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Old Jul 19, 2005, 2:09 PM   #1
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Dear Forum,

I've reached the point where I'm going to buy either a Canon S2 SI, or a Sony DFC H1. I'm leaning to the Canon, but Steve's review mentions "chromatic aberration" (purple fringing in high-contrast areas), and noticeable "noise" at higher ISO settings.

I don't even know what noise looks like. Is it like "snow" on a TV screen? How serious a problem is this? Should I avoid "noisy" cameras?

Likewise purple fringing. Should I pass over a camera with both of these faults?

Thank you


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Old Jul 19, 2005, 4:03 PM   #2
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I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that with the same sensor I want the camera that produces the most noise. A given sensor will produce a given amount of noise and the camera processes it out. A very few cameras let you turn off the in-camera noise reduction, but they aren't very common. I would rather have the image as crisp as possible and reduce the noise myself in a more sophisticated way if I am making a large print or in the odd photo that will show it at normal sizes.

It is a lot like grain in film photographs and usually shows up more in the shadows. Some people are more sensitive to it than others. The extremists blow it up to 100% so they have to scroll around the screen to see the entire image and go apoplectic if they find noise – regardless of whether it can be seen as they would normally print or display it.

Purple fringing is usually a result of some chromatic aberrations in the lens or occasionally from in-camera processing. It usually shows up on the edges of overexposed areas. Often tree branches against a bright sky will be purple fringed. Almost all digital cameras get it occasionally, but some are worse than others. It will show up in larger prints or displays. Photoshop CD2 has a special purple fringing elimination, but it just turns the purple to gray. You could do the same thing yourself with older versions by carefully refining the color select.

Steve put the S2 in his list of best cameras. It is highly recommended at dpreview, which doesn't give that distinction out a lot. It is a Dave's Pick at Imaging Resource. Those pictures aren't going to be bad with all of those reviewers giving it such high praise. The H1 got all of those distinctions as well.

I would personally choose the S2. You can use the optical zoom with the high quality movies and stereo sound. It even has a wind damper – wind noise being a big problem in most digital camera movies. It also has a decent burst mode, which I use often on my FZ10. The H1 has nothing you would call a burst mode. And I often wish I had an articulated LCD, which I would prefer to the larger LCD on the H1. I don't think you can go wrong with either camera though.

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Old Jul 19, 2005, 5:32 PM   #3
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On the noise front, it is very common for MOST non-DSLR digital cameras to have high noise at higher ISOs. As Slipe suggested, it's like grain in a film photo. There are a few models released in the last 8 months or so which do remarkably well at ISO 400 - which used to be horrible on digicams. To really get noise-free at high ISOs you need to go with a DSLR. I'm not suggesting you do it, I'm just saying it's a fact of life on MOST digicams. I think it was the Fuji F10 or something that had low noise at high ISOs (but I could be wrong).

I will also say that noise-reduction software available is very good. Noiseware, NoiseNinja etc are fantastic investments.

As for CA, you've heard the definition - and again on the S2 it is not predominant - it is in very specific cicumstances and if the bright spot dominates your photo it is likely not a great photo to begin with - so, if the photo is properly exposed the bright spots should be small enough to compensate for limited CA in post-processing.

Hope this is helpful!
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Old Jul 20, 2005, 2:55 AM   #4
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slipe wrote:
Often tree branches against a bright sky will be purple fringed.

The link is a post of mine with just that. And its a tree with near-white branches. It was shot with an S2 IS. I did not notice the CA until I made an A4 printout of it, and even then it was only noiticable upon a closer look on the left side.

I normally use an ISO of 100 with crappy indoor lighting without a flash, and then there is still a little noise. But nothing that cant be fixed with software.
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