Crappy compacts: don't patronise us

If I see another compact with a 64mm screen and a 35mm equivalent lens, I swear I'm going to dropkick it off the balcony

When I started my first blog, back when I could still get into 30-inch trousers, my only rule was: no ranting. So as much as I hate it when people who've sat down in comfort on the 8:11 to London Bridge push in front of people who've had to stand up for the whole journey, you won't read about it in my blog.

But Jovis H. Grud, there's something that annoys me more than people stopping abruptly on the street. I've just finished reviewing the Kodak EasyShare M853, a budget compact that fulfills the criteria of being a camera in that you can take photos with it. And that's it. That's all it does!

It takes pictures and video, it's small, and it costs less than two hours in a strip club. Sounds awesome, right?

Wrong! Not good enough, Kodak! Three words for you: optical image stabilisation. Some more words: face detection. Aperture priority. Shutter priority. 28mm wide-angle lenses. Here's two more: manual control.

The compact market is settled in a rut, involving 3x zooms and 64mm (2.5-inch) screens. If I see another compact with a 64mm screen and a 35mm equivalent lens, I swear I'm going to dropkick it off the balcony at CNET Towers (not really, Nikon, Kodak and Canon). I just feel that cameras like the M853, or the Nikon Coolpix S200 or any other no-frills compact, are a tad redundant. Yes, I know, as a camera journalist I'm in a privileged position, and yes, I'm being snobbish when I criticise these cameras, and yes, I readily acknowledge that there is a need for simple, affordable cameras.

But open the Argos catalogue and you're confronted with a wall of underwhelming cameras. They might pay the bills for the manufacturers, but they're no blinkin' fun.

About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.


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