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Old Aug 17, 2010, 2:19 PM   #1
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Default Compact camera with the very best image quality?

I'm considering a new compact camera for more "serious" shooting, and the most important to me here is the image quality (especially maintaining detail when zoomed to 100%, although I obviously do not expect it to be quite as good as DSLRs).

Other things I would like to see include HD video, fast continuous shooting, and the ability to set everything to automatic, except the specific things I want to set manually (and the ability to set multiple things to either automatic or manual at the same time, for example ISO and aperture, or aperture and shutter speed, and being able to set any of them back to automatic at any time).

But image quality is the most important aspect, and it seems that the Panasonic LX3 (or possibly the LX5) is one of the best out there. It certainly seems to have one of the largest sensor sizes.

Are there any other cameras should I take into consideration?
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 2:33 PM   #2
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The Panasonic TZ7 seems promising too, if I need more zoom (but it lacks manual controls?). Is the image quality vastly better on the LX3?
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 2:35 PM   #3
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Wait, there's a TZ10 and TZ11? What's the difference between all these latest Panasonic TZ models?
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 2:55 PM   #4
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Have you consider a m4/3 camera, they are a bit larger, but not by that much. Something like an panasonic gf1 or olympus epl-1. Way larger then even the lx3, lx5 or s90 sensor. And you can shoot in full auto, or full manual or iauto. And with the olympus you get the best jpeg engine on the market. Photos are great out the camera, hardly need any photo editing. And the epl-1 is about the price of the lx5.
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 4:40 PM   #5
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Thanks the tip.

I notice that the GF1 (and the EPL1) has a CMOS sensor. I've heard that they produce less detail than CCD? It also lacks an image stabilizer? And can it be considered a compact?
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 6:45 PM   #6
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camvard-

We need a bit of facts here. The Panasonic G-1, G-2,GF-1, GH-1, and G-10 all use lenses that have IS built into the lens. The Olympus EPL-1 uses IS built into the camera body.

On the issue of CMOS imagers. I believe that you might be thinking that the cameras use the same BSI-CMOS imager, like the one used in the Canon SD-4000. The G-1,G-2, GF-1, GH-1, G-10 and the EPL-1 all use CMOS imagers that are of an entirely different design and their CMOS imagers are 15X larger than the BSI-CMOS imager used in the SD-4000.

These much larger standard CMOS imagers used in these m4/3 cameras due to their much greater size, have not only larger imagers, but also less pixel density on those imagers. Think of the BSI-CMOS imager as like a VW bug, while these much larger imagers used on the m4/3 cameras are like 18 wheel trucks. The difference is that vast. These much larger standard CMOS imagers record 7 to 10X times more detail, and they have a much, much high ISO capability. For example, the EPL-1 can use ISO 2000 easily, and ISO 3200 in a pinch. Few P+S cameras can do that!

All DSLR cameras use standard CMOS imagers. So these large, standard CMOS imagers are as different as apples and oranges, when they are compared to the BSI-CMOS imagers, which are very tiny little, minature hybrid CMOS imagers that are brand new to the camera market.

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Old Aug 17, 2010, 7:00 PM   #7
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The epl-1 has in body IS. So all the lenses will have that feature. But image quality is not a issue with the 4/3 sensors. GF1 you need IS lenses to have that feature.
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 7:15 PM   #8
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Thanks, Sarah. You have been very helpful so far, as I try to navigate this huge maze of digital cameras! After my slight disappointment with the SD4000/300HS, I started thinking about what kind of camera could complement that one. And I figured that going primarily for excellent image quality (and yet in a somewhat compact body) was a good start.

I really appreciate your clarification regarding CMOS sensors. It kind of looks like the CMOS sensors in some of these very compact cameras is a waste, but if you go a little bigger than a compact camera, they really start shining?

Now, are the GF1 and EPL1 "compact enough"? I guess I shall have to visit a physical store and hold them in my hands to know for sure. My guess is that they are probably somewhat large, and the separate lense probably doesn't help.

And meanwhile, I have been looking at various Panasonic compacts, and noticed that some of them can be excluded on price alone:

FX700 (don't know the price here yet)
LX3 (edit: Seems a bit more expensive than I first thought...)
LX5 (probably too expensive for me)
TZ10 (decently priced)

So that leaves me with the choice between LX3 and TZ10. And if those were, theoretically, my options, the LX3 probably has better image quality, and it also has a decent unlimited burst mode, whereas the TZ10 seems to have sacrificed the decent burst mode of previous models. But with the old TZ cameras, you do not get the manual controls you do with the TZ10.

So that leaves the LX3 which has the best image quality, seems to be compact enough, and has a decent burst mode.

But I would hate to miss out on compact cameras from other brands, so if anyone knows about any other compacts with good image quality, and maybe even decent manual controls and an OK burst mode, do let me know.

Last edited by camvard; Aug 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM.
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 8:47 PM   #9
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camvard-

I think that it is important to see these cameras in perspective. Here is my list:

Superior Image Quality=Larger than Normal Imagers
:
Canon S-90
Canon G-11
Panasonic LX-3
Panasonic Lx-5
Samsung TL-500/EX-1
Average Image Quality-Small Hybrid BSI-CMOS Cameras:
Canon SD-4000
Casio FH-100
Sony HX-5
Samsung TL-350
Fuji HS-10

Better Image quality CCD Imager Cameras
Panasonic FZ-35
Panasonic FX-500
Panasonic ZS-3/TZ-7
Panasonic ZS-1/TZ-5
Panasonic ZS-5/TZ-8
Panasonic ZS-7/TZ-10
Canon SX-100
Canon SX-110
Canon SX-120
Canon SX-10
Canon SX-20
Kodak Z-915
Kodak Z-950
Kodak Z-1012

Average Image Quality CCD Imager Cameras:
Olympus FE-series
Olympus SP-series
Kodak Z-8612
Kodak V-series
Nikon P+S cameras
Canon SX-210
Canon Sx-200

These are the cameras that quickly come to mind. And I realize it is hazardous to make generalizations. The point I am attempting to make is that all cameras do NOT have the same image quality. There is a recognized pecking order so as to speak.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Aug 17, 2010 at 10:08 PM.
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Old Aug 17, 2010, 8:52 PM   #10
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4/3 cameras are "compact" compared to DSLRs but not pocketable.

If what you want is a pocketable camera then the only cameras that fit your description is the LX5 or the LX3.

The only other pocketable camera that has bigger sensor (compared to other pocketable cameras) is the Canon S90 but it doesn't do HD video so you can take it out of your list if HD video is important.

That leaves you with LX3. But LX3 has some limitations compared to the the LX5. For example it can not zoom while recording video and it's zoom range is very limited.

The TZ10 is a different story and it does not match your requirements. Personally I just ordered the TZ10 a few days ago because (1) LX5 is not available yet and it will be a bit too expensive. (2) I needed a bit more zoom and the ability to zoom while recording video and the LX3 can not do this. The TZ10 (like the LX5) can also record in AVCHD format, which means more HD video on the same amount of memory. But for me video was just as important as image quality. If for you image quality is much more important than video then go with the LX3 or spend a bit more and buy what will probably be the best pocketable camera ever made, the LX5.
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