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Old Apr 8, 2012, 2:02 AM   #1
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Default Which compact zoom camera would you recommend?

We have a Panasonic LX3 and even though I'm just a typical point and shooter, I find that it takes good pic specially in low light/indoor settings. However, I find it a bit restricting that it has only 2.5x optical zoom and not so portable to carry on handbag which has already tons of kid's stuff when I go out with the kids. I saw that the Canon S100 seems to have good reviews in terms of quality of pics. I'm not sure if it's good with low light though. I see it has 5x optical zoom. Is this enough to take pics from afar like a stage (during school performances)?
I am also considering the ultrazooms. I saw some that has 20x. But I saw a comment from a senior member saying that quality is definitely going to suffer with ultrazooms. How much sacrifice in quality is this compared to the Canon S100? Is there any that anyone may recommend wherein there is a balance between quality and having maybe a lower zoom than the latest 20x? I don't need it to be touch screen or with GPS.
Thanks for your advice.
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Old Apr 8, 2012, 5:21 AM   #2
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The current batch of 20x superzoom compacts are indeed compromised optically by their power- and will be no match for the S100 image quality.
Of course,much of this depends on your level of expectation....
The 5x zoom of the S100 will actually feel a great deal larger than your LX3- and will certainly get you closer to the action.
However,at the full extent of the zoom the S100 aperture is only a meagre f/5.9 wide open- which isn't very bright- but at least the S100 does sport a CMOS sensor with pretty good high iso noise control- which kinda offsets this flaw to a degree.

Here's what the chaps at Steves' thought...
http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...00-review.html
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Old Apr 8, 2012, 5:37 AM   #3
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Do you think that a 5x zoom is enough for taking shot at a stage? I think this is the only time that I would be using a zoom. If not, is there a balance between quality and zoom, like maybe those with 10x zoom? Will the quality be better than these 20x zoom cams? Thanks Simon40 for giving your opinion. Appreciate it.

Last edited by wanderintraveler; Apr 8, 2012 at 8:52 AM.
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Old Apr 8, 2012, 11:41 AM   #4
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5x zoom may be enough- but I guess that depends on the size of the hall/arena etc...
As a general rule- the less zoom,the less distortion.
However- one 10x compact may be better/worse than another- so I guess you have to take each camera on their own merits.
Something worth considering,if it's still available is the fine Canon IXUS 1000HS(also known as the SD 4500 IS)- which should get you closer to the action with minimal compromise....
http://www.trustedreviews.com/Canon-...-Camera_review
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Old Apr 10, 2012, 2:47 AM   #5
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I saw some latest ultrazooms. What about the SX240 or the ZS15? What is your opinion?
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Old Apr 10, 2012, 3:59 AM   #6
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Being fairly new models,reviews are still scarce- but at least the SX40 has resisted the temptation to go beyond 12mp and uses its CMOS sensor(notoriously better in lower light).
The ZS15 also holds back with 12mp- and rumours are that it shares the same sensor as the very fine FZ-150- which can only be good.
Yes it "only" has 16x zoom compared to its big brother(ZS20)- which has 20x zoom and 14mp- but as mentioned in an earlier post- this might be a good thing..!
Another thing to mention is Panasonic's notoriously fast autofocus speeds- not to be ignored and very useful for quick candid snaps...
If I was after a compact high zoom camera- the ZS15 would be very high on the list- though some may want the 14mp,GPS and 1080/60p video of the ZS20...
Yes- high zoom compacts are inherently compromised by their "jack of all trades" ability- but in my humble opinion- the Panny's are still the best out there....

http://www.photographyblog.com/news/...0_hs_sx260_hs/

http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/31/p...zs20-dmc-zs15/
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Old Apr 10, 2012, 7:16 AM   #7
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Yes, I picked the ZS15 as one of my options rather than the ZS20 is because I don't really care for the GPS. Well the video could be nicer but I value the quality of the photos more in a camera. I also read about the ZS15 using the same sensor as FZ150. I don't know about the Fz150 but it just gives me the impression that FZ150 is a good one and therefore being in ZS15 must be good and that it may be better than the ZS20 in image quality for that reason. The SX260 also has good reviews and from what I understand the only difference with SX240 is the GPS. That's why I am not sure if to pick Canon or Panasonic. Your post above at least gives me an idea which between the 2 to pick.
I have a follow up question though. If the stage is say 5 meters (approx 16 ft) from your seat. Would the 16x zoom be enough to take good pics (I'm not planning to blow it up but at least can it look good in a 5R size photo)? Am I being naive to think that a compact zoom cam has enough power to take a decent shot in that condition (stage setting is usually not well lighted). Someone told me that sure it may zoom that far but with such lighting conditions he is doubtful it can take good pics.

If your answer is yes it can take fairly good in that condition, then that's fine.
But if you say it's also doubtful then it means I need to consider another option he recommended (Panasonic GF3)which is I saw from dpreview as rangefinder style mirrorless. Frankly I have no idea what that means and it just intimidates me with specs that I don't understand, plus the fact that it looks heavy. However I like the idea of a portable compact cam and with a zoom lens that I can attach only when I need to. Is there such a thing? I was originally thinking if only the LX3 has an attachable zoom. I was told instead to upgrade that cam. Which leads me to consider S100 because it seems to be as good as the LX3 and lighter (what I was looking for). But everyone says 5x zoom is not enough and so it evolved to finding a compact zoom. There is also something that I read about bridge type which is like something in between a compact cam and a dslr. Not really sure what cam this is.
Thank you very much for your patience in answering my queries.
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Old Apr 10, 2012, 6:12 PM   #8
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If the stage at which you'd be shooting is only 5m away- then you could probably get away with a 5x zoom- certainly a 10x.
Bear in mind also that all 5x zooms are not equal- as it is only 5x the widest angle on that camera.
For example the 5x on the S100 is 5x 24mm- which gives a 24-120mm zoom.
Compared to my old Samsung S850 which is 5 x 38mm- which gives a 38-190mm zoom....
As you can see- despite both being 5x zooms,there's 70mm difference at the long end !!

However- a 16 or 20x zoom would be MORE than enough for distances of 5m or so- and as you'd probably not be utilising the full extent of the zoom,you could use an aperture larger than would be available at the full extent of the zoom- thus allowing more light in and the potential for a better shot.

A bridge camera is basically a mini DSLR with a fixed lens and a large zoom range- huge in fact in some cases today- much like my own Canon SX40HS.
They have full SLR type functionality in addition to various auto modes,most shoot HD video and are fairly compact and light(compared to a DSLR).
Bridge camera's are certainly versatile tools- but certainly not pocketable...

Here's the "Bridge" style SX40.....
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2011/9/15/canonsx40hs

To be honest,though,top quality images using typical stage lighting- even when using a DSLR- will require a specific type of lens- and they don't come cheap..!!!

Why don't you scout around a website such as Flickr and search for some indoor/gig concert images. You can use the "camera finder" and then type in a specific genre of photography- and see if the images meet your expectations...

Here's the Flickr camera finder page for the Canon S100,where you can select a type of image to view...
http://www.flickr.com/cameras/canon/powershot_s100/

And here's a group on Flickr dedicated to the S100- where again you can scrutinise various types of images and discuss various topics...
http://www.flickr.com/groups/canonpowershots100/

You can do the above type of search with many camera's via Flickr....

And here's what the guy's at Steve's thought....
http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...00-review.html

Last edited by SIMON40; Apr 10, 2012 at 6:26 PM.
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Old Apr 11, 2012, 12:13 AM   #9
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"Bear in mind also that all 5x zooms are not equal- as it is only 5x the widest angle on that camera."

That is a big revelation for me. I think many of us novices would think that 5x is the same as any other 5x cams. How do I determine this from the specs? As I am looking into the list on dpreview. They only list zoom lens as a number & X. The only 24 I see is on the focal length. Is that it?

With regards to the distance from the stage. I'm too optimistic to presume that I'd be sitted if not the front probably up to the 3rd row. :-) Of course realistically I may not be as fast to reserve the seat and therefore I should probably give an allowance for more than 5meters.

I don't know if these are called bridge cams, but someone suggested a GF3, Nikon J1, Sony Nex5N and Olympus E-PL3. They do look small at least from the pics online. And from what I understand have interchageable lens. However what I don't understand is if the main lens is like as flat as a compact cam or not and it doesn't say how much zoom it can reach. It seems these cams are somewhat in between compacts and dslr. When I compare these with say the S100 I don't understand why they don't have a range for aperture. They also don't have scene modes like portrait, night scene etc. Does it mean that it's more on manual settings? The Nex5n for instance has very good reviews inspite of no image stabilization and I thought that this is important.

I am just trying to open up my options so hope you don't mind my questions. If I find those above cams are not for me then I'd probably be considering between the S100 or the ZS15.
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Old Apr 11, 2012, 4:09 AM   #10
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Indeed- many don't realise that all 5x are not equal- or 8,10,15x or whatever- it is merely the magnification factor of the equivalent wide angle setting on that given camera- 24mm in the case of the S100.
This is one of the reasons I suggested the Canon Ixus 1000 earlier- as it only has 10x zoom- but it's 10x 36mm- giving 360mm at the long end- almost as much as the 16x 384mm of the ZS15 (16x 24mm)..!!
Of course you don't get a true wide angle- but much better for distant subjects.

The GF3,J1,NEX5,E-P's etc are indeed not bridge cameras as they have interchangeable lenses- their bigger sensors improve image quality,but with a lens attached capable of any decent focal length,their size will probably exceed that of a bridge camera.
Most come bundled with a lens with a focal length roughly equivalent to 25-80mm- roughly 3x ish optical zoom. Larger zooms are available- with the resulting cost..!
The J1 with it's 30-110 lens attached is probably the most "bijou" but even that only gives a 81- 297mm equivalent- so if you want a wider angle you'll need the 10-30mm lens also- it's a cute little chap though..!
The NEX's have their stabilisers built into the lenses- as do most of the mirrorless/interchangeable lens bunch.
Most of the Mirrorless bunch do indeed have auto/scene preset's- some on their mode dials and some buried in their menus- though to be fair,indoor shooting usually requires a degree of manipulation- best served with manual or aperture priority mode and switching to a higher iso setting (iso 800 or 1600).
With regards mirrorless lens apertures- they're roughly similar in range to compacts. Their aperture's do step down alot smaller- though this will be of little use/interest to you- useful for giving a large depth of field for camera's with a larger sensor- not a problem for a compact sensor....

Last edited by SIMON40; Apr 11, 2012 at 4:22 AM.
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