Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Feb 23, 2010, 6:31 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
mrmacmusic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Scotland
Posts: 274
Default Help... at a loss what to try next

Forgive me for re-visiting this, but it's driving me nuts!! I'd really appreciate some advice as to where to go from here.

So, where is 'here'...?

Well, I've been on and off the fence regarding a m4/3rds (PEN/GF1) replacement for my sold Canon 40D kit, and have also been searching for a compact for my wife to use at home to replace our failing Fuji F30. We tried a number of options (including Canon S90 and Sony WX1), and my wife was happiest sticking with Fuji and so we bought a shiny new Fuji F70EXR last week. It very much seemed like we were getting a lot for the money, with a useful zoom, and the promise of good low-light performance - something which we need!

Since then, we've both taken a bunch of normal family snaps with it, testing out the different 'auto' shooting options and the EXR modes. I've also dabbled and tweaked the settings to establish best quality 'P' output, which can be very nice indeed. The zoom is responsive (more so than the others we tried considering it reaches much further), and everything seemed to be OK.....

However, having reviewed the photos on computer this evening, it's obvious that the F70EXR doesn't live up to expectations - so much so in fact, that I can't understand why this camera is rated so highly as a low-light performer, and I've boxed it up ready to send it back.

Whilst most our testing was indoors in tricky conditions (kids playing in the living room type stuff), these are exactly the kind of photos we take regularly - and got good results with our old F30 - so it was better to evaluate these shooting scenarios, rather than stick the EXR on a tripod and use ISO100.

Our 'auto' and EXR shots at ISO800 and 1600 have very little detail, and don't compare well at all with older F30 shots in our library. Even shooting 'manually', the images are still very noisy and flat at higher ISOs - 1600 is unusable. I found the flash was nowhere near as effective as on the F30 either (presumably it's weaker?), so whilst dropping the ISO to 400 improves the noise situation, it requires unacceptably low shutter speeds to capture the kids in action as the flash can't fill the scene properly.

All in all, very frustrating. Bottom line - we've bought the wrong camera..... but I have no idea what the right compact is for us. I'm guessing we need to focus more on larger sensor and faster lens - the LX3 immediately springs to mind, and it's not one we managed to get our hands on to try.

I'll happily spend double the cost of the F70 if that'll get what we need, even though that's eating into my 'big camera' budget ;-) I'm also not averse to looking higher end and second hand, but I'm not sure that helps the search any....

Please help!! What compacts would you suggest we look at now...?
mrmacmusic is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Feb 24, 2010, 1:51 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
toshi43's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Vernon BC Canada
Posts: 1,618
Default

It could be that you've just got a bad copy, but I don't think so. Personally, I haven't heard of one compact digicam that produces acceptable images at those kind of ISO settings, even some DSLRs don't manage it very well.

That being said, it might be worth trying another one just in case the problem really is with the camera. Good luck.
__________________
Fujifilm FinePix HS10, Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR, Pentax E-80 P&S, Sunpak auto383 flash, Optex slave flash, Velbon VGB3 heavy-metal tripod, TechPro TP-242 tripod with B62 ballhead, assorted filters and other bits.
toshi43 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 2:27 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
mrmacmusic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Scotland
Posts: 274
Default

Thanks Toshi... I think the biggest disappointment is that so called "progress" has resulted in the equivalent camera 3/4 years down the line being a less capable performer than it's predecessor - OK, so it can reach a bit further, and tell when people are in the frame, but I've got legs, and I'm quite good at focusing on faces myself!!

My wife just wants a compact that takes nice photos, like our F30 did. For me, well you may well have read in other posts that it's more of a two-camera hunt, and I've still not decided whether to go m4/3 or return to a smaller DSLR outfit........

Looking at the problem from a technical perspective, I guess key issues are that the lens on the F30 starts at f/2.8 whilst the F70 is f/3.3, so we're not off to a great start there..... Presumably the flash is weaker (I don't have details), and then there's the software under the hood - as well of course as the EXR sensor with it's different photodiode arrangement.

My best guess is that I need to look at non-EXR technology - possibly backlit CMOS (but again I think this has issues too), and as big a sensor as possible, coupled with at least f/2.8 on the lens.

Any suggestions?
mrmacmusic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 2:30 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
mrmacmusic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Scotland
Posts: 274
Default

...and the 'auto' mode should be reliable too. Our F30 was, and this is important for when we just want to pick it up and shoot.
mrmacmusic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 2:41 AM   #5
Super Moderator
 
peripatetic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,599
Default

I'm curious why you decided not to go with the S90?

Max aperture at the wide end is f2. The sensor is quite large for a compact. Low light performance is about as good as it gets in a small camera. Which is to say: not very. Reasonable up to around ISO200, usable perhaps up to 400 in colour, and 1600 in a push for BW.

But you know that to take good quality high-ISO shots without flash indoors is very demanding of equipment. If that's what you really want then you need a D700 or a nice big flash unit. Or both.

m4/3 will help of course - giving perhaps one extra stop over the S90, but if you want a zoom lens you might lose that stop on max aperture. But a m4/3 E-P2 or E-PL1 with the panny 20 f1.7 will probably get you the shots you want. But no zoom. (This is a good thing for your pictures - trust me.)

Big zooms are nasty. They make for poor photos in low light. They make you lazy in your shooting, they encourage you to stay too far away for the small on-board flashes, and they compromise the optics at all focal lengths.
__________________
My gallery
My X100 blog
peripatetic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 3:23 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
mrmacmusic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Scotland
Posts: 274
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
I'm curious why you decided not to go with the S90?

Max aperture at the wide end is f2. The sensor is quite large for a compact. Low light performance is about as good as it gets in a small camera. Which is to say: not very. Reasonable up to around ISO200, usable perhaps up to 400 in colour, and 1600 in a push for BW.....
In a word, ergonomics. This was a joint shopping trip, as my wife is the primary user of the compact.... we tried a number of cameras - the Fuji F70, Canon S90, IXUS 130 (?) and Sony WX1 to name a few. The IXUS and Sony were too small, and my wife quite rightly pointed out that when you first pick up the S90, the shutter doesn't work. Because it's the mode dial.... first impressions and all that. Also, the Fuji was the snappiest to zoom - or at least it seemed that way in store. We never got our hands on an LX3, which (along with the S90) were top of my list to review on technical merits alone.

With the F30, we got perfectly usable results in colour, at higher ISO settings (including 1600). Flash shots were always well balanced, which was a real plus - doing a good job of subject/background illumination even on auto settings. The F30 truly worked as an idiot-proof point and shoot (and I'm not for one minute suggesting that either my wife or I as idiots!!).

Quote:
But you know that to take good quality high-ISO shots without flash indoors is very demanding of equipment. If that's what you really want then you need a D700 or a nice big flash unit. Or both.

m4/3 will help of course - giving perhaps one extra stop over the S90, but if you want a zoom lens you might lose that stop on max aperture. But a m4/3 E-P2 or E-PL1 with the panny 20 f1.7 will probably get you the shots you want. But no zoom. (This is a good thing for your pictures - trust me.)

Big zooms are nasty. They make for poor photos in low light. They make you lazy in your shooting, they encourage you to stay too far away for the small on-board flashes, and they compromise the optics at all focal lengths.
True, and you will remember that m4/3 is on my own review list, although at the moment, I'm still undecided and may well revert to full-blown DSLR, as I can't afford 3 cameras!!

Regarding the compact, all we both want, is the modern equivalent of the F30 - it seems harder to find than I first thought.
mrmacmusic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 10:17 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

mrmacmusic-

I would advise against trying another copy of the Fuji F-70EXR or the new F-80EXR. The camera that is rated to have the best autonatic mode operation as well as the best built-in flash unit in the compact zoom class is the Sony H-20. It also does HD video and you can zoom while filming.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 10:43 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
mrmacmusic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Scotland
Posts: 274
Default

Thanks Sarah... I had mentally noted the H20 from reading other posts, but I had discounted it on specs - perhaps unfairly. On your recommendation, I really ought to check it out.
mrmacmusic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 11:15 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
Ancientritual's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Columbia, IL
Posts: 347
Default

I own a Sony H20. This camera has a very sharp lens, but has some limitations. In low level light it has a hard time focusing, and a 38mm is not very wide when shooting indoors. Good luck in your search.
Ancientritual is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Feb 24, 2010, 11:18 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

mrmacmusic-

The Sony H-20 is not a high ISO capable camera like the Fuji F-30. However, it seems to fit your requirements rather nicely, even though it is about the same price range (at least here in the USA) as the Fuji F-70EXR, which is hopeless in the auto mode.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 7:11 AM.