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Old Apr 3, 2010, 11:44 PM   #1
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Default DSLR vs. super-zoom P&S sample pics?

For months, I have been agonizing over whether or not to make my next camera a super-zoom P&S or DSLR w/ super-zoom. Well, my trusty Panasonic FZ5 appears to be dying. (The white balance seems to "drift", even outdoors, so I have to keep looking like a flamingo while I reset the white balance with my sock.) I've taken thousands of what I think are pretty good pictures with this thing, and I'll be sorry to see it go.

I generally travel and happen to take photos while there, so a bagful of lenses is not really on my list of options. That means that it's going to either be a superzoom P&S or DSLR w/ superzoom.

I know a bit about photography, and make use of the Aperture and Shutter priority settings on a regular basis, and I make fairly heavy use of exposure compensation, so I have at least some idea of what I am doing here...

Most comparisons I read between the two online (also when asking on other forums) tell me that with a P&S I am sacrificing lens quality, noise, and dynamic range. Obviously with a DSLR I sacrifice cost and weight. I understand what is involved, but I cannot seem to find a recent review where somebody took pictures of the same thing with a P&S superzoom, and its DSLR equivalent so I could actually see the difference, or, better yet, print it at my normal sizes (8x10 has been my max for years) and make the decision then.

Camera reviews inevitably compare the camera to another peer unit, which means superzoom P&Ss and SLRs pretty never get put in the same review.

Is there some (relatively recent) article that has actually done this?

SirWired

P.S. If I go with P&S, I'll probably get a FZ35. If I go with an DSLR, I'll probably get a D5000.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 2:55 AM   #2
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I would check out the review section here at Steve's, there are lots of cameras each with many full size sample photos, some of general scenes and then a series using a standard still life scene so you can compare like for like. The only downside as that there isn't a review of the FZ35 there, but there are others like the Canon SX20IS which gives pretty similar results to the FZ.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 5:27 AM   #3
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First, by virtue of their smaller image sensors, P&S lenses tend to be better than lenses with the same range of angles of view on dSLRs. So if you really want to limit a dSLR to a single jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none lens, you'd be better off with a P&S superzoom.

Second, superzoom lenses for dSLRs don't get the same 35mm equivalent focal length as the lenses on P&S superzoom digicams, so for shooting the eagles, you'd get closer with the P&S superzoom, if you really want to limit a dSLR to a single lens.

So, presuming that you would want to limit a dSLR to a single lens, you'd be better off with a P&S superzoom.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 6:52 AM   #4
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Comparing IQ of P&S is like asking if apple and oranges are same

BTW Mark the FZ35 review is up in the review section
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 8:25 AM   #5
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Default Size Matters

The question is always asked in situations like this is "What do you plan to do?" In the comparisons between P&S and DSLRs size matters, a lot. There are so many factors to take into consideration such as frames per second, focus time, focus accuracy, color rendition, the list goes on and on. If your intention is to put 4x6 prints in a family album or sharing online at relatively small sizes, then the shots below are iluminating. At the same size, shot in almost identical conditions (low light tests at Image Resource), there is virtually no difference between the P&S and two different levels of DSLR at ISO 1600. First, the FZ35, second Pentax Kx and finally the $8,000 Nikon D3X. If photography is a hobby or a personal passion, or you plan to print big, then by all means get a DSLR. If, however, the intention is to simply share small family photos, I just don't see the point of the DSLR. Note that adding a zoom lens to even an inexpensive DSLR like the Kx can double the cost. Last, but not least, people think that by getting a DSLR they are going to automatically get far better pictures than a P&S. DSLRs have a learning curve and require work. I know that I am offering an outrageous simplification here, but I see people getting way too much camera way to often.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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There's no such thing as "too much camera". There is, however, such a thing as "not enough photographer".
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 5:16 PM   #7
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Several good responses here, so let me spell out my concerns:

Those "Dave's Box" photos were indeed helpful. However, they don't appear to be very standard... They appear to be taken under different lighting conditions; the FZ35 shot has prominent shadow on the right-hand side. If we assume the lighting intensity is the same, even with that sample picture I can clearly see the increased noise with the FZ35 vs. the DSLRs. However, at 1600, that is of course expected.

I have to say, that those results at 1600 with the FZ35 would be unacceptable to me. If they look that noisy on a small jpg appearing on my screen at around 4x6, how badly would they suck at 8x10?

Also, how much do the faster lenses generally used in P&S cameras (at least compared to zoom lenses I can afford and would want to lug around) cancel out the better noise characteristics of the DSLRs?

And, noise at a given resolution and speed aside, what is the difference between the DSLR and P&S sensors? I keep reading about "dynamic range", but can't find any examples illustrating what this means in this case.

On the lens: I keep seeing generalizations, (and I've seen claims that P&S lenses are better for a given zoom range, and other articles that assert the SLRs use better lenses) but I can't find studio lens tests that are equivalent that exercise the different focal lengths. pboerger, when you say the P&S lenses are "better", what does that mean in this context? Are you referring to resolution, distortion, aberration or all three? Which one returns the best total resolution, and how does this vary across focal lengths? I understand that a DSLR superzoom will certainly not return as much resolution as the sensor is capable of, (there is a reason all SLR body reviews are done with primes) but other than that, how much does it return?

To use imaging resource as an example, there is a single three-shot test of a Gretag resolution chart for the FZ35, while the lens review for the Nikon 18-200 has nothing of the sort; instead I get a bunch of fancy graphs which don't really tell me anything useful, unless I had such graphs with the FZ35, which I don't. It's frustrating... dpreview has the same problem; no studio samples with the DSLR lens, just the useless (to me) graphs.

What do I plan on doing with the camera? The usual, I suppose... vacations, travel, parties, etc. I especially enjoy taking pictures at the zoo. I do occasionally get frustrated with autofocus time with my P&S (and it's even worse with my FZ5, which lacks manual focus.) They get printed at sizes up to 8x10. (Is that "small" or "large"?)

I will note that if I'm "shooting the eagles", I'm likely to miss the shot with a P&S due to the slower reaction time... I can always crop the DSLR shot to make up for the somewhat reduced zoom.

I do know that the DSLR is more work, and that my scant knowledge that I picked up shooting for several years with a N50 and a motley assortment of cheap lenses (a Sigma 24, Nikon 50, Sigma 35-80, Sigma 75-300) will not fully transfer, and will need to be supplemented with figuring out digital "quirks". Do the online tutorials go over some of the gory details since I already fully understand the implications and tradeoffs of Aperture, Shutter, and ISO? My old photography classes left all the rest to the darkroom unless you were shooting slides, which I didn't.

And yes, I'm fully aware of the cost difference between a $300 FZ35 and a D5000 + 18-200 VR Zoom. This is not an obstacle for me, although it would start to bump up against the limits of the Wife Acceptance Factor.

Is there some article, somewhere, that I'm not reading that has actually done a fairly straightforward head-to-head between SZ P&S and SZ-equipped DSLR? I imagine I'm not the only person to wonder this...

SirWired

Last edited by sirwired; Apr 4, 2010 at 9:42 PM.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 10:49 PM   #8
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With your futher clarification, I advise you to get the DSLR. I did not mean to say point and shoots are better. What I meant is that under certain circumstances, you gain very little from a DSLR. Have fun.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 10:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark1616 View Post
I would check out the review section here at Steve's, there are lots of cameras each with many full size sample photos, some of general scenes and then a series using a standard still life scene so you can compare like for like. The only downside as that there isn't a review of the FZ35 there, but there are others like the Canon SX20IS which gives pretty similar results to the FZ.
Actually there is a FZ35 from steve's billy posted it the other day.
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Old Apr 4, 2010, 10:58 PM   #10
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Have you consider a m4/3 camera. That way you get something the size of a megazoom with the larger sensor and higher quality glass of a dslr. Something like the panasonic GF1 or Olympus EPL-1. With the panasonic 45-200mm lens, you get the crop factor effect of a 90-400mm and the stock lens of 14-42 or 45 you will have 28-84 or 90.

Also with M4/3 you can mount 4/3 lenses to them with a m4/3 to 4/3 mount. So if you get the olympus 70-300mm you get 140-600mm crop factor effect.
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