Year End Wrap Up 2001
Compact 35mm Cameras
Compact 35mm cameras have continued to monopolize the marketplace this past year with new product introductions exceeding new APS compacts by more than 2 to 1. The new models of 35mm products have ever-longer zoom ranges out to a whopping 170mm telephoto on several models with a broad 4.5x zoom range.
I have personally tested
over 100 different models of compact cameras in the past year and can
vouch for their picture-taking capability under a variety of conditions
and distances. Naturally, the more expensive cameras tend to have additional
extra features, a longer zoom range, more shooting modes, and sometimes
a more powerful flash. But even the more moderate priced compacts take
good pictures. We have not attempted to include all the new models herein,
just those with special or unusual capabilities that should be of greater
interest to the more sophisticated, discriminating photographer wanting
a small camera to carry along for recording those elusive shots that
just pop up unexpectedly.
For APS format there is the Canon ELPH LT270, another tiny, light, and very portable camera from the firm that has offered many interesting APS models. This one has a silver colored polycarbonate body which is flat when closed. All control buttons are larger than usual and found on the back. The viewfinder is large and bright. The flash pops up slightly when the camera is switched on. The 2.7x zoom lens is 24-65mm f/4.5-8 with single-point active autofocusing to 1.5 ft. There is a 2-1/500 sec shutter speed range, and a broad ISO 200 flash range to 17 ft (9.5 ft at 65mm telephoto). The MSRP is $230.
A brand-new model from Fuji sounds very interesting. The Fuji-film Zoom Date 1000 has a 3.6x zoom starting at an ultra-wide angle of 28mm. It's quite small and lightweight and has focus lock, macro and landscape modes plus date/time imprinting. The lens is 28-100mm f/5.8-10.5 with AF to 25" (20" in macro), electronic shutter speeds, and an ISO 100 flash range of 25" to 9 ft (to 6.5 ft at 100mm telephoto). It lists for $320.
The Fujifilm Zoom Date 140 has both attractive styling and good gripping areas for a secure hold. There is an unusual hold-down clip to secure the film cassette and the film is prewound before the first exposure can be made. A square LCD on the top shows the functions and modes and the buttons are very legible. The 3.7x zoom lens is 38-140mm f/7-13 with AF down to 3 ft. It has a programmed electronic shutter, and a modest flash range of 8.8 ft wide and 6.9 ft telephoto. The MSRP is $280.
The latest EasyLoad 35 model from Kodak, the KE115, has a 3x zoom lens, and a zooming, focused, Sensalite flash for better indoor pictures. In addition, there is data writer for imprinting date on the print without a traditional databack. Of course, it also features Kodak's new EasyLoad system where the leader is pushed into a slot on the back and the cover flap is closed. The lens is a 38-115mm f/3.9-11.2 with AF to 2 ft, broad 4-1/500 sec shutter speeds, and an ISO 400 flash range of 43 ft (22 ft at 115mm telephoto). The MSRP is $200.
Kodak also has an improved version of one of my favorite APS cameras, the tiny, very light T550. New is the Advantix T570 with a 28mm lens, PQIX, flip flash, print titling, and date/time labeling. Improvements include a larger viewfinder, stronger flash, and bigger LCD. The non-zoom 28mm lens has a fast f/3.5 speed coupled with a good shutter speed range of 1/4-1/500 sec, so it can be used for existing light pictures indoors. It autofocuses down to just 1.3 ft and has an ISO 200 flash range out to 18 ft. The MSRP is $80.
The Konica Lexio 70 is a very thin compact loaded with extra features. Sliding the clamshell cover turns the camera on while powering the lens out. Focus and flash confirmation lights are located inside the viewfinder instead of beside it, as on most cameras. When the subject is close, a flower symbol lights so you know to use the parallax correction marks. The 2.5x zoom lens ranges from ultra-wide 28-70mm f/3.4-7.9 with AF to 2.3 ft, shutter speeds are 1.3-1/500 sec, and the ISO 100 flash range is 2.3-17.7 ft (7.5 ft at 70mm telephoto). The MSRP is $360.
The first APS camera to carry the distinguished Leica name is the C11. As you would expect, it has different styling to set it apart--a rectangular shape combined with a rounded cylinder at the right for gripping. The body is aluminum casting with brushed chrome and flat black. Large controls are located on the back around the LCD. When switched on the lens extends and the flash raises from the body. Though larger than some other APS zoom models, it's still very pocketable. The zoom lens is a 3x 23-70mm f/4-9.5 with AF to 2 ft, a very broad shutter speed range 1-1/600 sec, and an ISO 100 flash range of 2-6.6 ft (2-4 ft at 70mm telephoto). The MSRP is $279.
The Minolta Freedom Zoom 115 is clad in a slim profile metallic body containing lots of features. Small, well-marked controls are around the top LCD. The viewfinder is bright and there is a film chamber lock to prevent accidental opening while film is loaded. It has a 3.1x 37.5-115mm f/5.4-10.9 zoom lens with multi-beam active AF to 2 ft, very broad 10-1/390 sec shutter speeds, and a good ISO 100 flash range of 2-17 ft (2-7 ft at 115mm telephoto). The MSRP is $237.
The Minox CD 128 is budget priced with many nice features and simplified controls. It has a rubberized gripping area and a panorama mode. It has a 3.4x zoom lens--38-128mm f/3.9-11.8--with AF down to 27", (shutter speed range not available), and a broad flash range to 33 ft. The MSRP is $169.
The Nikon Lite-Touch Zoom 140ED QD has distinctive styling with a smooth body sporting gold and green accent highlights. When the clamshell cover is opened a small flash pops up from the body. The LCD on top has very visible control buttons around it. It has both a diopter adjustment and a panorama mode. The 38-140mm f/5.3-10.5, 3.7x zoom lens focuses to 2.4 ft. There are 2-1/500 sec shutter speeds, and an ISO 100 flash range of 2.4-14 ft (full telephoto 2.4-8 ft). The MSRP is $310.
Olympus has expanded their
stylish clamshell cover line of Stylus cameras with the Stylus Epic Zoom
170 QD Deluxe. The durable all-weather body has a small flash that pops
up from the top and features variable power. A combination AF system switches
between active and passive modes for more precision. Panorama and quartz
date are standard. The 4.5x zoom lens is a 38-170mm f/4.8-13 with AF to
2.6 ft, 4-1/400 sec shutter speeds, and a flash range to 16 ft (6 ft at
170mm). The MSRP is $528.
The Pentax IQ Zoom 170 SL features a whopping 4.5x zoom range made possible by a four-step "Switchover Zoom" system with aspherical elements, which helps make the camera both smaller and lighter. It has multi-pattern metering, diopter adjustment, panorama, and date imprinting. A close-distance compensation frame appears in the viewfinder only when shooting close-ups. It has a 38-170mm f/5.6-12.8 lens with five-point AF down to 2.5 ft, 2-1/250 sec speeds plus bulb, flash range was not available. The MSRP is $433.
The Pentax IQ Zoom 95WR is said to have the highest water-resistance rating of any compact zoom and can actually float, but it is not intended for underwater use. Most large mode control buttons are located around a LCD on the top. A special button activates anti-redeye mode. Multi-pattern metering is said to produce better exposures. When panorama is selected the bright viewfinder masks down. There is a 2.5x zoom lens--38-95mm f/4.5-10.5--with five-point AF down to 2.2 ft, an unusually broad electronic shutter range of 4-1/400 sec plus 1/2 sec to 5 min in bulb mode, and an ISO 100 flash range out to 16.4 ft. The MSRP is $293.
The new Pentax efina J offers a very affordable way to move to the APS format. It has a small but bright viewfinder and controls are clustered around the LCD. It includes PQI and a selection of 31 titles. The modest 2x zoom lens is 24-48mm f/4.9-9.6 with active autofocusing down to 3.3 ft, a 1/3-1/500 sec shutter speed range, and an ISO 200 flash range of 3.3-11 ft (3.9-5.9 ft at 48mm telephoto). The MSRP is $134.
What's most appealing about the Praktica Super Zoom 140AF is a broad 3.7x zoom range, a host of optional modes, and a moderate price. It is a bit thicker than similar zoom range cameras, as the retracted lens has a housing that protrudes slightly from the body. Prime controls are on the top by the LCD, and there is panorama capability. A 38-140mm f/3.9-10, 3.7x power zoom lens has passive AF to 2.5 ft. There are 1-1/330 sec shutter speeds, and the ISO 100 flash range is 2.5-17 ft (full telephoto 2.5-5 ft). The MSRP is $170.
The Rollei Giro 28M is one of the thinnest, slimmest 35mm cameras I've ever seen. With the wide angle 28mm non-zoom lens retracted, it's less than 1" thick except for the area housing the film cassette and battery, which is just under 1.25" thick. Even the control buttons are trimmed down with just several on top around the LCD. There is a panorama mode with dotted frame lines in the viewfinder. Optional modes include close-up, night scene, continuous, and date imprinting. It has a 28mm f/4.5 lens with AF down to 24", 1/3-1/500 sec shutter speeds, and the ISO 100 flash range is 4-12 ft. The MSRP is $130.
The Rollei Giro 70WA has an attractive silver and black finish on a rather slim and flat front body. Small control buttons are around a top LCD. Dateback is standard. The range of the flash is somewhat limited, so using a faster ISO film would be advisable. The 2.5x zoom lens is 28-70mm f/5.6-10.0 with AF to 3 ft, a 1-1/250 sec range of shutter speeds, and an ISO 100 flash range of 3-8 ft (full 70mm telephoto 3-4.5 ft). The MSRP is $200.
The Samsung Maxima Elite 170 boasts a long 4.5x zoom range and lots of extra features. The handsome gray body is contoured for easy gripping. Multi autofocusing is to 2 ft at wide and as close as 3 ft at full 170mm telephoto. Modes selectable with a dial include portrait, landscape, and continuous. The optional quartz date model includes caption imprinting. The 4.5x zoom lens is 38-170mm f/4.7-13.5, shutter speeds of 1/3-1/400 sec plus bulb, and an ISO 200 flash range of 2-21 ft (3-10 ft at 170mm). The MSRP is $470.
The Vivitar PZ3155 is relatively small considering the broad 4x range zoom lens and extra features inside the silver and gray finish contoured body. Simplified small control buttons are around a nine-function LCD on the top. Date-a-print is standard. It has a panorama mode, but no anti-redeye mode. It has a 4x, 38-155mm f/3.9-10.7 zoom lens and shutter speeds down to 1/4 sec. It has an MSRP of $300.
The Yashica Zoomate 165EF is considerably different from the competition. The very slim body has an extra long 4.3x zoom range and in addition to the small built-in flash there is an optional external super flash that attaches to the left end of the body. If the camera decides more light is needed, the second flash will fire to extend coverage distance by 40 percent. Most of the small controls are on the top near the LCD. Ultra-close 1.6 ft macro focus is offered at full telephoto only and there is panorama mode. It has a 4.3x zoom 38-165mm f/6.7-13.1 lens with passive five-point autofocusing to 3 ft (1.6 ft in 165mm macro mode), 2-1/300 sec shutter speeds, and an ISO 100 flash range to 12.8 ft (6.9" at 165mm telephoto). The MSRP is $498 ($548 in kit with accessory flash).
From all the dozens of compact cameras introduced in the past year, these are the models that, in my opinion, stood out from the competition. If you want to obtain more complete specifications and data about the cameras listed, as well as other types of photographic equipment, check your local newstand for our Shutterbug's Photography Buyer's Guide 2001, which should still be on display. You can also contact the manufacturer using our resource guide here.