The number of different compact cameras is just crazy. Each brand has some dozens of camera.

I personaly have some features in mind:

i want Prosumer satisfying image quality, that is:

  • colors doesn't look strange
  • good sharpness, but I do not want to see those awful sharpening artifacts, that fake feeling that some excessive sharpening filters give
  • no noise problems at ISO 400 or maybe 800 (but this is pretty standard I think)
  • or in a word, in most non critical conditions I do not want to miss my reflex

Beside that:

  • no noticeable shutter lag with prefocused image
  • decent focus speed (but i do not really shoot at eagles or pumas :D) so just something that works fine
  • i want to carry it in my jacket or coat pockets
  • zoom I do not care for 10x super zoom, but I would like something ranging from wideanlge to standard or moderate tele


  • RAW recording
  • flash. I guess with good ISO performance even indoor i can shot without flash
  • image stabilization could be good to shoot indoor

Price: I have seen Olympus XZ-1 which is just lovely, but I would like to spend a little less, let's say 200 euros (or 260$).

So basically I have two questions:

  1. How to chose a camera taking into account all those requirements?
  2. Any specific model suggestion will be wellcome too :)

4 Answers 4


Is it even possible to find a camera that meets all your criteria at that price point? I'm thinking that a refurbished Canon S90 or s95 just might do it. Canon has refurbs at $280/$320 at their web site

If I recall, you can find wider, but the S90/S95 would certainly be a fine choice if you don't mind having an older model.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good pointer, I will consider some used camera, since I live in Europe and buying in USA is a mess for taxes I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paolo
    Mar 13, 2012 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case I would strongly recommend the S95, due to its better handling (specially concerning the back wheel). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2012 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndréCarregal - I still use the S90 all the time, and as long as you are aware of the wheel issue on it, I don't run into any actual problems. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Mar 14, 2012 at 16:36

That's quite a demanding spec for the money.
A used Sony NEX-3 probably does a good job of meeting most of it.
14 MP. APSC !!! The NEX-5 is slightly smaller, somewhat costlier and has 1080i video.
(NEX-3 has the still excellent 1280 x 720p 30 fps MP4 or 640 x 480 30 fps MP4)

NEX-3 body only on ebay UK start at GBP127 buy now for this one and GBP149 for this one both from sellers with excellent feedback and substantial sales.

The full APSC sensor in the NEX series cameras and SLR heritage (even though it isn't one) goes a long way towards addressing your needs.

No noticeable shutter lag with prefocused image


decent focus speed (but i do not really shoot at eagles or pumas :D) so just something that works fine


i want to carry it in my jacket or coat pockets

Good compared to almost any other equal performing alternative.
117 x 63 x 33mm, 297 gram.

Below - NEX-3 with pancake wide-angle fitted.

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NEX-5 with 16mm pancake lens.

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wideangle, I do not care for 10x super zoom

Pancake wideangle is very compact indeed.

RAW recording


Flash. I guess with good ISO performance even indoor i can shot without flash

Compact add on flash is included in both the above offers.

image stabilization could be good to shoot indoor

They say: "Optical steadyshot on selected lenses.
Probably not on basic wide-angle I imagine BUT the APSC sensor will let you use this at far higher ISO for a given noise performance than any of the miniature sensor based toys.

Excellent review here (DPReview.com):

Worthwhile comment:

  • Where the NEXs really impress is the PASM modes where you can take full advantage of the large, very capable sensor. The feature sets are impressive, as are the NEX's portability and flexibility. They don't render the DSLR obsolete by any means, but they present one of the most compelling options for someone wanting DSLR image quality without the bulk.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know... I am hoping to find a decent compact for that money. The thing is old good compacts are not sold anymore or are sold just as high as newer ones... The NEX is abit too big and way out of budget. maybe if I'm luck I can find a good second hand deal. I guess probably samsung nx100 is a better choice when on a tight budget. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paolo
    Mar 13, 2012 at 14:23

As you are in Europe and have shown some interest in Olympus, you might consider looking at refurbished cameras, which are posted every few weeks at 43rumors:


As others have pointed out, you have set a very limited budget, and you should set your expectations accordingly.


Used Lumix Lx-3 or Lx-5 Else Used Canon s90/95 else Sony Nex3

The Lumix and Canon are very compact. The Lx-3 only zooms to 60mm, the Lx-5 to 90mm (but more expensive) These will fit in a pocket, no problem (also Canon)

Nex3 will have better image quality, especially in dim light, but is larger with the zoom on. Zoom is quite large - to big for pocket.

ZX-1 also good.


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