of ISO, White Balance, Exposure, Shutter Speed and Focus; Magic Focus lets snap a picture and adjust the focus later, which actually works well; Ultra Pixel doubles the resolution of the image in case you wish to print it out later; PicNote will automatically crop out and save only that portion of the image which has text in it. Take Anytime is strangely worded shooting mode but what it does is take multiple shots of a scene and then lets you erase unwanted objects, add motion blur, etc.

Gionee_Marathon_M5_night_sample_ndtv.jpgShot in Pro Mode with three-second shutter; ISO 100 (Click for full-sized image)

Now we come to the hallmark feature of the Marathon M5 – its battery life. The massive 6020mAh combined battery lasted 25 hours and 23 minutes in our video loop test – more than enough to shatter the M4’s previous record by exactly 4 hours. With regular usage, we easily managed to go three to four days without needing a charge. The supplied 2000mAh charger manages to charge the phone fairly quickly and you can top it up completely in a couple of hours.

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Verdict
The Gionee Marathon M5 is in a league if its own as far as batter life is concerned, and Rs 18,000 is not too high a price to pay when you might not have access to a charger for days, or simply prefer the peace of mind. Gionee has made some decent efforts in refining the device too, so that it’s easy enough to live with. The Marathon M5 is slimmer than its predecessor, but still built like a tank. It also has a vivid display and a pretty decent camera for most lighting conditions. We feel that Gionee could have gone with a full-HD screen at this price but that could have compromised battery life too, so we understand the trade off. On the other hand, low-light camera performance is a bit weak, it’s quite heavy and Amigo UI might not be to everyone’s liking.

If you’re looking for the ultimate battery life in a smartphone, the Gionee Marathon M5 is your best bet. That is of course, till the company announces the next version.


Gionee Marathon M5 in pictures

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Gionee Marathon M5

Gionee Marathon M5

R 17999 4.0

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Insane battery life
  • Sturdy and well built
  • Decent camera
  • IR blaster
  • Fluid interface
  • Bad
  • Low-res screen with exaggerated colours
  • Very heavy
  • Amigo UI is not for everyone

Read detailed Gionee Marathon M5 review

Display

5.50-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

5-megapixel

Resolution

720×1280 pixels

RAM

3GB

OS

Android 5.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

13-megapixel

Battery capacity

6020mAh See full Gionee Marathon M5 specifications

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  • Gionee Marathon M5 Review
  • Gionee Marathon M5 First Impressions
  • Gionee Marathon M5 With 3GB RAM, 6020mAh Battery Launched at Rs. 17,999

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Sigma dp2 Quattro Review: Captures Images Brimming With Colour

Sigma dp2 Quattro Review: Captures Images Brimming With Colour

Sigma is a Japanese family-owned business that makes lenses for DSLRs and micro four-thirds cameras, proprietary sensor technology that is starkly different from what the industry uses, and of course, cameras. It operates in a niche segment that caters to imaging experts who want to go beyond established ideas of photography and capture images that look incredibly lifelike. Whether Sigma’s strategy works or not is a debate for another day, but it is definitely making some headway in this niche space.

Sigma’s latest compact camera in India is the dp2 Quattro, which has a design that is whacky and unusual when compared to the dp2 Merrill. It also improves upon its predecessor in the specifications department by using an upgraded version of Sigma’s proprietary Foveon X3 sensor.

There are three cameras in the dp Quattro series, each with a different fixed-focal-length lens. The dp2 Quattro (Standard) is meant for basic photography and has a 45mm lens, whereas the dp1 Quattro (Wide) with its 28mm lens is more suited for wide angle shots. If you want to capture subjects slightly far away, the mid-tele version of the dp3 Quattro makes more sense because it boasts of a 75mm lens.

We took the dp2 Quattro out for a spin and put it through our battery of regular tests, and had some fun with it at the same time as well.

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Design
Breaking all conventional camera design tropes, the Sigma dp2 Quattro’s structure and shape stands out. The width of 161.4mm makes this oddball camera almost as wide as a Sony Playstation Vita portable gaming console. Also, for a compact digital camera, the dp2 Quattro is definitely not pocketable. A protective case, not provided in the box, is essential if you intend to carry it around. However, you don’t have to worry about the build quality because it is almost entirely made of metal and feels adequately sturdy.

A big lens peeks out from the front of the dp2 Quattro. On the right side of the dp2 Quattro, the hand grip curves inwards which is quite unlike regular DSLRs and bridge cameras. The slightly angled front allows users to grip the camera easily. Sigma provides a small rubber pad to place your fingers on where it is angled. The rear doesn’t have any such pad. Instead, the area between the monitor and the hand grip which also houses a few controls, has a rubberised coating which acts a decent substitute.

Owing to the nature of the design, the camera is suited only for two-handed operation and it takes a little getting used to at first. It is almost impossible to use the camera with one hand because it is lens-heavy. A tough rubber flap on the left edge of the dp2 Quattro conceals the Micro-USB port and microSD card slot. There are lanyard loops on both sides, and Sigma also bundles a lanyard/strap in the box.

A hotshoe for attaching accessories such as an external flash or an electronic viewfinder (EVF) is present on the top, in line with the lens. On the right of the top edge you can find the power button, a button to switch between the available modes, and a shutter release surrounded by ring that can be used to zoom in to captured photographs. Another dial sits on top of the extended hand grip and can be used to change options the settings menus.

Most of the focussing options are mapped to two buttons behind the hand grip; one lets you switch between manual and automatic focus, while the other one helps you set the focus point when focussing manually. Placed vertically between the handgrip and the LCD monitor, there are four buttons (from top to bottom) for: switching the display on/off, quick settings, locking AE/deleting images, and the main menu. The View/Playback button is squeezed in between the edge of the LCD monitor and the menu button. The battery compartment and the tripod socket are at the bottom of the camera.

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Specifications and software
The most important component inside the dp2 Quattro is its Foveon X3 sensor. It is radically different from sensors used in other cameras. It is important to know the differences so as to figure out how a compact camera can capture images that can rival those taken by a full-frame DSLR.

DSLR and compact cameras made by popular brands such as Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus and the like use CMOS or CCD image sensors. Typically, a CMOS sensor (more widely used) has a single layer of silicon to capture light. Using something known as a Bayer filter, the layer of silicon is divided into red, blue and green light receptors. After light is captured, the camera’s image processor converts it into an RGB image. The Bayer filter mosaic pattern is such that 50 percent is dedicated for green, with 25 percent each for the other two colours.

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In contrast, the Foveon X3 sensor has three layers of silicon for blue, green and red colour receptors. They are stacked up against each other with the blue layer on top, red on the bottom and green sandwiched in between. There is a reason for this as arrangement as well – each of these light bands has a certain wavelength which in turn determines how far the light can penetrate the silicon layer – blue light doesn’t penetrate very far. In the latest iteration of the Foveon X3 sensor, Sigma has added an extra layer on top of these silicon layers that captures luminance or greyscale information as well. This eliminates the need for a low-pass filter, which is used by cameras with CMOS sensors to reduce artifacting such as moire patterns.

So, Sigma’s 39-megapixel Foveon X3 sensor coupled with the new True III image processing engine can capture richer colours without losing details. We’ll test that in our performance review of the camera.

sigma_dp2_quattro_camerasample_2_final_ndtv.jpgThe 45mm lens can only get as close as 28cm to a subject, which is not good for close-up macro shots. It has four shooting modes: Program, Shutter speed priority, Aperture priority and Manual. The camera has a ton of colour modes but the Cinema and Monochrome options are the most exciting of the lot. It shoots photos in 3:2 X3F RAW format and you can process them using the Sigma Photo Pro 6 image processing software. Unfortunately, the software can really test your patience. On the flipside, .JPEG images captured by the camera are of fairly good quality. The lack of basic features like a video mode or image stabilisation might be a deterrent for a a few potential buyers. sigma_dp2_quattro_rear_ndtv.jpg

Performance
Looking past the technical prowess of the sensor and judging the captured test images just on face value, we were blown away by the results in daylight. In conditions where we didn’t have to go beyond ISO 200, the captured images had impressive level of details, and colours were incomparable. Take a close look at the image of the vegetable cart below and you will see how well the camera handled the different gradients of red. Colour fidelity around the edges of the image is also really well maintained.

sigma_dp2_quattro_camerasample_1_final_ndtv.jpgThe lens manages to keep barrel distortion to a minimum as well. Also, you’ll be hard pressed to find chromatic aberration of any sort. We are really disappointed by the fact that the camera cannot go very close to a subject and capture good macros. Every time we tried, we ended up with more depth of field than we would have liked. If you want to have some fun with the camera, try the Cinema and Monochrome modes, in which the camera captured a level of depth that we’ve never scene before.
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(Click to view sample cinema mode image in full size)
In our stringent ISO test, the camera performed well up to ISO 400 but from ISO 800 onwards, noise started creeping in. Beyond ISO 800, even the fidelity of the colours started degrading. This is where we realise things are not all hunky dory; the dp2 Quattro performed poorly in low-light conditions. Also, the lack of proper image stabilisation means that you will end up with a lot of blurry shots if the camera isn’t stable.

sigma_dp2_quattro_iso_1_ndtv.JPGsigma_dp2_quattro_iso_2_ndtv.JPG

The shot-to-shot performance is unsatisfactory as the camera takes a lot of time to focus and set up shots. On the other hand, quite surprisingly, it is quick to capture images once the focus is locked. Sigma claims that its 1200mAh battery will last for 200 shots on a single charge. According to our testing, this claim is pretty accurate but that is still not enough if you are on an outdoor trip. Thankfully, Sigma bundles an extra battery in the box.

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(Click to view sample close-up image in full size)

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(Click to view sample monochromatic image in full size)
Verdict
The Sigma dp2 Quattro costs a whopping Rs. 79,990 in India. The fact that it is a lot of money for a compact camera feels quite like an understatement actually. This compact camera cannot do video, doesn’t have image stabilisation, and images taken in low light are not too great either. In addition considering all the cameras in the dp Quattro range have fixed focal-length lenses (and no way of changing them), if you want to shoot wide or telephoto images you’d have to purchase three different cameras!

Despite all that, the dp2 Quattro is makes for a great tech demo and will definitely grab the attention of the niche audience that Sigma is targeting – photographers and industry experts who intend to capture richer, more accurate colours. It makes for a great camera to do street photography as well. A good alternative to the dp2 Quattro is the Sony RX100 III, which doesn’t boast of an insanely powerful image sensor like the Foveon X3 but more than makes up for with its features and its consistent picture quality.

Price: Rs.79,990
Pros

  • Foveon X3 sensor is phenomenal
  • Great colour reproduction in daylight shots
  • Good build quality

Cons

  • No video
  • No image stabilisation of any sort
  • Slow shot-to-shot performance
  • Not great for low-light photography

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 4
  • Image Quality: 3.5
  • Video: NA
  • Battery Life: 3
  • Value For money: 3
  • Overall: 3.5

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Original Article

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Review: Big Zoom, Average Performance

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Review: Big Zoom, Average Performance

For those who don’t want to deal with the learning curve generally associated with DSLR cameras, a high-end compact makes the most sense. While these cameras cannot actually capture DSLR-quality images, they pack in a ton of features for a price that is more pocket-friendly.
Some of these cameras have SLR-like designs and amazing zooming capabilities. We have with us the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, which is the world’s first compact camera with a 65x optical zoom lens. Canon also adds the latest Digic 6 processor into the mix. Let’s find out if the SX60 HS can wow us with its image quality.

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Design and screen
Thanks to the really long optical zoom lens, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS feels heavier and chunkier than most other super-zoom cameras in the market today, including its predecessor the SX50 HS. It has dimensions of 127.6×92.6×14.3mm and weighs exactly 650g, which makes it heavier than a few SLRs with basic 18-35mm lenses. This weight shouldn’t be much of a problem because the bridge design actually makes it easier to hold and you will be using it with two hands for shooting images anyway.

The SX60 HS looks just like the much smaller Canon PowerShot SX520 HS. Its big body also includes a variangle LCD that flips out sideways, and an electronic viewfinder (EVF). The camera is mostly made of tough plastic and only the outer cover of the lens area is covered in aluminium. There are buttons on the lens barrel to seek and lock focus, which assist users in framing a shot. On the top of the camera there is a built-in flash that pops up automatically in low light conditions. Behind it lies the speaker. The power button, shortcut button, selection dial and mode dial are in a cluster near the hand grip. The shutter button, which is surrounded by a zoom lever, has decent travel. On the other hand, the mode dial feels too stiff.

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The left side of the camera has the microphone and a jack for an external microphone. A tough rubber flap protects the USB, A/V out and HDMI ports. The compartment for the battery and the memory card is on the bottom along with the tripod socket. Beside the LCD screen on the rear one can find the settings button surrounded by a navigation pad. Each button is mapped to a particular function – Wi-Fi (up), display (down), flash (right), and macro (left). Below this, there are buttons for the menu and for setting up a connection with a mobile device, while above it one can find the exposure compensation button that also doubles up as the delete button.

The playback button is placed above the LCD next to the EVF. There is a tough rubber finger rest on the rear too, and beside it lie two buttons for video recording and autofocus frame selection. We weren’t particularly happy with the travel of all these buttons because they are flush with the body and feel soft to touch.

Both the LCD and the EVF have approximately 921k effective pixels on screen. The 3-inch LCD is bright, crisp and accurately saturated. Even the sunlight legibility is pretty good. While we appreciate Canon’s idea of going with an EVF, which was also present in its predecessor SX50HS, the over-saturated image quality is a big letdown and in low-light situations the EVF is slow to respond to changes in the focus area.

canon_sx60_hs_left_ndtv.jpg

Specifications and features
The SX60 HS has a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that can shoot 16.1-megapixel photographs. This sensor is used even in smaller compact cameras and we had really hoped that this camera would have a bigger sensor instead. Canon has implemented the new DIGIC 6 processor which might help a user capture detailed images even at maximum zoom. Speaking of maximum zoom, the SX60 HS’s lens has a focal length range of 21mm to 1365mm (65x optical zoom). This shows that apart from improving the telephoto end of the lens, Canon has made it possible to shoot wider photos as well.

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The lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.4 at the widest and f/6.5 at the telephoto end, which is not great for a camera that costs as much as the SX60 HS does. For some reason, Canon has shaved the top end of the ISO sensitivity range down to ISO 3200 on the SX60 HS, compared to ISO 6400 on its predecessor. Just like the PowerShot SX520 HS we reviewed a while ago, the SX60 HS has a setting that allows it to lock on to faraway subjects using the Framing Assist (Lock) function, and thereby hold focus.

The camera can shoot 1080p video at 60fps in .mp4 format. Canon also provides the capability to connect to smart devices using Near-Field Communications protocol over Wi-Fi. Canon claims that the battery housed inside the SX60 HS will last long enough for approximately 340 images to be captured in regular mode and 450 in economy mode.

The shooting modes include two custom modes that allow users to store their own presets. The other modes are Manual, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Portrait, Hybrid auto, Auto, Creative shot, and Sports. Apart from this the SX60 HS has a ton of scene modes, a few creative filters, and movie modes.

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As usual, the interface is easy to navigate and use. There is absolutely no learning curve which makes shooting with the SX60 HS a delight. Even so, we would have liked the physical buttons to have had better travel.

Performance
From startup to setting up a shot is actually a really smooth and fast experience on the SX60 HS. In daylight, we found that the lens can focus on the intended subject accurately and rapidly without any hiccups. The shot-to-shot speed is also pretty good, in daylight.

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(Click for full size)
However things got troublesome in low-light conditions, when the lens started finding it difficult to focus on subjects. Matters got even worse when we started zooming in. It is advisable that you use a tripod to shoot at the maximum zoom level, because we really couldn’t get a single non-blurry shot when we held the camera in our hands.

Before we get into the actual image quality we’d urge our readers to view the images in full size (or right click and save them to view them at least 50 percent magnification) because they might look deceptively good as thumbnails.

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(Click for full size)
In daylight testing, shots had warm, natural colours that were pleasing to the eye but we noticed that the details weren’t as sharp as those in photos captured with other Canon PowerShot cameras we’ve used in the past. Take a look at the image of the dog below and you’ll notice that the camera tends to slightly soften images. We also noticed a bit of barrel distortion around the edges of our test images, though it wasn’t too distracting enough to be a big problem. Thankfully, Canon manages to keep purple fringing at bay. The camera can go as close as 0cm to a subject and we found that it didn’t lose details.

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(Click for full size)
In our stringent ISO test, the camera captured good details up to ISO 400 but anything beyond that was almost unusable. That actually says a lot about what we can expect in low light.

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We were pretty disappointed with the low-light performance. As we mentioned earlier, we had trouble focussing on a subject. The images we captured had a lot of noise, which doesn’t reflect well on a camera that costs so much. It is surprising that even the new, powerful Digic 6 image processor can’t do much to salvage the situation.

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(Click to view low-light sample in full size)
The zoom motor is not too loud, and zooms are smooth. This makes video capturing quite fun. The fact that the quality of the captured 1080p video is really good also helps. The SX60 HS’s battery actually lasted for a lot more than the 340 shots that Canon rated it at. We managed to capture 377 images before it died on us, which is great.

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(Click for full size)
Verdict
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS costs around Rs. 32,000 in the market at the moment. This is a lot of money for a super-zoom camera. Looking at the features it offers, the asking price is actually warranted. However, we are not entirely satisfied with its performance, and we think that the much older SX50 HS is still a better buy.
Pros

  • 65x optical zoom lens
  • Packed to the hilt with features
  • Smooth zooming
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Average overall image quality
  • Below average low-light performance

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 3.5
  • Image Quality: 3
  • Video: 4
  • Battery Life: 4.5
  • Value For money: 3
  • Overall: 3.5

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Original Article

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS Review: A Worthy Purchase

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS Review: A Worthy Purchase

Say what you want about smartphones eating into the sales of compact cameras, but manufacturers are still launching dozens of models each year. The sheer difference in quality of the sensors inside digital cameras is enough to justify the purchase, especially if you intend to print pictures for memories’ sake.

Bridge cameras are more advanced versions of compact cameras, quite literally trying to ‘bridge’ the gap between compact cameras and chunky DSLRs. These provide a nice balance between size and functionality, at affordable prices.

We have with us one such bridge camera – the newly launched Canon PowerShot SX520 HS, which for some odd reason is not even listed on Canon’s India website at the time of writing this review. It is the successor to the PowerShot SX510 HS. Canon has bumped the optical zoom up to 42x on this model compared to the 30x on the PowerShot SX510 HS. Also, the PowerShot SX520 HS now has the Digic 4+ image processor in place of the Digic 4. Let’s find out if this update is worth it.

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Design
The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS looks like any bridge camera, only bigger than most of them. It is 120mm wide and 81.7mm tall, which is a good 10mm wider and 5.7mm taller than the Nikon Coolpix L830. However, this means there is adequate space between the lens and the extended handgrip area, which helps in gripping it better. Add to that, the moulded rubber covering the handgrip makes it easier to hold. Note that the camera is still much smaller than a DSLR. Our only gripe with the hard plastic body of the camera is that it looks just a little cheap.

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On the top of the camera lies the flash, which flips open automatically in certain modes but can also be opened manually. There are two microphones for sound recording behind the flash unit. On either side are mounts for the strap. Canon provides a lens cap which is attached to the body by a lanyard, so it can’t be lost easily. This is great to have but having the lens cap dangling to one side all the time is rather irritating. We leave it to users to decide if they want to use it or not.

The lens barrel houses two framing assist buttons – one for seeking, which was also present in the PowerShot SX510 HS, and a new one for locking on a particular subject. The shutter button is surrounded by a zoom ring. The button has great travel and feels reassuring to click. Also on the top, one can find the power button, a selection dial, and a dial for switching between the various modes of the camera. The placement of these physical controls is convenient and it won’t take users too long to master them.

The bottom of the camera has a tripod socket and a compartment that houses the battery and memory card. Canon provides an 8GB memory card free with the device and advises buyers to ask for a carry case. The left edge has a speaker for playing back videos. A rubber flap covers the HDMI and A/V out ports on the right edge.

On the back of the camera is the screen, with a bevy of buttons to its right. Each button on the navigation pad doubles up as a toggle for the flash (right), focus modes (left), ISO settings (up) and display mode (bottom). The circular navigation pad doesn’t have good travel and we had to be more deliberate when using it . Bang in the center is a button for functions/settings. Above the pad is the playback button, while two buttons for drive mode and menu are below it. The video record and delete buttons can be found on a curve on the upper right corner of the camera.

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Specifications and features
The 16-megapixel PowerShot SX520 HS has a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. It has a focal range of 24mm (wide) and 1008mm (telephoto). This means that the camera has an optical zoom of 42x. In comparison, the PowerShot 510 HS had a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 30x optical zoom. Canon also adds something called ZoomPlus which can extend it to up to 84x (digital zoom), claiming that there is very little loss of detail. We shall test this in our performance section. This new model uses the upgraded Digic 4+ image processor.

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At its widest angle, the lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.4 and at the telephoto end it can attain f/6.0. This camera has a very impressive macro focussing range of 0 inches in certain modes. Weirdly, Canon has removed the ISO 80 setting and now the lowest end of the ISO spectrum is ISO 100, going up to ISO 3200. It has Evaluative, Center-weighted average and Spot metering methods. There are also a ton of shooting modes including M (Manual), Av (Aperture priority), Tv (Shutter priority), P (Program), Live View Control, Hybrid Auto, Auto, Creative Shot, SCN (scene), Creative Filters and Movie.

There are quite a few filters as well but unfortunately there is no mode that can shoot panoramic images. Users will have to stitch them together using desktop software. The camera can also capture Full-HD (1080p) videos at 30fps. One feature that is sorely missing with the PowerShot SX520 HS is Wi-Fi, especially since it was present on its predecessor. Also, the camera doesn’t have the option to store images in RAW format.

Canon has implemented a 3-inch TFT LCD which has a 461k dot resolution. This screen has great viewing angles, good legibility in sunlight, and accurate colour reproduction. However, it is not very sharp and we would have really liked it if Canon had gone with a higher resolution. The screen doesn’t tilt like the one on Nikon’s Coolpix L830, which also would have been a nice feature to have.

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Canon’s software is easy to understand with most of the functions being quite accessible. For example, the deeper functions such as toggling Digital Zoom on and off, reviewing an image after shooting, and other general things like setting the date and time, can be accessed at any time using the Menu button. Text on screen is adequately large and easy to read as well.

Performance
The 42x optical zoom lens is not the best in class but is more than enough for most users. It is easy to even spot craters the moon which such level of zoom. We found that keeping the camera stable at maximum zoom is slightly difficult when holding it without a tripod, and to negate this problem Canon provides the Framing Assist (Lock) function which can be used to lock on to faraway subjects, and thereby hold focus. This feature did manage to reduce some shake but was not completely effective. We still ended up with a lot of blurred shots.

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In our ISO tests we noticed that small details such as the nick on the printed text starts becoming indistinct at ISO 800, and noise starts creeping in too. Still, images don’t look as bad as they did in our experience with the Nikon Coolpix L830. Take a look at the samples below.

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We captured lots of shots in all conditions and noticed that colours in daylight were punchier than what our eyes saw in real life. This makes images pop and is quite unlike the performance of most Canon cameras. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as some people actually find this more attractive. Additionally, it negates the need to artificially enhance colours in dull images.

In our testing we noticed that the images exhibited some noise when seen at original size (100 percent zoom). Around edges of some leaves we noticed chromatic aberration as well. The lens can go as close as 0 inches to a subject, and this creates some really dramatic results in Macro mode. Details and colours are accurate, and we really liked the results.

There is a unique Live Mode in which the camera allows users to adjust the brightness, colour saturation and tonal quality of images directly on the camera itself. It looks pretty artificial and we can confirm that the results are not accurate. It is best that users stay away from this mode.

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In our low-light testing we noticed that the lens and sensor were able to handle such situations, but like we noticed in our earlier tests, shooting above ISO 400 means that users will have to deal with noise. The flash is really powerful but images taken with it don’t look that realistic. In our video testing, we captured a 1080p video of moving traffic and noticed that there was absolutely no screen tearing at all. The colours and details were really good too. The zoom mechanism was pretty smooth as well.

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(24mm wide angle sample. Click for full size)
We noticed that by default the camera had a preview time of 4 seconds. We advise users to turn it off for better, faster shot-to-shot performance, which we felt was just about average. Canon claims that the battery in this camera can last 220 shots in normal mode and 290 shots in a special Eco mode, but we noticed that it easily lasted us much more than that in our time with it, which was great.

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Verdict
Canon’s new PowerShot SX520 HS makes it easy to shoot photographs and is indeed a great travel companion for novice photographers thanks to the hand-holding it offers in the form of features such as Framing Assist. Save for the absence of shooting in RAW, the camera also provides a ton of options for experienced photo studio to play around with. However, do bear in mind that the colours are punchy in captured images, and you might need to invest in a tripod to make the most of low-light situations and to be able to use the 42x zoom lens to its full capacity.

The camera has a retail price of Rs. 17,995 but is already available on an e-commerce website for less. Even at the original price, the camera has a ton of features which justifies its cost. Its direct competition in the same price range is the Nikon Coolpix L830. Pick up the Nikon if you want better low-light performance and an outer shell in jazzy colours, but otherwise the Canon PowerShot SX520 HS is the better bet.


Pros

  • 42x optical zoom lens
  • Truckload of features
  • Good macro performance

Cons

  • Slight noise even in daylight shots
  • Not the best design

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 3
  • Image Quality: 4
  • Video: 4
  • Battery Life: 4
  • Value For money: 4
  • Overall: 4

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Original Article