WI-FI COMPACTS

CANON POWERSHOT

SX280 HS £290

The PowerShot SX280 HS is ideal for travel and is Wi-fi-enabled — and connecting to Wi-fi is straightforward but very slow. While not perfect, the Wi-fi is great to use. You can quickly connect the camera to any Wi-fi network, create an ad-hoc Wi-fi network from within the camera, connect the camera to your smartphone and back up images to a PC. Battery usage is heavy with Wi-fi and GPS running so consider a spare battery.

2 FUJIFILM FINEPIX

F900EXR £259

The F900EXR includes a host of networking options. The wireless features allow you to share and back-up images between the camera and a PC, smartphone or device.

Fujifilm’s Camera Application enables sharing of 30 images at a time, browsing images on the camera and geotagging images, while getting the Wi-fi set up is the simplest of all the cameras here on both iOS and Android. Once Fujifilm’s PC Auto Save Setting software has been installed you can connect to it through the camera’s Wi-fi PC Auto Save; images are sent to your PC where folders are created automatically.

3 NIKON COOLPIX

S9500 £299

The Wi-fi set up is difficult and there’s no direct publishing capability with the S9500, so you’ll need a compatible device. You can’t simultaneously connect the camera to two Wi-fi networks to upload photos. You’ll need to transfer the images to the smart device first and switch back to the main Wi-fi network to share on social media. Nikon’s Wireless Utility app works on Android and iOS and enables remote control of the camera, browsing and importing of photos. Eye-Fi connectivity allows you to upload images directly to your PC, and its «endless memory» lets you shuffle off images as you shoot.

LIMUX

TZ40

You can connect the TZ40’s Wi-fi system to smartphones and tablets after downloading Panasonic’s Image App. You can use a smart device as a wireless remote control and the level of control here is impressive, but zoom operation is slow. Wi-fi features can be controlled from the camera; images can be sent to a smart device, PC and the Lumix Club (once you’ve set up an account).

To connect to a network you need to use a password — but you’ll need to use a WPS pin for each connection. Thankfully, once a connection is achieved, you won’t need to re-enter the passwords the next time.

5 SAMSUNG

WB800F 329

The Samsung WB800F is a compact superzoom with great image quality and Wi-fi sharing features for Facebook, YouTube, Picasa and SkyDrive.

You’ll need to download l-Launcher software (Windows only) for some of the direct connect features. Connection is achieved via a very clear menu system.

Menus include a screen for MobileLink, email, remote viewfinder, auto back up settings and the SN & Cloud mode.

The Samsung’s connectivity is very comprehensive though there are connection issues, including it regularly dropping while transferring images.

The most important finding of this group test is that it is not that simple to get Wi-fi features up and running. Constant time-outs, sudden drops in connectivity and slow uploads are added complications too.

The battery life is massively impacted by all this Wi-fi, so very broadly speaking, you can slash battery life by around 50% if the GPS and Wi-fi features are being used for more than 25% of the time.

Anyone even slightly technophobic will hate all the technology requirements. Some form of standardised connectivity software is needed to make all this wireless sharing kit truly user friendly. So, how did the cameras fare? The Nikon S9500’s Wi-fi implementation is the most complex of the cameras to use, and the Panasonic TZ40’s is not much better. Canon’s wireless technology is less complicated but still needs too much work to get connected. It’s a great camera/menu interface and the connection to my Mac just worked.

The Fuji F900’s set-up is the easiest of the lot and the simplest overall to share. Like the Canon it lacks a remote control option and its menu systems lack the structure of the icon-driven simplicity of the Canon. The Samsung WB800F has the most comprehensive suite of networking and sharing features; the menus and Wi-fi set up controls are convoluted but the controls makes for a friendly approach to managing it all. Transfer times were among the slowest though.

And so it’s a bit of a mixed bag with the SX280, the F900 and WB800F standing out. In the end I think the flexibility and simplicity of the F900’s system is key and wins the day.

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