100 in 100, Part II: More “Serious” compact camera must-have features

100 photography tips in 100 days: Day 83

For more tips, go to the 100 in 100 Part II Homepage

This week, we're focusing on buying tips for anyone who is interested in advanced compact cameras with DSLR-like features that are capable of "serious" photography. Today, we're going to talk about three more "must-have" high-end compact camera features.

Camera shake is a top reason for blurry snapshots. In recent years, camera makers have found rather inventive ways to solve this problem. If you’re in the market for a “serious” compact digital camera, here’s what you should know about Image Stabilization.

Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is marketed under various names (e.g., Canon IS, Nikon VR, Panasonic Mega O.I.S.). No matter what it’s called, this system senses camera movement (hand shake) and compensates by moving elements within the lens or camera body to provide a steady image on the image-capture sensor. As a result, you can take sharp handheld pictures at shutter speeds 2-4 stops slower than you could with a camera without such a system. OIS provides real benefits when you’re shooting in low light and at long telephoto focal lengths, when the effects of handheld camera shake are most pronounced.

Digital Image Stabilization is not the same thing as OIS—it automatically selects higher ISOs and prioritizes faster shutter speeds when shake is detected but does not address the fundamental cause of the problem. In short Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) is a worthwhile feature in a camera that also has OIS, but it is not a good substitute for OIS. Make sure your camera has OIS or OID and DIS.


Ricoh Caplio GX100

Modular design accommodates electronic viewfinder, extends zoom lens range. All this and manual options everywhere.

Key features: Wide 24-72mm zoom lens, 7-blade aperture for smooth out-of-focus areas, 10MP sensor, two-dial operation with manual focus and exposure.

Negatives: No optical finder, noisy above ISO 200, sluggish RAW capture.

Bottom line: Useful for unobtrusive documentary photography.

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© 2008 Adorama Camera, Inc.

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