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High end compact

28 Apr 2013 12:27PM
Hi folks,

Am currently looking to upgrade to a decent high end compact with manual controls and would appreciate any advice from you lovely people! The amount of reviews out there and indeed camera models are quite confusing to a comparative novice like myself.

My needs are to have a bright lens as I like to do low-light photography, good macro and wide(ish) lens for landscape images. I originally was looking at the so-called travel zoom category but feel that a brighter lens is more of an advantage than long zoom as I live in rainy, cloudy Cumbria. Please tell me if that viewpoint is incorrect or daft! Simplicity of use is desirable - menu system etc.

I've no problem buying a refurbished/old model camera as indeed I am sure I'll have to as my budget is around £250.00 or so. Have seen the Fujifilm XF-1 in Fuji's online store at about £220.00 and also the Olympus XZ-1 online at £250.00. Both cameras seem to get good reviews although many reviewers express concern that the Fuji's twist-and-pull start up could be not so reliable. Have anyone experience of this? Also have read that the manual zoom of the camera is prone to letting in dust.

Style of the camera and brand name are unimportant to me but image quality definitely is.

If my queries are naive then I apologise in advance!

Thank you.

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seahawk 10 1.1k United Kingdom
28 Apr 2013 12:52PM
I have a Panny Lumix LX5 bought s/h from Vennal Cameras in Ayr and I'm delighted with it. It shoots RAW (essential IMO), has a great lens and fits in a (large) pocket. It also has a panoramic function. The thing I like best is its colour rendition, which is amazingly good. I did consider an XZ-1 but found the Lumix first. If I was buying now I would look at Sony RX100 which has great reviews, or a Lumix LX7. I've no experience of Fuji's so can't comment on them.

Despite being a Nikon DSLR user I'm not impressed with their compacts.
28 Apr 2013 1:02PM
How about a Panasonic Lumix LX5 ? I see Ffordes has a new one on sale for £260, here .

Some benefits:

• new, so not used/abused by previous owner
• full manual controls as desired (also very good auto if you ever want that)
• bright lens (f/2 at wide end, dropping to f/3.3 at 90 mm-e full tele-zoom)
• very impressive optical image stabilisation
• has a 24 mm-e wide-angle, which is nice compared to the usual 28 mm-e. In addition, because of its multi-aspect-ratio sensor/lens design, when set to 3:2 aspect ratio (the traditional small-format shape) or 16:9, the horizontal angle-of-view becomes even wider compared to competitors with conventional 4:3 aspect ratio designs
• small and light compared to most competitors with similar functionality
• top-quality construction throughout (mostly metal with tight seams)
• owners are very satisfied (mostly five-star reviews at the big online sellers), so you might be too!

Here’s Charlie Waite talking about the LX5 in a promo video. It deserves to be viewed full-screen at 720p.

Edit: seahawk got there first. That’s two votes for the LX5.
hobbo Plus
6 1.1k 2 England
28 Apr 2013 1:52PM
I can highly recommend the LX5 I wouldn't be without mine.......a little wonder of a camera.

I would imagine there might be good used oneson eBay now........I purchased mine new.....but my other high quality RAW shooting compact came via an eBay refurbished camera store.....it is just fine.

Always check a sellers feedback before buying.

See an example of an LX5 shot here.....


sherlob Plus
11 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2013 3:29PM
You need to go and have a play with some. A couple of years ago I tried the predecessor to the LX5 and found the camera menu's counter intuitive. I know others will disagree - but my point is - its a personal preference, and you'll only know when you get the chance to have a play.

I bought a Canon G12, and later a Canon S110 for the wife. Both are excellent, but the S110 is now my preferred compact - it is pocket-able, really well made, simple to use, and gives a great range of functionality. The image quality is superb up to ISO1600. The downside - its battery life is relatively poor.
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2013 4:41PM
+1 for the LX5. Brilliant optics, good screen, takes an evf if you want one, shoots RAW, has a nice wide zoom and fast aperture. Use it as automatically or as manually as you want and you can get a tube to use filters on the front (which means you can use a polariser). Image quality is very good too. A couple in my portfolio are taken on an LX5 - it's good enough for mistakes to be down to me, not the camera.

29 Apr 2013 8:28AM
Hi folks,

Am very grateful for all your input. Thank you. Will try to get a look at the LX5. Not always easy, as you know, finding a physical shop that has an older model camera in. I do buy online but like to actually handle a camera before purchasing - and would rather support High St stores whenever I can.

Just to throw a small spanner in the works, so to speak - is there a big difference in image quality between the type of camera we are discussing and the better ones in the travel zoom area? I do look at test images on my laptop but the differences in quality are not always apparent (I do understand that the likes of the LX5 have brighter lenses)

Thanks again.
29 Apr 2013 10:22AM
As you note, the faster lens of the LX5 first and foremost allows more exposure for a given shutter speed, which reduces noise in the final photo (in conventional terms, you can use a lower ISO setting, such as ISO 200 instead of ISO 400). The premium compact cameras also have slightly larger sensors, further reducing noise.

The lenses on these cameras typically deliver a sharper image too, particularly towards the corners of the frame. You might not see a great difference when viewing a whole photo on your computer display (unless your display is large and particularly high resolution), but the difference becomes more apparent if you crop aggressively, pixel-peep (zoom into a small section of the photo using Photoshop or similar), or make a large print.

Another difference is that cameras like the Panasonic LX5 and Olympus XZ-1 are able to record raw files in addition to JPEGs, while the travel-zoom cameras tend to offer JPEG only. By processing a raw file on your computer (which is necessary if you shoot raw: that’s the downside) you can in some cases extract better results than by further processing a JPEG that your camera has already ‘enhanced’. Examples would include manipulating contrast (e.g. brightening shadows that initially appear black), significantly adjusting colours (e.g. boosting saturation), changing the white balance, or just applying a heavy sharpening action for a gritty look. Post-processing is possible to a lesser extent on JPEGs too, but you’re more likely to end up with artefacts like noise, sharpening haloes, banding in smooth colour gradients (like blue skies), or JPEG compression artefacts.

Obviously the travel-zoom cameras have their own advantages, notably much more zoom! They’re also a bit easier to use (sometimes; sometimes they’re harder to use because they withhold important details from the user to simplify things that really cannot be simplified. For example, Panasonic has a feature called i.Exposure which “optimizes amount of light entering the camera”. Who knows what it really does?).

If you’re technically inclined and a bit of a control freak you should definitely opt for a raw-shooting premium compact. If you prefer the camera to just work without endless fussing, and you like the idea of shooting people or animals from a distance, a travel-zoom would be a better choice.
Steppenwolf 6 1.2k
29 Apr 2013 2:32PM
You could take a look at a CSC - bigger sensor than the compacts and better IQ, more versatile, not very much bigger.

Nikon 1
Paul Morgan 16 18.9k 6 England
29 Apr 2013 8:24PM
6 May 2013 9:53PM
Hi folks,

Thanks for all your input - I really do appreciate your time and effort. Have compared sample images from "travel zooms" to high end compacts and the difference in quality has dispelled any lingering doubts I had about opting for the latter.

Like the image quality of the X10 Paul, but the many comments online I've found about dust getting into its lens has put me off that route. Thanks for your thoughts though.
Paul Morgan 16 18.9k 6 England
7 May 2013 12:05AM
Dust in the lens, its a new one on me, and there are quite a few x10 users here Smile
Steppenwolf 6 1.2k
7 May 2013 7:32AM

Like the image quality of the X10 Paul, but the many comments online I've found about dust getting into its lens has put me off that route.

I'm interested in why anyone would prefer a Fuji X10 to a Nikon V1. I could understand this when the V1 cost £750, but now it can be bought for about £230 (about £70 cheaper than an X10) I can't see the logic. The V1 is very slightly bigger admittedly but against this its benefits include a larger (and better) sensor, faster and better focus (CDAF an PDAF), faster frame rates, slo-mo video, a proper 1.4Mp EVF with full exposure info, interchangeable lenses etc etc. Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't see why anyone would buy something like an X10 in preference ?
Paul Morgan 16 18.9k 6 England
7 May 2013 5:57PM
Because the V1 is a CCS.
Steppenwolf 6 1.2k
8 May 2013 8:02AM

Quote:Because the V1 is a CCS.

CSC. The main difference is that it has the option of changing lenses. But that doesn't mean that you have to change the lens - it's just an extra option you've got. The danger with categorising cameras is that people don't consider cameras that are outside the category that they've selected, when they might actually fit their needs better. "High end compacts" are dangerously close to CSC territory which sometimes make a better choice. In some cases it's just about possible to use a CSC to replace both a DSLR and a compact.

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