Nikon Coolpix P7000

The so-called professional compact camera niche hasn’t seen much activity from Nikon lately. That changed at the end of last summer, when the company introduced the Coolpix P700, a truly remarkable compact camera.

At first sight it is obvious that this is not your typical trendy camera that fits into your pocket. Its robust body and black plastic coating make the camera stand out not only in size, but also in its wide variety of control elements.

A feature that stands out is a superior optical viewfinder, a rare occurrence nowadays, ranking the camera among the top models in its class. Ironically, it’s a feature not many people will use – it’s small and not as easy to work with as the high resolution LCD display.

With regard to functions, Nikon Coolpix P7000 is a standard camera in its respective class. It has a 1/1.7” CCD sensor with a 10 megapixel chip, the largest available for compact cameras, giving it sizeable image cells and high image quality. The camera also offers a versatile wide angle focus range, starting at 28mm, that is optically stabilized.

Nikon Coolpix P7000 – in short
Resolution 10 Mpx
Sensor CCD 1/1,7″
Optics 28–200 mm F2,8–5,6, image stabilization
Video HD (1 280 × 720 px)

Despite the size restrictions compact cameras have, as opposed to SLRs, manufacturers of such professional cameras always try to add several extra features – and Nikon is no exception. One of these features is a hot shoe for an external flash, even though the camera has its own internal flash. Additionally, a stiff and hardy lens adapter ring allows the user to attach additional optical accessories. For instance, Nikon offers a Wide Angle Converter Lens WC-E75A that extends the original 28mm to a focal length of 21mm (the equivalent of film).

Super features
Excellent image quality
Intuitive operation
Availability of RAW
Large variety of functions

Advanced users, who account for the majority of the customers for such cameras, as a second camera to their SLR, expect a high speed functions response. Nikon knows that, and as a result the Coolpix P7000 has a variety of controls that make the desired functions directly accessible.

The top of the camera offers three control rings. Alongside the standard mode dial, the camera offers a compensation dial that provides control up to ± 3 EV compensation and a manual control dial for fast launching the basic functions such as white balance, ISO and picture quality. Nikon excels in user friendliness and offers custom settings for majority of the functions. Users will find a mode dial that contains up to three custom settings (U1 to U3) and programmable AV/TV and Fn buttons.

Screenshots of the menu of the Nikon Coolpix P7000

Overall evaluationNikon Coolpix P7000 is by all standards an excellent camera. This applies within the category of compact cameras, since it cannot be compared to the much more advanced SLR range. It has excellent image quality; more advanced users will certainly appreciate the availability of the RAW format. Video sequences are also available in HD quality with stereo sound and a mic jack for an external microphone.

The well designed build and controls make it a great camera to have. The only dilemma is the price, since it is in most cases higher than other non-SLRs that have large sensors and better characteristics. On the other hand, the Nikon Coolpix P7000 still remains much more compact than the SLRs, despite its rather large size in its category.

Common price (at the time of this review being published):  $379.00

Basic technical data for Nikon Coolpix P7000


CCD 10 Mpx, 1/1.7″
10 Mpx (3 648 × 2 736 px)
Light sensitivity ISO 100 to 6,400


28–200 mm F2.8–5.6
Stabilized optics

Memory medium

SD/SDHC/SDXC, 79 MB internal memory

Data formats

Image: JPEG, NRW
Video: MOV


1,280 × 720 px, 24 fps
640 × 480 px, 30 fps
320 × 240 px, 30 fps
Stereo sound, mic jack for external microphone

Display LCD

Screen size 3″ (76 mm)
921 000 px


1 440 000 px

Power SupplyLi-Ion battery

Dimensions and weight4.49” × 3.19” × 1.77” inches (w × h × d)
360 g (incl. battery and memory card)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

When digging deeper into the past of digital cameras, we should mention the fact that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 – predecessor of currently reviewed G2 model – was in 2008 the first camera of the Micro 4/3 standard in the world. The design is basically the same, so let’s look at other features that come with this updated model.

The G2 is constructed as a DSLR – the body has a strong grip and a pop-up flash above the lens, only the size is notably smaller than it is the case with SLRs. You will not find an optic SLR system in the viewfinder but rather an electronic display, which we will focus on later in the review.
The body is very easy on the hands with its dim surface and is available in three colors: black, the ever-elegant black and blue combination or slightly provocative red and black design.

Photo Panasonic

Typical for the G and GH classes of the Panasonic brand, the G2 also has a sizeable, high definition (460 000 pixels) articulated display. Thanks to this feature, users can photograph from all sorts of positions and whenever needed, they can turn the active side towards the body of the camera to prevent it from damaging. Uniquely for the G2, a specific feature was added – a touch-screen display.

It’s the first camera of its type to have to have a touch-screen display. The creators of Lumix G2 have however decided to keep the original control functions from the previous model. The reason behind this was the inability for all the functions to be handled on the display, so now users have the option to control some of the features in two different ways. In other words, the touch screen and its features may or may not be used. This is where the difference is compared to similarly equipped cameras, since their control functionality has been minimized due to depending solely on the touch screen.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 – in short
Resolution 12 Mpx
Sensor Live MOS (17,3 × 13 mm)
Optics exchangeable, lenses of the Micro 4/3 standard,
lens stabilization
Video HD (1 280 × 720 px)

The main features of the touch screen probably become the most useful when viewing captured images. With only a slight touch of a finger, you can scroll through the photographs in normal size as well as in an enlarged mode, which is easily accessed by holding your finger on the picture for a second or two. In shooting mode, a quick menu is available with all the basic options. There is one feature that is especially worth mentioning – with only a mere touch a person can select the focus area and by holding onto it, the picture is taken. If you wish for the screen to stay clean of all the fingerprints, you can use the oddly shaped stylus pen included in the basic set of the Lumix G2.

Super features
Advanced functions
Great ergonomics
Multifunctional controls
Outstanding viewfinder and display

Even though the Panasonic Lumix DMC G2 looks like a camera for professionals at first sight – mainly due to the large amount of functions – beginners can easily use it without any significant problems. Apart from the usual P/A/S/M modes on the exposure mode dial situated on the top of the camera, you can find several scenic modes intended for the amateur photographic population. The mode with the highest possible automatic settings is represented by the backlit iA button – Intelligent auto. Besides setting the shutter speed, this mode automatically selects all the shooting assist function such as ISO sensitivity, processing of image data and so on. This scenic evaluation function works entirely on the basis of a sophisticated algorithm.

In between the iA button and the shutter button, you will be able to find the button for recording videos, allowing for immediate shooting of video sequences without the need of changing the mode you are in.

The Lumix G2 records videos in the 720p (1 280 × 720 px, 30 fps) standard, giving you the options to save the data in the AVCHD format or the more widespread MOV. Internally, the sound is mono, however, there is the possibility of buying an external stereo microphone.
Naturally, the camera has an HDMI connector, meaning the videos (as well as photographs) can be viewed on an HD TV in the best available quality.

The external microphone is not the only available accessory of course. What should interest us the most is the wide range of lenses offered by Panasonic, such as Macro or Fish-eye? The lenses are compatible with Olympus cameras, however, you may find it difficult without stabilization (Olympus, contrary to the Panasonic, uses sensor stabilization).

Screenshots of the menu of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

Overall evaluation

If you particularly select cameras which look like a DSLR but are not as big and heavy – a useful feature for the Week of Life members carrying a camera on them at all times – then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 is the perfect choice. You will get used to the mini-display in the viewfinder very quickly, and realize that in many respects, it is better than the classic SLR system. For instance, it can display the live histogram and other useful information, a feature unavailable with typical SLR viewfinders. Just like the functionality, the grip and hold of the camera is great and even though the touch screen is not a must, it does give you a sense of originality. Image quality can be regarded as excellent, but the opposite can be said about the price of the product – in this respect, cameras of the Micro 4/3 standard are still not competitive enough compared to the low-priced SLRs. We can only hope that in the near future, the prices of such cameras will drop significantly.

Common Price (at the time of this review being published): $549.95 (body and basic zoom lens set)

Basic technical data for Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2


Live MOS 17.3 × 13 mm
12 Mpx (4 000 × 3 000 px)
Light sensitivity ISO 100 to 6 400


60–1/4 000 s
Flash X-sync 1/160 s
Burst buffer 3.6 fps


Exchangeable lenses of the Micro 4/3 standard



Memory medium


Data formats

Image: JPEG, RAW (RW2)


1 280 × 720 px, 30 fps, 25 fps
848 × 480 px, 30 fps
640 × 480 px, 30 fps
320 × 240 px, 30 fps
Mono sound (availability of external stereo microphone)


LCD type, touch screen, articulated
Screen size 3“ (76 mm)
460 000 px


Electronic viewfinder
1 440 000 px

Power supply

Li-Ion battery

Dimensions and weight (body only)

3.15”x2.1”x1.83” inches (w x h x d)
15.1 oz (incl. battery and memory card)

Samsung EX1

The market is currently overflowing with high quality compact digital cameras. The better the news when a new model is introduced, having the characteristics and features that can shuffle the stable positions of cameras in this product segment. If you think you’ll find one of the leading brands in photography labeled on the body of this camera, you are mistaken – this camera is manufactured by the Korean Samsung.

When we’re at it, let’s stick with the Samsung brand for a moment. Despite being labeled as a cell phone and refrigerator manufacturer, Samsung is no rookie in the field of photography. It has been producing cameras since the 80s of last century, establishing deals of cooperation with renowned optics manufacturer Schneider-Kreuznach or the Porsche designer studio. Samsung had not missed out on the arrival of digital technology either, as you may have noticed on the Week of Life website – we have introduced some of these fascinating cameras in the past.

With its newest digital compact camera – model EX1 – Samsung has advanced to the ranks of the elite category, in which you can find the best digital compacts available on the market today. We have brought you reviews of the Canon PowerShot S90 or Canon PowerShot G11 , as well as the older Leicu D-Lux 4.

So here you have a slightly larger digital compact (for instance, the body is as wide as it is in the case of Olympus Pen E-PL1) in its basic design with dominating sharp edges. You can purchase Samsung EX1 in black or in dark silver with a titanium feel to it – see the tested piece. The body is metallic, or rather has a metallic ‘crust’ and the factory manufacturing is exemplary – all parts stay in alignment and the control buttons have a clear detent.

As a compact camera belonging to the highest class, the EX1 is equipped with a large quantity of control elements – a hot shoe for an external flash, a lens thread or an articulated display. The pride of this camera is by all means the ultra-wide lens Schneider-Kreuznach Varioplan 24–72 mm F1.8–2.4. Simply speaking, no other camera in the same class can match the lens speed of the Samsung EX1.

Samsung EX1 – in short
Resolution 10 Mpx
Sensor CCD 1/1,7″
Optics 24–72 mm F1.8–2.4
Video VGA (640 × 480 px)

Viewfinders are slowly becoming extinct when it comes to digital compacts, with large displays on the back of the cameras assuming their role. In the case of the EX1 model, Samsung went all out and used a 3” AMOLED display (you can find more about the display in the Samsungu NX1 review) with a high VGA resolution. On top of that, the display is articulated, a great feature allowing for photographs to be taken from almost any position.

Super features
High Quality Optics
Availability of RAW format
Articulated AMOLED display

In correlation with the display, the menu has everything a person could ask for. It’s very well graphically designed, supplemented with a simple animation, as well as transparent and logically arranged. The Fn. button offers quick access to the most important parameters.
As an advanced digital compact camera, the Samsung EX1 is equipped with various control buttons with direct access to functions. On the camera’s front is a mode dial embedded into the hand grip; the rear control dial is around the d-pad.

There are two control dials on top of the camera, including one for the conventional mode settings and the second for setting the Drive mode – single frame, continuous, self-timer, exposure bracketing.
The right rear side of the camera is of typical design; perhaps the only thing worth mentioning is the dedicated video-recording button, which is becoming an increasingly popular feature.

One of the features resembling the competing Leica D-Lux 4 (or Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3) is the built-in pop-up flash, which needs to be activated manually with the switch at the top of the camera. The internal flash is weak (Guide number not specified), but can be used on many occasions in combination with the high brightness of the lens. Alternatively, in bad light conditions, users have the ability to attach an external flash on the hot shoe.

Screenshots of the menu of Samsung EX1

Overall evaluation

As far as the design and controls go, the Samsung EX1 is near flawless. The only thing that can be a little irritating for the user is the fact that the histogram disappears when setting exposure compensation. Apart from that, the camera is intuitive and easy to use. Regarding speed, frankly it is a little disappointing – the camera takes time to load when turned on and the same applies when saving images in the RAW format. Fortunately, it focuses quite well considering the average speed of cameras in its class.
Image quality can be regarded as excellent. The lens keeps the images smooth in its widest angle and defects such as color aberration are almost inexistent. Up to 800 ISO, noise is easily corrected, but be aware that the image quality will deteriorate with higher sensitivity values.

The biggest problem is the sensitivity of the lens in its widest angle when dealing with contre-jour light. The anti-reflective layers are most probably weak, meaning that any kind of backlight will cause problems and create an unwanted lens flare (loss of contrast) on the final image. Perhaps a lens hood would be helpful in this case, this accessory is however not included in the basic kit.

Common Price (at the time of this review being published): $369.00 (body only)

Basic Technical Data for Samsung EX1


CCD 10 Mpx, 1/1.7″
10 Mpx (3 648 × 2 736 px)
Light sensitivity ISO 80 to 3 200


24–72 mm F1.8–2.4
Stabilized optics

Memory medium

SD/SDHC, 24 MB internal memory

Data formats

Image: JPEG, SRW
Video: MP4


640 × 480 px, 30 or 15 fps
320 × 240 px, 30 or 15 fps
Mono sound


Screen size 3“
614 000 px

Power supply

Li-Ion battery

Dimensions and weight (body only)

6.1“× 2.56“× 1.81“inches (w × h × d)
11.8 oz. (incl. battery and memory card)

Canon PowerShot G11

If you even remotely follow the development of digital photography technology, you could not have missed that one of the basic parameters – resolution – has slowly and continually been improving. This year, and apparently for the first time in history, the opposite took place: for its flagship product among compact cameras, model PowerShot G11, Canon used a sensor with a lower resolution than its predecessor, the G10.

First of all, let’s get briefly acquainted with the ‘Gees’, one of the product lines of Canon’s compact digitals. From the very beginning of the development of the PowerShots G, from the G1, which was introduced to the market in 2000, they have represented the most advanced cameras in compact design both within their own brand as well as amongst their competition. The Gees have always excelled and still excel with brilliant image quality, excellent technical features, and advanced functions. As a result, they have never been cheap but they represent a sort of backup camera line for semiprofessional and professional photographers working with digital reflex cameras. The next to last Gee featured a respectable resolution of 14.7 Mpx. But the newest PowerShot G11 has ‘only’ 10 Mpx. Why this change to three generations previous (G10 had 12 MPx, G8 never existed and only G7 had 10 Mpx)?

Compact digital cameras have one major disadvantage – they have very small sensors (with sizes roughly in millimeters as opposed to the tens of millimeters of D-SLR or Micro 4/3) and miniature individual cells. This is why they are unable to generate a strong charge and why disturbing digital noise occurs easily and quickly. Thus, whereas many reflex cameras produce nearly noise-free images when using ISO 800 sensitivity, images from the majority of digital compacts, despite the high resolution, can be used only for small photographs, where the noise is lost. In other words, increasing resolution of digital compact cameras while maintaining sensor size is detrimental.

Canon is surely aware of this, and in case of G11 the company disregarded marketing pressure for higher resolution – the 10 Mpx is a whole lot of data – and devoted their efforts to improving image quality instead. As you will discover at the conclusion of this review and as you can see in the sample photographs, it succeeded in this endeavor very well.

Canon PowerShot G11 – in short
Resolution 10 Mpx, optical stabilization
Optics 28–140 mm
Video VGA (640 × 480 px)

Canon G11 is a robust compact and its dimensions approach cameras of the Micro 4/3 standard (see e.g. our reviews of Olympus Pen E-P1 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 ). But thanks to a larger body one has a better grip and the number of buttons and other features spread out on the body are controlled easily. With a weight of 400 grams you will also be thankful for the classic neck strap instead of the usual ‘compact’ hand loop.

It is also one of the last few digital compacts still equipped with an optical sight viewfinder that is unfortunately small and not quite usable.

Other than the optical viewfinder, the Canon G11 is of course fitted with a large display on the back side – in this case on a hinge, which enables one to not only tilt it by nearly ninety degrees but also to rotate it by three quarters of a full circle, 270 degrees. Thanks to this you can comfortably photograph from various breakneck positions and also turn the display face inside for safer transport, and so forth.
In the case of the LCD, Canon actually went back several generations of Gees, as the last model fitted with such a display was the PowerShot G6, introduced at the end of 2004. But it had a small two-inch display, whereas the G11 uses an LCD with a diagonal size nearly one inch larger with fourfold higher resolution.

Super features
Many setting options
Image stabilization
Image format RAW
Built-in neutral-grey filter
Modularity (the option to attach accessories

The Canon PowerShot G11 has a large number of advanced functions and after the fashion of reflex cameras for demanding photographers, the handling is designed in such a way as to allow the most important parameters to be changed very quickly. Controls for direct access to functions, which are dispersed literally over the whole top and back side of the camera serve this purpose.

Notice in particular the ‘analog’ circular controls at the top. At the very left you will find exposure correction in the range ±2 EV, sectioned in thirds of the exposure level. Right from the flash hot shoe you can find a doubled circular select switch, where the larger bottom circular ring controls ISO sensitivity and the smaller wheel sets exposure programs. Here you will also find the C1 and C2 options, which are two Custom user regimes, where you can define your own settings in a wide range of functions, including, for example, the zoom focal length.
The right back side of the camera next to the display features the usual arrangement of buttons and a four-way select switch with a rotating circular ring. Operating Canon G11 is by and large very straightforward and fast. A button on the back side under exposure correction, which can be configured by the user, is another aspect that contributes to this. You can see the number of functions, which can be chosen and set for the button, in the last example of the camera menu below.

Again after the fashion of advanced digital reflex cameras, the Canon G11 has been given a high degree of modularity – options for user extensions. The circular ring around the lens is removable. Under it you will find a bayonet similar to the one for mounting lenses with reflex cameras. An additional, supplied, adapter lens barrel can be mounted on it which can in turn be used to mount various photographic filters or, for instance, a 1.4× teleconverter. The adapter barrel is also compatible with circular macro flashes by Canon. Common external flashes can be of course mounted on the hot shoe at the top of the camera. Especially with the small flash Canon Speedlite 270EX, the configuration is still sufficiently compact, yet it excels with high light output even in very difficult conditions.

Examples of the camera menu of Canon PowerShot G11

Overall evaluation
Without exaggeration, the Canon PowerShot G11 represents the best compact digital camera in the market at the end of 2009. By keeping a reasonable resolution and thus also size of the individual cells of the sensor, and by developing excellent algorithms for reducing noise as well, Canon has created a compact camera that beats all its competitors with regard to noise level. Related to this is a traditionally outstanding lens that delivers very sharp images without optical defects. The Canon G11 is well equipped with functions – both beginners who use automatic modes as well as semiprofessionals and professionals, who prefer aperture priority, shutter priority, or fully manual settings will find what they need. A camera of this sort would not be without the RAW format, which allows many subsequent computer adjustments that can be made without damaging the quality of the image file.

Common price (at the time of this review being published): $ 499, € 589, £ 569

Basic technical data for Canon PowerShot G11


CCD 1/1.7″
10 Mpx (3 648 × 2 736 px)
Sensitivity ISO 80 to 3,200


28–140 mm F2.8–4.5
Optical stabilization

Memory medium


Data formats

Image: JPEG, RAW (CR2)
Video: MOV


640 × 480 px, 30 fps
320 × 240 px, 30 fps
Mono sound


Screen size 2.8″ (71 mm)
461,000 px

Power supply

Li-Ion battery

Dimensions and weight

113 × 79 × 48 mm (w × h × d)
400 g (incl. battery and memory card)