Thursday 16 August 2018

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


Panasonic Lumix TZ70
Panasonic Lumix TZ70
Samsung Galaxy S8
Microsoft Surface with Alacantra keyboard
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q: I have two children going through communions and confirmations this month. While my phone camera is pretty good, I'd like something with a bit more quality to take photos on the day. I don't want it to be too expensive or complicated. Could you recommend something?

A Yes. Try a Panasonic Lumix TZ70 (€340, pictured) or a Canon G9X (€400). The Panasonic has a remarkable zoom while the Canon maximises image quality with a short zoom. Both come in ­pocket-friendly compact sizes and are easy to use on automatic mode.

If this seems a bit steep financially, try Nikon's value-oriented Coolpix 500 (€275). This is a little bulkier, but has a great zoom.

And for the very budget-conscious, Canon's pocket Ixus 180 (€180) gives good picture quality at a zoomed-in level that no phone can compete with.

On the other hand, if your budget can stretch the other way to over €500, I would trade up to the super-compact Sony RX100ii (€550), which takes amazing photos for its small size.

And if your wallet is even deeper, Panasonic's FZ1000 (€700) is probably the best quality do-it-all superzoom camera that's geared toward novices. I used this for a while and was delighted with the photos and the zoom range.

If you're thinking of a DSLR camera - those classic chunky black models from companies like Nikon and Canon - tread carefully. For most casual snappers, I'd caution against them unless you want to get into photography as a hobby. While these cameras are brilliantly flexible and can be used right up to professional level with amazing (separate) lenses, they're big, heavy and are arguably wasted on someone who just wants high-quality snaps a few times a year and on holidays.

However, if that doesn't put you off, Canon's entry-level 1300D DSLR camera is hard to beat for value. For €375, you get an 18-megapixel camera that's relatively beginner-friendly and can also take any of Canon's huge range of lenses if you get a taste for photography. It comes with an 18-55mm lens as standard, which is a modest zoom, but sometimes you'll see it on sale with an extra-long 75-300mm zoom for around the same price. For those with a bit more money looking for a DSLR-equivalent camera that's powerful and stylish, Fuji's excellent new X-T20 model costs €1,000 with a standard zoom lens (16-50mm). This is an amazing-looking camera and produces superb photos, but it may be aimed a little more at someone who's interested in photography beyond a few casual snaps once a month.

Rest assured that virtually any camera you buy these days has Wi-Fi transfer built in. That means you can send photos from your camera to your phone or tablet right away over the air. To do this, you have to download the relevant app (Canon, Nikon, Panasonic or whatever.) You can then view photos on your phone and download the ones you want.

As for where to buy your camera, I strongly urge going to a standalone camera shop such as Conns Cameras or The Camera Centre in Dublin, Whelan's in Limerick and others. The prices here are almost always the same (or cheaper) than larger retail multiple stores. You also always get much better advice on which model to pick and which model you really don't need.

RECOMMENDATION: Panasonic Lumix TZ70 (€340 from Conns Cameras)

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Two to Try

Samsung S8

(from free on contract, €800 unlocked)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung's new flagship smartphone is probably the best new handset of the year. Its amazing design leaves it with a much bigger screen (5.8 inches, bigger than the biggest iPhone) in the same-sized device.

This means it's way better for watching videos and reviewing photos. The S8's 12-megapixel camera is very good, though largely the same as that of its predecessor, the S7. It comes with 64GB of internal storage, expandable by a microSD memory card.

Microsoft Surface laptop


Microsoft Surface with Alacantra keyboard

Microsoft has started making rather nice bits and pieces recently. The company, known mainly for software, just announced a gorgeous 13.5-inch skinny laptop that has loads of power, a touchscreen and a decent amount of ports to connect things with.

One of its defining features is its suede-like 'Alcantra' keyboard covering which adds a touch of tactile class.

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