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Old Apr 10, 2010, 4:29 AM   #1
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Default Enthusiast needs Prosumer with Good Low light Perf

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site but I have read some of the posts here and this forum looked very helpful.

I'm trying to choose the right camera. I am currently using a Canon Powershot A720IS, and am very happy with the advanced controls but not so pleased with the low-light performance or time-between-shots. Flash recharge takes upto 5 seconds.

I'm looking to upgrade; with my main requirements being:
  • Good low light performance (high ISO, low noise, low noise reduction blurring, better sensor)
  • Advanced controls (with higher shutter speed like 1/4000, wider aperture like f/2, flash control etc.)
  • Manual focus, good macro mode
  • Excellent battery
  • Excellent Image Stabilization (this is a must for me)


This is why I'm looking at the prosumer segment, to take advantage of the better optics and bigger sensor. I don't want a DSLR currently. Zoom is not very important to me, but a 10x or 12x would be nice.
Also I don't care much for high def videos or anything, just viewable video recording would do.

My budget is $300-$500.


Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

Last edited by CraXJaX; Apr 10, 2010 at 4:33 AM.
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 11:05 AM   #2
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craX-

Welcome to the Forum. We're glad you dropped by. The number of current cameras that meet your specifications are rather small in number. The would be the Canon G-11, and S-90, plus the newly introduced Sony HX5.

The two Canon models have more low capabilities and can easily take very good image quality at ISO 1600 and can go in a pinch to ISO 3200. However, both models are rather limited in their zoom capabilities.

The Sony HX5, howerver, offers a zoom range of 25 to 250mm, which is rather attractive. The HX5 does not quite have the same ISO capability as the Canon cameras. Instead it can handle ISO 800 very nicely and do ISO 1600 with some noise ware assistance. The HX5 offer many added features such as the Hand Sweep Panorama, the Twilight Mode, and the HDR/Backlight mode, all of which are very usable and convenient.

We have an active discussion thread on the HX5 in our Sony P+S folder that now has over 125 posts and many photo samples from the HX5 that make interesting reading.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Apr 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM.
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 2:00 PM   #3
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Thank you mtclimber...

I'm about to go read about G-11, S90 and HX5..

In the meantime, could you please comment on some of the Fujifilm cameras that can go up to 6400 and 12800 ISOs? (Finepix HS-10, and S200 EXR)

Regards.
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 2:25 PM   #4
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Crax-

I owned and used a Fuji S-200EXR for about 2 months. The problem I found with it were two fold: (1) the EXR system is quite complicated, requiring constant small adjustments, if you really want to take advantage of the high ISO capability. (2) I found that auto focus was not totally consistent, and somewhat unpredictable.

As a result I sold the camera. I just ordered a Fuji HS-10 and will give that a try. It is not burdened with the EXR system, but then it might not have much of a high ISO capability either. I am going to have to find out. We will see how fast I get the HS-10 camera, it has chronically been on back order everywhere.

So that is my experience thus far. I will keep you posted.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 2:48 PM   #5
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Alright, thanks a lot.

Another question I had is how different the compact cameras are from the bulkier prosumer cameras (Canon's G series vs the SX20 etc).
I visited a showroom today and the person told me it was only the zoom, that there was no difference in the sensor.

If it's only the zoom, then I would rather go for a more compact model, as I do not need super zooms.
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 5:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraXJaX View Post
Alright, thanks a lot.

I visited a showroom today and the person told me it was only the zoom, that there was no difference in the sensor.
That is BS.
Sensor size in the S90, G10 and G11 is 1/1.7 while the SX20 is 1/2.3. They don't use the same sensor. Also, a notable improvement on the G11 over the G10 it replace was the reduction to 10.4 megapixels in the G11 vs 14.7 in the G10. By not cramming the megapixls on the same sensor, it improved the low light performance of the G11 over the G10.

Another benefit of the G series, and I believe the S90, is that they are not limited to JPEG and can shoot in RAW. The SX20 is not able to shoot in RAW.
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 5:50 PM   #7
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@ tizeye:

Thanks for the reply. So that means there would be a considerable increase in picture quality with the bulkier models.

I just read up on the Canon G11 and Panasonic Lumix LX3, both seem good for low light situations (especially the LX3). Currently I'm leaning in favour of that one, unless someone can suggest me another model in the bigger form factor.

How does Panasonic FZ35 fare in low light?
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Old Apr 10, 2010, 7:39 PM   #8
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CraX-

No, it means just the opposite! The larger imager found on the Canon S-90 and the G-11 is one of the reasons for it's greater image quality, and it high ISO performance.
The other aspect that contributes to the improved image quality of the S-90 and the G-11 is the effort was to match the lenses involved to the imager. The S-90 and the G-11 use exactly the same imager.

The Panasonic LX3 is another high performer in terms of high ISO capability and image quality. It too, has a larger imager, and uses a lens ground to Zeiss standards and formula. The FZ-35 has a smaller imager and therefore less high ISO performance. The high ISO ability begins to top out at ISO 800. Yes, the camera is larger, but that is not the critical issue, the imager size and matching the lens to the imager are the pivotal issues.

However, with the Panasonic Kx DSLR price now down to less than $500. That is another solution that you ought to examine. Any DSLR has an imager that is 12 to 15X larger than the imager that is used on the S-90, the G-11, and the LX3 cameras. Therefore, as you might expect, like the Canon T-1/T-2, the Kx can easily use ISO 6400 and jump to ISO 12800 when needed. So, that is another option that is available to you.

Another option will be the Samsung EX-1 when it finally arrives on dealer's shelves as well.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Apr 10, 2010 at 7:48 PM.
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Old Apr 11, 2010, 5:56 AM   #9
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I see..
So I'm now seriously thinking about the LX3, mostly because of it's fast lens (f/2) and wide angle.

The only small issue is the 2.5x zoom. I know that Panasonic makes compacts with much larger zooms, so is there any other model that performs as well in low light that has a bigger zoom?

Regards.
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Old Apr 11, 2010, 10:17 AM   #10
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The LX3 is a nice camera, and I was strongly considering, and while the lens is great on the wide end at 24mm (equiv), that upper limit of 60mm is what caused me to hold off. I needed a P&S for a different reason - something light, but good, to pack on my bicycle rides. the S90 with the 28-105 range is looking VERY tempting.

Unfortunately, Panasonic doesn't have an LS3 equivalent with a longer lens. Of course, it was introduced July 08 so speculation is "when repaced, will they correct the short zoom range." Perhaps the S90 will force the issue, but it appears that Panasonic is concentrating on other issues as it focuses on the 4/3 format where the LS3 customer would be. Prices are falling with the newest 4/3 models. In he last month (and no reviews) Olympus released the E-PL1 list price at $599 ($549 street price). Panasonic released the G-2 and G-10 but they are not avaialble in stores and not priced yet - even in the official press release. The 4/3 gives you the option of changing lens while being more rangefinder (particurally the Olympus) rather than DSLR in design.
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