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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:59 am 
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?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:17 am 
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Off the top of my head, have you thought about the Canon G12?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:20 am 
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That's the first camera I had to think of, too.
Manual modes, quite a big and good sensor (not too high resolution) for a compact camera, viewfinder, 5x zoom, image stabilizer - quite a nice thing. If I weren't saving my money for more DSLR stuff I'd get one of those.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:34 am 
How would the Fiji X10 shape up against the G12?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:38 pm 
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I would think most folks' pockets would struggle to comfortably fit a G12 in them. Big jacket pocket, maybe...but there's not a lot more compactness and portability in a G12 than a compact DSLR or mirrorless.

I'm thinking the Fuji X10 might be a decent thing to look at...maybe also consider the X100 and Sony NEX7...more expensive, but humongous sensors with large viewfinders in compact bodies with full manual controls. Maybe the Nikon V1 could be a worthy replacement? The Fuji X100 has complete slate of manual controls for all key features including lens rings, while the NEX7 has all manual controls plus lots of programmable custom buttons and dials plus interchangeable lens capability - both with big APS-C sensors like an SLR but in much smaller packages.

Another consideration: Though all of the things you listed are things you had before, it's always possible that you don't actually need some of those things - maybe changes in technology, maybe the addition of other key features or abilities, might render the loss of one or two features you mention, acceptable? That might open up the possibility of cameras like the Canon S100 or Panasonic LX5.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:25 pm 
Timelessbeing - I had to have a bit of a grin when I read your List....!

Sounds as if you "merely want" a practical, functional, very user-friendly, camera that does a lot of things easily-sensibly.... Which for some strange reason has become "un-trendy" over the last couple of years.

As you say, Viewfinders in P&S have become an Endangered Species - not, I think, at all a good trend. It's nice if camera-makers earn good profits, but not if that's by 'deleting' major functions.

You probably aren't considering an "older" camera - but I was tempted to run your List against one I have - the Canon SX10 IS...

- Viewfinder, yes, not wonderful, but very usable EVF. The LCD also works very well for tripod and macro use. It's fully articulating, and will fold "face-in" to the camera so screen-protectors aren't needed. You can adjust so that folding LCD face-in to the camera switches it to EVF, opening it out switches to LCD. Brightness of LCD/EVF are adjustable.

- Shutter speed, 15-sec to 1/3200th. (Few P&S have 60-sec. My Fuji HS10 has 30-sec to 1/4000th. The new Fuji X-S1 has 30-sec + Bulb mode, with the optional cable release, which also does timer and focus.)

- Adjustable focus distance - VERY rare on P&S - the SX10 has Focus Bracketing - adjustable to 3 levels closer-to, further-from, the median of a 3-shot "Focus Bracket" set. Manual Focus is also available in all modes - Auto-Priorities-and-Manual.

- Flash Intensity - Auto, Set, or Forced flash in all modes other than Auto. Intensity Adjustable in Manual Mode.

- Focus Assist beam - yes.

- Battery Life - 550-600 shots on 4 x AA Eneloops, without flash or video. About 350 using the flash for most shots on an evening shoot.

Std AA-Alkalines (cheap sort, Chinese, 10 on a card for $2.00, kept in bag as 'backup' to sets of Eneloops) - 280-320 shots, no flash.)

AA-Lithiums - 1271 shots, daytime, no flash or video.

- User interface - Menu-fed, but very easy to use. There is a Separate Custom Menu, where you can put your "most used adjustments", to access with 1 click. There's also a Custom Mode - to which you can Save a setup to access instantly, say Focus Bracketing, Flash with Intensity set - or 1st-curtain/2nd-curtain set, so on.

The AEB uses ALL of the +/- 2EV Exposure adjustment - in 1/3 EV increments. You can "preset" the "centre" shot - at, say -2/3EV - then bracket either side of that. In the 2/3 example, as -2EV is maximum, the bracket is then limited to +/- 1 1/3 EV. But the 'off-centering' is quite usable.

- The SX10 has a "custom settable" button - I use for cycling the "0 - 1.4x - 2.3x" internal Teleconverter. But can also set for Metering, White Balance, Custom WB, i-Contrast, Red-Eye correction, AE-Lock and AF-Lock.

- Video - is 640 x 480 / 320 x 240 - in H264/MOV mode - no time limits, doesn't overheat over long periods, and the VGA video quality is as good as that level of video gets. The Video also has Exposure/Brightness and Manual Focus functions.

- Images, JPEG only - but very adjustable - Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Tone, and separate Red, Green and Blue Channels - all have 5 levels of adjustment.

- There is Macro and Super-Macro (from 0cm / 0") - in which Manual Focus can be used. You can Macro Video the adventures of ants-etc in 640 x 480 quite effectively.

- Also, the SX10 has the 'third level' of JPEG Recording - the low-compression, lower JPEG-artifacting, large filesize "Superfine" save mode. From the 10Mpix CCD, this can result in JPEGs up to 8-9MB in size. The excellent Superfine function was dropped in later SXxx cameras - but can be regained with the CHDK 'hack'.

- The Timer has the usual default 2-sec and 10-sec delays - but also Custom - 1-30 seconds. And yes - Bracketing, Focus or AEB, works with the Timer.

- So, while you might not want an older "mini-DSLR-shape" bridge-zoom - I was surprised just how many points on your List it handles. There aren't many SX10s on the 'used' market - people who have a "classic' are reluctant to part with it... But I did see one for AUD$185.00, in-box, as-new, on our local Gumtree Auction site. It's now safely at the bottom back of my wardrobe... Just...in...case...

Regards, Dave.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:13 am 
The S100 is the only one that comes remotely close in size/weight, but the price is absurd and battery life is pathetic. I thought electronics were supposed to become more sophisticated and cheaper with time?


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