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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:26 pm 
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Rorschach wrote:
there are also those who don't like the comparative bulk of either and would happily trade off some image quality if they can get something portable


Thank, Rorschach, for this and your earlier response.

Comments made by yourself and Maestro suggest to me that the type of camera being described here would appeal to a range of customers that extends well beyond that of the original targeted customer base. If such a camera came with more optical zoom, I suspect that it would come close to being the all-singing, all-dancing type of camera that would appeal to a very wide customer base (as a first camera and also as a backup).

I got the impression from your original response (thanks for that, by the way) that you thought I was referring to a jump up to APS-C sized sensors for compacts, and I was hoping that the discussion would focus on the possibilities of optimisation, which would include optimising the sensor size and lens size for a pocketable compact. I apologise for not responding to your first post, but Jiko's response gave me the opportunity to steer the discussion in the desired direction. I fully accept your suggestion that the combination of APS-C sensor and the required (bright) lens size would be impractical for a high zoom compact.

I know from experience that the prospect of being able to fully optimise a design is a very appealing one, and when I see true compacts like the Lumix FS40/45 (f2.5 at the wide end) or the Canon S100 (f2 at the wide end), to my mind it suggests the very tantalising possibility that there may be unexplored options - and therefore the potential for improvement. I think the problem is that manufacturers are aware of such possibilities, but if one of the requirements was a non-standard sensor size, I suspect that tooling up to manufacture both the sensor and the lens (also non-standard) would be prohibitively expensive.

However, my mind keeps drawing me back to the possibility of having a compact with a bright lens that has been optimised in the way I described. Even if the optical zoom was a mere 10x, the camera would still be classified as "high zoom", and I suspect that its appeal would be very wide indeed.


Last edited by Ron G. on Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:30 pm 
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No problem, Ron.

I wasn't referring to APS-C in itself, nor I did I think you were. I was just saying that things become more complicated when you want to provide a wide focal range in a small form factor, particularly when you want to maintain decent image quality and keep the cost down.

Even with a 1/2.3" sensor, for the sake of argument, providing upwards of a 10x zoom while keeping the body compact is pretty difficult for the reasons mentioned before.

Like you said, there are possibilities but at this stage, the costs outweigh the benefits at this stage.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:48 pm 
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Rorschach wrote:
, providing upwards of a 10x zoom while keeping the body compact is pretty difficult for the reasons mentioned before.


Since you're there, perhaps you could indulge me with one more answer. When Panasonic designed the FS40 and FS45, do you think that they did all that they could to provide high zoom in the f2.5 lens? What I'm really asking is do the manufacturers give any sort of priority to optical zoom in such a camera, or is it not seen as a requirement for that particular style?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:31 pm 
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Ron G. wrote:
Since you're there, perhaps you could indulge me with one more answer. When Panasonic designed the FS40 and FS45, do you think that they did all that they could to provide high zoom in the f2.5 lens?

Any answer I give (or anybody not privy to Pana's operations or product development for that matter) would be pure speculation as I don't know.

The zoom and aperture may have been specified explicitly from the beginning or a given budget was allocated with a brief telling the engineers to do what they can. As I said though, that's just theory with nothing to substantiate it.

If you check the specs more closely, you'll see that the lens only has an f/2.5 aperture at the wide angle so you get less than a quarter of the light coming into the lens when zoomed in fully.

Ron G. wrote:
What I'm really asking is do the manufacturers give any sort of priority to optical zoom in such a camera, or is it not seen as a requirement for that particular style?

Optical zoom is almost always better than digital zoom and those in merchandising and product marketing would always point out that a particular camera has optical zoom.

The only occasions off the top of my head where I recall optical zoom being dropped in favour of digital zoom is with really cheap compacts and with most rugged P&Ss where having an optical zoom makes weather sealing more challenging.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:39 am 
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Rorschach wrote:
The zoom and aperture may have been specified explicitly from the beginning or a given budget was allocated with a brief telling the engineers to do what they can.


Thanks for that. I know that your answer is speculation, but you sounded like someone who could make an informed guess. I suppose that finding different ways of re-phrasing the question isn't going to evoke a different answer.

Actually, I wasn't suggesting that optical zoom might be dropped completely - I was just querying how much of a priority it may have been given with that particular style of camera. I'm still clinging to the (very appealing) idea that there may be unexplored possibilities.
The bean counters may be responsible for cramping the designers' style, but I concede (reluctantly) that they will have their reasons.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:56 pm 
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Ron G. wrote:
Actually, I wasn't suggesting that optical zoom might be dropped completely - I was just querying how much of a priority it may have been given with that particular style of camera. I'm still clinging to the (very appealing) idea that there may be unexplored possibilities.
The bean counters may be responsible for cramping the designers' style, but I concede (reluctantly) that they will have their reasons.

I have little doubt that there are unexplored possibilities but they're just not practical or commercially viable to explore in detail at this stage.

Accountancy definitely can influence innovation but finding that balance is an art.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Thanks for that, Rorschach.

Just out of curiosity, I have a question for anybody who is checking out this post and who has made it this far (congratulations, by the way).

How willing would you be to part with your hard-earned beer tokens to buy a compact camera that had been prioritised in the way just described - a large(ish) sensor and a bright(ish) lens that still gives something in the region of 10x optical zoom.
Going by previous comments, it seems that we would be looking at a camera that had fairly modest improvements over what is already available, rather than a quantum leap forward - and it probably wouldn't be cheap. I suspect that there wouldn't be a shortage of people that would be willing to pay in excess of £400 for such a camera.

Any comments?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:49 pm 
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Ron G. wrote:
I suspect that there wouldn't be a shortage of people that would be willing to pay in excess of £400 for such a camera.


I'm curious how you came to that price point. Based on a Nikon 1 + 10-100mm, it seems to me like the price would be at least twice that, and that's with an f4.0-5.6 lens. I would guess that a constant f2.8 aperture would add at least 50% to the cost of the lens, so over £1,000 wouldn't surprise me at all.

Oh, and getting back to the RX100 (and pocketable, large sensor cameras with bright lenses, in general) -- another market that I see is new parents.

Mark


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Maestro wrote:
I'm curious how you came to that price point.


OK - you got me - that wasn't a fully researched price prediction. However, I wasn't claiming that it was, and as you can see, it was an open-ended guess. I was merely introducing a ball-park figure to make a point.

I would also like to point out that you were basing your guesstimation on CSC prices, which I would say isn't entirely equitable, since the camera that I was referrring to was a pocketable compact. I suspect that CSC cameras are sold with a premium price tag since they are percieved as premium grade products. I could also add that I was referring to a camera that had a large-ish sensor, not an APS-C sized sensor, and a bright-ish lens, not a CSC-grade lens. In other words I was anticipating the need to make what could turn out to be quite harsh compromises.

If you wish to offer a ball-park figure, I am happy to acknowledge your more informed and enlightened perspective, but I don't think that CSC cameras provide the most realistic yardstick, given the type of camera that I was referring to. If there was direct equivalence across the board, would the Lumix FZ200 (I'm sure you know the spec) be selling for sub-£500? (and that's the introductory price).

I suspect that the type of camera that I was envisaging would have wide appeal and people would be willing to pay for the type of optimisation that I was suggesting. That is the point that I was trying to make in my last post. I'm sure you share my sentiment that optimisation is a wonderful thing, and I would be very reluctant to accept any suggestion that what I was envisaging was totally unrealistic.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:21 am 
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Ron G. wrote:
I would also like to point out that you were basing your guesstimation on CSC prices, which I would say isn't entirely equitable, since the camera that I was referrring to was a pocketable compact.


Well, again, the FZ200 isn't pocketable.

Quote:
I could also add that I was referring to a camera that had a large-ish sensor, not an APS-C sized sensor


Well, since we never did define "large-ish", that's obivously open to interpretation. But I'm pretty sure the FZ200's sensor isn't what most people would call large-ish. That's actually why I picked the Nikon 1, as its sensor is probably the smallest sensor that most folks would consider large-ish. (It's significantly smaller than an APS-C sensor, BTW.)

Quote:
I don't think that CSC cameras provide the most realistic yardstick, given the type of camera that I was referring to. If there was direct equivalence across the board, would the Lumix FZ200


As noted above, I don't think the FZ200 is a good comparison. But your point re: CSCs is well taken. So how about the Canon G1 X? It has a sensor that I think most folks would consider large-ish and it has fixed lens. If we use that as a benchmark, I'm pretty sure increasing the zoom from 4X to 10X and the max aperture to a bright-ish constant f2.8 (from variable f2.8-5.8) would add significantly to the current £550 price. Again, I wouldn't be surprised to see such a camera priced at £1,000.

Quote:
I suspect that the type of camera that I was envisaging would have wide appeal and people would be willing to pay for the type of optimisation that I was suggesting. That is the point that I was trying to make in my last post.


That's the thing--as price increases, demand decreases. A camera that would be widely popular at £400 will not be nearly as popular at £1,000.

Quote:
I would be very reluctant to accept any suggestion that what I was envisaging was totally unrealistic.


Sorry, no offense to you intended. But based on either/both the Nikon 1 and/or Canon G1 X, I don't think the £400-500 price range you suggested is realistic for a camera that I would consider to have a large-ish sensor and bright-ish zoom with a 35mm equivalent range of approximately 20-200mm.

Just my humble opinion - Mark


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:39 pm 
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Nikon P7700 comes very close. Maybe I'll just wait....


Very late edit:-

What the heck, I ordered one anyway.

If I can get the above camera for £440, maybe the above comments about unrealistic price projections were over-harsh. Separate lenses and CSCs are sold with a premium price tag (for that you can read "seriously highly priced"), so maybe the prospects for a humble compact as described here selling for sub-£500 are not so unrealistic (IMHO).


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:53 am 
Even with a 1/2.3" sensor, for the sake of argument, providing upwards of a 10x zoom while keeping the body compact is pretty difficult for the reasons mentioned before.

Like you said, there are possibilities but at this stage, the costs outweigh the benefits at this stage.


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