Most compact cameras have a zoom lens that tops out at 3x the standard image. The R8 is an engineering marvel, cramming a whopping 7x lens into a body that’s on the larger size compared to the other group test models, but still slips into your pocket easily.
The high-rated zoom lens lets you to get shots seemingly closer to subjects than any of the R8’s rivals, with only the 5x lens of the Canon Digital Ixus 970 IS coming close. However, the R8’s output was noisy and image stabilization was poor, so you need surgeon-steady hands to use the R8 at full zoom.
The R8 noise problem was accentuated in low light conditions, where we managed to acquire few usable shots at long zoom. We also saw a lot of purple fringing in high-contrast areas – though this was only noticeable when we zoomed in to 100 per cent in Photoshop. Overall, the R8’s output was a little washed-out too.
The R8’s blocky design makes this the least attractive of the cameras here. It’s available in three colour schemes: all-black, silver, and matte silver/brown. The black at least hides the Stalinist design, but the silver/brown model has the aesthetic appeal of a Travelodge.
More interesting is the LCD screen, which has twice the resolution of any of its rivals. This makes composition and selecting the right time to shoot easier. We were also impressed with the ability to move the target area for the autofocus/auto-exposure. Pushing up on the joystick on the back brings up a control strip that allows you to quickly change the EV, white balance, ISO setting, autofocus type or move the AF or AE target (or both at once).
There’s no traditional auto/manual mode split, as you choose between a ‘shoot’ mode, two configurable ‘my setting modes’ and a scene mode. The strip works in all modes except scene mode, when only EV and white balance can be changed.
Lens zoom: 7.1x
Lens (35mm equivalent): 28-200mm f/3.3-5.9
Image Stabilization Type: CCD shift
Effective resolution: 10 megapixels
Max image size: 3,648-x-2,736
Autofocus modes: Multi-point/centre/spot/manual
Face detection: Yes
ISO Range: ISO 50-1600
ISO 3200 mode max mp: n/a
Shutter range: 8-1/1,200 second
Exposure modes: Auto, 11 scene modes
Macro mode (minimum focusing distance): 1cm
Continuous shooting speed (at full res): 7.5fps (max 16 shots)
LCD size and resolution: 2.7-inch, 460,000 pixel
Optical viewfinder: No
Storage media: SD, SD-HC, MMC, MMCplus
Internal memory: 24MB
Quoted battery life: 270 shots
Colour options: Black, silver, Two-tone
Dimensions (W-x-H-x-D): 102-x-58-x-26mm
Weight (body only): 168g