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Tuesday, 14 August 2012


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The Nikon P7100 is a decent well spec'd camera. It shots raw, has a viewfinder and tiltable screen and takes Nikon flashes. The only real flaw is that the viewfinder coverage is not that great but at least it has a viewfinder.

I think an argument could be made for the Nikon D800 being the smallest way to get that level of quality. It competes against the low end of the medium format market. Its image quality isn't very far from, say, the Pentax 645D. But the size and weight factors definitely go to the Nikon. Carrying a D800 and 35mm sized lenses into the backcountry has to be a lot easier than carrying a 645D with medium format sized lenses.

Of course, I'm not wealthy enough to own either system, so this is all pure speculation on my part. Still, if I had the means to buy either camera and drag it up to the top of Long's Peak in the hopes of getting a mammoth wallhanger shot looking down the Keyboard of the Winds, I'm going for the D800 every time.

Canon's T4i nicely demonstrates just why I so dislike most small cameras. Its very brief no-excuses shutter lag, surprisingly quick autofocus, and large APS-C sensor with good low light performance put the vast majority of little cameras to shame, no matter how cute they are. They are just too badly compromised compared to a slightly larger but far more capable SLR.

I've been a fan of Canon G series (bells and whistles, etc.) and over 8,000 shutter releases with my G12. Wife has S100. Tomorrow my RX100 arrives (B&H thru your site). I have mixed feelings. I want the better performance of the Sony and have already ordered the hand grip, but I like the FEEL of the G12. I said no to the G1X because of poor macro.

Why would you spend all that money on a G1X when you could buy a T4i for the same price or maybe even less?

The G12 is the real deal-breaker: what can you do with a T41, or a D60, that you couldn't with a G12? Ok, I'm exaggerating, but 90% of what you do with the DSLR you could do with the G12.

My Nex7 with the Zeiss 24/Sony 50 and the large Zoom continue to amaze me with image quality, ease of handling and build quality. I have been active in photography for over 50 years and have been fortunate to have owned and used most of the well known brands including M3, M4 Leicas. No camera has ever felt any better in my hand than the Nex7. Due to my satisfaction with Sony I added the RX 100 as a pocket camera/second camera backup. No need to add to the praises already written about the little beauty, all I will say is that Sony hit another home run. Let me state that I have not used the new OM or any of the Fuji new releases so my remarks are not intended to compare cameras, only to express my complete satisfaction with these two models. TOP is great! Regards, LD

"small cameras that we love" should not include DSLR's, even smaller ones. a t4i with the kit 18-55 might not be a beast, but it's no "small camera". unless the target audience of your article is large format shooters.

4ti? Nice but the live view is still pokey and the viewfinder too small for a camera of that price. (same with Nikon's entry level cameras.) G1x ok but a slow lens and the viewfinder is pretty much a joke forcing one to hold the camera out front.

The V1 is better than it's reputation as a "soccer mom's" camera. Built in EVF, very fast to focus and if one can appreciate the simple automation they'll realize this camera gets it right without a lot of effort or adjustments. A nice little street machine if you don't mind tons of DOF.

Sony's A57 is Nikon and Canon's entry level nightmare if you ask me. Big view EVF, very quick live view and super image quality. Never laid a hand on the NEX 7 and will take at face value that it's nice. But still the lens choices!! For me the OMD was the way to go in this class of camera.

Pentax? I know nothing. No insult to owners and fans of Pentax and again I'm sure they make some nice stuff but I have never witnessed anyone using one in my travels. Ever. I'm a bit surprised they stay in business with all the competition.

Of course fine photography can be made with any of the above. Excuse my nit picking.

For Nikon I like the much forum-maligned 3200. It's small, light, has very good IQ, Nikon's state of the art image processor,and, despite the lack of "required" features is quite fun to shoot with. I have mine set up like my F3 - A priority, with the addition of one button ISO adjustment without taking my eye from the viewfinder. I can use all my F mount lenses (I don't mind manual focus, or shoot street style at hyperfocal). It's my walking around camera - quick, simple, and great clean workable files.

I looked at buying the Canon G1x but it doesn't do macro. That for me was it's death nail. For some it's internal IS, for me it's macro.

FYI ... the T4i has been recalled by Canon USA ... see details in link:


Mike, first a comment on this:
"Nikon: Friends in the camera retail industry tell me that the Nikon 1 series is hitting its marketing target—prosperous people who are actually capable of detecting the flaws of point-and-shoots but who just aren't serious enough about photography to want to buy/carry an entry-level DSLR." I've never thought that interest in DSLR-sized cameras as a measure of seriousness. I think the raving success of the flood of large-sensor, small cameras in the marketplace have shown that there have been a lot of us 'serious' photographers that hated the lock-step DSLR designs of Nikon and Canon.

The Canon G1X would be a smash hit if only Canon could do something with that tunnel viewfinder. They need to incorporate an EVF and then I'll be buying.

Regarding the Pentax WG-2: the lens is too slow on that camera. Olympus' TG-1 has a f/2 lens.

Instead of the new Pentax K-30, I think the K-5 (even though it was just discontinued at B&H) should be on that list instead. The K-5 has been and will continue to be a fantastic camera for a lot of people. It has also been advertised at the top of your homepage for over a year...

Another camera that I 'love' and will never part with is my old and trusted Sony R1. I am sure it will never make your list but it was the original fixed lens APS-C camera from way back. That with the WONDERFUL Zeiss 24-120mm lens...

That said, I must say that your list kind of confuses me. In your original article you say that to learn to love a camera by coming to grips with it. Does this 'love' not come from a lot of use (and abuse)?

How do these new cameras in your list fall into this category? I learn to use my new equipment quickly but it takes quite a long time before I truly develop any emotion attachment to it.

For instance, my Sony R1 is a camera that I reach for automatically when I am taking in impromptu road-trip. It is extremely reliable and I know exactly what the camera is capable of...and will produce. This is not something I could say about the new Sony RX100 (although I am sure it is excellent, just too new to really know...).

I don't think the T4i or K-30 should be on this 'small cameras' list. Surely the general public don't think of any DSLR as small, and the list is for them, right? If they are included, then the Nikon D3100/3200 and one of the Sonys should be also. Surely they are just as loved.

I guess the Fiat Bambina of cameras, the Pentax Q, is well-loved in Asia, but I assume your buying guide is aimed at bigger-is-better America? That thing is seriously cute. Awwww.

The S90/S95/S100 (I have the S95) is my current favorite pocket RAW capable camera.

I love the "box of primes" stepped zoom and that it remembers the zoom setting through power off. The lens ring UI is excellent. Not so good is the previously mentioned speed of operation and the lack of speedup in "shutter lag" as you go to MF (or locked AF) with manual exposure.

Not too sure why the Canon G12 and Nikon P7100 are not getting much love. They're decent cameras if a bit large for compacts and so sit in a gap where folks might just as well take a "better" camera (like m43) instead.

The UI is general good but they don't quite get it right. For example, why doesn't the G12 have the S90/S95 "group of primes" stepped zoom? This is a feature feature I love on the S95 especially remembering zoom setting through a power cycle (just like a real manual zoom/interchangeable lens).

Nikon half copied this feature in the P7000/P7100 but doesn't remember zoom step on power up but they do remember it in the custom/user settings.

The RX100 might be the winner of a head to head with the S series cameras but it does cost a lot more (50% more). And it seems to take the Nikon approach to no remembering previous zoom setting through power cycle but does remember zoom settings for each custom/user setting.

I was going to buy a Sony NEX-7 until I found it does not have any type of cable shutter release. There is simply no option here other than some hacks which have no appeal to me. For this reason alone, it should not be on the list. To produce a high resolution camera without a built-in option for a cable release is a major flaw in my view. I hope Sony comes out with a updated model that fixes this omission.

If including the Canon G12, surely the Nikon P7100 must also be there, I've got one, it's great. And isn't the Pentax Q pretty much the equivalent of the Nikon 1?

Not really recommendations but observations:
I love my Canon S95 and regularly recommend the S100 (I own other pocket cameras). (But I'd love to get my hands on a Sony RX100 to see if that would still hold.) I feel the G12 is the camera they should never make. It's a popular buy & frequently disliked. So many owners seem to have buyer's remorse on seeing the S95/S100 in action. Stealing their own market!

I'm not sure Nikon has ever made a good small digital camera, certainly don't remember any pocket camera they've made being recommendable. The attraction of Nikon is (and possibly always has been) in their top-end flagship SLR models.

There are some perils of doing this just before Photokina as there will probably be some introductions in the next three weeks that might change your list.

There are rumors about a "Nikon P7200" which if it sticks to the 28-200mm eq zoom lens (with wider f/2 to f/4 aperture) means it won't have a bigger sensor that some have wished for. So what sensor might they use?

Sony have just announced (in Japanese ... English should come at the end of August) the IMX144CQJ which looks like a replacement for the three year old ICX685CQZ used in the G11/G12, S90/S95, P7000/P7100 and Samsung EX1. Aimed at "enthusiast compacts" and prosumer 4K video(!) delivering 35fps full frame 4K video with 12bit per channel. Given the S100 moved to a Canon sensor I doubt Canon will be using it in a future "G13".


It is a type 1/1.7 CMOS EXMOOR 12.4MP 4072H×3046V sensor with backside illumination helping to bump the high ISO a stop perhaps. It also has a wider acceptance angle (less vignetting a wide angles) which should help lens designers make larger aperture wide angle lenses.

Curiously the already announced Samsung EX2 with an f/1.4 lens uses a 12.4MP 1/1.7″ BSI CMOS sensor with ISO range from 80-3200. Samsung already uses Sony sensors. Perhaps that's the first IMX144CQJ camera. Detailed specs not currently available.

This sensor might appear in a future 12.4MP Ricoh/Pentax GRD 5 and perhaps the rumored Nikon P7200.

All speculation but it might even be true. It may also mean the type 1/1.7 cameras may be around for another couple of revisions.

Of all the "large compacts" that I've played with in the store, I think the Nikon 1 handles the best when you are just shooting. The focus is fast and the frame-rate is faster. It's true that the rest of the interface is too fiddly and over-menued. But all those buttons and knobs don't do you a lot of good if the camera shoots and misses focus half the time. Even though it is allegedly missing things "enthusiasts" must have I find the Nikon 1 impressive, and most enthusiasts less so.

Great things about the Nikon V1:
1. Exceptional (for mirrorless) AF speed in good light.
2. Exceptional focus tracking of moving subjects
3. Exceptional still frame rates
4. Choice of mechanical or electronic shutter - camera can be made absolutely silent with electronic shutter
5. Un-intimidating to potential subjects
6. Superior image stabilization with Nikon 1 lenses
7. It has an EVF

Much of the above will not be important to folks who typically take time to compose their pictures and/or shoot still subjects, especially on a tripod. But for things that move, the V1 is an excellent camera. And, yes, there's plenty that Nikon could have done and didn't that would have made the V1 more attractive to enthusiasts. But I won't belabor that.

Mike, re the Nikon 1. I have a V1, and am quite fond of it (love is not something I feel for digital cameras, that's reserved for the old fashioned mechanical bodies; but I digress). It's small, light, has good (though admittedly slow) lenses, lightning quick focus in most light, quite acceptable image quality up to ISO1600 (and usable to 3200 for most people who don't print large), can take JPG stills from the HD video stream without causing a drop out and a viewfinder. A built-in viewfinder, to boot. And all sorts of other goodies, as well.

I carry mine in the car in preference to my much heavier and more expensive D700 kit, and I'm perfectly happy with what comes off the card. It's NOT a D700, but it weighs a heck of a lot less. I've shot kite boarders with it, family groups, a rock concert in dim and changing light (Duran Duran, if you want to know) and all sorts of landscape/nature work. If this is the worst that Nikon can do, I can't wait for the next step. No doubt your good self or Ctein could pick holes in the image quality, but I'm at least as happy with the results as I was with my D200 files. More so, actually - the D200 started to get ugly at ISO 800.

The haters have mostly never used it, I'd guess. It's not perfect, there's a list of handling issues for sure, but once you adapt yourself to the camera it's not as big a deal as has been made out. For me, I'm buying a V2 as soon as they hit the market (pun, not very funny).

So add my vote for the V1 to the 'Nikon love' list, if you would.


S90. I love it because its with me and has that wonderful lens ring to dial in the focal lengths I grew up with. The subsequent models are I'm sure equally or even more desireable but this is one I brought to the dance.
I can get decent 11x17 prints and don't expect too much in the dark.

I have recently purchased the G1X and though I haven't yet taken it out on its maiden voyage, it seems very capable. Cameras like this seem worthy inheritors of compact 35s of the 70s like my beloved Olympus 35RC. I don't think DSLRS like the Canon T4i are irrelevant yet. I'm still planning on a replacement for my vererable 20d.

Although not surprised to see the Canon S100 on your list, the G1X was unexpected. I have the G1X and prefer it to my previous G12 but thought it was not small enough to be considered. On the other hand, it *is* pocketable as I show here: http://lightdescription.blogspot.com/2012/05/g1x-pocketable.html

I can really only comment on Canon and Pentax, since that's what I use and the brands I follow.

Canon: you're right on the money, IMHO. No G12 or "Merkur XR"-T4i, as they are old-tech and now just designed to maximize profits, not photography.

Pentax: not quite with you on these two picks. The WG-2 is definitely "durable" and fun to bash around (I have a WG-1), but the image quality just doesn't live up to expectations... unless you're amazed you can take photos underwater at all. Also, I think the Q should trump the K-30 for a recommendation, mainly because its incredibly small size is a way to make "fun" photography happen from your pocket (fisheye lens on a compact?). I expect "big" things from the Q2 (in Q4, ha!).

For me, the first test of a small camera begins with insertion into a shirt pocket. Slightly smaller (Sony NEX, Fuji X, Nikon 1 etc. ) are tempting but if I have to carry a camera bag I'll put a DSLR and an extra lens in it.

Having passed the pocket test, the Sony RX100 is producing files that punch way above their weight class. And with center sharpness that rivals many DSLR kit lenses.

Gotta love it.

I'm a Pentax guy, too, and I, too, find the Q and the K-01 intriguing, but can't see myself buying either.

I'm not in the market for a new body at the moment, but I'm very much hoping that they'll have a new flagship model by the time I am, as the existing one closes in on 2 years of age (and my current body approaches 6 years of age). Shocking, really, how out-of-date I've gotten in that relatively short time.

When you go with features per cubic inch the K-5 forces one to consider it small - but going for the K30 covers that base pretty well. And I have seen some very impressive Q images; maybe no one has matched high-quality optics to a tiny sensor quite like this before! OK not the 'toy' ones.. but the Prime for sure.

I'm a Pentax guy but the Q and K-01 leave me rather cold. The Q smallish sensor could have been OK if the lenses were more interesting. The K-01 is missing an EVF and an articulated LCD, it's certainly not by lack of space it missed them. Without them I feel the K-01 is like a K-30 with the OVF removed, and not even weather sealed. BTW the new K-30 is really interesting but it's not exactly compact now that mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more mainstream.

Canon is the big loser. The S100 is almost completely crushed by the RX100 and the G1x didn't convince anyone. The Canon are good but they don't impress anymore. They play too safe as evidenced by their 5DIII and EOS-M.

Nikon is maybe underestimated. They are the only mirrorless vendor who master the PD-AF on sensor and that makes the 1 series special. They even have a good EVF on the V1. It's too expensive for what it is right now but it could become a great system with more good lenses and enthusiast models.

OTOH Sony hit two home run with the Nex-7 and the RX100. I held a Nex-7 in my hand and I agree with you it's the perfect size. But its lack of really good native lenses make its price hard to justify unfortunately. It could change quickly (let's hope so!) in which case I may drop my GH2 in favor of the Sony.

The RX100 is my new Pocket Wonder. It's not perfect but its IQ and general performance and relatively good UI (for a compact) justify its high price. I'm rather an EVF guy but the new LCD is quite impressive in daylight and I plan to use a Hoodloupe when I really need the missing EVF. But overall the RX100 sets the new benchmark for compact cameras and even enter into DSLR+kit lens territory.

Harking back to V 1.0 of this, I got the Oly XZ-1 not quite a year ago as a respectful be with me most of the time camera. I considered the Fuji X10 at the time but I have an Oly flash that works without wires with the XZ-1 and I like the VF-2 modularity which I also got. Its strength is close to mid distance i.e. macro to about 100' more than that and the resolving power drops, it's not a landscape tool, its a travel, people and gardens tool. All that and I've been an Oly guy since the OM-2...

The article on TOP by Andrew Kochanowski tickled me so much, I went out and got a Pentax K-01 and a few Limiteds. I love it so much that I purchased a K5 as a second body.
The K-01 is terribly underated, but I think sometime in the future collectors will love it.

You know, if Leica took their X2 and sped up the lens from 2.8 to 2.0, added 1080p video, made the camera a little smaller, bumped the resolution up from 16mp to 18mp, put in interchangeable-lens capability so I could quietly shoot lecturers from the back of the room with my fast EOS telephotos, and sold it for $800 instead of $2000...

Oops, I guess Canon beat them to it with the EOS M.

Now approaching 3 weeks with the RX100, and the only time I've picked up my Canon t2i was to compare their quality and sharpness. (It was a tie!)
Unless Pentax finally replaces the K-5 with a full-frame model, I may never need/want another DSLR. The RX100 continues to be absolutely amazing!

Sony NEX-5n. Small, great sensor (d7000, k-5), and the detachable evf angles for a really great viewing experience. Like all Sonys it has some ergonomic issues, and the detachable evf can be a bit fiddly to get on and off, but once you get it out of the bag and set up it's just a great camera.

Hi Mike,

Here is a small review I did for the Pentax Q.


IMO, its not as 'un-note worthy' as the small sensor suggests for its use for a camera enthusiast.

Certainly something that gives the users fun new options with its Quick Select dial and a magnitude of new possibilities with an adapter.

I just love mine the more I use it.

B. Rgds

Ah the Sony RX-100. As she caught my eye it was love at first sight… the kind of love that one has for a beautiful woman…all the bits seemed to be in the right places. One finds on further acquaintance however that she is not approachable and is best appreciated when kept at arm’s length. No intimacy is allowed. Beauty is in the eye of the photographer when looking through a view finder.

Here's something else that points to Pentax being an interesting camera maker:


Sure, it's a design project, but he pasted Pentax on it. What other brand would he have put on it really? Nikon? Canon? Fuji? I can almost imagine Pentax making a camera like that, none of the others are even possabilities.

canon: the s90 was loved because of the innovative and now trendsetting control ring. the true heir is the sony rx100, not the s100. i wouldn't say the g1x is loved, not with that viewfinder and slowish zoom. i don't think anyone's written glowingly about it. the g12 and t4i don't strike any chords, either, so they're not on my list.

sony: hard to say. i'll have to think about that one. ;) anyhow, the video guys seem to like the hx9v.

nikon: nothing, though some no-nonsense pros are impressed with the v1. the potential is there.

pentax: the fashionistas, the outdoorsy folk, and the girly girls have plenty to love, but some pentaxians are feeling somewhat frustrated. the k-5 is great, but moving up to the 645d is unrealistic for most, and there's no worthwhile mirrorless to move sideways to. insert standard begging and pleading for a full frame dslr and an honest-to-goodness mirrorless system.

I'm finding myself in the interesting spot of gradually warming to the Nikon1. I was kind of meh when it came out but the more I look at the landscape, I really start to see a lot of good things in it.

It's the kind of camera I can see having as a family camera. One I wouldn't mind borrowing or playing with and one that other less-enthusiast family members would enjoy using on a day-to-day basis.

I'm also increasingly convinced that m43 and APSC are basically bridge formats from 135 to a truly-smaller-size digital sensor. The nikon1 feels correct to me in the 135-120-4x5-8x10 sensor-size sequence.

I think you've pretty much nailed it. Regarding Sony's SLT line, there are 4 current models. Compare the A77 to the Canon 7D (more or less), the A65 to the Canon 60D, and the two low end models to Rebels. Only the A3x model is small any more (the A55 was small, but the A57 has grown). To see how small, compare the A33 with 28/2 to a NEX-5 here:

I'd include the NEX-5n; more compact than the 7 with a sensor some would prefer. Obvious downsides include UI & lack of a VF.

On the Nikon front, the Coolpix P7100 finally includes the Sony 10MP 1/1.7" sensor and is an attempt to compete with the Canon G12, so you can throw that in the mix.

And from Canon, what about the EOS-M ? It's designed for consumers, like the Nikon '1' series. But it has that 22/2 (35mm equivalent FOV) pancake.

I can't speak to the small Canons as my last was a G9.
On Nikon, however, my vote goes for the Coolpix P7100. Great quality and control in a (large) pocketable package.
A NEX is only small if you put Sony's 16mm f/2.8 on the front. I actually like the NEX on my AIS Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 (which makes it rather big), but one does have to put up with the "left your camera at home and just brought the lens?" comments.

Canon: I don't like the G1X. It screams to me that Canon got caught out by the mirrorless revolution and had to get something on the shelves quickly. The S100, as the S90 and S95 before it, is the go-to camera for when one wants really small with decent image quality. Many people love it so perhaps it should be on the list. But I found my S95 prone to CA and flare with only so-so battery life. The settings ring around the lens was cool, though. Overall: Feh. And that's pretty much the way I feel about the entire Canon line. Too cautious. If Canons were cars they'd be Toyota Camrys and Corollas.

Sony: Everyone seems to love the RX100, which actually breaks some new ground. The NEX-7 is superb in many ways, annoying in others. But it won't bore you. Both go on the list. I love the EVF on the A65 and A77. But they're too big. The A37, however, at about the size of a GH2, is worth considering - especially if Mike has decided Pentax's K-30 is small enough to make the list.

Nikon: Great size, sensor and auto-focus system on the 1. But no cigar. How many of us would feel differently about the 1 if a couple of fast primes were available for it? So close and yet so far. Meanwhile, Nikon seemed to have lost the plot with most of its smaller digicams a number of years ago. But my brother is crazy about his P7100. In fact, if I were going to buy a camera like that, I'd pick it over the Canon G12. Now, how about Nikon's smallest DSLR - the D3200? Again, especially if the Pentax K-30 is small enough. There's an incredible amount of value in that package. Not too small and not too large - packing the same sensor that's in the Sony A65 and A77. It's the only Nikon I'd consider right now.

Pentax: What can I say? I have the K-5 myself. It was simply the best camera in its class when it came out and its still no slouch. It's the best implementation of Sony's fabulous 16mp sensor that I've seen - even better than the Nikon D7000. Add a few Limited primes and you're done. The K-30 may deserve to be on the list, but has it been out long enough for enough people to fall in love with it? Now the Q. Almost everyone I have spoken with who owns one just loves it. It looks and feels better in your hands than it does in pictures. It handles and works fine, delivering the best images you'll find from a 1/2.3 sensor. Now that the price is establishing a connection with reality, I suspect a cult following may ensue. The Optio WG-2? It has tough competition from the Olympus TG-1, but it has its own charms. So, sure.

I think the Nikon V1 is probably the most misunderstood small camera around. Sure the sensor is small-but excluding the made for video 10-100-the lenses are little!

And the little beast is fast-fast-fast with a shutter that is either very quiet or dead silent.

The camera locks focus really quick and has a very good built in EVF. Fat long lasting D7000 battery too.

Sure the camera could have more external buttons-but the thing has a modern industrial look and feel that handles well.

Take it for a test drive Mike. You just might be in for a pleasant surprise.

My suggestion: Canon A1300. Not exactly a popular camera, somehow, but it is the successor to the much loved though recently discontinued Canon A1200.

Their claim to fame is being the only sub-$300 digital camera with an optical viewfinder outside the used market, but I think its main appeal lies elsewhere: simply, that the combination of its size, weight, quality at both stills and video, and amazing battery life with mere AAs make it an incredible bargain at less than $100.

Now, its lack of RAW and manual exposure kill its appeal to the enthusiast somewhat and its lens does betray its price point, but it's amazing how much you get in exchange for so little.

As for superzooms however and to borrow a popular phrase, give me Panasonic or give me death. Fuji perhaps, if I didn't care for video, but certainly not Nikon.

I think it's no accident that Pentax owners were recently voted top of the "most satisfied" list.

I started with a Super A back in 1983 and lost my way via Minolta, OM, Nikon, Canon and now back again to the K-5, with a diversion to Oly 4/3rds at the moment as well. Yes, the K-5 is big and heavy by most standards, but if you grew up on film cameras, he ain't heavy, he's my druther. I'll stick.

Besides, all those beautiful lenses, most of them full frame ...

I can't wait for Photokina. What is Pentax going to spring on us? Drool.

My thoughts:

- I would remove the G1X from the list. It seems to have fallen between the cracks somehow, and failed to inspire any enthusiasm, other than possibly by hardcore G owners. I wouldn't recommend this camera to anyone, because there are more interesting cameras out there whatever your interest.

- I would add the Nikon V1. The J1 is, as you say, nothing much to dream about, but the V1 is really neat, with a great viewfinder, amazing fast shooting performance, and the ability to drive full-frame AF Nikkor lenses. Imagine the V1 with a 70-200VRII (effective focal length: 190-540/2.8)!

Re: Nikon (a camera brand I've probably had my actual hands on 4x in my life if that), this was interesting:


The Canon T series cameras are pretty sweet. Image quality is nice and I think surpasses my old 5D significantly although I haven't tested it.

In truth though, lately all cameras are pretty good. That's why I shoot film, so I can blame it on the cameras.

If you're confused about Sony's plethora of dSLRs, then suffice it to say that after reading the specs, my lust is in the process of transferring from the NEX-7 to the SLT-A77. Same sensor as the NEX-7 (the always-in-place semi-silvered mirror costs it half a stop in ISO noise), but useful toys like remote release *cable*, in-body IS (yay!) and the LCD articulates like nobody's. What I haven't yet done is hold or shoot one, though... Hmmm.

If you're considering small DSLR's, then I'd include the Nikon series that started with the D40, and has progressed to the D3200, and D5100. Some scorn the lack of built in motor for older autofocus lenses. Doesn't bother me. After trying a couple of mirrorless cameras, I gravitated back to a Nikon for my smaller camera, and feel like I've come home with a D5100.

Regarding the Nikon 1 series, it's early days there, and it's picture quality and autofocus are more than good enough. Pity about the price; handling; and lack of lenses.

I wouldn't be surprised if they skip the battle for the mid-ground mirrorless (APS-C; m4/3), and produce a full-frame one...

Since you mentioned the G12, you could give a nod to the Nikon P7100. A true photographer's point & shoot with all the external controls you could want. As Dudley Moore said in "Crazy People"

'It's boxy, but it's good'

For Sony, it's the A55. I really don't know if it should be categorized as a DSLR, it got a mirror alright, but it is also mirrorless, so to speak. It basically got all the goodies brought about by a mirrorless design -- excellent EVF, "pre-chimp" for the final effects, no flipping mirror, video thru the EVF (to shoot video with a real DSLR, liveview is the only way), even instant review thru the EVF. The "frontal area" is no bigger than a Pany GH2, the depth is a different story -- it still get the "regular" lens mount, but in this case, it is a plus. Compare to all the more recent Sony iterations, this is a big camera in a small package. It's even equipped with GPS, no need for frumpy external devices.... And IBIS too. And all the gizmos like auto panorama, auto HDR... these are gizmos that really work.

I would think if the t4i qualifies the d3200 or d5100 would. I have the older D5000 and it is still a great small dslr.

I don't think DSLRs belong on the list. Sure, they're smaller than some bigger cameras, but they're not really small.

As the owner of representatives of most segments in the Canon line-up, here are my thoughts about which of them belong in the "favourite small cameras" list.

Firstly, I'm not convinced that it makes much sense to pick particular models in each line. Canon gradually improve each model (with the odd aberration like the dreadful G8 and S80 which lacked RAW support), and while the latest is usually greatest the equivalent a couple of years old is fine.

As I said in my comment to Part I, small is relative, and highly dependent on context, timing (e.g. what else is on the market), personal circumstances and so on. My Canon 7D with the "plastic fantastic" 70-300mm IS lens looks small next to someone taking similar action shots with a 1Dsomething and big white lens, but I wouldn't claim it as a "small camera".

On that basis I'm not sure the Rebel/XXXD qualifies as "small", either. My 550D goes along as a smallER backup body to my 7D, or gets taken out when I want to use the same lenses and sensor but want a smallER overall kit. For most people I know it still qualifies as a "big camera".

No question about the S90/95/100. I have an S95, and it's my "always with me" camera. Get used to the limitations of the small sensor and lens (which are not at all bad), and you can be very happy with it. The thing I particularly love is the fact that the lens goes to 24mm-e at the wide end, which fits my shooting style well, and is still unusual in small cameras. If Canon can pull off the same trick with the SXXX line that they have done with the G1X and Sony have done with the RX100, and put a larger sensor in future evolutions, without compromising the wide angle lens, then it will be hard to beat.

I don't own a G1X, but I do own a G10. While it ought to have become my "walk around" camera of choice, for some reason that never happened. To date, I've either picked up the 550D (when I want "full capability") or the S95 (when pocketability is important). My new Panasonic GH2 is deliberately positioned in the same intermediate space, and so far getting much more action than the G10 ever did, mainly because I get full functionality but a "three lens kit" weighs less than the 550D and one image stabilised lens. The one role which the G10 retains is my underwater camera, thanks to Canon's brilliant (and cost effective) housings for this series, but even that might go if the S95's successor has quicker autofocus.

What this does perhaps prove is two things:
1. I buy too many cameras
2. Canon have successfully segmented their line-up against a number of different "use cases", and what works for one user could be completely wrong for another.

Having decided that the 30mm Samsung pancake was the CSC lens I wanted my first body purchase was a NX100 - lovable, especially with the optional EVF.
Of course the temptation to have a newer sensor meant "upgrading" to a NX200 but it felt just a little hard to hold and with no EVF option was soon replaced by a NX20 which is so like a miniature SLR that I sold all my Sony bodies & lenses.
So my vote goes for Samsung NX as a system but the only one I found really "loveable" was that bargain NX100.

I'm not convinced that the title should be "Small cameras we love". Take something like the RX100 that's been mentioned by many; it hasn't even been available for more than two or three months. Have all those people really fallen in love with it? Have they found a camera they'll keep and use for many years? Are they going to pass by next year's RX200 that offers 40MP, 2 more stops of DR, phase detect AF on the sensor, and a lens that's a stop faster on the long end? I imagine many would drop the RX100 without a second thought. "Small cameras we're infatuated with" or "Small cameras, big appeal" may be a more accurate title.

Personally I only really love taking pictures. I like cameras in general as toys, but they come and go way too often. The only camera I can really say that I come close to loving is my ancient Olympus E-1. That one I still keep and enjoy shooting, even though it's a technological dinosaur. Maybe I'll eventually find that I love my current most-used camera, but I've only had it for about 1.5 years.

I must say the more I use the NEX-7 the more comfortable I am with it. The Sony lenses don't do much for me so I use Leica M and Nikon adapters. With a little Leica 50 Summarit mounted, the camera is coat-pocketable.

I must not be well in the noggin'. I bought the Pentax K-01 and fell for it. Forget the looks - it's got stellar IQ at its pricepoint and slides into bags where the K-5 must be shoved.

And then I went and bought the Q when the prices dipped below $400. At that price I can forgive its teeny sensor, and it's the first camera in many years that's encouraged me to play. Sometimes you've got to say, "screw the megapickles, screw the sharpness, screw FPS, screw noise, screw all of those things. Just take aim and play."

Kids Descending Stairs
Kids descending stairs

Is this love? Not sure yet, but it's a heck of a summer romance.

IMO, they both deserve to be on the list, and sites like TOP could play a part in getting people give them a second look.

You can always tell people who haven't shot with a Nikon V1: they dismiss it. But in terms of compact macro and/or compact wildlife, there isn't anything else that comes even remotely close. For macro we've got access to great 40, 60, 85, 105mm lenses (multiply by 2.7x), all of which will focus fast on a V1. For wildlife, stick a 70-300mm on it and you're at a handholdable 840mm equivalent (but the 30-100mm Nikkor 1 lens is actually quite good in and of itself).

But this gets me back to my former comment: you're at risk of making this a popularity contest, not an actual use advisory. Most people are buying on marketing message, and they actually don't have experience with the other cameras. Thus, a company with a mixed or weak marketing message gets fewer takers who in turn produce fewer "love" messages. For example, I note that no one seems to have nominated the AW100 or the new Olympus Tough. Both are exceptionally good waterproof cameras (though neither shoots raw, a real drawback). When I kayak, I "love" these cameras.

Which brings me back to my point: what are we loving here? Overall goodness, or something specific? In the overall goodness category I'd say there are few qualified to assess an RX-100 against a GX1 against even an XZ-1 (I'm not yet able to do so, despite testing all three and more).

The specific goodness category is much more easy to identify. Indeed, if you just back up to common photography tasks (landscape, sports, family and children, street, wildlife, etc.) you can find the cameras that people love for that thing very quickly.

It is somehow strange that Nikon never really managed to shine in the 'small' department. This goes back even to the film days. When the Oly XA, the Yashica T4 and some Canon Sureshot's managed to win some serious photographers for 35mm compact, Nikon produced slow, plastic trash.

I would say their P7100 might be included, although it is pretty much just a Canon G clone.

Friends in the camera retail industry tell me that the Nikon 1 series is hitting its marketing target

My friend working in a shop in Germany told me, that nothing sells worse than Nikon 1 series there :-)

I too was doubtful about the V1, but wanting a small camera for a trip to Europe, I took a chance on one, and like others here, was pleasantly surprised. It is fast, unobtrusive, and renders excellent image quality. I have a 16x20 print of the town of Portofino on my wall at work, and people continually comment on it, and ask where I bought it - assuming it to be the work of a professional travel photographer.
Or maybe I am, and don't know it.

The problem I have with the "fave" small camera question and its answers is that photography means such different things to each of us ("horses for courses" is a British phrase which we use a lot more than "Jolly Good").

So one photographer does closeups of flowers while another does formal portraits. A dude like me walks endless miles around my city snapping incongruities while another stands in central city locales and tries to capture interesting human interactions while someone else shoots pithy homelife shots of suburban life in Wisconsin. Landscapes, product photos, snaps of kids playing sports, etc etc all require different essentials and in many cases one woman's ceiling is another's floor.

So what's the best camera?

For the walk around set shooting in the Eggleston oeuvre or similar or with the occassional moriyamaism thrown in I find an Leica M9 with 1950's lenses great but already a bit heavy on the shoulder if I'm walking more than 4+ hours/day and carry a few lenses.

I bought a Nikon1 V1 for those days when I'm willing to trade the Leica's IQ for the V1's weight. I'm very pleased with it for all the reasons stated above (its a mini DSLR with "good enough" IQ. It's got a bad reputation among certain users who don't really use it but thought Nikon should come up with something better. It could be improved if they could get the Sony RX100 20mpxl sensor in it. The finder isn't awesome but its functional/gets the job done and the rest of the camera is quick and easy to use and if it matters, its handsome and feels good in the hands, at least in my hands. Sometimes IQ is just not that big a deal to me. I think its a western value, I see a lot of interesting japanese photography that is soft or shaky/blurry which I find interesting.

I recently bought a RX100 for those times when I want something feather light and flat and frankly because I can and I'm not getting any younger. It's hard to really comment on it totally because at the moment I'm stuck using jpgs as Lightroom et al don't have RAW converters. The sharpness and tonality from this camera are excellent, the dynamic range of jpgs is frustratingly limited and I often have blown out highlights on bright sunny days (thank god I live in London so its not too big a problem). The jpg engine fixes lots of flaws in the lens (huge barrel distortion at the wide end) so it will be interesting to see what Adobe comes up with on raw conversion.

Best all around small camera for my type of shooting: Leica M9 with 1950's glass or modern zeiss glass for when you want micro contrast sharpness. If Zeiss made a digital IKON I'd buy it in a minute.

@Tim: finally, someone mentions Lust.


I bought a Nikon V1 through your site a couple of weeks ago at Amazon. I bought it for my wife who has a great photo eye but refuses to fool around with a bunch of dials or menus and wants it small with a workable view finder that gives information and gives her close to full coverage. Evf's are fine with her. I've spent 2 weeks learning about it, ordered Thom's manual for it, and now I'm not sure I want to give it back. I have a D700 and a ton of glass (at least it feels like a ton when I carry it) and a Panasonic G3 with 3 lenses for airline travel. Their is a ton of snobbery out there about the V1 (I was sorry to see it in your comments) by people who like to fiddle instead of shooting as most of us do with a couple of favorite settings. Which is what I thought you did from reading your comments over the years. It even works great on full auto. If you own one and use it you will love it. Your blog is the best, it goes with my morning coffee so well.


I have nothing but respect for a maker that follows its own path like Pentax does. The other day I was photographing at one of my hometown’s busiest streets, and I saw this photography store which window was covered top-to-bottom with a black and white photograph of a Pentax K-1000. What a beautiful camera! Even more surprisingly, when I passed by an hour later, there was a girl taking pictures of that very window with a Pentax K-1000! A gorgeous sight.
Unfortunately, “gorgeous” is not the first word that comes to my mind when I look at a yellow Pentax K-01. (Or any of its colour schemes, actually.) It is by far the cleverest mirrorless camera in that it allows its owner to use almost every lens Pentax has made, but there’s no way around it: that camera is ugly. The fact that you can mount every K-mount lens means, on the other hand, that it is bulky, thus negating the mirrorless very raison d’être. So, rather than mirrorless, it seems to me to be a pointless camera.
Of course everyone can oppose that pointing the K-01’s ugliness as a deal-breaker is rather frivolous; what really matters is image quality, and the K-01 has it in spades, right? Yes, of course - but I’d rather be seen with a K-30 in my hands (preferably in black). It does the same job as the K-01, is roughly the same size and has an optical viewfinder, phase-detection autofocus and a proper grip. And people wouldn’t scorn me...

In my view the G12 should be included. While the G1X is both newer and has several desirable features, it's larger and dropped a couple of great ergonomic features of the G12 (the ISO dial for one). My G12 has produced a significant number of magazine-published images.

Once you've gotten used to the EVF's in the Sony Nex 7 and SLT a77 you'll never go back to primitive technology. Some complain about the lack of stunning lenses for the Nex 7 but Leica has a whole catalog full of them....

Hi Mike,

May I be controversial? I know you won't mind, so here goes...

How about my Sony Xperia Smart Phone. It's undeniably small, nearly always in my pocket & so versatile. Not only can it take photos but I can amend them, store them safely in the cloud, distribute them and even order up prints if I see the need.

Of course the IQ could be better, but isn't that why I've got the big rig?


I'll add to the compliments on the Nikon 1 series cameras. I started this year with three family trips in the planner with all three involving air travel. I bought the simple J1 with 10-30 zoom kit and really like the little thing. I've found that by setting it on Program and limiting the ISO to 400 I can get excellent results under the lighting conditions a person would reasonbly expect to be required. It is what it is, after all. I'm not impressed by the manual focus feature but that's not a surprise.

I decided against the V1 because I wanted to travel down the full view-cam path and thus far I've no complaints. I have no need for the flash or GPS thing, and the FT-1 adaptor mount will work on the J1 as well as the V1.

I'm tempted to order the accessory never-ready case and leather strap so as to turn it into my modern Kodak Retina.

I've tried the RX100 for a week on vacation and just returned it to Amazon. It takes fantastic images and is great in low-light, but I just never clicked with it.

I found it really difficult to hold even though I have fairly small hands. It's really an odd size, almost too small.

It really made me appreciate how much I like using my G12, and when it comes down to it I use my G12 more than I use my 5d MKII

I've been a Nikon user for a decade and in my opinion Nikon hasn't made a memorable, spectacular small camera since the 60's. Nikon is great at making big cameras, workhorses and powerhouses in their own right, but for small cameras there are just better options out there.

Incidentally, I think that historically Olympus has been the master of "small".

Thinking about this list made me realize that there are plenty of perfectly decent cameras available now, but to be something of a classic, something to "love", there needs to be that little bit of extra.

Now waiting for when you do a similar series on lenses -- that ought to start a discussion ;-)

It's interesting nobody mentioned Panasonic GF-1, and not so long ago there was so much hype about it on the web.

Cameras I *love*: MX and K5. For a small camera that I really like, so far the RX100 is quite impressive, more fun than my previous purse cameras. I think it'll be just the ticket at children's museums and the like. I had the waterproof Pentax, and it was fun, but I didn't care for how it rendered skin tones. I was tempted by both the Q and the S100, but I could just never quite place the order. I am interested to see how the Q will progress in it's next iteration.

I'm a little surprised to see so much V1 love in the comments since I've felt like the Lone Ranger for the last nine months using my V1 kit as a DSLR Lite. Yes, there are minor frustrations that come from using a V1 - but the rewards are worth it. It really is a very capable little system.

C'mon fast primes!

I have the Canon S90 and the Pentax K5 with the 15mm Prime, 35mm Macro and FA77. I have had excellent results with this kit, and have considered the RX100 as an upgrade from the Canon S90.

Pentax Q !!! I gotta write in and express my love for the crazy little Q. And tell you it should be on your list.

I'm a 'real' photographer, real enough anyway to have a few very minor credits to my name. I own and make darned good use of the big pro Nikon bodies - the D3S currently - with a bagful of lovely, fast Nikkors. So now that I have established my cred , I admit to owning and being absolutely in love with my tiny Q. Why? It is fun and freeing and creative.

The minute I pick up the D3S, I'm all serious about light and composition and settings and that (nagging) decisive moment thing. But when I pull out the Q, all that disappears in a little puff of joy.

I still amazed at how long I can amuse myself with the Q. Recently I spent a full two hours while waiting for a train in Roma Termini making mini-portfolios with the Q's various filters and edit tools. Some of the work turned out to be quite pleasing - "Red Shoes" using Extract Color, "Silver Arrow Train" using Posterization, "Travelers" using Cross Processing.

I do think Pentax priced the Q a bit too high for the American market. Everyone who has ever seen mine wants one - until they go check the price. So the Q may turn out to be a one off thing. But no matter - I'll keep on enjoying mine 'til it wears out.

(BTW, the menus in the Q are so good. Does Pentax put such well-designed menus in their bigger dSLRs?? That would be nice.)

The last Nikon Coolpix I had any regard for was the twist-body 4500, the final scion of the superb 9xx series. It could shoot TIFF, macro was brilliant, and it was the last Coolpix that did not attempt to mimic the Barnack camera layout for no good reason at all in this digital age.

My current walk-around Nikon "compact" is the D5100, usually with the Voigtländer Ultron 40/2.0 or the Nikkor 45/2.8 P. My latest craze is the Sigma 8-16mm superwide zoom, an idiosyncratic but brilliant lens. When I'm in the mood for street portraits, nothing better than the D5100 with the Voigtländer Apo-Lanthar 90/3.5. The flip-and-swivel display means that I can shoot from the waist, like in Bronica days of old, or even around the corner. Ditto for macro work.

Would I swap the D5100 for two barrels of Fuji X100? Nope. For a carton of Sony RX100? Not without EVF and less noise in low light. For a Sony NEX-7? Just let me pack a couple of Leica M and Zeiss ZM lenses, and I'm sold.

One my beloved cameras is a simple Canon A-495 (point and shoot) to which I added CHDK so that it shoots RAW or RAW+JPEG (as well as its native JPEG). It fits in the front pocket of my jeans.

The last Canon I bought was an A590 point & shoot. For the price at the time, it was adequate. I've owned some other Canon cameras: Canon IVSb, Canon 7, AE-1, A2E, & one of the early film Rebels. But the only one I really miss is the 7.

Man, that was a great RF camera; I still own my Leica but I'd trade it in a heart beat for a Canon 7 & a Canon 50. With a Canon 35/1.8, 50/1.8 & 100/3.5 it made a RF kit that remains the best I've ever used. If I ever buy another Canon, it's going to be to regain that kit. Not one of the new, high quality but in the end somewhat overpriced & boring digitals they make these days.

Sorry Canon, that's just how it is. You want me back? Make a digital P with a lens mount like micro4/3 that I can attach anything I own to it. That would excite me far more than anything you're currently making.

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the Nokia 808 Pureview. It weighs approximately zero and takes up no room if you assume you'll be carrying a cell phone anyway. And the image quality is very good for a compact.

I just got back from a great river raft trip using the K-5 and K-7 (great for this application). I own cameras from most brands except Minolta / Sony. I'm sure they're great ...just never had the glass so why would I need another camera when I had Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic? The Nikon D3200 is my favorite small camera today. I have their D3s, D-700 and D-90. I also own a large selection of M4/3 equipment. Bottom line, the D3200 files are simply great. Everybody fusses over the small viewfinder, lack of bracketing, etc. etc. etc. Maybe I would too if this was my only camera. However, I own way too much stuff to worry about a missing feature on this one particular camera. The D3200 is one of the best "picture takers" I've ever owned and I've owned a lot of them. This camera mostly gets out of your way and lays down a file that is second to nobody. It isn't just the 24 megapixels ...dynamic range and color are simply amazing. I am super impressed and didn't see it coming. The files are first rate ...soooooo, I would have to nominate the D3200 as one of the best small DSLR's, especially if we are including the T4i from Canon.

"(BTW, the menus in the Q are so good. Does Pentax put such well-designed menus in their bigger dSLRs?? That would be nice.)"

Yes, they do. Most of my purse cameras are not Pentax and I miss the ease of menu navigation with my K5. (My niece asked me to use her D5100 once and I found the menus overwhelming and confusing.)

Which all goes to prove, there is something out there for everyone. Just keep your hands off my Fujis!! ;)

Interesting question: Is there any functioning camera (other than a disposable) that doesn't have a fan base?

Another vote for the Nikon V1. Yes it has some frustrating foibles (so show me a camera that doesn't). If I shot one photo in aperture priority, the next in program mode, the one after that in full manual (but only after changing ISO!), and especially if I did that in rapid succession, then yeah, the menus would be a pain. But I set the camera for the situation I'm shooting, and then I shoot. And I don't worry about all those other settings. If the need arises, I can find 'em, but it's very rare that I miss a shot because I suddenly need to revise all the menu settings before shooting. The image quality is great if exposed properly, and the AF nearly reads my mind. It (mostly) gets out of my way and lets me shoot. (A little gaffer tape on the mode dial is highly recommended).

I have no hands-on experience, but a friend who is a long-time photographer of real skill, had the G-1x and returned it. The low light auto-focus performance was far below his expectations and requirements. YMMV.

I've been using a Nikon V1 for 6 months or so and haven't enjoyed a camera as much since selling my FM2n/3A's. If you're a lens collector, a tripod shooter, a compulsive settings fiddler or want to look like a 'pro' forget it; it's not for you. As a minimalist, discrete walk-around and street camera though, it's just wonderful.

Actually, what a timely article for the gearhead in all of us.

Timely because I've gona ahead and revamped my equipment completely for the first time in several years.

Mind you, I am interested in really only one thing, candid, unposed photography, so what worked for me is not likely to work for the many others who don't shoot like me.

For the first time since owning a mid-level Nikon DSLR in 2008, I've ditched my micro 4/3 and gone with the Pentax K-30. Some may recall my review of the K-01, which I fully stand behind-- the IQ out of that box is great. But two months later Pentax put out the K-30, which, as others pointed out, is essentially the same camera with an optical viewfinder and a grip (you can line them up and see exactly what Pentax was doing. Most of the R&D for the K-30 was shunted off to the K-01, while the K-30 got the live view CDAF implementation of the K-01. All of the essential controls are in exactly the same place). The K-30 has the updated version of the fantastic 16MP Sony chip, a pentaprism VF, much faster write speed than the K-01, quick PDAF (really quick for the street in fact) and is weatherproof. It feel great, it works great, lovely files, pretty perfect, assuming you've shelled out for a set of Pentax's better lenses (and they are very good indeed).

On the other end, I took some of the money I got for my M4/3 gear and bought the Sony Rx100. Don't have a final view yet, but first week with it very positive. It's pretty clear to me that the files don't look any worse than the 16MP M4/3 files from the Panasonic side (don't have the OM-D to compare), and the sucker is pocketable and very fast. Since the chip in it seems like the one Sony kept for itself rather than sell to Nikon for the V1, it doesn't or wouldn't surprise me if the IQ wasn't a bit better than the V1.

It works for me because I have a quirk: I hate EVF's, and I;\'ve tried to like them a lot since they make sense. I don't mind shooting with just a screen (the Sony implementation is great, BTW), but if it's a VF it has to be optical. That's really where the Pentax DSLR got me, they put a really nice screen and a real glass prism into a small(ish) body. No matter what, there is no EVF that works as well as that.

These are nice times for a shooter.

The Sony NEX cameras are wonderful but for some things the Sony R1 is more wonderful. The lens is amazing especially at the wide end, the color rendition is lovely, the ergonomics are at least no worse than any other camera once you realize that the thumb is the correct digit for the shutter release, it's probably faster than say a speed graphic.

The two things that it does that far surpass any other digital camera is near silent operation and usefulness with electronic flash. It has flash synch at 1/2000 second ! With old 283s and with studio strobes on radio triggers! The little popup flash can overpower direct sunlight! And did I mention that it's quiet? A Leica M sounds like a washing machine thrown down a flight of stairs by comparison. The R1 is about as quiet as a blimped Nikon.
Pretty cool for a seven year old camera. Wrap it in a plastic bag and it's a great surf camera. Waist level finder a couple inches above the water with fill flash at the beach? And it's a great street photography camera.

Too bat you can't buy them new, and I really don't want to know what the servicing situation is, but I'm never getting rid of mine until another camera comes along with the same capabilities which is probably never.

I use the S95 as a carry-everywhere and it is adequate, as are most of the small Canons. The problem: it is slow and unresponsive even if you zone focus and deactivate the idiotic "Safety MF" setting. Candid people shots are hopeless. For this reason alone I am considering the RX100, assuming it is faster to focus and shoot. Ten years into the digicam age and most manufacturers are still clueless about the importance of this issue.

My only digital camera is the Samsung NX200. Great image quality and I think the control layout is far superior to the NEX line. Also got an adaptor to use my old Zeiss 50mm on it. Fun times.

I'm on the V1 train too. I leave it set at auto iso 100-3200 and let the VR do it's thing. A fast 50 equiv with VR would be really nice Nikon! Did I say that the VR lenses rock?
I like to pretend I'm a serious photographer but 90 percent of my pics are of my kids and family trips. The V1 is the perfect size, weight and AF speed for me to take everywhere with image quality which is very much good enough.
For the person who was thinking of getting the leather case for theirs, go for it it's very nice in look and feel, very retro.

Pentax Q. When the first reviews appeared, the main complaint was the "soft images". Later, another review site went back and did a retake with some tests at f/2.8 vs. 5.6 and found that diffraction was actually an issue for the smaller sensor, even at f/5.6. The images at f/2.8 and f/4.0 were quite sharp. Not surprising since Pentax certainly have excelled with lenses over the years. Sooo, I think it should be on the list. Not only for the fun, but as a serious, very small cam, if used properly.

I did not realize that photos are allowed in the replies, so here's a photo summary of what the Q can really do in one breath (or a lens swap or two) :)

From streets

Fun fisheye

To 5:1 macro

To super tele (1100mm equivalent)

In the market today, there are pns ver#1, 2, 3, etc, coming out year after year and they basically provide the same bottom line.
To get pictures in a smaller form factor than their larger MILC/DSLR brothers.
A form of duplication of purpose or 'backup' to their larger counter parts.

The Q stands out in this respect.
Not only does it perform the purpose as mentioned above, with an adapter, it adds to what the enthusiast has without much duplication.
The tele and macro shots presented is no mean feat, on any system, which would have needed use of extension tubes, diopters, teleconverters, expensive lenses or DIY jury-rigging to get to such extremes.

The incredible flexibility of the Q is really its biggest benefit over other premium small compacts.
IQ is "good enough" and the size is really a boon to taking it everywhere, which results in the ability to challenge and grow the users photography on a daily basis.

To me, if you like cameras and admire them, the Q is unique.
Pentax dared to dream and make such a system in this day of 'me too' camera offerings.
Sort of like how some camera makers went out there in the film days and did the 110, PEN, 44 cameras.(ie. smaller film size and all)
The Q is like a digital version of those (and those days)

Pentax are crazy. Insane. Balmy. Nutty.
And that's kinda why I love 'em. It's like a whole damn company run with only engineers and no management to tie it all together and marketing to march it out the door.
It seems to me like a bunch of...boffins (no other word for it) tinkering away pet projects, and no one really says no. Q? Why not? K-01? Sure! A small, resilient, pro-grade-ish (uttering the "P" word around Pentax is kinda bad karma, or something) with more features than the weather sealing can hold. Have lacklustre pro-ish zooms you bought off Tokina. Create a super-fast, super-quiet in-lens motor that could finally solve your AF problems...then stick it in a consumer hyperzoom. Build lenses with weird focal lengths.
Whatever. Go nuts.
I like to think that whenever the lawyer comes 'round to tell the works they've just been bought out - again - these guys don't even look up from their work benches.
The people who truly seem to hate them are the ones who think that Canikon are somehow the duly elected leaders, and that everyone should march to their beat. High-detail pro FF camera, high-speed pro FF camera, small FF pro camera, APS-C prosumer, the APS semi-pro, APS-C enthusiast, advance amateur, entry level...
Meanwhile, Pentax probably has headphones on, and is listening to the local classic rock station, and singing along, badly.

Shine on you crazy diamonds.

Lovablility is a subjective thing. For me, a lovable camera has quirks and limitations. I can't love a perfect camera. I can admire it and respect it and use it, but to earn my love, a camera has to have a personality. I don't think I could love an NEX-7--it's too perfect. The NEX-5n is not perfect, is a bit smaller, has quirky handling, and yet it appears to have better pixel quality than the 7. That's a camera I could love.

The Q and the K01 are trying too hard to be lovable, IMO. I agree with the pick of the K30. It is probably a very non-quirky camera to use, but inherits the quirkiness of the Pentax system, and generations of fine, quirky glass.

Agreed on both GRD and GXR, and the Fuji X cams.

Not sure about Leica M. They are too much a luxury institution now to be really lovable. The smaller Leicas maybe, but I've never handled one.

Gratifying to see so much V1 love.

For those who haven't already (J1 owners as well) get Richard Franiec's grip. Well worth the small amount he asks, and it will transform the handling of the camera. Ditto Thom Hogan's Nikon 1 Guide - there's a lot of little wrinkles to the camera, and this will iron them out.

I used to carry around an Olympus XA as a pocket camera and it was wonderful. The S95 I now carry is a fitting succesor, actually nicer in every way. If the S100 is even better it certainly deserves a place on your list.

I tend to get a V1/V2 for myself to complement my D800.

My philosophy is one can be big, but another one should be as small as possible. Not in the middle.

I vote for a V1.

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