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Digital 'Still' Camera Recommendations

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by fluffybear, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Dec 4, 2010 #81 of 128
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    If the F rating of the lens is the same, you're dividing the same amount of light over a larger area, right?

    You can't argue more light=better pictures if you're actually seeing the same amount of light per pixel. The advantage to larger pickups must lie somewhere else.
     
  2. Dec 4, 2010 #82 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    For the last time, it's not the amount of light hitting the light receptors on the image sensor, it's the size of those receptors and their ability to capture it with the most detail and the least amplification noise possible.

    You're seeing less light per pixel, because the P&S pixel is physically smaller (up to 1/20th the size) and therefore can't capture as much light as the DSLR pixel. It's like the difference between trying to capture the same amount of water using a shot glass vs. using a bucket, so whatever water spilled using the shot glass needs to be added back later by the camera's electronics.

    IOW, what the P&S cameras do is electronically "amplify" whatever light they've captured, to compensate for what was lost in capture due to pixel size. This "amplification" adds noise and reduces image quality.
     
  3. Dec 4, 2010 #83 of 128
    Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I'm not sure what you mean by the F rating but the f-stop is the ratio of the widest opening and the focal length of the lens. So a 50mm f1.2 lens has a 41.7mm opening (50/1.2). Additionally, closing down on the f-stop doesn't reduce the angle of view (it's actually negligible) but will reduced the amount of light and the depth of field. As you can see increasing the aperture for a given focal length changes the amount of light getting to the focal plane (sensor or film).

    If we consider a large and small sensor with the same resolution, you can have a much wider lens larger sensor and get the same viewing angle. This means you physically get more light to the sensor then you would with a smaller sensor. That coupled that the fact that larger sensor has larger pixel area (for the same resolution) further increases the the potential light gathering.

    Mike
     
  4. Dec 4, 2010 #84 of 128
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Mike....that's why the fast F2.0 lens here, coupled with the large size sensor...leads to the outstanding Powershot S95 results (especially in a P&S).

    I understand your information...but in all honesty...the average consumer and even a number of amateur photographers are often confused (and in some cases when shopping...mislead) by the explanations given.

    Some folks hear "a camera has 14 megapixels and a 15X zoom"and they translate that into "that's almost the best that I can get", when in fact, there is so much more to it...that same camera may yield, in fact, far more inferior digital images than a 10 megapixel camera with a large light sensor.

    There are numerous good articles all over the Internet on this topic....which reiterate what Mike and I are both saying...here's just one:

    http://www.wizardjournal.com/new-gadgets/camera-megapixel-confusion.html

    In the end...a number of folks need to take the time to learn a bit on this subject before buying a new digital camera.
     
  5. Dec 4, 2010 #85 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Your S95 doesn't have a "large size sensor". At 43 sq mm's of surface area (red sqare below), it's about the same size as most other current P&S sensors. By comparison, the 10 megapixel sensor found in the $500 Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS (blue square) is over 328 sq mm's.

    [​IMG]

    What Canon, Nikon and Panasonic did do with the G12, S95, P7000 and LX5 respectively is resist the temptation to use 12-14 megapixel sensors. By choosing to go with 10 megapixels instead, they sacrificed a bit of resolution, but the slightly larger sensor cells are able to pick up a bit more light.

    All is not lost for folks who already bought 12-14 megapixel P&S's, however. You can improve the ability of your cameras to pick up more light with less noise by simply setting the camera to record at a lower resolution. So if your camera is a 12 megapixel Nikon S8100, e.g., by setting it to 3264x2488 resolution instead of it's maximum 4000x3000 resolution, you effectively turn that sensor into a "virtual" 8 megapixel sensor that can capture the same amount of light, but with less "noise". Not quite as good as a "real" 8mp sensor, but better than a 12 mp sensor. Resolution will be reduced, so you won't be able to blow those photos up to 24x30 enlargements... you'll just have to settle for 16x20's. :) They'll take up less disk space, tho!
     

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  6. Dec 4, 2010 #86 of 128
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Apparently you must know something other reviewers and the manufacturer don't know then...becuase your explanation totally contradicts the product information and numerous reviews form the experts that cite the S95 as having one of the largest sensor size of any P&S, as do several reviews on the product I cited in earlier posts.

    It also contradicts what Mike was saying.

    If you're comparing this P&S with $2000-$3000 DSLR's...that would be totally bogus.

    Me thinks your information is amuck...there are many more examples out there that tell it like it really is...

    http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_s95-review

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1008/10081918canonpowershots95.asp

     
  7. Dec 5, 2010 #87 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Not larger than its competitors', as I explained above, but larger than average for a P&S, which is marketing speak, because the difference is minor. Many of today's less expensive point and shoots use a 1/1.8" sensor (5.3 x 7.1mm). The S95 uses a 1/1.7" (5.7 x 7.6) sensor. The $500 Canon EOS XS slr uses a 14.8 x 22.2 mm sensor. All facts. Once again, the difference in size is show here, red being the 1/1.7" sensor:

    [​IMG]

    There's nothing wrong with the s95's image quality, but it's simply not going to be as good as the XS's for a $100 more. Simply boils down to whether you want a camera you can slip into your pocket, or one you need to hang around your neck.
     
  8. Dec 5, 2010 #88 of 128
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    It always does... comparing P&S and conventional DSLR's to each other is a waste of time.

    My whole point about the market speak is that 80% of folks going into a camera store, a retailer, or looking online....get the market hype about megapixels, and have no idea what it all means or what really matters. I saw this over 10 times myself at different locations in person. Sales people trying to use the megapixel lure.

    I also saw and observed plenty of misleading information on the camera construction itself - plenty of the "name brand" units are made up primarily of cheap plastic and are poorly constructed. One retailer told me that out of 100 returned cameras over a 90 day period...3/4 of them were returned because they started to "fall apart from all the plastic". Canon and Sony seem to do a better (overall) job, while Panasonics, especially the Lumix line, are disappointing in that area. While just about all units have at least some plastic, closer inspection reveals significant quality differences.

    Last...but not least...is the fact that many of the P&S cameras use plastic (and slow) lens construction...not good either.

    Best advice....do alot of online research first - and look at 10 or more reviews from different sources if you can on the units you are considering, inclusing purchase sites from actual buyers. While it is occasionally surprising to see the wide range of what you'll read about, these help make buying decisions.

    One other camera I considered had a number of negative ratings (a Nikon), only to find the reason for all those down-side views revolved around a specific feature that I would never use anyway. Digging deeper...I found that except for that one item, almost everyone thought the unit was well constructed and did great imagery. It came in 2nd in my considerations...having looked at it twice in person...I did not like the form factor when using it....but still a very good camera.
     
  9. Dec 5, 2010 #89 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Not in the OP's "under $800" price range. If the highest image quality and the ability to capture action are the primary consideration for week-end photographers, today's hobbyists are fortunate in that there are now plenty of very affordable DSLR's and "rangefinder" cameras to choose from.
     
  10. Dec 5, 2010 #90 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Not in the OP's "under $800" price range. If the highest image quality and the ability to capture action are the primary consideration for week-end photographers, today's hobbyists are fortunate in that there are now plenty of very affordable large sensor DSLR's and "rangefinder" cameras to choose from.
     
  11. Dec 5, 2010 #91 of 128
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Thanks to Steve for helping us move us past the expert opinions and punditry by replacing them with cold, hard numbers.
     
  12. Dec 5, 2010 #92 of 128
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    I contend that getting a decent DSLR under $800 will be a challenge, especially if one expects to take advantage of what a DSLR brings to the table...interchangable lenses to start with. Yes, you can find some "OK" units, but nothing more than base/nominal equipment.

    At that price point, I don't think they are much in play for the OP.
     
  13. Dec 5, 2010 #93 of 128
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    As I alluded to earlier, the lens is only that "fast F2.0" when there's no zoom involved. At 3.8x zoom that becomes a not-so-fast F4.9.
     
  14. Dec 5, 2010 #94 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    If anyone is looking for a sub-$800 DSLR, my daughter just bought the new Nikon D3100 for $675 at Best Buy, with lens. I've been putting the camera through it's paces for a couple of weeks now, and it's spectacular! It also features "live view" (the option to compose pictures on the LCD screen instead of the viewfinder), and 1080p HD video capture with continous autofocus. It's also the smallest DSLR I've ever used.
     
  15. Dec 5, 2010 #95 of 128
    Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Don't most of the current DSLRs have live view? They started showing up a couple of years ago and I thougt the bulk of the current crop have it.

    Mike
     
  16. Dec 5, 2010 #96 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    You're right. Fixed my post. Last time I did my research a couple of years ago, it wasn't common. But I just checked a few and see they mostly all have it, including the bargain Canon T1i's. That's another great camera to consider for the week-end hobbyist, BTW. About $650 with lens.
     
  17. Dec 5, 2010 #97 of 128
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    A few (like my trusty old Minolta S404) are 1/1.8", most P&S cameras use a 1/2.3" pickup. Looking at the respective websites, Fujifilm, Kodak, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon (with the exception of the P7000) all use 1/2.3" (or smaller) pickups in their P&S lines. Canon has two lines (S and G series) that use the 1/1.7" pickup. The rest use a 1/2.3" pickup.

    I think it is fair to say that the 1/1.7" pickup is large by today's P&S camera standards.
     
  18. Dec 5, 2010 #98 of 128
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Correct, though it's only a 15% difference in sensor surface area. The real improvement, IMHO, is the fact the 1/1.8" sensors try to pack on more megapixels (12-14) than the 1/1.7" pick-ups (10), which further exacerbates "noise", though it does improve resolution. It's a delicate trade-off.

    So in bright light, at low ISO's, the 12mp sensor might produce sharper pictures, but in available light, at higher ISO's, the 10mp sensor might provide pictures that are less "grainy", for want of a better term. That's why I recommend that unless folks with 12-14 mp P&S's want to make poster-sized prints, I would set those cameras to the next lower than maximum image size, to improve the sensor's ability to collect light, at the expense of some resolution.
     
  19. Dec 5, 2010 #99 of 128
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly.

    That small difference can make a big difference in low-light and/or image quality when enlarging. Yes, the Nikon P7000 is also a nice camera, and was my 2nd choice...only the form factor turned me off...otherwise...it has great specs too.
     
  20. Dec 5, 2010 #100 of 128
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    I haven't been able to identify any current cameras that use a 1/1.8" pickup. The 1/1.7" pickup is almost double the area of the commonly used 1/2.3" pickup.
     

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