Top critical review
317 people found this helpful
The Good and the Bad
on September 15, 2013
I won't go into all the features because you can find that information elsewhere.
Upon picking up the camera, the first thing I liked was the feel. It's the perfect sized travel camera for someone used to a bigger DSLR while having a comfortable, deep recessed, rubberized grip. The included 18-55 zoom feels mechanically solid for a kit lens, and it's also fairly sharp corner to corner. There's very little geometric distortion or chromatic aberration.
Shooting stills in low light, the shots are amazingly clear with very little noise. In decent light or with flash, the photo quality is amazing for a 400 dollar camera. Pretty much in the top ten list in this price range. It's also quick to turn on and shoot the first shots. If you're buying this to shoot primarily stills, you'll be very happy. It's good enough and fast enough for anyone but a hard core pro. You'll have the usual gamut of full auto, full manual and many combinations in between.
The first videos I shot were at night in a well lit downtown open air mall. What I observed through the view screen was stunning. The stabilizer isn't very good at damping out motion from walking, but it's fine for stabilizing shots while you're standing still. Looking at the well lit video shots on a computer at 1920x1080, I was impressed. The autofocus tracked accurately and silently, and the auto white balance always kept the colors true. Depth of field, while not film-like, was better than most video cameras. Edge sharpness was better than my Alpha 57, but saturation looked more video-like than film-like. Again, you can use full auto, full manual or several combinations in between. Your outdoor vacation shots will simply be amazing. It shoots video better than most cameras under 1000 dollars, especially if you go through the menu and turn off some of the automatic features. So why the three stars?
When I shot some indoor footage at home, I was expecting decent results, and a first quick look didn't disappoint. But as I looked with a practiced eye, I saw blue vertical lines throughout the image on all my indoor footage. Granted, they are very subtle and in very soft focus, but they are there regardless of the camera settings. I noticed them particularly when slowly panning against solid colored areas like a plain wall. At fist, I thought it might be an interaction with my LED room lights, but this was dispelled when I saw the blue bars in the outdoor footage as well, just not as prevalent. This may be a subtle problem, and many viewers may never notice it or be bothered by it unless it's brought to their attention. But to me, it means I could never use this camera for footage I intend to use in a project. The blue bars are caused by what is known as fixed pattern noise in the image sensor. It's not something you can solve by a firmware upgrade or by replacing it with another camera of the same model. While fixed pattern noise exists to some extent in any image sensor, it is usually mistaken for grain and not visible as a pattern of vertical lines.
Another huge disappointment is there is no HDMI port. I like to hook the camera to a TV to set up various parameters and see the live results as I make changes. No can do with this camera. It also means you can't immediately play back footage from the camera on a TV until you edit it and put it on a disk or an SD card if your TV has a slot. There is also no external mike jack, so you are relegated to using only the built in mikes.
Sound quality is clear, but there is no means of making any adjustments to the volume or turning off the AGC. However, the AGC does a good job bringing down the levels of loud music without distortion.
In conclusion, the image quality is excellent on this camera aside from the aforementioned sensor noise. That may not be noticed in outdoor shots, and may not be objectionable enough to most users on indoor shots.