Point & Shoot Quality?!?!

Discussion in 'Photography Board' started by csharpwv, May 22, 2011.

  1. csharpwv

    csharpwv DIS Veteran

    May 30, 2009
    I am a long time 'SLR' snob - I have 99% Exclusively taken all of my photos over the last 15 years (I'm 29 HAHA) I have taken all of my photos with an SLR. I owned two 35mm SLR's in high school - and bought a DSLR in college.
    I am on the 2nd DSLR now a Canon 50D.

    I like shooting with an SLR for all the obvious reasons - and I don't like shooting with an SLR for a few obvious reasons - weight and size making it to position #1 and #2 on the Top 10 list of why not to take an SLR on vacation - especially to WDW or Disneyland. (With risk of rain/water damage coming in a close #3)

    In April I took my gear across the country with me for a work trip where I would be going to Disneyland on my free evenings. However, each evening before I left my hotel - it looked like it was going to rain - and it did all but one evening.

    On my February trip, I didn't have room to take my SLR - so I took my wife's flip type cam - which I hate now, and promise to never use again - due to the LACK of ability to shoot a wide angle - due to short battery life - and due to controls that made no sense to me. In short - I hated it!

    So what I'm looking for a good all around point and shoot that will take high quality images, allow for easy manual exposure control and other basics, and be compact as well well as durable.

    I want a decent camera, that will take decent photos, for a decent - but not unrealistic price (nothing cheap - but nothing wildly high priced.

    Any suggestions for a guy addicted to his SLR - but tired of taking it on vacation? :confused3
  2. WilsonFlyer

    WilsonFlyer DIS Veteran

    Apr 24, 2008
  3. zackiedawg

    zackiedawg WEDway Peoplemover Rider

    Aug 5, 2008
    You've got very few realistic choices, if you truly want to maintain manual control over most shooting parameters, and want image quality close to what you can expect from a DSLR. Most P&S cameras are going to be of very small sensor sizes and with little to no manual control. In normal daylight, for normal screen viewing and printing at smallish sizes, any P&S should suffice - a skilled photographer will still know how to get more out of them than the average person, even without actual manual controls. But stray from good daylight, try to get maximum versatility, want to add RAW capability, try to shoot movement/action, or blow up the photos for large prints or heavy cropping and all falls down - the itty bitty sensor cannot be used for such things.

    The best choices you have involve compromise, as do all cameras, but would get closer to delivering what it SOUNDS like you want:

    1. Get a larger sensor compact with electronic manual controls that can give you control over most parameters though without the feel and convenience of real mechanical controls. These would be the Panasonic LX5, Samsung TL500 (EX1), Canon S95, and Olympus XZ1. All of these have moderately wide lenses with small zoom range, manual controls that are mostly fly-by-wire but allow exposure controls and manual shooting, can shoot in RAW, and have slightly better high ISO performance and decently fast lenses (from F1.8 to F2.4). None will approach a DSLR for overall resolution, or for low light ability, speed, depth of field control, etc.

    2. Get a mirrorless compact interchangeable lens camera. These have much larger sensors - ranging from micro 4:3 to APS-C - so can get close or equal to DSLR image quality throughout the range including low light. They also still allow interchangeable lenses, and full manual control, though the smaller bodies often compromise by hiding some of the controls in the menus or within dual-function buttons. They get the job done though, and with full DSLR quality on certain models - and much better control than most P&S models. These would be the Olympus Pen and Panasonic G/GH/GF models (micro 4:3 sensors) and the Sony NEX and Samsung NX models (APS-C sensors). The APS-C sensors will do slightly better in low light/high ISO conditions, dynamic range, and depth of field control (ability to narrow it). All will be significantly better than even the best P&S cameras pretty much across the board. They also have the ability to adapt to any manual lens ever made, which can make them very fun enthusiast bodies for manual control freaks - when manual lenses are used, the camera only needs to control shutter speed, and various picture settings (white balance, metering mode, frame rate) while the lens controls the aperture and focus via the manual lens rings. These cameras really become enthusiast machines when paired with such lenses, and with the larger sensors can really put out DSLR quality - in the case of the NEX system, the 14MP APS-C sensor is the same used in their A550 DSLR, Nikon's D3100 & D90, and Pentax's KX & KR...one of the better low light sensors in recent time, and makes the NEX mirrorless system a true equal for DSLR image quality across the entire ISO range.

    The compromise becomes - do you go for the better P&S models that approach pocketable, and are smaller, one-box solutions but cannot match the versatility and image quality of DSLRs...or do you go for the mirrorless models which can match DSLRs in image quality and interchangeable lens versatility while being much smaller and lighter than DSLRs, while still not being pocketable most of the time and still having some bulk involved if you get into building up a lens collection for them?

    Your call!

    Hope that helps.

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