Nikon has decided to release an update to the Coolpix P5100. Like the Panasonic LX-2 the Nikon P5100 had near perfect specs but fell down on such a major feature that I deamed it unbuyable. It was so painfully slow that you'd be religated to only taking static shots. It's took 2 seconds between shots and in continuous mode it could only muster .3 frames per second. That is in comparison to the G7s 2fps. The Panasonic LX-2 on the other hand had perfect specs but the over diligent noise suppression turned photos taken ISO 400 or higher into Degas paintings.
Now Panasonic has released the LX-3 which according to them has much nicer photos and Nikon has released the P6000. Because there aren't currently any reviews for either we have to speculate on whether they improve apon their forbearers.I've included a chart here that compares the two of them to the Canon G7. I use the G7 here because that's what I have and there's very little reason to buy a G9 if you already have the G7. The only improvements were extra resolution that nobody needed, the ability shoot in raw and a larger LCD screen. The larger screen has the same pixels and cramped some of the buttons and with the CHDK firmware you can shoot in raw with the G7. I did not include every comparison item as many are identical between the cameras so I've included the points where the three differ.
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||Canon PowerShot G7||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3|
|Max resolution||3648 x 2736||3648 x 2736||3648 x 2736|
|Low resolution||3648 x 2432, 3584 x 2016, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480||2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480||3968 x 2232, 3776 x 2520, 3328 x 1872, 3168 x 2112, 3072 x 2304, 2784 x 1568, 2656 x 1768, 2560 x 1920, 2208 x 1248, 2112 x 1408, 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||4:3, 3:2, 16:9||4:3, 3:2||16:9, 4:3, 3:2|
|Effective pixels||13.5 million||10.0 million||10.1 million|
|Sensor photo detectors||13.93 million||10.3 million||11.3 million|
|Sensor size||1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²)||1/1.8 " (7.18 x 5.32 mm, 0.38 cm²)||1/1.63 "|
|Pixel density||33 MP/cm²||26 MP/cm²||24 MP/cm²|
|ISO rating||Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP)||Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600||Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200|
|Zoom wide (W)||28 mm||35 mm||24 mm|
|Zoom tele (T)||112 mm (4 x)||210 mm (6 x)||60 mm (2.5 x)|
|Macro focus range||2 cm||1 cm||1 cm|
|White balance override||5 positions, manual preset||6 positions & manual preset||5 positions, plus 2 manual|
|Aperture range||F2.7 - F5.9||F2.8 - F4.8||F2.0 - F2.8|
|Min shutter||Unknown||15 sec||60 sec|
|Max shutter||Unknown||1/2500 sec||1/2000 sec|
|Flash guide no.||8.0 m (26.2 ft)||4.0 m (13.1 ft)||8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO)|
|External flash||Yes, hot shoe||Yes, hot-shoe||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off,|
|Metering||Unknown||Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot||Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Continuous Drive||Yes||Yes, 2.0 fps||Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images|
|Movie Clips||Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps||Yes, 1024 x 768 @ 15 fps, 640 x 480 @ 30/15 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30/15 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps||Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps|
|Self-timer||3 or 10 sec||Yes||2 or 10 sec|
|Uncompressed format||Yes||No (yes with chdk firmware)
|Quality Levels||High, Normal||Super-Fine Fine, Normal||Fine, Standard|
|LCD||2.7 "||2.5 "||3.0 "|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||280 g (9.9 oz)||380 g (13.4 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
|Dimensions||107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)||106 x 72 x 43 mm (4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)||109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)|
|Notes||Built-in GPS receiver|
I probably sound like a broken record here but companies keep releasing cameras in my range but I don't have enough information to actually purchase one.The camera that I'm trying to replace is a Canon G7 which is currently broken. I can get it fixed for about $135.00 but advances have been made since I got it. Nikon and Panasonic have both come out with replacements to their sub-SLR level cameras. The Canon P5100 was so pathetically slow that it knocked itself out of the running even though the specs and the photos were excellent. I've not seen a review on the P6000 yet to know if they fixed that issue. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 and LX2 made photos that resembled Degas paintings at ISOs greater than 200 so they were out even though they had great specs. Now here we are with a new Canon G series camera. I've put together a chart below (ripped from dpreviews comparison page) of the three contenders. Below the chart I'll outline the pluses and minuses as I see them.
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3||Canon Powershot G10|
|Max resolution||4224 x 3168||3648 x 2736||4416 x 3312|
|Effective pixels||13.5 million||10.1 million||14.7 million|
|Sensor photo detectors||13.93 million||11.3 million||Unknown|
|Sensor size||1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²)||1/1.63 "||1/1.7 " (7.60 x 5.70 mm, 0.43 cm²)|
|Pixel density||33 MP/cm²||24 MP/cm²||34 MP/cm²|
|ISO rating||Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP)||Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200||Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Zoom wide (W)||28 mm||24 mm||28 mm|
|Zoom tele (T)||112 mm (4 x)||60 mm (2.5 x)||140 mm (5 x)|
|Image stabilization||Yes||Yes, Lens||Yes, Lens|
|Macro focus range||2 cm||1 cm||1 cm|
|Aperture range||F2.7 - F5.9||F2.0 - F2.8||F2.8 - F4.5|
|Min shutter||Unknown||60 sec||15 sec|
|Max shutter||Unknown||1/2000 sec||1/4000 sec|
|Built-in Flash||Yes||Yes, pop-up||Yes|
|Flash guide no.||8.0 m (26.2 ft)||8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO)||4.6 m (15 ft)|
|External flash||Yes, hot shoe||Yes||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off,||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off|
|Metering||Unknown||Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot||Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot|
|Lens thread||Yes||Yes, optional adapter||No|
|Continuous Drive||Yes||Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images||Yes, 0.7 fps|
|Movie Clips||Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps||Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps||Yes, 640 x 480 @ 30 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps|
|Self-timer||3 or 10 sec||2 or 10 sec||2 or 10 sec or custom|
|LCD||2.7 "||3.0 "||3.0 "|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||280 g (9.9 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)||390 g (13.8 oz)|
|Dimensions||107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)||109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)||109 x 78 x 46 mm (4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in)|
I can honestly say that I only had a few complaints about the Canon G7 - it was heavy and a bit bigger than I wanted and it didn't have a built in wide angle lens. I bought the external wide angle and rarely used it because it was huge.
About the time I've decided on Panasonics GH1 micro four-thirds camera Canon pulls a rabbit out of it's hat. As I've written before the GH1 is a DSLR like camera (no mirror so technically not a DSLR) that shoots equal stills to a DSLR but also shoots HD video which is a first for an under $1000 camera in this form factor.The next best thing was to spend a couple grand on a Canon 5d Mk II but that's outside my budget and commitment level. Now Canon introduces the T1i which has the 50d's 15 MP sensor and can shoot HD video like the 5d Mk II! Thanks Canon for giving me yet another thing to have to consider. I think the only thing the Panasonic has over it is size.
The press release
Watching the compact high quality camera market is like watching a boxing match. It used to be Canon and Nikon in the ring until Nikon tucked it's tail in and ran. Panasonic promised to take the crown but after releasing the Lumix LX1 and Lumix LX2 people almost stopped listening to them because the photo quality was so poor. They came back with a knockout with the LX3 and turned out a camera with absolutely wonderful photos and low light performance in addition to it being very compact (more so than the Canon G10). A bit of history is probably in order. Canon had the G series which slotted nicely between the point and shoots and the DSLRs with full manual control, articulated screens and a bunch of other goodies. They also had a camera that slotted between the G-series and the point and shoots again - the S series. The S series had the G series' large sensor, a wide angle lens, manual controls and came in a much smaller body. It wasn't as nice to hold or use because it was compact but the quality of the photos were great. Canon cancelled the S series when the G7 came out thinking that the market was getting pretty crowded and Nikon had been K.O.ed in the 5th round anyway. The one thing I like about competition is it makes companies get off their collective arses and do something. The Panasonic LX3 takes photos as nice as the G10, has all the controls of the G10, has a faster lens (but less zoom) and is about half the size of the G10. Smaller is better in my book since I like to keep my camera in my pocket so Canon as turned the way-back machine to 2003 and reintroduced the S series and at the same time the G11 is a bit bigger and has the articulated screen again. The S90 will duke it out with the LX3 and the G11 will be for a different customer, one that wants more physical controls, an articulated screen and more zoom.
Regular visitors know of my obsession with finding the ultimate point and shoot camera and know that I bought an S90 which I've been very impressed with. It's two downfalls have been the ergonomics and the lack of improvements in video abilities. The former you can work around by adding a grip and just plain getting used to it. The latter you're stuck with. Canon appears to be listening and has released an update to the S90 aptly named S95. I think the update may be fueled as much by Panasonic adding more zoom to the LX series as customer demands.
According to dpreview they've added support for SDXC cards for larger than 32 GB (ho hum), some improvements in the image stabilization (yawn) and multi-aspect shooting (tapping my fingers here Canon). The ONE real new feature and probably the only real reason for the update is the improved sensor that does 720 HD video (at 24 fps) with stereo sound! Finally Canon is getting into the game. I don't care that much because I also own a Canon HF-200. The improvement is welcome though and shows that Canon is making the changes to be competitive in the Point and Shoot video market as well.
There are still limitations to the very design of most point and shoot cameras. They will say unlimited video recording until the card is full or the file size reaches 4 GB. In HD the S95 can record about 30 minutes of video non-stop. Sounds like a Fat32 filesystem limit to me. I think it's time camera manufacturers endorse a new filesystem.
They've made other small changes to improve the complaints about ergonomics. The small wheel on the back supposedly is less sensitive, the coating is less slippery than the old finish (listed as wet bar of soap in the catalog I believe), and the power button and ring function button have been swapped. Also it looks as if the shutter release is about the same size but the area surrounding the button is dished in to help you find it by feel. The button itself looks to have more of a bulge to it for the same reason. If you go back and read my S90 review you will see that they have directly addressed ALL of my major complaints except for the grip issue which can be fixed by buying the aftermarket grip. Since I've not used the S95 I cannot comment on whether they have been successful but it looks positive.
Read DPreviews press release.
It's been nearly 2 months since I've posted last! This is by far the longest and it's only out of a lack of time. I've been working 110 hrs a week and teaching two classes on top of that and in the middle of a recession no less.
After a lot of research I finally ordered the Canon S90 which I'll have in a few days. I have a Canon G7 with hack kit and wide angle lens which is currently broken. I liked the quality of the photos and the manual everything but my complaint with it were that it was heavy, bigger than necessary and the wide angle wasn't built in. The G11 would have solved the last item but not the first two. I pondered the Panasonic LX-3 for a really long time but not having any real zoom turned me off. The 24mm lens would have been nice but only if I had any zoom at all. The Panasonic LX-3 is a 24-60mm zoom and 50mm is life size so you can imagine that 60mm does nothing for you. It zooms out but not really in. I was really drawn to the LX-3 because of it's fast lens and low light performance however DPreview just did a full test on the S90 and it was actually better in low light than the LX-3 so I put the money on the table. DPreviews still didn't rate the camera super high but it takes great photos, is small, has a wide angle lens and manual mode so is about perfect for me. They complained about it being slippery and likening it to a bar of soap. They also complained about the settings wheel on the back being way to free wheeling. To solve the first part I also ordered Richard Franiecs add on grip for the S90. This is machined out of solid alluminum so it will give the S90 a bit more heft which won't hurt it and improve the feel of the camera 100%. It would be interesting to see how DPreview would have rated the S90 had it had a decent grip. I also ordered some LCD screen protectors and a couple of extra aftermarket batteries as well.
I'll report later about my feelings on the S90.
I recently blogged about the Fujifilm F50 fd as being a possibility for my next point and shoot camera. It has some great features and more importantly a decent manual mode and low light performance. I've been using Canon cameras for quite a while because they are built really solid, have a great menu system and the image quality is among the best in the industry. They also have a low noise suppression philosophy which I like because you get a photo that may need to be touched up in the Gimp but it's closer to what the camera saw. In the case of Panasonics and a few others the blur the heck out of the photo in order to suppress noise. Once the photo is mangled there's no turning back, it's done.
I've been wanting to replace my SD-500 with something better and I'd listed a wide angle lens and image stabilization as two key features. The SD-800 IS has both of these but scored poorly in DP-Reviews test . The image quality wasn't as good as the non wide angle cameras of the same level so I scrapped that idea. The SD-870 has now been reviewed and the image quality is much improved over the SD-800 or maybe they just got a better sample. Anyway I'm considering it again as it has most everything I want outside of more manual controls. And as I've proven to myself over and over you can't have everything in a digital point and shoot camera - at least not yet.
I haven't done a lot in the way of photography blogging or even uploading photos lately since I've not been on vacation. Most of the photos here have to do with food or travel but I've just added a new menu item under Photography labelled Galleries. Generic I know and I'll probably change it but these are galleries that have to do with photography itself as opposed to photos for other purposes. What spawned this was that I have a gallery of photos taken with my Canon S90 where I'm just showing off the camera to see what it can do. I decided to share. Another thing happened that spurred this decision is that I bought a Nokia n900 cell phone. If you're wondering what a cell phone has to do with photography you've obviously not seen the photos this thing takes. I'm not going to say they're camera quality but I'm very very impressed so far especially within the context of "cell phone". The photo to the right was taken with the Nokia. See what I mean? So in the future I'll be taking more photos with both my S90 and the n900 just to show off what the cameras can do. Currently I'm thinking of taking a Vehicle mount for the Nokia and hacking it into a tripod mount since it doesn't have a mount on it. It might seem silly to take photos with a cell phone but it's also fun to see just HOW good they can be. The standard Nokia software is about as good as aftermarket Android camera software. I downloaded Bless900 which allows me to take RAW and HDR photos with the nokia so I'll be playing with that too.
The annual PMA show just finished up so I'm here to give you my thoughts on the announcements. Canon released some new point and shoots none of which are really any different than what they've been shoveling out for the last few years. Video has gotten better on the SX series and the model numbers have grown on the SD series but overall not very exciting. The one theme that seemed to be consistant was manufacturors releasing water-proof cameras. There seems to be a trend that every manufacturor wants at least one waterproof point-and-shoot in their lineup. I bought my Sanyo E-1 for that purpose but have only taken it underwater once. The nice thing about waterproof cameras is you don't have to worry about rain, sand and dirt as they are sealed. This I've enjoyed.
I think the real surprises for the show were from Samsung and Ricoh, two manufacturors that hang out on the fringe. Recently there was a comment thread on one of the photo sites about Panasonics GH-1 micro-four/thirds camera and people got a bit testy about these new mirror-less large sensor cameras. It was interesting to see the DSLR crowd take the defensive position that the SLR folks took when things started going digital. The DSLR crowd said a mirrorless camera will never replace one with a mirror becauseand as such the micro four thirds cameras were nothing more than point and shoots. If engineers can get contrast detect focus as fast as DSLRs and they create an "optical" viewfinder with a really high-res screen and by "zooming" in on a small section of what the sensor sees to create penta-prism focusing functionality I don't think DSLRs have a prayer. The advantages of getting rid of the mirror is one less mechanical piece, the camera body can be flatter and the lenses can be smaller all around. In the future (and I predict) large sensor point and shoots will replace DSLRs. I give DSLRs 5 years.
In that vein the two cameras I'm going to talk about are the Ricoh GXR system and the Samsung TS500. Neither of these cameras compete with the micro four thirds (after that long introduction) but occupy the space of the Canon s90, G11 and Panasonic LX3 which all of you know I've been considering as my new point and shoot.
The Ricoh GXR system is a very interesting concept where the sensor and lens are one piece. That sort of makes sense because you'd be able to have a lens/sensor combo optimized for certain functions. Say a small cmos sensor and lens aimed at doing video or a large sensor and fast lens designed for action and or low light shots. This is exactly what the GXR is. There are two options at this point - a backlit cmos sensor with 28-300 mm zoom lens (model P10). The back illuminated sensor should help in low light situations as more light hits the sensor if it's reversed. The zoom isn't particularily fast but thats not really it's purpose. The other choice is a 28mm fixed lens with a APS-C (gag, cough) sensor (model A12). The APS-C size of sensor is what's used in most all DSLRs except for a couple of high end Canons which use the full frame sensor. The lens on the Ricoh is fairly fast so in combination with the sensor you should be able to take photos in the same level of light as any DSLR. It also does full speed HD video. Both lens/sensors take photos in raw and have anti-vibration control. I'm sure that in time there will be a bunch of lens/sensor combos coming out. In addition they have the S10 which has a small CCD sensor with a 28-75 zoom. I'm going to wage a guess that these cameras will be expensive and we're also back to "Now I have to buy my lenses from one company" which we see a lot in the SLR/DSLR realm. Interesting concept.
The other camera of interest is the Samsung TL-500 which you can think of as the result of Panasonic and the Canon getting waisted and spending the night in the back seat of a 64 Chevy Impala. Look at the specs and you'll see what I'm talking about.
|Canon S90||Canon G11||Panasonic LX3||Samsung TL-500|
It looks as if Samsung just looked at the Canon and Panasonic cameras and did a mashup. Anyway I'm curious about the Samsung because it looks like an S90 (currently my favorite) with a slightly faster lens and an articulated screen. It's a smaller G11 is what it is. Since Samsung rarely tops the quality charts though I'll be waiting for reviews first before rushing to Amazon.
I really did like my Canon G7 but since I broke it I've been trying to figure out what to do. Canon will fix it for $160 but I've not had the time to send it off. They'll replace it for $275 if I send the old one in but again I don't know how long that takes. I have no problem replacing the camera if there is an alternative. I thought Nikons P series camera may be a contender but all the reviews have shown it to be dog slow. Before buying the G7 I seriously looked over the Panasonic DMC-LX1 but reviews showed it have outrageous overpowering noise cancelation to the point that any photo taken above ISO 200 looked like mud. The Panasonic DMC-LX2 came out with the hope that they'd fixed the noise situation but they only slightly improved it. Again any photo taken at ISO 100/200 looked as good as a Sony or Canon but as soon as that ISO reached 400 it was all over. I'm not sure why Panasonic's sensor is so noisy but it's really bad. Let it be known that on paper the Panasonic cameras have been virtually perfect for my needs in my eyes.
The reason I'm dwelling on the LX series once again is because Panasonic just announced the DMC-LX3. As usual the paper specs are just about ideal for what I want to do. The question is can it take photos without messing them up intentionally.
Here's what I like about it compared to the G7:
- Large 1/1.63 sensor for the camera size. This is larger than the G7s 1/1.8
- Shoots in raw - G7 does with chdk hack
- Built in 24 mm wide angle. Even with the huge wide angle adapter my G7 was 28mm
- Fast F2.0-2.8 Leica lens - G7 f2.8-4.8
- Hot shoe for flash
- 720p video at 24 fps
- 2.5 fps continuous drive (8 frames max)
- high burst mode of 6 frames a second, I don't know the limit
- 3.0" LCD with 480,000 pixels - G7 2.5" with 200,000 pixels
- Lighter, 9.3 oz - G7 13 oz
- Smaller, half inch smaller in two dimensions 4.3x2.4x1.1 - G7 4.2x2.8x1.7
- Extra wide angle conversion lens takes it to 18 mm
- All manual functions - aperature and shutter priority
- Has a grip