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  1. #1
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    Question need a powerful compact

    Hello.

    It's been a while since I've bought a digital camera, and the market has changed a lot. I'm looking for a "hobbyist" camera. Something that is versatile enough to shoot in all conditions, and gives me full control over the camera so I be creative with it if the mood strikes. You're probably thinking, "get an SLR", but I need something that will fit in my pocket or it simply won't get used. I am active in the outdoors and I need something I can whip out to snap a photo and not have to lug around bulky camera gear. Choices are few aren't they? Let me tell you about my previous camera, a Casio Exilim Z850, which went for a swim.

    It had:
    - A viewfinder. Sadly, this feature has been abandoned in favour of larger screens, which aren't particularly useful
    - SP, AP, and manual modes.
    - Shutter speed adjustable from 1600ths up to 60 s.
    - adjustable focus distance
    - adjustable flash intensity
    - not only focus assist, but LED illumination as bright as a flashlight
    - phenomenal battery life. I could use it for a week on the same battery
    - user friendly interface. The mode dial was right on the front of the camera where you could see it, clicked tightly into the mode you wanted, and had painted icons so you could switch quickly. Other frequently used settings like ISO and EV could be accessed with a couple pushes of a button (not buried in menus). It even had custom buttons that you could program to do whatever you want. You could also create presets for your shooting settings. Again, I presume all of this has been sacrificed for the all important screen.
    - Speed. You could go from powered off to shooting a picture in a second. Processing didn't take much time, and you could fly through photos when previewing. Burst or continuous shooting, and you could fire the flash three times in a row.
    - Video quality for the time was excellent with a sharp picture and fast framerate. You could edit the video right on the camera, and it had a mode where it buffered video so you would never miss any action
    - Only 3x zoom, but it's not terribly important to me. I like my photos to reflect what I am seeing.

    The photo quality wasn't remarkable, but more than satisfactory, and because it was so versatile the shots would always turn out better than friends with the "easy" cameras. In fact, I think the dynamic range was pretty good too. It seems that newer cameras always have clipped skies. The flexibility coupled with easy of use made this camera a real joy to use and take along. I really miss it. So that is my reference camera right now, by which I judge all others. So far I'm pretty disappointed by what I see, because all the features I liked are virtually gone. They've been replaced with useless stuff like face detection, "Youtube mode", and functions that paint makeup on your face (LOL!). Yes, pixel resolution keeps improving which sounds good, but we all know that doesn't make a better photo. It seems that manufacturers have shifted ALL of their focus on the average consumer, and they don't make useful cameras any more.

    So my question to you is, is there a camera out there for me?



    PS** I also have unrelated question. Sensor range has a huge impact on photo quality. Poor range can drown out your shadows and wash out your skies and highlights. Yet nobody advertises the range of cameras. I surmise it could be specified in the same way it is done with TV's: as a ratio. Why isn't this done?

  2. #2
    n8
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    It sounds like the Nikon P7100 or Canon G12 might be the camera for you. They are truly pocketable, and should get you the results you want. They both have viewfinders, although not the best. Alternatively, the canon s100 is probably the best point and shoot that is even more compact, and will give you amazing IQ for the size of the camera, in addition to having manual control and a lot of nice features.
    mostly Nikon gear

    Feel free to edit my images for critique, just let me know what you did.

  3. #3
    Senior Member volks's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Have a look at the Nikon P7100. It's a great camera. Not sure how big your pocket is though, as it's a bit on the large size.
    Volker
    Nikon D7200
    Nikon P7100
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    Nikon 55-200 VR II

    Keeping it light and simple.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    The P7100 is weak sauce, its a G12 clone but not even a good one. Its OK I suppose, until you find out there is a G12. The G12 is much better.

    But, even better than the G12 is the Olympus XZ-1. Better in the fact that its every bit as feature packed, smaller, with a faster lens. The G12 is still really cool in that it has every control option available as a tactile physical control.

    The S100 is good, but the XZ1 is much better than the S100 and at the same price. Don't even bother with the S100 unless you can find it for super cheap.

    In fact, the XZ1 is the best compact point and shoot out there, bar none. Unless we are counting something like the Fuji X100 as a "compact camera" (its sort of ambiguously classified). You could check out the X100, its a fixed angle if you don't mind.
    - Charlie

    Feel free to edit and repost my work as a part of your critique.

  5. #5
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Quote Originally Posted by timelessbeing View Post

    ...
    PS** I also have unrelated question. Sensor range has a huge impact on photo quality. Poor range can drown out your shadows and wash out your skies and highlights. Yet nobody advertises the range of cameras. I surmise it could be specified in the same way it is done with TV's: as a ratio. Why isn't this done?
    You're referring to Dynamic Range. It's one of the criteria in the DXOMark tests here:

    DxOMark - Camera Sensor Database

    These are strictly technical tests, done by an independent organisation. There are lots of surprises in there..
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  6. #6
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    DXO marks is an excellent source for sensor performance. But other things influence IQ that are not taken into consideration on such comparisons, such as lens speed - which can have more impact on IQ, particularly the "low light score" than the numbers on DXO indicate. The bottom line is that DXOmarks is exclusively a benchmark of the sensor alone. The XZ1 doesn't have as good high ISO performance as the Canon/Nikon alternatives, for example. However, its much faster lens mitigates what difference there is, even many times favoring the Olympus for image quality based on its speed. The XZ1's iso 800 may not look as good as Canon's ISO 800, but with its faster lens, it will only need ISO 200 at the telephoto end, when Canon would require an ISO 3200 to achieve the same shutter speed in the same scene. Obviously, the XZ1's shot at ISO 200 will be a cleaner grain than the Canon at 3200.

    Dynamic range, grain and image quality is directly related to its ISO capacity, the XZ1 is better equipped than its competition to use lower ISO in various scenes, especially as you use the zoom range. This difference is especially relevant on the telephoto end, where there is over 3 stops of difference between the XZ1 and Canon/Nikon. (ISO 200 vs ISO 2000, 3.3 stops).
    - Charlie

    Feel free to edit and repost my work as a part of your critique.

  7. #7
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    New Camera - Several Parameters Advice

    Hi All,
    Happy New Year 2012.

    I need expert advice for purchasing a new camera based on several parameters. Pls guide.

    1. I am a newbie and not very knowledgeable about cameras. Therefore Simplicity in operation is what I would prefer.

    2. In my understanding Canon is best brand so ideally would like to stick to cannon model unless another model like Nikon Cool pix etc offer compelling value.

    3. My price range is up to 250 USD but can stretch a little bit if by stretching the alternative is very superior.

    4. My understanding is higher megapixel and higher optical zoom better the camera. So would prefer higher of these within my budget.

    5. I would love to have HD Video capability as well for one hour at least.

    6. I would like that it supports flash (i believe needed for low light situations) a must.

    PLS recommend based on above parameters. I know i have asked too much but just that experts can weigh in and advice.

    Thanks for reading in advance and helping. Looking forward to your valuable suggestions.

    Note: Right now need to purchase urgently so that i can take photos of my new place where I am planning to move in soon.

  8. #8
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Difficult to advise you. See my comments prefixed with >>

    1. I am a newbie and not very knowledgeable about cameras. Therefore Simplicity in operation is what I would prefer.
    >> Almost all modern cameras except the pro models have a Green-easy-use mode.
    Note that "experts" are interested in control. We like to have lots of buttons, knobs and wheels that do one thing and allow us to modify the parameters of the camera quickly when shooting (without going into a menu). The rear of the camera winds up looking like a Playstation but that's life.

    2. In my understanding Canon is best brand so ideally would like to stick to cannon model unless another model like Nikon Cool pix etc offer compelling value.
    >> Canon is one of the best brands. In the price range you're talking about most of the cameras are very similar. I can't think of any Canon models don't really stand out from Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung etc. but then I don't know all the cameras

    3. My price range is up to 250 USD but can stretch a little bit if by stretching the alternative is very superior.
    >> You notice that all the cameras we talked about earlier in this thread are in the $400-$600 range? This is because we have been talking about cameras for experts. For $250 you are talking about a consumer model. There are hundreds of them which are replaced every 6-9 months. The people who write on this forum are more interested in the "expert" variety.

    4. My understanding is higher megapixel and higher optical zoom better the camera. So would prefer higher of these within my budget.
    >> FALSE. Higher megapixel and higher optical zoom are marketing ploys for people who don't know anything about cameras. The reality is more complex:
    - More megapixels = more detail theoretically but it also means that each pixel is smaller and is less able to capture light. High megapixel compacts tend to be poor performers in low light. The cameras we were talking about earlier (Canon S100 & G12, Nikon P7100) have a moderate number of pixels (10-12Mpix) AND they have a bigger sensor than normal compacts as well
    - More zoom = yes you can "get in closer" but the lens is more complex. Therefore it tends to have more distortion, less sharpness and can capture less light. For example the Olympus XZ1 has a limited zoom range but a very wide aperture (f1.8 at the wide-angle end - that's 4x more than an average compact).

    5. I would love to have HD Video capability as well for one hour at least.
    >> Most cameras nowadays can do HD video

    6. I would like that it supports flash (i believe needed for low light situations) a must.
    >> Most compact cameras have a built-in flash. It looks awful - just like shining a flashlight into someone's face

    Note: Right now need to purchase urgently so that i can take photos of my new place where I am planning to move in soon.
    >> Of the cameras we have discussed the Canon S100 looks like a good idea. It's lens is more wide-angle than the others and this can be useful when doing interiors. It has a wide aperture lens (at the wide-angle end) so you might be able to do your pictures without flash. I only use the flash on my S95 when I'm desperate
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  9. #9
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Hi Charles - Great excellent and detailed response which is very very helpful.

    Of the cameras we have discussed the Canon S100 looks like a good idea. It's lens is more wide-angle than the others and this can be useful when doing interiors. It has a wide aperture lens (at the wide-angle end) so you might be able to do your pictures without flash. I only use the flash on my S95 when I'm desperate

    So which one your recommend me finally...i will buy that happily seriously...waiting for ur reply...(i hope ur suggestion includes the camera which i can use to take photo in evening and inside home)

    Thanks

  10. #10
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    All the "non-experts" like you are buying "consumer" compacts. I can't recommend any - I don't know them and we never discuss them.

    The "experts" compacts are usually twice as expensive as the "consumer" compacts. They give better results than "consumer" compacts, especially in low light because they have better components and more controls.

    Of the four cameras we have mentioned in this thread the Canon S100 seems to me to be the best for you because of the wide-angle setting. I use my S95 a lot and indoors without flash.

    Now a few expert hints :

    - Don't use Green mode all the time. It will flick up the flash when you don't want it to. I use mine on Program mode because it gives me more control
    - Indoors for photos of people without flash use Tv mode (Shutter speed priority) and set the shutter speed to about 1/80s. People tend to move and by setting a fairly fast shutter speed you freeze normal movement
    - Practice. When you make a mistake, try to understand what went wrong and don't do it again
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  11. #11
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    As Ive said many other times, the Olympus XZ1 is a worthy alternative to the S100. It is slightly bigger, but it keeps all of the same manual and raw controls as the S100. Most importantly, it has a much faster lens that will open up its limitations quite a bit. The S100 has an f/2.0-5.9 lens. Olympus has a much faster f/1.8-2.5 lens, giving you a higher capability for shutter speed throughout the zoom, for low light and action. This difference is negligible at the wide angle, but quite pronounced at the telephoto angle. The Canon does 1080P video recording, the XZ1 only does 720P.

    You mention desiring flash support - the Olympus XZ1 has a hotshoe, the S100 does not. This means you can add additional flashes, included pro-grade options. You can't do this on the S100. The XZ1 also works with Olympus wireless flash system, so it can trigger Olympus flashes set up remotely in another location. you can also attach the XZ1 to studio light equipment via sync port on a hotshoe converter. All of these things canon's S100 is not cappable of. Canons G12, however, does have a hotshoe and is flash capable.

    Considering you want attachable flash, I think that can rule out the S100 as an option. If you want to stick with Canon, they make a G12 which does keep a hotshoe, and has virtually all of the manual controls accessible as tactile interface instead of menu-driven, the G12 is a very handy tool, but it is significantly larger than the XZ1 and still has a slower lens.
    - Charlie

    Feel free to edit and repost my work as a part of your critique.

  12. #12
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Is Canon the best option?

  13. #13
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Quote Originally Posted by prunge View Post
    Is Canon the best option?
    The best option for what? Which Canon camera?
    Photo-John

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  14. #14
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    I'd still personally prefer the XZ1 over the Canon, but that is because the faster lens is more important to me than the excellent tactile interface of the G12. The olympus is also smaller. But, these are essentially your only two options as you mentioned needing flash/hot shoe. You could do compact system camera body, but then size goes a bit beyond being considered "compact", certainly bigger than the XZ1 and G12.
    - Charlie

    Feel free to edit and repost my work as a part of your critique.

  15. #15
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: need a powerful compact

    Quote Originally Posted by Anbesol View Post
    I'd still personally prefer the XZ1 over the Canon, but that is because the faster lens is more important to me than the excellent tactile interface of the G12.
    I totally agree. And there's more to the XZ-1 than just the faster aperture. The XZ-1 lens is one of those lenses that just does more than the specs reveal. The photos I took with the XZ-1 are really beautiful. Although I love Canon's compact cameras, I have never been inspired with any other compact like I am by the Olympus XZ-1.
    Photo-John

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