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Old Feb 17, 2005, 11:08 AM   #1
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I've also posted this in the Pentax dSRL forum - apologies for any duplication.

In an other forum Steve wrote to explain that when prosomer users move up to dSRL, they are surprised at the soft focused images produced which are in sharp contrast - no pun intended - to that produced by 'compact's.

I'm looking to upgrade my Fuji S602 and am unsure whether to make the quantum leap into dSRL; the Pentax *ist DS looks ideal for me.Primarily what I want is something like a Nikon CP8800but fast to focus with minimal shutter lag - lens interchangeability is not a prime concern but I yearn for good clean sharp images.

Is there fundamentally any difference between the basic output of a CCD from either the 'compact' or the dSRL.

Does the image get 'pumped up' in the case of the 'compact' so that what I immediately see is sharp focused, colour saturated image& looks immediately pleasing. If it was left unchanged would it look much the same as the dSRL.

Does the dSRL image represent the 'RAW' output from the CCD such that the user can enhance this to his particular requirement.

If this is not the case, then it's a high price to pay for dSRL performance if image quality is sacrificed.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 11:28 AM   #2
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You have sort of answered your own question :-)

In order of questions
  1. no, basic output from ccd/cmos is the same for both type of camera though the DSLR is much higher in quality due to the much larger sensors employed in them [/*]
  2. A: Yes, P&S try to do all the processing in camera to make a quick usable images, DSLR expect you to do the post-processing work to tweak out the best possible image. 2.B. Yes if you get raw output from a P&S you have to go in and do all the work manually to get a good image. [/*]
  3. Basically yes, whether you get RAW or JPG output the DSLR do not apply much in-camera processing. Once the image is muddied by the in-camera processing it is very hard to undo it. Whereas if you have the clean raw output you can try many different methods to get the best output.[/*]
Peter.

Catbells wrote:
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Is there fundamentally any difference between the basic output of a CCD from either the 'compact' or the dSRL.

Does the image get 'pumped up' in the case of the 'compact' so that what I immediately see is sharp focused, colour saturated image& looks immediately pleasing. If it was left unchanged would it look much the same as the dSRL.

Does the dSRL image represent the 'RAW' output from the CCD such that the user can enhance this to his particular requirement.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 11:38 AM   #3
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Catbells wrote:
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Is there fundamentally any difference between the basic output of a CCD from either the 'compact' or the dSRL.

Does the image get 'pumped up' in the case of the 'compact' so that what I immediately see is sharp focused, colour saturated image& looks immediately pleasing. If it was left unchanged would it look much the same as the dSRL.

Does the dSRL image represent the 'RAW' output from the CCD such that the user can enhance this to his particular requirement.

If this is not the case, then it's a high price to pay for dSRL performance if image quality is sacrificed.

Yes, the images gets "pumped up" in the case of a compact... Yes, a user can (and should) enhance the output from a dSLR.

There are a number of posts on this throughout the forum, but the basic thought is this:

A dSLR's CCD (or CMOS) is larger, its photosites are larger, it is usually of higher quality and, because of the nature of the lens interchangeability, it is easier for the dSLR user to put different (i.e. longer or shorter focal lengths) "better" (i.e. higher quality) and "faster" (i.e. larger maximum aperture) lenses in front of the sensor.

Consumer point and shoots doa lot of in-camera saturation and sharpening because most consumers want to view or print images right out of the camera. (Your question about it being "unchanged" is difficult because many point and shoots apply a certain level of sharpening automatically--it might not even be possible to leave the image "unchanged".)

Manufacturers assume that more "sophisticated" dSLR users do not need this level of hyper-convenience and would rather trade it for overall image quality and the ability to manipulate the image themselves. Consumer digicam's digital "brain" is very small and not very customizeable. Thus, its sharpening, saturation, and contrast choices may (1) not be very good or (2) may not be appropriate for every situation. Why make a "small brained" device make these decisions when you can have a "large brained device" (i.e. you and your computer) do them customized to an image (for example, I have some photoshop actions that apply 5+ steps to sharpen an image using very sophisticated calculations... resulting in a more natural, yet sharp image... that sharpening takes 1+ minutes to do on my old computer... do you want a little tiny processor in your camera to do that for you?)
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 11:57 AM   #4
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I don't recommend this, but some of those parameters you can bump up 'in camera' in the DSLRs which is why most will allow custom settings for saturation, contrast, etc. The BIG problem with this is you can't UNDO a lot of this once it's done. Perdendosi is right - the photographer is going to make better decisions than the camera and you have the ability to 'undo' things. When I use photoshop and Unsharp Mask (a method of sharpening images) - there are a couple sets of values I generally use but there are is no ONE value. If I was able to put USM in my camera there would be a number of my images that would be ruined by it. A perfect example: if I take a picture of a bird in flight the sharpening I want to do is COMPLETELY different than if I take a close-up picture of my 65 year old mother. The camera couldn't recognize that fact it can only apply your default - which is likely somewhere in between. Thus neither picture is as good as it COULD be because you used AVERAGE sharpening values.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 12:22 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback so far - it's been most helpful & informative; I don't seem to recall it being so difficult to decide between film SRLs all those years ago.

What is difficult is to decide upon the optimum dSRL for my use; comparing images at various review sites becomes difficult because of the various degrees of sharpening/unsharpening that individual camera manufacturers apply/don't apply.

Can I assume that most dSRL camera will produce fundamentally an image of approximately the same quality when post processed. That being the case, I guess it's just down to personal taste/features/£SD (old English money Pounds, Shillings & Pence for those old enough to remember - oops, I've given my age away)

Thanks again
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 12:31 PM   #6
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:homey:I'm probably going to catch a lot of heat from the various camps for this, but IMHO, yes. Most DSLR's in the same level will produce pretty much the same image quality, a lot more is dependent on thecapability of the lens attached.

Peter.

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Can I assume that most dSRL camera will produce fundamentally an image of approximately the same quality when post processed.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 12:41 PM   #7
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Yes, but...

The images will be equal assuming non-demanding shooting considerations. However, in high ISO situations certain cameras perform better, in sports certain cameras have higher burst rate and/or better Servo focus tracking so you will get more 'keepers'. So, those considerations need to be factored in. For instance a picture taken at ISO 100, 1/500 shutter f8.0 out of the same lense on both the Canon 300D and Canon 20D will post-process to the same quality and the Nikon 70D will also likely be the exact same quality after post-process. However, take the same cameras into an indoor highschool basketball game and shoot at ISO 1600 and the 20D will have vastly better image quality than the 300D and D70. Also the 20D's 8 mp sensor will allow much heavier cropping than the D70 or 300D. But, you pay the price for all this - that's why the 20D is $500-$600 more than the 300D and 300-400 more than the D70.

I also know several people will point out that the Minolta (I believe) has IS built in to the body so it inherantly makes ALL it's lenses better and you will have a higher number of 'keeper' shots hand-held.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 12:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
I don't seem to recall it being so difficult to decide between film SRLs all those years ago.

Sure, but you had to decide what film to use and what paper to print on.
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Old Feb 17, 2005, 12:56 PM   #9
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P&S cameras are consumer models, they must produce "punchy" pictures that will impress the casual snapshot photographer. Higher end digicams usually offer the ability to reduce the in-camera processing and DSLRs offer images that are very lightly processed (especially in RAW mode which are basically unprocessed).

DSLR users are typically more concerned with image quality, the soft image is the result of little or no in-camera sharpening. Since sharpening is the last step in any image workflow the camera companies have rightly decided to leave it up to the user to sharpen the images. This makes the out-of-camera images look soft but actually preserves detail which may have been lost due to oversharpening (or sharpening before performing other photo enhancements).

Ira
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