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I hate to bore you all with my intro of how I am a professional photographer who also tests and reviews cameras for my camera club as I am sure most of you have heard it all before but I do still get messages asking me how come I have so many cameras, so just to be clear I test them, sometimes for the companies that produce them and sometimes for my camera club itself.
I have recently been testing as many cameras as ever but not writing as many reviews mainly because I am just so busy at this time of the year but with all the snow we have had I have had a bit of time on my hands to do some writing and I will now be posting some camera reviews again just in time for your Christmas shopping so if it is a camera you are looking to buy for someone then watch out for my reviews.
This particular review is on the Sanyo VPC-S122, a camera which interested my camera club and me myself due to it being a very light weight unit, this camera weighs less than 100gms making it one of the lightest compact cameras around which might be a great selling point for some people but did it have anything else going for it I wondered and so I set about finding out.
Looks wise the camera is typically Sanyo if I can say such a thing, Sanyo are not known for their stunning looking cameras and this one follows in that pattern. It is much wider at one end than the other giving the appearance of an old film type camera rather than a modern digital and although the one I was using was silver in colour the lens was black and really looked a bit odd.
One thing I really liked about the look of the camera though was the large chrome ring around the lens and this also meant that the flash was a bit of a distance from the lens rather than right on top of it as most compacts are, this allowed for a slightly less troublesome red eye effect when using the camera with flash.
The camera is a 12.1 megapixel unit and although I have gone into great length before about how this matters little as compact cameras cannot make the best of this anyway as their lenses and sensors are not good enough, the lens and sensor in this little camera are actually very impressive and allow you to get most of what the megapixels can offer.
I found the images taken in good light using this camera were very sharp and offered good colour reproduction, there was little or no chromatic aberration and very little digital noise present either. Sadly this changed if you were shooting in lower light, the noise levels were quite bad if you went higher than 200 ISO and when you consider this unit allows you to shoot at 6400 ISO this isn't great.
If a camera offers such a high ISO then it should be able to cope with removing digital noise at that level otherwise it is worthless. The camera has a digital image stabiliser but really this isn't needed as the camera struggles to shoot in poor lighting conditions and only has a 3X optical zoom so the need to use stabilisation is limited anyway unless you have a particularly shaky hand.
The camera offers you the ability to adjust your shutter speed and aperture as well as your ISO and white balance so there are plenty manual options to get to grips with as well as the option to just go automatic and allow the camera to set up itself for what it sees through the lens, I have to say that the camera coped well enough with setting itself up for most shots but in bright sunshine it went haywire and the shots were all badly overexposed.
As with most compacts there is the option to shoot video with this unit but sadly as with most compacts the video footage is only any use if you are shooting in bright light, as soon as the light conditions are anything less than bright daylight the image quality of the video footage becomes very grainy and just simply not good enough.
The camera comes equipped with settings such as face detection and smile shutter which these days seems to be a must but for me they are a bit gimmicky and to be honest unless you are grinning like a Cheshire cat then the smile shutter on this just doesn't work.
The camera has a 2.7 inch LCD screen on the rear which is bright and clear enough to give you a very good idea of the exposure of the image you have taken but sadly the colour limitations of the screen do not allow you to get a true idea of the white balance settings and whether or not you have them right.
The camera is powered by two AA batteries which I dislike in this day and age I feel that a lithium Ion rechargeable is the better option but I do know that others like the idea of being able to buy a couple of AA`s if you have forgot to charge the camera before leaving home so that is each to their own preference I guess.
THE SANYO VPC-S122 SPECIFICATIONS:
Dimensions (WxDxH): 9.1 cm x 2.7 cm x 6 cm Weight: 99 g Colour: Silver Webcam Capability: Yes Supported Flash Memory: SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card Integrated Memory: 50 MB Sensor Resolution: 12.1 Megapixel Shooting Modes: Frame movie mode Max Video Resolution: 640 x 480 Lens System: 3 x zoom lens - 6.3 mm - 18.9 mm - f/3.1-5.9 Focus Adjustment: Automatic, manual Min Focus Range: 10 cm Digital Zoom: 4 x Image Stabiliser: Electronic Camera Flash: Built-in flash Red Eye Reduction: Built-in Microphone: Microphone - built-in - electret condenser - mono Display: LCD display - TFT active matrix - 2.7" - colour Supported Battery: 2 x AA alkaline battery
TO SUM UP:
This camera has some limitations as I have said but what I haven't mentioned yet is the price, costing only around the £50 mark this camera does offer good value for money and if you are just a snapper then this will allow you to get some good family album snaps, if however you are looking to take photography a bit more serious then the limitations will effect what you get from this unit.
Other things worth mentioning are that this unit takes an SD memory card which is the best option for compact cameras, it is small enough to be carried in a pocket and although not the most attractive camera around it isn't an ugly looker either, I think there is definitely a place in the market for this camera and it certainly out performs some Vivitar and Panasonics in the same price range.
LOOKS - 6/10 BUILD QUALITY - 8/10 EASE OF USE - 8/10 IMAGE QUALITY - 6/10 FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 6/10 VALUE FOR MONEY - 7/10 OVERALL - 6/10
** PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE NOT ADDED ANY OF THE PHOTOS I TOOK WITH THIS CAMERA AS THE SIZE AND QUALITY THAT THEY ARE DISPLAYED IN ON CIAO DOES NOT SHOW THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PHOTOS AND THEREFORE MAY OFFER MISINFORMATION ON THEIR QUALITY**