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Group test: top 8 digital cameras reviewed

The best compact cameras, tried and tested

A great compact digital camera combines intuitive auto settings with comprehensive manual controls. PC Advisor tests eight big-name models to find the right one for you.

Digital cameras: the conclusion

Digital cameras are extremely price-sensitive and it’s not uncommon for their retail prices to drop by 20 percent or more just a few weeks after they first go on sale. So it proved with many of the models we’ve reviewed here.

We deliberately chose some slightly older models to see what you could get for your money, but even these discounted prices dropped between us first requesting them for review and going to press around six weeks later. We’re sure the credit crunch and the January sales also made a difference – as does colour. Amazon.co.uk is selling the silver Sony T77 for £166, whereas the pink version we reviewed is still £179 and the green pricier still, busting our Valentine’s Day/Mother's Day premium theory.

All this made it tricky to judge each camera’s merits, since the value score depended largely on how long ago each model had launched. Canon’s A590 IS is now a year old and sits safely in our sub-£100 category, but has a serious shortcoming in that it uses fast-draining, non-rechargeable AA batteries. The slightly cheaper Panasonic, meanwhile, has batteries that last and last. It also now costs less than £100 and packs a superb Lumix lens that captures 8.1Mp of detail and can distinguish between 15 subjects in a frame. This model took our Best Buy award for overall performance.

In the upper price category, there were some seriously clever cameras. These offered good manual controls but were intelligent enough to read the lighting conditions and adjust their exposure times and focus without prompting. The Ricoh was the stand-out model here, being the model that proved most adept in the widest range of lighting conditions.

Index:

  1. The best compact cameras, tried and tested
  2. Digital cameras: how we tested
  3. Digital camera reviews
  4. Digital cameras: the conclusion

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