Professional's Choice


Professionals tend to expect more from the tools they use. They expect them to perform reliably, accurately and smoothly on good days and bad. On top of all that, they expect their tools to feel proper, secure and "right" in the hand. And these very same folk often have the same expectations when it comes to pedestrian items. We'd like to talk about a half-dozen point-and-shoot digital cameras that should appeal to serious-minded shooters seeking a pocket-sized camera that feels and performs like a "real" camera.

Each of the following cameras is unique in that it incorporates the sort of features serious shooters prefer even in their "down-time" cameras. These features include fast apertures, high-quality glass, sturdier-than-average construction, full manual override, JPEG+RAW still capture, a hotshoe for use with flashguns and accessories, analog-style controls for quick and intuitive on-the-fly exposure adjustments and a tactile feel that makes you want to take one wherever you go.

Five out of six of these cameras contain 10MP imaging sensors typical of their class. The exception is the Leica X1, which contains a larger APS-C sensor despite its easily pocketable size. As for optics, each of these cameras features premium glass with wide maximum apertures, the slowest among them f2.8 and the fastest a truly bright f/1.8.

Two of the cameras, the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon CoolPix P7000, feature optical viewfinders coupled to their respective zoom lenses as welcome (though peephole-ish) alternatives to composing and editing images on the camera's LCD under bright lighting conditions. Similarly, you can slip optical finders (DMV-VF1) onto the hotshoes of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Leica D-LUX 5 that match the wide-angle field of view of the 24-90mm equivalent Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens that is shared by both cameras. Leica also offers a hotshoe-mounted optical finder matched to the angle of view of the camera's fixed lens (Leica X1 Brightline Finder).


The Canon PowerShot G12 is the latest in a long line of top shelf pro point-and-shoot cameras. Encased in a tough, all-metal housing, the G12 features a DIGIC 4-powered 10 MP CCD, an image-stabilized 5x (28-140mm equivalent) UA zoom lens, full manual override, close focusing down to 0.4" from the lens surface and a 2.8" (460,000-dot) Vari-Angle LCD.

In the imaging department the PowerShot G12 can capture JPEGs, RAW, JPEG+RAW, as well as 720p HD video, with sound. The top shutter speed of the G12 is 1/4000th-second and you can squeeze off up to two frames per second when shooting flat out. In the power department, you can expect up to 1000 exposures per charge and for recording stills and video, the G12 accepts SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMC Plus, HC MMC Plus memory cards.


Similar in design is Nikon's CoolPix P7000, which in addition to a 10.1MP CCD, a coupled optical finder, JPEG and/or RAW still capture, analog-style control dials and a 3" (921,000-dot) LCD, can also capture 720p HD video, with stereo sound. The lens, a five-way optically stabilized 28-200mm equivalent zoom with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and close focusing down to 0.8" from the lens surface, has the widest focal range in its class.

Along with all of the above, a new EXPEED C2 imaging processor keeps things moving at burst rates up to 1.3 frames per second continuous shooting for up to 45 frames. Other important features found on the CoolPix P7000 include Active D- Lighting, a top shutter speed of 1/4000th-second and top ISO sensitivity of 12,800. The P7000 accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, and for times you find yourself in dire straights, the P7000 contains about 79MB of internal memory. As for shooting times, according to Nikon, you can expect to squeeze off about 350 stills or two hours and 45 minutes of HD video per battery charge. 


Mention the name Samsung and most people think HDTVs, remote controls and cell phones, but as the Samsung TL500 illustrates, Samsung's engineers seem to take low-light shooting with sturdy pocket cameras seriously. Among its key attributes is a 10MP CCD, a fully-rotatable 3" AMPLOD display, dual image-stabilization systems, a hotshoe, analog-style control dials, JPEG and/or RAW, in-camera RAW processing, full manual overrride and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video, with stereo sound.

The biggest selling point of the Samsung TL500 has to be its Schneider 3x, 24-72mm equivalent wide-angle zoom, which with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, is a third-stop faster than its closest f/2 competitors. Even at the 72mm mark, the lens still transmits a respectable maximum aperture of f/2.4.

The TL500's f/1.8 maximum aperture also allows for a wee bit more selective focus when shooting tight, narrow-focus images, which in the world of tiny imaging sensors, isn't all that easy. The Samsung TL500 accepts SD and SDHC memory cards and contains a rather hefty 1GB of internal memory.


Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX5 is a trim, smartly designed pocket camera that features an f/2, Leica DC Vario-Summicron Aspheric zoom lens with a 24-90mm equivalent zoom range, which along with a top ISO setting of 12,800, makes it an ideal pocket-sized street-shooting machine. To complement the camera's 3" 460,000-dot LCD, the Lumix LX5 allows you the option of slipping a 24mm FOV DMV-VF1 optical finder (optional ) onto the LX5's hotshoe for fast and accurate, eye-to-the-ocular shooting.

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX5 in White & Black
(with optional DMV-VF1 Electronic Viewfinder)


Like the other cameras in the pro quality point-and-shoot category, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 features a hotshoe and captures stills in the form of JPEG and/or RAW. Other features include a top shutter speed of 1/4000th-second, up to 2.5 frame-per-second continuous shooting, macro focusing down to 0.39" (1cm) from the front lens surface, and 720p, 30 fps HD video capture. The Lumix LX5 accepts SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards and contains about 40MB of internal memory.


From Leica we have not one but two distinct and unique models to choose from, starting with the Leica X1, which despite its compact profile, contains a 12.2MP APS-C format CMOS sensor, similar in size and resolving power to the sensors found in compact DSLRs. To complement the camera's hi-res sensor, the X-1 has a super-sharp, 24mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit fixed focal length lens that renders the field of view of a 36mm lens on a full-frame Leica M-series camera, which as you might have guessed, was part of the master plan.

Leica's X-1 features a fixed 24mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit Lens,
12.2MP APS-C Format Sensor and is available in
Black or Silver.

Manufactured entirely in Germany and available in a choice of Black or Silver, the Leica is strictly a still camera, and like its larger sibling there's no video capture with this baby. Out of the box, the X-1 features a 2.7" LCD for composing and editing imagery, but to better facilitate the full Leica experience, the Leica X1 Brightline Finder, designed to match the 62° angle of view of the camera's lens, is highly recommended. There's also an optional X1 Handgrip, which screws onto the base of the camera to add a positive handhold when grasping the camera.

Other features found on the Leica X-1 include JPEG and/or RAW (DNG)  capture, analog controls with full manual overrides, Live View, 11 AF points, a two-year international warranty and a copy of Adobe Lightroom 3, which is downloadable when you register your camera online.

Our second offering from Leica is the Leica D-LUX 5, which (truth be told) is one and the same as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 described above once you dig down under the skin. The skin it's been replaced with, however, is pretty sleek and features the ego-satisfying red Leica logo.  

As for image quality, the firmware in the Leica D-LUX5 is designed to render color and tone more neutrally than its Panasonic counterpart, which like most cameras from Japanese manufacturers, renders color and tone at punchier levels.

Along with an f/2, Leica DC Vario-Summicron Aspheric zoom lens (24-90mm equivalent), the Leica D-LUX5 features a top ISO setting of 12,800, 3" 460,000-dot LCD (and optional DMV-VF1 optical finder), JPEG and/or RAW still capture, a top shutter speed of 1/4000th-second, up to 2.5 frame-per-second continuous shooting, macro focusing down to 0.39" (1cm) and 720p, 30 fps HD video capture. The Lumix LX5 accepts SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards and contains about 40MB of internal memory. The Leica D-LUX5 comes with a two-year international warranty, which is double the industry standard of one year.

Professional Quality Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras
  Sensor Lens Image Viewing Stills Video Highest ISO Rating
Nikon CoolPix P7000

10.1MP CCD (1/1.7")

28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 (Equivalent)

3" LCD(921,000-dots)

Coupled Optical Finder (80% Coverage)



(Stereo Sound)

ISO 12,800

Canon PowerShot G12



28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 (Equivalent)

Vari-Angle 2.8" LCD


Coupled Optical Finder (approx 80% coverage)



(Stereo Sound)

ISO 3200

Samsung TL500  



24-72mm f/1.8-2.4 (Equivalent)

3" OLED (614,000-dots) JPEG+RAW

MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Mono Sound)

ISO 3200

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 10.1MP CCD (1/1.6") 24-90mm f/2-3.3 (Equivalent) 3" LCD(460,000-dots) JPEG+RAW


(Mono Sound)

ISO 12,800


Leica D-LUX 5

10.1MP CCD (1/1.63") 24-90mm f/2-3.3 (Equivalent) 3" LCD(460,000-dots) JPEG+RAW


(Mono Sound)


ISO 12,800

 Leica X1 12.2MP CMOS (APS-C) 24mm f/2.8 (Fixed 36mm Equiv) 2.7" LCD (230,000-dots) JPEG+RAW  None ISO 3200

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gostaria de informações sobre a Canon 60 D, quero comprar, o que me dizem sobre ela?

Great write-up on some nice Compact cameras.. I've been going back and forth between several of these for a while as an alternative to my 7D when I want to travel light... I'm looking at the Panasonic ZS7, Canon S95, Samsung TL500, Panasonic LX5 .. and even the Seiko FH100 (the high speed video is really intriguing) 

Good information on the cameras - but do you have some thoughts on their performance that would help a buying decision between them?