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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Good Glass Compacts with SLR Features?
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05/04/2007 01:22:40 PM · #1
I really want a compact that I can easily carry on long hikes and bike rides that leaves open the possibility to produce a nice landscape shot, at least good enough to make a 10x15 or 12x18 print, even good enough for potential sale.

I was hoping that this thread could be used to discuss DPC community opinions on the latest "affordable" compact prosumer cameras, if there are really any good ones out there (other than the the Leica M8, but I did say affordable).

I have recently been carrying my SLR in my bike bag, but accidents happen, and I'd hate to lose $1600 worth of camera and lens in a fall.

I do read the review sites, like DPReview, and look carefully at their results. But I would value gathering input of DPCers who are perhaps in similar situations as myself, and have either found a solution or are continually looking for this "holy grail" like I am.

My desired specs:

- Compact and lightweight enough for a bike bag or coat pocket
- 28mm or wider lens at one end
- not critical, but I'd like decent telephoto capabilities too. Sometimes you just can't get close to what you are shooting, and having a ultrazoom type camera gives you flexibility
- Manual, Aperture, and Shutter priority
- RAW
- Image stabilization and at least good quality ISO 400 that can meet my enlargement requirements.

Here's what I've considered.

Canon S3. I have a Canon S1; it does take "decent" pictures, but at 3 MP, and no true wide angle, it's limited. I added a Nikon WC68 to it, which gives me 24 mm or so capability, but with more CA and distortion. (Though it's surprisingly good.) Given that I can use the WC68, I've thought about getting the Canon S3, but I think the lack of RAW is too limiting and at least on my S1, ISO 400 sucks.

Panasonic LX2: The Panasonic line in general has really picked up some nice features--they have a lot of wide compacts now. They have that great Leica lens, but too much noise, and many of the compact ones don't have RAW. Though I wonder how the noise would work out in the end for a 10x15 or 12x18 print. The LX2 has RAW and seems like a good camera, except for the noise, and except that 16:9 aspect ratio is required to get a true 28mm focal length, and it lacks any kind of lens/filter accessory mount to use the WC68, for example.

The Fuji line is very tempting. Great sensor. But the F30/F31 has no RAW, no wide angle, and no lens attachments. (I've seen a 3rd party accessory for that, but it isn't a solid tube, so lets light in behind the lens accessory. The S6000 would be near perfect, but it's almost as big as an SLR and doesn't have IS.

The new Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom looks by specs to be the holy grail (28-500mm zoom, IS, RAW). But dpreview did not like the image quality and thus only gave it "above average" as a rating. I will say that looking at the samples, including full size, the picture quality looks pretty decent to me, though I'd need to see some RAW examples to really judge. And I do hate that it uses XD cards (given I already have both CF and SD cards, and they say XD is significantly slower). Does anyone here have one? And/Or have you seen one in a store yet?

If you are in a similar boat as I am in this regard, or have something to contribute, please add to this thread!

Message edited by author 2007-05-04 13:24:49.
05/04/2007 01:34:33 PM · #2
I keep my Nikon Coolpix 5400 around to take out when I don't want to haul around my bigger gear. Only 5MP, but it shoot RAW and the lens is a 28-116 equiv. It also has a flash shoe for using Nikon Speedlites for better flash photography.

I have 2 panoramas on my walls taken with the Coolpix 5400. The print quality is amazing.

The limitations are a small preview screen and long write times, especially in RAW.

I am looking for a more modern higher MP camera. The Canon G6 and G7 have good reviews, but do not go as wide as I'd like.
05/04/2007 01:50:04 PM · #3
Originally posted by scarbrd:

I keep my Nikon Coolpix 5400 around to take out when I don't want to haul around my bigger gear. Only 5MP, but it shoot RAW and the lens is a 28-116 equiv. It also has a flash shoe for using Nikon Speedlites for better flash photography.

I have 2 panoramas on my walls taken with the Coolpix 5400. The print quality is amazing.

The limitations are a small preview screen and long write times, especially in RAW.

I am looking for a more modern higher MP camera. The Canon G6 and G7 have good reviews, but do not go as wide as I'd like.


The Canon G7 doesn't do RAW. I don't know what market they're after anymore with that. The Pro 1 would be an interesting choice, but it's never been updated and it got panned for its sensor in reviews when it came out.

If you are searching too, do me a favor and look at the enlarged sample shots for the Olympus on DPReview and tell me what you think.

Also, if anyone here has one, and has some RAW samples and insights they could share, that would be great.
05/04/2007 01:53:40 PM · #4
<----
Nikon Coolpix 5400. Has some decent lens attachments available. I like to shoot with the wide angle a lot.
05/04/2007 02:34:02 PM · #5
I think that you could also consider a second-hand Minolta A2:
Focal lens equiv. 28-200
Sensor stabilisation
Bigger sensor than the usual compact/bridge size (less noise)
High quality electronical viewfinder (but still less confortable than an optical one)
05/04/2007 02:44:49 PM · #6
Canon Pro 1.

It's a few years old but has a good zoom range and L glass and I think 7mp? You'll probably have to get a used one, but it'll save you some $$$.

Edit to add link: //www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_pro1.asp

28-200mm zoom range and 8mp!

Message edited by author 2007-05-04 14:46:25.
05/04/2007 03:05:16 PM · #7
The Sigma DP1 sounds promising - it has the same sensor as the SD14 that's already out, which turns out good results at low ISO's using the right RAW converter, but the converter that it ships with gives you ridiculous blotchy shadows over ISO 400, so it's a little sketchy.

It has a fixed 28mm equivelant 4.0 lens and an APS sized sensor.

It's probably going to be in the $800-1000 range when it's out, though, which is way high for a compact, so to be honest I probably wouldn't go there.

A lot of people like the Canon S-series, because they do have 28mm equivelant lenses and RAW. I know someone who shoots with one of those, and he's really happy with it. I think he has the S60 or something.
05/04/2007 03:07:10 PM · #8
Panasonics lumix range go to 28mm and carry leica lenses.
Worth looking at.
05/04/2007 05:11:44 PM · #9
I found a new "candidate" that sounds very interesting:

- Kodak EasyShare P880

Even better than I expected, it has a 24mm lens at the wide end!

In fact, it seems to have almost everything I want other than having stabilization. Perhaps not "compact" but not as big as some of the other "SLR-like" all-in-ones (like the Fuji), so it should fit in the bike bag easy enough. Also, nice it has a manual zoom ring, and a threaded lens.

The problem I see: although rated pretty well, the sample shots I've looked at don't impress me at all with regard to clarity/sharpness (compared to other compacts I've looked at). If anyone is interested in "co-shopping" and wants to take a look and offer an opinion on the samples, great. Here's the Lumix FZ8 samples for comparison. (Unfortunately, they always seem to post JPG rather than RAW.)

(One other trivial negative: one of the first cameras I've seen that I actually think is "ugly"!)
05/04/2007 07:21:58 PM · #10
IMHO basically any p&s sucks when it comes to SLR featured compact. The only thing I can really think of is the Leica M8, but moneywise you are better off with a dSLR, even when it is a 1D Mk3. :)


05/04/2007 10:48:06 PM · #11
Originally posted by Azrifel:

IMHO basically any p&s sucks when it comes to SLR featured compact. The only thing I can really think of is the Leica M8, but moneywise you are better off with a dSLR, even when it is a 1D Mk3. :)


Well you're right, but my DSLR can't go everywhere with me. So now that we have that out of the way, the question is, when you're not carrying the DSLR, what would you carry?
05/04/2007 11:11:31 PM · #12
Originally posted by nshapiro:

I found a new "candidate" that sounds very interesting:

- Kodak EasyShare P880

Even better than I expected, it has a 24mm lens at the wide end!



I thought I remembered this right, Laurie Black ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' L1 got one of these a while back.
05/04/2007 11:16:38 PM · #13
I was gonna say find a used Canon Powershot Pro1, super macro is insane, RAW, Remote, Time Elasped shooting, 8MP, menus just like your Rebel, flip LCD... the Canon Wide and TC Adapters are L glass (not cheap I paid $199 for my Canon TC way back when, but it gets me to 320mm), batteries/Compact Flash same as 20D... and the list goes on...

But... the body is just a little smaller than a Rebel XTi and with the TC on it; it isn't going in anyones pocket.

Message edited by author 2007-05-04 23:18:02.
05/05/2007 12:12:59 AM · #14
The Canon S2 has done terrific things for me, but it doesn't shoot RAW and ISO 400 isn't great.

On the other hand, I've sold 3 copies of my current highest-scoring shot, which is a landscape, and I have a gorgeous 16x20 of it hanging in my dining room:
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You can also look at a number of other landscapes in my Alps collection.

Not sure why you're so set on RAW. I'm not looking to start a debate - it's certainly your decision.
05/05/2007 02:27:44 AM · #15
Originally posted by nshapiro:

Originally posted by Azrifel:

IMHO basically any p&s sucks when it comes to SLR featured compact. The only thing I can really think of is the Leica M8, but moneywise you are better off with a dSLR, even when it is a 1D Mk3. :)


Well you're right, but my DSLR can't go everywhere with me. So now that we have that out of the way, the question is, when you're not carrying the DSLR, what would you carry?


I got a Fuji F30, good enough in auto mode.


05/05/2007 04:33:13 AM · #16
The little f30 and its variants are fantastic. Super image quality. Several friends and family have them. None are disappointed. Otherwise for the best lens on a compact go for the Panasonic LX2. My LX1 is phenomenal. I love it.
05/05/2007 04:41:15 AM · #17
I liked the features on my olympus sp-350, they really set me up for using a DSLR.
05/05/2007 07:05:44 AM · #18
I was looking for something similar to stick in my pocket for my daughters wedding (16th June-not long!), although RAW was not a consideration. It came down to the Fuji F30 and this...

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This won because it is 28mm at the wide end. I love it! I paid £169 here in the UK in February its now available at around £155. It is a fairly old model - you should also look at the new Lumix TZ3 - 28mm wide end with a 10 x optical zoom. The bonus with these is the Leica lens and image stabalising. It has been pointed out about noise but its ok up to 400 after that it does show up. Battery life is excellent and if you inclined to do video this is also excellent - I do quite a lot of my grandsons.

Mike
05/05/2007 01:05:34 PM · #19
Originally posted by Patmania:

The little f30 and its variants are fantastic. Super image quality. Several friends and family have them. None are disappointed. Otherwise for the best lens on a compact go for the Panasonic LX2. My LX1 is phenomenal. I love it.


LX2 is definitely on my list--I was kind of hoping to see an LX3 before I had to buy. Do you use it in RAW or JPEG mode? Are you able to use ISO 400 at all, or is there too much noise (in RAW, I know they have less noise in JPEG, but as I understand Panasonic's noise reduction algorithms are a bit heavy handed.)
05/05/2007 01:08:00 PM · #20
Originally posted by MikeOwens:

I was looking for something similar to stick in my pocket for my daughters wedding (16th June-not long!), although RAW was not a consideration. It came down to the Fuji F30 and this...

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/636/thumb/468808.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/636/thumb/468808.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

This won because it is 28mm at the wide end. I love it! I paid £169 here in the UK in February its now available at around £155. It is a fairly old model - you should also look at the new Lumix TZ3 - 28mm wide end with a 10 x optical zoom. The bonus with these is the Leica lens and image stabalising. It has been pointed out about noise but its ok up to 400 after that it does show up. Battery life is excellent and if you inclined to do video this is also excellent - I do quite a lot of my grandsons.

Mike


I'd be tempted by the TZ3, even though it doesn't do RAW. But it also doesn't have manual/aperture priority/shutter priority settings. I guess you can have some control over that using scene modes.

Honestly, I'm tempted to get a few cameras! It's only money :)
05/05/2007 01:31:00 PM · #21
One thing to possibly consider is that you can effectively use a camera as a wider angle (and increase your pixels in your image) by shooting several shots from one spot and stitching them together into a panorama. I have seen a seven foor long, 180 degree panorama made that way. COmbining images also will improve sharpness.
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