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Best Compact With Slr Capabilities.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by woody57, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. woody57

    woody57 Member

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    Hi i am looking for a top of the range compact,with SLR capabilities/quality capture.I am looking because i am totally fed up lugging my slr gear about.?I feel the results i have had with my nikon d40x 18-200 vr lens could be all but achieved with a good compact any suggestions views etc thanks jim.
  2. loz

    loz Active Member

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    No compact is going to give you the same IQ because of the small sensor size on compact cameras.

    Noise once you use anything other than ISO100 is generally a problem even on the best of compacts.

    The only compact to use a APS-C sized sensor is the new Sigma DP1
    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0802/08021502sigmaDP1price.asp

    But it comes at a hefty price, and only has a fixed focal length.

    What is one of the best compacts, the Canon G9, still has noise even at ISO80 :eek:
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/page20.asp

    Noisewise, some of the Fuji superCCD compact cameras were the best, but even they have circumed to the need to increase pixels, and consequently noise has increased too.
    e.g. the F31fd from last year
    However, the latest incarnation the F50fd, still isn't bad from a noise perspective
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilmf50fd/page17.asp
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  3. Liquid101

    Liquid101 Active Member

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    As Loz says - no compact will give you anything close to SLR results. Bridge cameras will probably give the best of the results -but even though they're smaller than an SLR, they're still not pocketable - so you're still going to have to carry a bag or case of some kind. The way I see it, if you're going to carry a bag, you may as well have somethign useful in it.

    What kind of photographs do you make?
  4. Pirate!!

    Pirate!! New Member

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    Ahoy!

    The only one I know of that comes remotely close is the Sony DSC-R1. Be prepered to pay a premium price for it though (eBay). No longer made, it's regarded as the BEST of the prosumer/bridge variety.

    EDIT: It's not a compact, but no compact can compare to a dSLR. Many on the forum have the Panasonic DMC-TZ3.
  5. danburbridge

    danburbridge Guest

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    Its not out yet (and it aint cheap) but the sigma dp-1 looks to be a stunning compact with a sensor of similar size to a DSLR (check out the preview on dpreview)
  6. danburbridge

    danburbridge Guest

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    just noticed the DP-1 has already been mentioned.

    The other option is to shoot film!

    Pick up a cheap medium format folder + scanner - should give better results than a DSLR :devil:

    or a compact 35mm rangefinder like the Canonet Gl17 GIII (40m f1.7 lens IIRC!) should be able to pick up a decent one for under £50
  7. Ikki

    Ikki Member

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  8. TarMoo

    TarMoo Active Member

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    I have gone the other way. I have a Canon Digital IXUS 850 IS and have now gone for a heavy-weight D300 with 18-200VR lens.

    If you check out the reviews in dpreview.com, steves-digicams.com, dcresource.com you will find with compacts get the best reviews. At Ken Rockwells Recommended Cameras you will get his take on things. Ken likes the Canon IXUS cameras with Image Stabilisation like I have.

    Image stabilisation is more useful than more megapixels on the Canon cameras. Taking picture outdoors in good light produces excellent results. Where the compacts fall down is indoor pictures with flash. I am amazed at the results you can get with bounced flash using my D300 with a Nikon SB400 flash which I got for £75 on Amazon. I am now getting a SB800 for off camera flash because I am so impressed.
  9. Liquid101

    Liquid101 Active Member

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    Firstly, if a DSLR is too much to carry around, then a MF camera is like carrying around the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes.

    Secondly - even a perfectly exposed 6x7 transparency from my RB67, scanned on a flextight scanner struggles to keep up with even a mid range DSLR. It's amazing how far modern cameras have come.

    35mm film is dead in the water compared to even the basic DSLR's - OK a great organic feel to your shots, but in terms of colour rendition, sharpness, resolution and dpeth - the digital wins hands down.
  10. danburbridge

    danburbridge Guest

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    I would disagree re medium format - a folder is small enuough to fit in your pocket and film emulsions have come on a long way in the last couple of years (spearheaded from advances in motion picture film)

    Colour rendition is one area where film (transparancy) wins hands down though :)
  11. Liquid101

    Liquid101 Active Member

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    Not a chance.

    I've been working in colour critical work for the last 10 years - and direct digital capture is by far and away the most acurate way of capturing colour consistently. Transparency films can vary from batch to batch, film processing changes every time you put a film though (allbeit, fractionally) and when it comes to film scanning - well, unless you have gone to a lot of trouble when making the exposure in the first place, colour control is purely subjective.
  12. common

    common Member

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    Also check out the Ricoh GRDII

    Especially for that 35mm feel with B&W - a few taken with mine in London...


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  13. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    Show me a compact that can...

    - accurately AF track a bird in flight and isolate it from a busy background, or a sprinter/footballer, or a speeding car
    - shoot 5+ frames per second,
    - grab focus in a fraction of a second, even in dim light
    - capture the image the instant you release the shutter,
    - shoot (relatively) cleanly at 1600 ISO and higher,
    - save files in raw format,
    - gives a focal length range of 16mm - 896mm (35mm equivalent), which I have at my disposal at the moment (that's 56X optical zoom),
    - gives you shallow DOF control to create nice bokeh for portraits, or isolate a single player in a rugby scrum,
    - flash that can be bounced, fine tuned and reaches to 20m and beyond,
    - shoot 1200+ frames without recharging or replacing batteries,
    - capture 8-9 stops of dynamic range,
    - sync flash at 1/250 or even faster, for daylight fill flash
    - shoot wider than 28mm (35mm equivalent)
    - shoot at 80mm f/1.8 or 27mm-320mm f/2.8 or 160mm-640mm f/4.5-f/5.6 or 896mm f/8 (35mm equivalent)
    - give 3 stops of optical image stabilisation
    - shoot with flash and avoid red eye at all distances
    - be adjusted quickly for ISO, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation
    - separate the focusing operation from exposure metering and shutter release
    - allow manual fine tuning of focus, for macro or product photography, or to shoot through, and beyond, wire fencing or branches and leaves
    - be operated remotely - remote shooting with a laptop - for whatever reason
    - display an RGB histogram for critical exposure analysis and correction
    - stop down to f/22 or f/32 to allow a long exposure to smooth the flow of a stream or waterfall
    - stop down to f/22 or f/32 to allow a long exposure to smooth the flow of a stream or waterfall and not suffer from massive diffraction softening
    - constant aperture over the entire zoom range, making manual exposure straightforward while needing to zoom

    I'm not aware of any compact that can deliver on more than 2-3 of those requirements, ever mind all of them, but my Canon 40D, 580EX flash and five lenses can. A G9 will do raw and, with a 580EX mounted, could also handle the flash requirements, but then it would no longer be compact.

    Could you shoot a church wedding (successfully) with a compact? Could you shoot motorsport, or most action sports, well with a compact, reliably and under a wide range of lighting and weather conditions? Could you create a DOF so thin that only the eyes were in focus, for a full headshot? Could you capture a sequence of shots of your dog running towards you at full tilt?

    I have a Sony DSC-P200 digicam. In good light, with a static subject/scene it works quite well. It's OK for snapshots and simple captures. For anything else it is complete and utter rubbish. Pictures are revolting at anything above 200 ISO. Even at 200 ISO the pictures are far from noise free. I hate it. Even so, there is nothing on the market today that I would want to spend my money on to replace it because in my opinion there is nothing good enough to make it worth spending the money. I'll stick with the SLR, content myself with snapshots, or simply not bother. The Fuji F31 was the best option (even without raw) but Fuji (and everyone else) sold out to marketing with these stupid stupid stupid high megapixel counts. I suppose the Canon G9 is closest to being the best compact available today but it is not especially compact and still can't do AI servo tracking of moving subjects. High ISO sucks as well. Now a G9 with the Fuji F31 sensor would begin to be getting somewhere, but even then, for action shots....... :(

    Compacts might be OK for average photos in average conditions. In the right hands they can deliver amazing photographs. They certainly have their place, for convenience and price, but as soon as you push the envelope, in my opinion, compacts will run out of steam pretty quickly.
  14. Ikki

    Ikki Member

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    Show me a DSLR and lens that fits on your jacket pocket. :)
  15. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    I know you're only teasing, but in seriousness, the OP was under the impression that he can replace his SLR with a compact and expect to get (almost) equivalent image quality. Perhaps for his needs that could be true, if his needs are modest. Given the amount of kit I sometimes cart about (2 bodies, 5 lenses, macro tubes, a teleconverter, flash gun and spare batteries) I would not regard one body and a single lens as something that had to be "lugged about".

    I just know that there is no way on earth that any compact camera, or even a dozen different ones, could give me every capability I have, and make use of, with my SLR setup.

    Why do pros use SLRs? Why do hobbyists use SLRs? Is it because they like spending all that extra money and lugging all that extra kit? I doubt it. It is probably for flexibility, capability, ergonomics and ultimate image quality. No compact can match what an SLR can offer, but not everyone needs all that an SLR can offer. For some people a compact will do just fine.

    So to go back to the OP's original question - Best Compact With Slr Capabilities? - it would be helpful to know which SLR capabilities he is actually looking to retain.
  16. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    Using the search filters available in Pricerunner, here is a shortlist of 15 (less if you remove duplicates) cameras with the following attributes....

    - Price over £180 (assuming quality and features are governed by price to some degree)
    - Optical zoom of 6X or more
    - Weight under 300 grams

    Some of those are quite bulky, and should probably be dismissed, leaving a final shortlist of 6-7 cameras.

    http://www.pricerunner.co.uk/cl/29/...=3&saved_products=0&a_717=between;100.0;300.0

    I don't know much about any of the "finalists" but I doubt any of them would be much of a match for an SLR. Some may offer a fair amount of zoom range but I imagine high ISO performance would be dire and operational speed would be quite limiting. On paper, the Sony DSC-H10 looks quite interesting, but how compact is it, and how are the reviews?
  17. Thumpermawer

    Thumpermawer Member

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    That post was hilarious! If you turn around and look waaay off into the distance you might just about be able to make out the point of the question that you have - quite spectacularly - missed! :D If a compact could mimic a SLR then why would anyone have a SLR set up?! :suicide:

    Woody, there's the Canon G7/9, Ricoh GRD/II GX100, Sony H3/9, Panasonic TZ3 and a bunch of others that will give you a varied range of creative features that your dSLR might have. Just check the spec sheet to make sure you're not giving up features you really want, check out some sample shots and have a play in a shop before splashing the cash and you're laughing.

    Tdodd was right though, if you could be more specific about what features you would most like to retain (zoom range, manual control, bright lens etc) then you might get more helpful replies.
  18. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    I don't think I missed the point at all. The OP said....

    "I feel the results i have had with my nikon d40x 18-200 vr lens could be all but achieved with a good compact any suggestions views etc."

    Personally I doubt very much that a compact could achieve results as good as an SLR - unless the photographer had quite modest photographic needs. I have given numerous examples of situations or requirements where a compact would fall short. The OP asked for views. I provided mine. You don't need to agree with them but I responded directly to the OP's enquiry.

    At least I took the trouble to point out the possible shortcomings of a compact vs a DSLR. I feel that is far more informative and constructive response than glibly saying "Get a TZ3 " etc.. If the OP still wants a compact, once he appreciates what he might be missing, then I wish him luck finding an adequate replacement for his DSLR. I just don't feel that I could recommend any compact camera, in good conscience, as a replacement for a DSLR.
  19. Liquid101

    Liquid101 Active Member

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    Neither do I - I think you covered just about every point there was
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  20. Paul68

    Paul68 Member

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    I have just done exactly the same thing for the same reasons.

    I started off with an olympus 350 compact & really enjoyed using it when my daughters were babies.

    I then bought an olympus E10 with 200mm telephoto, wide angle lense & macro, then bought a bag to put it all in complete with batteries & charger etc.
    I know the E10 isnt what you would call a true pro slr but i was really happy with the quality. But, i got to the stage where i wasnt taking it out due to lugging everything with me along with a camcorder i could fit in my pocket.

    I have just sold my beloved E10 & ordered a Panasonic Lumix TZ3 after reading loads of reviews. im not expecting it to give the same quality as my
    E10 but, thats something im prepared ro live with, afterall, with two young kids running me ragged when we go out at least i will now be able take the camera out of my pocket & take pictures while not having to struggle with a bag that weighs a tonne trying to keep up with them.
    When theyre older no doubt i'll probably buy another DSLR when i have more time.
    I know compacts have come a long way but, i dont think any compact can compare to a DSLR, Its like comparing analogue tv with High Definition, theres no comparison. But for now, im prepared to live with the fact
  21. senu

    senu Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thread
    Suffice to say that even among DSLRs , the budget models struggle where the mid range or higher end ones carry on when the shooting conditions become challenging
    It is not that high end compacts are not capable, but comparing them is missing the point that what you get in a compact body, you have to "pay for", by giving up higher ISO low noise ect
    I find that many "compacts" which have extra manual settings have them hidden away in a menu system ( almost as if they are only meant to be accessed occasionally)
    Tdodd described but didnt specifically state the one thing I've never seen in a compact: satisfactory shutter lag
    Although pocket able, when you have with small kids running around, the compacts may not give you enough "freeze action" when the "little angels:rolleyes: " are all over the place

    Finally,Im not sure why folk like to be in "camps" but many DSLR owners also have compacts or bridge cameras , simply using each one where it is most convenient
  22. Radiohead

    Radiohead Active Member

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    For all-round ability I'd go for a G9 or GX100, but the purist in me would be looking at a GRD-II or DP1.
  23. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    I was immediately put off the GX100 by the noise examples in the review here....

    http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews_ricoh_caplio_gx100_2.php

    I'm not really sure what was going on with the colours at 800 ISO and above. I've also no idea if it was intentional to have an unfocused image but, even for 100% crops, I'm seriously concerned about the lack of detail at any ISO.

    I also downloaded all the raw sample files. I can't say I was impressed! The one of the yellow flowers is completely blown in the yellows and highlight recovery will not bring the detail back. It seems to behave less like a raw file and more a jpeg saved as a tiff.

    It takes 6 seconds to save a single raw file! It's not exactly a performance speed freak.
  24. Radiohead

    Radiohead Active Member

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    If I'm honest though, I wouldn't expect a sensor that size to be much use above 400 (and even 400 mono only)
  25. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    I agree with you 100%. I'm trying to alert the OP to the fact that a compact is really quite unlikely to match the image quality available from his DSLR, or even be able to capture the same type of images. It would be nice if he could post back here and let us know what he is now thinking.

    At least the G9 looks better than the GX100....

    http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews_canon_powershot_g9_2.php
  26. ryart

    ryart Member

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    I certainly sympathise with the OP. All tdodds points are correct but if you're fed up with lugging equipment about to the extent that you don't bother taking the camera out than a compact which slips in a pocket wins out simply because you actually have it with you.

    If I am going out to specifically take pictures than I take a dSLR and a couple of lenses, If out doing something else but with the chance of a picture turning up I take a Panasonic LX2. If I am content to use ISO 100 or at a push ISO 200 the quality is very good (better than the film equivalents used to be) especially as the lens is excellent. For most of the pictures I actually take it is more than adequate.

    I had a house full of friends around the other day to see some shots of our holidays together and not one of them noticed any difference in quality between the Canon 400d and Panasonic LX2 when projected. Which leads to another important point - it depends how you are going to view the finished image.
  27. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    They say a picture paints a thousand words, so let's look at some pictures....

    Here's a real world example of a couple of photos taken with my Sony DSC-P200 digicam and my Canon 30D DSLR with 17-85 lens. These were both shot from the same position and have very similar viewpoints of the same subject, in similar lighting.

    For the Sony, Exif is - 1/50, f/3.2, 100 ISO, compulsory flash on
    For the Canon, Exif is 1/100, f/5.6, 800 ISO, bounced flash

    The 7.2 MP Sony has turned in a terrible performance. The shutter speed is too slow and there is subject blur. The camera chose the settings and the ISO is clearly too low. Even static objects are blurry. Had I bumped the ISO then noise would begin to become an issue. Now look at the hideous shadows cast by the flash, directly beside people's faces. It's not a pretty picture at all.

    By comparison, while there is little photographic merit to the photo, just look at the difference in quality obtained from the 8.2 MP DSLR - and that's with the slow and often criticised 17-85 lens. The use of flash is pretty much undetectable and the image is clean and sharp throughout. I'd only had the 30D for 3 months, and the flash gun for less than a week when I took these shots, so I was a long way from knowing what I was doing.

    These aren't cherry picked bad and good examples, these are just two very similar shots that can be easily compared. I was just a guest, and shot these from my seat at the table, so composition is just what was available at the time.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  28. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    Another couple here, this time outdoors, with soft lighting, and pitching the 30D and 17-85 against a Canon Ixus 800.

    Note the softness in the Ixus picture, the overexposed tuxedos and overblown whites in the shirt and the bridesmaid's flowers and the back of her neck, and the complete miss on timing the shot due to shutter lag. The blown highlights are gone for good in the jpeg file and cannot be recovered. Again the shot with the 30D is no prizewinner but the picture quality is streets ahead of the digicam. My girlfriend was the photographer for the Ixus shot.

    Ixus Exif - 1/200, f/5.5, auto ISO (ISO unknown), flash on, 23.2mm focal length (zoomed in most/all of the way?), unedited.
    30D Exif - 1/200, f/8, 200 ISO, no flash, 85mm focal length, brightness tweaked up in Lightroom from raw image file.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  29. ryart

    ryart Member

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    How right you are. I had forgotten about the joys of buying a big enough batch of trannie film to ensure some sort of consistency of colour balance, and as for the daily delights of keeping chemistry on stream etc etc - we've never had it so good, or so easy :D.
  30. tdodd

    tdodd Member

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    Another pair of examples - Ixus vs 40D. The story repeats itself over and over again. (So do I, I know :) )

    Ixus - everything in focus, but nothing really sharp, rather wishy washy appearance, blown highlights. Christ, I'm not even bald yet, just thinning :eek: Look at the histogram and the highlight clipping indicators in Lightroom. The blown bits cannot be recovered.

    40D - Crisp, isolated subject, sharp where it counts, deep, rich tonal range. Shot at 400mm (X 1.6 for the crop) = 560mm in 35mm terms. Try and get that shot with a DP1. I've added another shot, this time at 360mm in open shade.

    Of course, I had to pause and pose while Lorna took a picture of me, whereas I simply tracked her using AI Servo and fired the shot when I felt like it.

    This is just your regular sort of subject matter - not fast sports, wildlife, or anything really demanding, lighting wise. Nonetheless, the DSLR simply pulverises the compact P&S.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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