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Old Sep 10, 2011, 9:20 PM   #1
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Default Help choosing a dSLR-like (megazoom) - disappointed by Canon's SX series!

Hello everyone,

I want to buy a camera that has the following features, which my 6 year old Canon A610 does not have:
- very large optical zoom (at least 20x)
- high res video (at least 720p, ideally 1080p)
- exposure bracketing
- articulated LCD (the A610 does have that one)

After a long comparison of bridge ("dSLR-like" compacts) and dSLR cameras, I eliminated the latter category because adding a long zoom lens to the price of a dSLR is something I cannot afford. After comparing the available bridge cameras, I decided that either the Canon SX1 or the SX30 meet my requirements the best.

However, before proceeding to decide between these two (essentially, a choice between the SX1's 1080p filming and higher fps in burst mode and the SX3's better optical zoom and higher pixel count), I could not get over how disappointing the image quality in both of these two cameras is. The samples that I've seen from both of them seem to almost always have a soft/watercolour aspect to them, regardless of the focal length used, and even at the lowest ISO and in bright sunlight. These samples are noisier, and the details at 100% crop are much less clear/crisp than those produced by my old Canon A610! It seems just silly to think that I would take pictures with my old camera when I want quality images and that I'd use the new one when I need lots of optical zoom and/or HD videos.

Could this difference in IQ be attributed just to sensor size? Surprisingly, the A610 has a larger sensor (1/1.8") than the SX1 or SX30 (1/2.3"), even though it has a much smaller resolution (5 MP).

I also expected there to be a large difference in IQ between the SX1 and the SX30 because the former has a CMOS sensor while the latter has a CCD one (I expected the CCD to be better, but either way, I expected *one* to be better than the *other*) - but the images are just as disappointing for both of them.

I'd be willing to sacrifice the articulated LCD for a mega-zoom camera that has an image quality the same as my old A610, but after reading reviews and comparing samples, it seems the SX1/SX30 are really as good as it gets in their category.

My question is, therefore: I know that megazooms don't do well with poor lighting, but are they really unable to produce a good IQ even with enough light? Should I just look for sensor size? Would I have to get a dSLR if I wanted good IQ (if "good" is the standard set by a 6 year old point&shoot!!) and only gain the exposure bracketing and HD filming from my wish list of new features? Could people please recommend what cameras I should consider given all my criteria above?

Many thanks in advance for any help!

Last edited by longtalker; Sep 11, 2011 at 5:04 AM.
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Old Sep 11, 2011, 3:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by longtalker View Post
Hello everyone,

These samples are noisier, and the details at 100% crop are much less clear/crisp than those produced by my old Canon A610! It seems just silly to think that I would take pictures with my old camera when I want quality images and that I'd use the new one when I need lots of optical zoom and/or HD videos.
Comparing a 6mp P&S to a 14mp P&S @100% zoom is not a like-for-like comparison. The newer cameras have better IQ if you adjust for the change in resolution. Make some prints and you will see.

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Last edited by peripatetic; Sep 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM.
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Old Sep 11, 2011, 5:02 PM   #3
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G'day LT

Golly mate - good to hear from you & -great- to hear your Qs
About 18 months ago I got an SX-1 and dumped it after 6-weeks. While various aspects of its operation did not go down well with me, if you get one I hope you have better luck.

The whole business of superzoom cameras is a mixed-blessing ... we are given a wonderful and comprehensive lens system & a very small sensor, packed to the gunnels [as yachtie types say] with very small pixels that misbehave and create lots of noise. SLR cameras with sensors 10x larger in physical area don't suffer so much noise, but the lenses are big & heavy on an already big & heavy body ... bugga

OKay some thoughts for you -
My beef with the SX-1 was multi-sided ... the lens at 15x-20x was "less than exciting", the viewfinder was worse [more-pixellated] than the 5yr old fuji camera it was replacing, and worst of all, the rotary multi-function wheel/dial on the rear face drove me nuts with its imprecise rotation operation & if I very-slightly pressed it during rotation it would open up the underlying menu -which I then had to go thru & cancel- before I could continue with the rotary operation do do what I originally intended

I replaced it with a Panny FZ35 which has a damn good lens but [my model] is plagued with noise at & over ISO400]. My missus had an FZ28, no noise at all [but it went for an unintended swim], now just got an FZ100, no noise in it either & comparing shots of the moon at 40x zoom the other night, it has a better lens than my FZ35 [again bugga]

The "theory" about pixels is when printing at 200dots/inch, an image of say, 4000 x 3000 pixels will print to a 20inch print. What is ignored by the media is the "number of magnifications" the sensor has to do to achieve that print [ie: some small sensors need to do 50 magnifications], therefore lens quality & potential camera/subject movement become a huge factor in the success of the project

NB- while you might find 2 cameras of 12mpx, one an APS & the other a 'compact' with an 1/2,5" sensor ...
> a 33x times enlargement for an APS sensor = 20" x 30" print
> whereas a 33x enlargement for a 1/2,5inch sensor = 5" x 7" print

I would suggest you look further into camera comparisons [and keep asking lots of Qs here as well] and maybe cast your eye a bit wider than the brand mentioned in your OP

Regards, Phil
Has Lumix mirrorless & superzoom cameras and loves their amazing capabilities
Spends 8-9 months each year travelling Australia
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Old Sep 14, 2011, 3:11 AM   #4
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The FZ100 may have NR set more aggressively than the FZ35, but the IQ between these 2 isn't even close. The FZ35 trounces the FZ100. :/ The FZ150 on the other hand looks very promising.
Disclaimer: I take photos of life rather than live to take photos and my opinions of cameras are reflected accordingly.
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