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View Poll Results: Which prosumer digital camera would you buy based on specifications/features (NOT price)?
Konica Minolta Dimage A2 1 33.33%
Nikon Coolpix 8800 1 33.33%
Something else (please post a message saying what!) 1 33.33%
Voters: 3. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Jan 8, 2005, 11:29 AM   #1
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I currently have a FujiFilm FinePix S602Z which I really like. However, I want to be able to make A3 prints and its resolution just isn't high enough to go beyond A4 at acceptable quality.

I've been looking at alternatives and haven't properly decided between prosumer or dSLR because I'm still tying to work out the weight vs. image quality tradeoff. I need something that's not too heavy to carry around, but also need a zoom range at least equivalent to my current S602. This would mean that I'd need more than one lens and with dSLRs (specifically the Nikon D70 and Canon EOS 300D [Digital Rebel]) being larger and heavier anyway, a prosumer seems like the way to go.

BUT - I'm worried about image noise with these cameras. I've read lots of positive reviews, but also seen lots of negative commentsre. image noise, too. The cameras I'm particularly interested in are the KM Dimage A2 and the Nikon Coolpix 8800. The image quality of the 8800 seems better to me, looking at Steve's sample pics, but then I'd appreciate the 28mm wide angle offered by the A2 rather than 35mm on the 8800.

I've been hoping that Fujifilm were going to do an upgrade to the S7000 (which directly replaced the S602 I have now), to include their super CCD technology and an 8Mp effective pixel resolution. That would be the ideal solution as I really like my 602 and it's warm colour saturation.

So, what I'm wondering is how big a problem anyone who uses these cameras finds image noise. Since the majority of my shots are outdoors, I'll probably be able to use <100 ISO most of the time -- although I don't always have a tripod with me.

Thanks in advance for any comments, thoughts and opinions!

Gary



PS: I'm interested in all your comments, but just for fun, I'd like to see which of the two prosumers I identify you all prefer. Please vote in my poll above.

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Old Jan 8, 2005, 11:48 AM   #2
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Gary:

Have you tried printing at A3 size with your Fuji?

It's 6MP interpolated output would give you 171 pixels per inch at this print size, after cropping for the correct Aspect Ratio. On most printers, you really don't see any further improvement once you get up to around 180 pixels per inch (from a quality versus detail perspective), at typical viewing distances.

In 3MP mode, you'd be down to around 121 pixels per inch (which is on the low side to prevent pixelation).

But, you could always interpolate the 6MP image a bit more if you wanted using one of the popular tools, if you are noticing a bit of grain/pixelation. I use the Lanczos algorithm that's included in Irfanview (free).

Different scenes tend to interpolate better than others, and of course, interpolation won't increase detail. However, the S602 does compare favorably to many 4MP models from a detail perspective (thanks to it's CCD Design and good lens quality).

Also, keep in mind that you don't typically view a larger print from as close. So, you may not notice any problem with prints at this size, at typical viewing distances, even if you don't interpolate the 6MP output any further.

Anyway, provided you keep ISO speeds set low (as you indicated you would do), I doubt that you'd have any problem with noise with the prosumer models. If you did, you could always use one of the popular noise reduction tools to reduce it (Neat Image, Noiseware, Noise Ninja).

Personally, if A3 was the largest size I'd be printing, I'd stick with the S602z (unless therewere other features Ineeded on a newer model).
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 12:00 PM   #3
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Thanks for this, JimC. Yes, I have tried printing my Fuji images at A3. However, I downloaded the sample picture of the red-brick building from Steve's site, both for the S602 and for the A2 and 8800. The 8Mp cameras give better quality prints, with less jagged edges, then theA2 or 8800 do because there's less reliance on interpolation.

Speaking of which- what does anyone think about interpolation of S602 images? I used to use another camera, with a traditional (rather than Super) CCD and could interpolate these well using Genuine Fractals. However, this doesn't seem to work as well with the S602 images. I assumed it was to do with the different type of CCD and in camera processing techniques?

With regards to my original post on noise issues with 8Mp prosumers, it's my undertanding that dSLRs suffer less from this because they use larger sensors. I hope this doesn't sound too stupid, but why, then,don't prosumer manufacturers use these sentors as well?

Gary
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Old Jan 8, 2005, 12:20 PM   #4
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garywood84 wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for this, JimC. Yes, I have tried printing my Fuji images at A3. However, I downloaded the sample picture of the red-brick building from Steve's site, both for the S602 and for the A2 and 8800. The 8Mp cameras give better quality prints, with less jagged edges, then theA2 or 8800 do because there's less reliance on interpolation.
Well, the jaggies could be from not enough interpolation, versus reliance on interpolation -- depending on how well your printer drivers are interpolating the image (some do a good job, some don't).

You may want to try printing with Mike Chaney's QImage Pro (which optimizes the output for a specific printer type):

http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage/

Quote:
Speaking of which- what does anyone think about interpolation of S602 images? I used to use another camera, with a traditional (rather than Super) CCD and could interpolate these well using Genuine Fractals. However, this doesn't seem to work as well with the S602 images. I assumed it was to do with the different type of CCD and in camera processing techniques?
No... I haven't tried interpolating images from the S602z.Depending on what you mean by "doesn't seem to work as well", if may even be something else causing the problems (sharpening settings too high, etc.).

Quote:
With regards to my original post on noise issues with 8Mp prosumers, it's my undertanding that dSLRs suffer less from this because they use larger sensors. I hope this doesn't sound too stupid, but why, then,don't prosumer manufacturers use these sentors as well?
Well, for one thing, cost (it costs a lot more to make a larger sensor). For another, the size/weight of the camera.Keep in mind that your S602Z has a lens with an actual focal length of only 7.8-48.8mm (to give it a 35mm equivalent focal length of 35-210mm. It can use a much smaller lens compared to a 35mm camera to get the same angle of view.

With a larger sensor (or larger film size), you also need alarger lens. So, a lens with a 35mm equivalent focal range of 35-210mm on a DSLR (even though it's sensor is smaller than 35mm film) would be larger and heavier (especially if you wanted one that was a bright as your Fuji -- f/2.8 at wide angle, only stopping down to f/3.1 at full zoom).

Take a look at some of the zoom lenses for 35mm models that are both long and bright (maintaining an F/2.8 aperture throughout their zoom range) -- something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is quite large and heavy compared to a lens like you'd find on a prosumer model.





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