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 Post subject: Megapixel Madness
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:12 pm 
Hi,
What a great site! I stumbled across you via YouTube and very glad I did. I’m looking for a good compact camera and was considering the Panasonic LX2 but the noise/ image quality looks terrible. I like the idea of taking 16:9 landscape shots but I’ll use it mainly up in the mountains under all kinds of light conditions. I also want the ability to crop pictures and enlarge and print the odd good one. Manual control isn’t essential although I may want to dabble and learn as I go along.

I know I’m asking a lot of a compact – I don’t want anything bigger as I do climbing/skiing – but everything on the market nowadays seems to be around the 10 Megapixel mark producing results that are... yuk! I’ve read this is because the manufacturers pack in too many Megapixels compared to the sensor size then use aggressive noise reduction which smears detail but my question is – how many is too much? Is there an optimum amount of Megapixels or ratio of Megapixels to sensor size I should be looking out for?

Also, do you have any suggestions on a good camera on the market at the moment which may fit my criteria? I’ve posted this in the ‘other cameras’ section only because I’m willing to consider any brand that suits the bill.

Many thanks & keep up the great work!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 11:25 pm 
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Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Hi Fi25fi, welcome to the Cameralabs forums! I hope you've found our videos and reviews useful so far!

That's a great question about finding a sweetspot for Megapixels at a certain sensor size, but it's quite a hard one to pin down. Generally speaking the more 'pixels' you squeeze onto a sensor's surface, the smaller they become and therefore the less sensitive too. The camera needs to amplify the signal more (especially at higher ISO sensitivities), and that's where the extra noise comes from.

This is why DSLRs have much lower noise levels than compacts or all-in-ones. They may have similar numbers of Megapixels, but their sensor areas could be up to ten times greater - hence they're more sensitive to light, need less signal amplification, and deliver lower noise as a result.

But that's not answering your question!

I personally feel 10 Megapixels is a step too far for the '1/1.8in' sensor size used by many compacts, and is too high for the smaller '1/2.5in' type - by the way, you can find the sensor type in the camera's specs which we list under the Cameras menu at the top. Have a browse to see what we mean.

I feel 5 to 7 Megapixels is a much more appropriate maximum for these sensor sizes, but the trouble is Megapixels sell cameras, so the manufacturers keep increasing them. As such it's actually really hard to even buy a 5 Megapixel camera these days with modern features and a decent lens. So if you want the latest features, you may just have to buy a 7-10 Megapixel product whether you like it or not!

We're actually testing some new compacts right now though, so check back real soon to see how they perform against each other...

In the meantime, it's good to ask yourself what features you'll need, such as a particularly wide or powerful lens, image stabilisation, or a flip-out screen for example - not to mention size and weight. This will help narrow down your choice.

The good news is that if you're mostly shooting outdoor landscapes, you'll (hopefully) have decent light - which means being able to shoot at low ISO sensitivities and therefore enjoy low noise.

Hope that's helpful,

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2006 10:22 pm 
Hi Gordon,
Thanks for the good advice. I’ll have a think about the other features I’m looking for and will definitely check back for your compacts reviews.

By the way, I think the videos are fab - good, clear and concise. It’s great to see the camera in the hand and see how it starts up, zoom range, menus, hear what it sounds like and how it operates. Please do some videos for the compacts….


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 Post subject: Compacts
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 4:40 am 
Hi Gordon

Look forward to the new compact review. Am interested in hearing what you think might rival the Fuji F30/31fd for low light performance, BUT will take SD instead of XD and also has a wider lens than F30. Is there such a beast?
Really enjoying the site and keep up the good work.
Bernard


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 9:22 pm 
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Hi Bernard, if you want SD and a wide lens, you're talking Panasonic, but as we've found, they don't have great low-light performance.

The F30 / F31fd are great cameras in low light and also deliver natural results with their flashes, but as you say, they use xD and are also not that wide.

There's rarely one perfect camera!

Gordon

PS - our latest compact review is now online: the Canon PowerShot A640 at http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/CanonA640/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:18 pm 
Hi Gordon,
Just seen your Canon A640 review and another excellent video.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but your videos are just so useful. I’ll admit, a lot of the technical stuff in reviews goes way over my head so being able to see the camera and how it operates, see the flip screen working, the zoom range, the menus and the video facility while you explain the pros and cons is just fantastic!

Anyway, I’m impressed with this camera. The outdoor noise results look pretty good and the manual control means I can learn as I go along. Just wondering how the 8 Megapixel A630 compares as I see they both have the same sensor size - you see, I'm learning! Also are you planning any other compact reviews soon?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 9:53 pm 
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Hi Fi25fi, glad you're enjoying the videos!

Ah, I knew someone would ask about the A630...

As mentioned in the A640 review, the main differences are as follows:

The A630 has 8 Megapixels, a silver body and a 16MB memory card

The A640 has 10 Megapixels, a black body and a 32MB card, along with support for software remote control via a PC. This remote option isn't supported by the A630.

There's also of course a price difference.

You have asked the important question though! Does the A640 resolve measurably greater detail than the A630 and are its noise levels any worse? As luck would have it, I took a series of identical shots with both cameras using each of their ISO settings at a Canon event, and will publish the results on Cameralabs soon! Keep an eye open for them!

In the meantime, I have to say, unlike some compacts the noise levels on the A640 weren't bad at low sensitivities...

Also look out for some more compact reviews coming very soon...

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:56 am 
Hi Gordon,
Wow - that's just great! I didn't expect you to have sample images of the Canon A630 also.

You mention one difference is the A640 supports 'software remote control via a PC'. I'm not exactly sure what this means ... are you saying I actually remote control this camera via a PC?? and if so, what sort of applications would this typically be used for? Anyway, it all sounds very promising. Thanks for all your help!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:47 am 
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Hi fi25fi, the A640's remote capture feature allows you to connect it to your Mac or PC using the USB cable then use the supplied software to actually control it.

The Mac / PC software lets you change the exposure, quality and even 'see' the view from the camera's screen on your monitor. You can then press a button and it'll take a photo and automatically save it onto your hard disk.

This could be handy if you have the A640 mounted on a tripod and want to take shots of the same composition or subject without having to get up and press the button every time. Maybe you're monitoring something, or building up a series of shots for a stop-motion display of a flower opening or the sun rising for example.

It's quite fun to use!

You'll no doubt have seen our Sony N2 review and video by now, and keep your eyes peeled for another compact review and video in the next few days. Well it is coming up to the holiday season after all...!

Gordon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:19 pm 
Hi Gordon,
Just wanted to let you know the Cameralabs readership obviously extends as far as the North Pole as I received a Canon A640 from Santa himself.

So far I’m very pleased. I’m finding it fairly easy to use and the picture quality is excellent. Haven’t tried the remote capture feature yet but keen to give it a go as I’ve always loved the time lapsed photography effect.

Just needs a better photographer now or some photo tips to get me to the next level..
I want to thank you for your great advice and great website!


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