Advanced Compact Digital Camera Models

from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Sony

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

Here is a brief specification chart for a number of high-end compact digital cameras. All models here belong to one class: optical viewfinder, non-snapshot, full degree of control, addressed to an advanced amateur/enthusiast. All share the same image resolution: five megapixels.

The table is intended more as a conversation item than a help in choosing between the models shown. All of them are capable of delivering very good results. With all of them you, the photographer, will be the bottleneck of the process, not the camera.

I was able to try out, for longer or shorter periods, all these cameras, except for the Sony (a personal resolution not to use anything with a Memory Stick.) This is actually the only way you can really make a buying decision. I ended up buying, a year apart, both Olympus models, although the G5 gave the '5050 a close run for my money. In this league, this becomes largely a matter of personal taste.

PowerShot G5
CoolPix 5040
Body Magn./Plastic Magn./Plastic Magn. alloy Magn. alloy Magn. alloy
Lens EFL, mm 35 - 140 28 - 116 35 - 105 27 - 110 34 - 136
Aperture 2.0/3.0 2.8/4.6 1.8/2.6 2.8/4.8 2.8/4.0
Macro FOV, mm 55 32 28 28 56
Filter thread None None None 40.5 mm None
Shutter, s 1(15) - 1/1250 1(8) - 1/2000 1(16) - 1/1000 4(15) - 1/2000 1(30) - 1/1000
ISO 50 - 400 50 - 400 64 - 400 80 - 400 100 - 800
Resolution 2592x1944 2592x1944 2560x1920 2592x1944 2592x1944
Storage CF CF CF + SM/xD CF + xD Mem.Stick
Battery Li-Ion Li-Ion 4xAA (NiMH) Li-Ion Li-Ion
LCD Twist/Tilt Twist/Tilt Tilt Twist/Tilt Fixed
Weight, g 480 380 375 430 300


  • Body: Nikon and Canon have the front made of magnesium alloy, back of plastic.
  • Lens EFL: This is the "35-mm Equivalent Focal Length", i.e., a focal length of a lens on a 35-mm film camera, providing the same diagonal view angle.
  • Aperture: The first value is the F-number at the zoom shortest focal length, the second — at the longest.
  • Macro FOV: This is the smallest macro field of view (measured along the longer side of the frame) possible at any focal length. It is a more meaningful measure of macro performance than just the minimum focal distance.
  • Filter thread: Cameras without the filter thread allow to mount filters with use of adapter tubes mounted around the lens.
  • Shutter: The first "slow" value is the one accessible in all exposure modes; the second — in manual and/or shutter priority.

    The "high" value shown is the one accessible at all aperture settings. All these cameras claim higher speeds, but these can be set only at higher F-numbers which makes them useless or almost so.

  • ISO: It is generally acknowledged that Canon's claimed settings are on the conservative side; the real range is closer to ISO 80 - 640.
  • Storage: The Sony model supports a number of Memory Stick sub-formats, all of them proprietary and useless with any non-Sony devices.
  • Battery: All Li-Ion batteries used here are proprietary ad mutually incompatible. The Olympus model has the highest capacity, the Sony — the lowest.
  • LCD: Tilt capability is essential (e.g., for close-up work, but not only); twist — sometimes useful, at least in theory, but I never use it.
  • Weight: Without batteries or memory card.

Comment of 2007

Sadly, since the original release of this list all manufacturers abandoned the advanced compact market; SLRs became more affordable, and the "consumer masses" need just to point and press a button, unwilling to pay for any advanced features or better-than-average image quality. Only Canon came back recently with the very attractive G7, which is, for now at least, the only game in town.

As of this writing, all models listed here are able to compete successfully in terms of image quality and degree of control over the process against anything else, excluding SLR models, on the market (in case of the Sony this is just a guess, as I haven't used this camera). I can still easily recommend them.

The only other alternatives are the slightly more recent, albeit also discontinued, Canon G6 and Olympus C-7070WZ, both somewhat improved as compared to their predecessors shown here.

My other pages related to the Olympus C-5050Z, C-5060WZ, and X-7070WZ

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Posted 2003/11/25; last updated 2007/02/07 Copyright © 2003-2007 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak.