Top critical review
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A promising camera that under-delivers
on July 23, 2014
I ordered this camera with high hopes after seeing it was the #1 selling camera on Amazon at the time of purchase, and after reading many 4-star and 5-star reviews. The camera I received was clearly the same product shown online, but I feel like I am reviewing an entirely different product than the one I expected to receive.
I'll start with what the camera does well: it does fit in the small hip pocket of my backpack, which was a prerequisite as this was to be my camera for long-distance backpacking trips. It does have good battery life, as I was not able to deplete the battery on a 3-day trip with probably 100+ photos taken. It does have a useful, though low-resolution panorama mode for those who don't want to make the effort to combine multiple photos using image processing software. Beyond those few features, I found the camera to be relatively lackluster and uninspiring.
My beef with this camera started the very first time I turned it on. I was greeted by a persistent and distracting screen flicker that I have not seen in any other camera. I am surprised others have not mentioned this, though perhaps I received a defective unit. I know it wasn't just my eyes, I showed it to my wife and she agreed it was flickering. After several hours of use, the flickering seemed to mostly go away, but not entirely. Beyond the flickering, I felt the camera simply took poor photos compared to other cameras I have had, even those with 1/4 to 1/2 the resolution of this one. Pictures were prone to blurring, I would say this has the least effective optical image stabilization of any point-and-shoot I've owned. Also I found the camera to be very prone to silhouetting and washout in outdoor use, and again this is not simply operator error, I am comparing to other similarly-priced cameras I have owned over the years (including various Casio Exilim and Fujifilm FinePix models). The camera claims to shoot 20-megapixel photos, and I'd believe it by the file size, however none of the 100+ photos had the crisp look when zoomed in to 100% that I expect for a printable photo any larger than 5" x 7". I found the menu to be clunky, and many basic features like shutter and aperture settings, manual focus (or at least a user-selected Macro mode) were either lacking entirely or buried in some menu that I couldn't find when I needed it. Again I only used it for 3 days, so perhaps these features were overlooked, but at the least I can say that finding them was unintuitive for me.
I know it's a lot to ask from an entry-level camera, but even for basic use I am not comfortable with a camera that seems to miss 2 out of every 3 shots. For my money, I think I can do better, so I returned this one. I will be trying a FujiFilm FinePix T550 next, which sells for the same price but has a 12x zoom, and (I expect) better image stabilization. I would advise anyone who intends to use this outdoors, or who doesn't have rock-steady hands when shooting without a tripod, to look elsewhere. I suppose this camera works well for some, but I can't offer any more than a tepid recommendation that it does work