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Basic cameras test

In 2012 we compared 157 compact digital cameras to help you find the best one to suit your lifestyle.
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01.Introduction

compact_digital_cameras_LEAD_JUNE2012_WEB

In 2012 CHOICE tested 157 digital cameras priced from $89 to $1099.

Many of these cameras will be discontinued by manufacturers, but may still be available online or in the second hand market. 

Scores in this test cannot be directly compared with the 2013 test. We've changed a significant number of scoring parameters and introduced new procedures for the 2013 tests. However, a camera that performs well in this test should also perform well in the new test.

Our rigorous testing reveals which digital cameras:

  • have the best image quality
  • are the easiest to use, and
  • have the best movie quality.

On this page:

Camera testing is a complicated and expensive process. To help with the high cost, we share the results between a number of consumer organisations around the world. All the tests are carried out by professional labs in Europe that specialise in photographic testing.

We only test cameras we can purchase directly from retail outlets. This means we know we're testing products the average consumer can buy off the shelf. 

Our report also offers: 

  • Sortable table of all cameras in the test: you choose what's important. You can select by brand, price, overall score, image quality. Specs, prices, features and functions for all models. 
  • Sortable table of discontinued cameras previously tested: to help if you're looking at the second hand market.
For more information about compact cameras, see Digital cameras

CHOICE independence guaranteed

These independent ratings are only available through membership with CHOICE Online, because no one test products like we do. Arm yourself with our unique and exclusive information to help you make your next purchase with confidence.

Brands and models tested

• Canon Ixus 1100 HS
• Canon Ixus 115 HS
• Canon Ixus 125 HS
• Canon Ixus 127 HS (not in Aus)
• Canon Ixus 220 HS
• Canon Ixus 230 HS
• Canon Ixus 240 HS
• Canon Ixus 500 HS
• Canon Ixus 510 HS
• Canon PowerShot A1200
• Canon PowerShot A1300 (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot A2200
• Canon PowerShot A2300
• Canon PowerShot A2400 IS
• Canon PowerShot A3200 IS
• Canon PowerShot A3400 IS (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot A4000 IS
• Canon PowerShot A4050 IS (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot A810 (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot D20
• Canon PowerShot SX150 IS
• Canon PowerShot SX160 IS (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot SX220 HS
• Canon PowerShot SX230 HS
• Canon PowerShot SX240 HS (not in Aus)
• Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
• Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
• Canon PowerShot SX500 IS
• Casio Exilim EX-N20
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR20
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR200
• Casio Exilim EX-ZR300 (not in Aus)
• Casio Exilim EX-ZS10
• Casio Exilim EX-ZS12
• Casio Exilim EX-ZS15 (not in Aus)
• Casio Exilim EX-ZS150
• Casio Exilim EX-ZS20
• Casio QV-R200 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix F660EXR (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix F800EXR
• Fujifilm FinePix JX370
• Fujifilm FinePix JX500
• Fujifilm FinePix JX580 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix JZ250 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3
• Fujifilm FinePix S4200
• Fujifilm FinePix S4500
• Fujifilm FinePix SL300
• Fujifilm FinePix T400
• Fujifilm FinePix XP100 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix XP170 (not in Aus)
• Fujifilm FinePix XP50 (not in Aus)
• GE A1456W
• GE E1410SW
• GE G100
• GE X500
• JVC GC-PX10
• Leica V-Lux 40
• Nikon Coolpix AW100
• Nikon Coolpix L610 (not in Aus)
• Nikon Coolpix L810
• Nikon Coolpix P310
• Nikon Coolpix P510
• Nikon Coolpix S01
• Nikon Coolpix S100
• Nikon Coolpix S1200pj
• Nikon Coolpix S2600
• Nikon Coolpix S30
• Nikon Coolpix S3300
• Nikon Coolpix S4300
• Nikon Coolpix S6300
• Nikon Coolpix S6400
• Nikon Coolpix S800c
• Nikon Coolpix S8200
• Nikon Coolpix S9300
• Nikon L25
• Olympus SH-21 (not in Aus)
• Olympus SH-25MR
• Olympus SP-620UZ (not in Aus)
• Olympus SP-720UZ (not in Aus)
• Olympus SP-820UZ (not in Aus)
• Olympus SZ-11 (not in Aus)
• Olympus SZ-14
• Olympus SZ-31MR
• Olympus Tough TG-1
• Olympus TOUGH TG-320
• Olympus TOUGH TG-620 (not in Aus)
• Olympus TOUGH TG-820
• Olympus VG-150 (not in Aus)
• Olympus VG-160
• Olympus VG-170
• Olympus VH-210 (not in Aus)
• Olympus VR-340 (also called VR - 350)
• Olympus VR-360
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH8 (also called FS45 overseas)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS40 (not in Aus)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX80 (not in Aus)
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
• Pentax Optio LS465
• Pentax Optio VS20
• Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS
• Pentax Optio WG-2
• Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS
• Pentax X-5
• Praktica Luxmedia 16-Z21C (not in Aus)
• Ricoh CX6
• Rollei Powerflex 210HD (not in Aus)
• Rollei Powerflex 600 (not in Aus)
• Rollei Powerflex 700 Full HD
• Rollei Powerflex 800 (not in Aus)
• Samsung DV-300F
• Samsung ES75
• Samsung ES80
• Samsung MV800
• Samsung PL120
• Samsung PL20
• Samsung PL210
• Samsung PL90
• Samsung SH100
• Samsung ST200F (not in Aus)
• Samsung ST600
• Samsung ST65
• Samsung ST66
• Samsung ST77 
• Samsung ST80
• Samsung ST90
• Samsung ST95
• Samsung WB100
• Samsung WB150F
• Samsung WB210
• Samsung WB700 
• Samsung WB850F
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H90
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX10V (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S5000 (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX20
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX55 (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W610
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W630
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W650 (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W670 (not in Aus)
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W690
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX100
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50
• Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX70 (not in Aus)

(not in Aus) the Australian distributor tells us this model will not be sold directly in Australia. However, it may be available via a grey importer, or you might be interested if travelling overseas.

How we test

The overall score is a combination of the following scores:

  • Image quality: 40% 
  • Ease of use: 30% 
  • Monitor: 10% 
  • Flash: 10% 
  • Movie quality: 10%
Image quality score

This score is an evaluation of the camera’s:

  • Pictures taken in normal situations (indoor and outdoor in automatic modes) 
  • Colour reproduction (technical test using IT8 colour chart, in both manual and automatic modes)
  • Focussing and sharpness in low light with and without flash including image noise levels and ability to resolve detail
  • Resolution (sharpness)
  • Macro performance 
Ease of use

A five-person evaluation of each camera’s manual, viewfinder, monitor, data transfer and shutter delay. Ease of inserting and removing its memory card and changing its settings, controls and batteries was also tested.

Monitor score

An appraisal of the monitors' image quality in good and poor lighting conditions. If the camera has a viewfinder we appraise its functionality as well.

Flash

Tested at one, three and five metres to check the exposure is even across the image.

Movie quality

Cameras that are able to record video were used to make four ‘highest quality’ movies and then scored on resolution of detail, fluency of playback, picture noise and pixelation caused by compression. We also take into account the audio quality when taking video and any noises the camera records from its internal workings.

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