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Old Jun 14, 2005, 6:33 PM   #1
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My trusty K-M G500 is on its last legs. Thanks to JimC for recommending it; it's been a great camera, but a pocket is not a great environment for any camera, and it's showing the ill effects.

I'd like a camera with as much manual control as possible, and I'd prefer not to have to switch to xD cards. But... I'd also like to be able to shoot in available light, and I think that overrules all other considerations.

So it looks like the Fuji F10 is the only choice. But is there anything else I should consider? I'm aware of the Fuji Z1, and I'm not interested. But if anything else comes close to the low-light performance of the F10, I'd like to know about it before I make the decision.

Are any other cameras with this combination of high sensitivity and low noise known to be in the pipeline, due for release in the near future?

No SLRs need apply! Unless they're compact enough to fit in a pocket, that is.

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Old Jun 14, 2005, 9:35 PM   #2
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Hi Rob,

I am not speaking as an expert on cameras, but as one who has researched digital cameras to death for the past six weeks. For me it has come to down to this: for manual controls, excellent image quality, etc. it would be either the Canon S2 SI, G6 or Panasonic FZ5. For strictly point and shoot with no manual controls but outstanding image quality and no low light problems, there is only one choice - Fuji F10. It stands apart from all other compact digitals in its class. My only regret is that it does not have an optical viewfinder. If you can forego the manual controls and deal w/ the xD card, the F10 would be your best bet.

If you also want some manual controls and excellent image quality, you might also consider the Olympus C-7000Z (7.1 px.; 5x optical zoom). I am selling the one I've had for three weeks because I want a strictly point and shoot camera. Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 15, 2005, 9:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, Justinian. The F10 appears to be unique for now. I'm sure there will be some other low-light contenders before long. But if I decide to go ahead and replace my current pocket camera in the near future, the F10 is the only choice.

FWIW, I do have a larger camera that gives me extended zoom range and full manual control, the Panasonic FZ20. Judging by the reviews and user commnets I've seen, the F10 looks like a nearly perfect complement. I recall having a lot of fun with the Olympus Stylus Epic (film camera), another camera that didn't offer much manual control.

I think I'll probably get an F10 soon.
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Old Jun 17, 2005, 7:46 AM   #4
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In the dpreview conclusions of the Panasonic FX7 it is pointed out that the camera would be almost unusable in anything but very bright light if it didn't have the stabilization. That is because of camera shake caused by the poor steadiness of not having an eyelevel viewfinder. I think that might be true of the F10 as well. You will be using a lot of that high ISO capability to make up for a poor ability to steady the shots. I agree that if you can find a way to use something external to steady your hold the high ISO will give you some shots you couldn't get otherwise, but for normal handholding I don't think you will find you do that much better than with your G500. Assuming you had worked on a good steady shooting hold for the G500 that is.

Another thing in Simon's review that put me off is his saying the LCD can be hard to see in bright sunlight. Since that is my normal shooting situation here in Florida I decided to pass on the F10. You can't shoot very well if you have no way to frame the shot.

I tired of waiting for a stabilized competent pocket camera and researched for a replacement. Fuji finally got the Super CCD right and I have hopes for a future small camera with a viewfinder and manual controls. Not only is the CCD very good but they made a great lens for the F10 as well. But in the end I wouldn't like a point and shoot with no eyelevel viewfinder. I've about given up on Panasonic coming up with a decent stabilized small camera – it is too bad that Leica has their agreement with Panasonic.

It came down to a choice of the Sony P200 and Casio Z750. I really wish Fuji and Panasonic had put some controls and a viewfinder on their small stabilized or high ISO cameras. But my C50 was getting too outdated in size for a carry everywhere camera and I ordered the Z750. If someone comes out with a small stabilized camera for grown-ups I'll pass the Casio on to the kids. Same if Fuji puts that lens and CCD in a competent small camera.

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Old Jun 17, 2005, 7:59 AM   #5
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Robb wrote:
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My trusty K-M G500 is on its last legs. Thanks to JimC for recommending it; it's been a great camera, but a pocket is not a great environment for any camera, and it's showing the ill effects.
My little Konica KD-510z is still working fine. But, it has developed a stuck pixel. I'm considering whether or not to buy a spare. One reputable vendor has the G500 in refurbished condition for $147 now (while supplies last).

I'm also looking at the F10 for existing light shooting. But, given the lens brightness using zoom with the F10 (not very bright as more zoom is used, just like most subcompact models), I may end up buying a DSLR instead (some of the newer models are relatively small and light). Of course, a bright lens would detract from this small and light package, and I couldn't carry one in my pants pocket. ;-)

I haven't tried the F10 yet. One concern is how easy (or hard) it is to use fixed/manual focus (if it even has this ability). With the G500, you can select 2 meters, and get most everything within the flash range acceptably sharp at the wide angle lens setting. I use mine this way often in darker environments.

So, if the F10 has problems focusing in some environments, then I would like to have some kind of manual/fixed focus ability. I haven't researched this much myself yet. I guess I should make a trip down to a dealer that has one and play around with it some.


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Old Jun 18, 2005, 8:07 AM   #6
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Thanks for pointing out some issues that will be very important to some people considering the F10, Slipe. I have to say that neither one is a deal breaker for me.

I have rarely used the optical finder on the G500, so the absence of a finder on the F10 is a non-issue. The best thing I've found for steadying the camera is the strap. Though nominally a wrist strap, the one that came with the G500 is long enough to go around the neck, and I find that arrangement lets me use strap tension to get as much stability as the traditional eye-level clasp.

As for LCD brightness, the reviews I've seen indicate that it's adequate for framing, even in bright light. That, too, is a situation I've already adapted to, using one eye on the LCD for framing while keeping the other eye on the actual scene for detail. (Figuratively speaking... I don't think my eyes actually work that independently of each other!)

Still, good points to consider.
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Old Jun 18, 2005, 8:27 AM   #7
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JimC wrote:
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My little Konica KD-510z is still working fine.** But, it has developed a stuck pixel.* I'm considering whether or not to buy a spare.** One reputable vendor has the G500 in refurbished condition for $147 now (while supplies last).
My G500 has some dust on the sensor, and the power switch (in the sliding cover) has beome touchy, sometimes switching off while I'm trying to shoot, sometimes switching on in my pocket. I've seen that price on refurbs, too, and am considering it. The sensible thing to do would be get another cheap G500 and wait and see what future developments there are with low light sensors. Of course, if I were sensible about such things, I wouldn't be hanging out in digital camera discussion groups!


Quote:
I haven't tried the F10 yet.** One concern is how easy (or hard) it is to use fixed/manual focus (if it even has this ability).
My understanding is that the F10 has no options for manual, fixed focus, or even focus lock, and that's a bit scary. However the just-out Imaging Resource review indicates that its autofocus works all the way down to 1/4 footcandle, yielding a 1/4-second exposure at f/2.8, ISO 1600.

The F10 is definitely lacking in some respects, but I find its image quality hard to resist!
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Old Jun 18, 2005, 5:54 PM   #8
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Yeah, the excellent image quality of the F10 is hard to resist and that was the number one selling factor for me. Check out this link for a great photo taken with the F10 in Hong Kong during a night of fireworks.

http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9413

What do you think?
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Old Jun 28, 2005, 8:56 PM   #9
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Following up: in the absence of any strong objections or appealing alternatives, I got an F10. I've had a few days to experiment with it, but I'm still just getting to know it. These are just some initial impressions.

At ISO 1600, noise is objectionable. I think it's slightly worse than my Panasonic FZ20 (a camera often criticized for its noise) at ISO 400. However, the F10 at ISO 800 is much cleaner than the FZ20 at ISO 400. And even at ISO 1600, the F10 produces much cleaner images than some of my earlier digital cameras did at ISO 400. So this represents real progress in small sensors.

I do find that "Natural Light" mode is a little too eager to shift to higher ISO, as others have suggested. For the moment, I'm using "Manual" mode, but with sensitivity set to "Auto". That allows the camera to choose the ISO up to 800. If I'm getting impossibly slow shutter speeds at ISO 800, I can manually switch to 1600.

Another advantage of "manual" mode is that it allows me to select spot metering. I found the default multipoint metering did not work well for me when a bright foreground object appeared against a dark background. Maybe the problem is that I'm accustomed to spot metering and don't know how to interpret or compensate for multipoint.

So far, I've had no problems with the LCD, but then, I do not expect much of it. In bright light, I can see enough to frame the image. I depend on direct observation of the scene to tell me anything else I need to know.

As expected, the included wrist strap may be helpful to avoid dropping the camera, but it is useless as a stabilizing device. I may swap the strap from the G500, which is long enough to go over my head when I need some help holding the camera still. Since I began wearing glasses regularly, I find this sort of stance actually gives me more stability than the old face/camera meld that was the rule with eye-level finders.

JimC, if you happen to be reading this, here's an important bit of information from the manual: "When [the autofocus warning symbol] appears on the LCD monitor (e.g. the shot is too dark for the camera to focus), try standing about 2 m (6.6 ft.) from the subject to take the picture."

So I take it that when autofocus fails, the camera defaults to a 2-meter focus point, just like your preferred setting on the G500/KD-510z.

In summary: I like the F10 and I am impressed with the images it produces. I still need to spend a lot more time with it before I'll know how to get the most out of it. Because of its lack of manual control, I think this is a camera that sometimes has to be "tricked" into producing its best results. But it appears to be a well-designed instrument, and getting around its limitations can be part of the fun. I wouldn't want it to be my main camera, but I think it might be an ideal choice for a camera to have close at hand at all times.
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