Back Pocket Compact - Serious only.....of course!

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by stillshunter, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    I must begin by making categorically clear that I love my Sigma DP2. I want her to remain with me always and to grow old together....

    ....now. :blush:

    I'm still thinking of a BPC (back pocket compact) to supplement my kit and widen my options. I've been doing a little research and it looks like the only real qualifiers are the s95 or GRDIII. I have owned the LX5 and it is simply not BPC material - for my individual needs. So two questions if I may:

    1. Have I overlooked any serious compacts (with RAW)?
    For instance, does the CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) open up any other options?

    2. In the comparison images I've looked at of the usual suspects, the s95 and GRDIII appear the lithest of them all. But reading stats, reveals something a little different:

    Canon PowerShot S95 - 100 x 58 x 30mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in)
    Olympus XZ-1 - 111 x 65 x 42mm (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 - 110 x 65 x 43mm (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Samsung TL500 - 114 x 63 x 29mm (4.5 x 2.5 x 1.1 in)
    Ricoh GR Digital III - 109 x 59 x 26mm (4.3 x 2.3 x 1 in)
    Source: dpreview.com

    So I've had the GRDII and I would say it is pocketable, but the LX5 is not. Now I put this down to thickness (of the camera not the operator!). So I'm thinking 30mm or little over an inch is the benchmark for my BPC. But the stats say - forgive the quick rewind folks:

    - Samsung TL500 114 x 63 x 29mm (4.5 x 2.5 x 1.1 in)

    Have I found a new contender or just an error?

    Guys, your help in finding my BPC is invaluable.
     
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  2. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 14, 2010
    In my opinion you cannot do anything wrong with the Canon S95. This is a very small camera which is very capable, at least if you use Lightroom and its lens correction tool. I don't know the jpegs it produces.
     
  3. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Thanks Pictor. I suppose jpegs are a menu option, but not a personal one. I am pretty much sold on the s95, but just wanting to make sure I have all my bases covered.
     
  4. lattiboy

    lattiboy SC Regular

    167
    Mar 6, 2011
    Don't forget the Samsung TL350! It's smaller than either the LX5 or the S95 and has a boatload of awesome features! Also, it's only about $250!

    I had one and loved it, but I couldn't really justify having it and the TL500.

    The TL500 is NOT a "back pocket" or even "FRONT pocket" compact. Those sizes seem off as it is substantially larger than the S95.
     
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  5. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Thanks Lattiboy. I'll put it into my dpreview comparo. If I recall correctly, the TL350 is a 1/2.33" sensor isn't it?
     
  6. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Real Name:
    Bill Shinnick
    Just to confirm that the TL500/EX1 is more like 2" as the lens does protrude.
     
  7. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran S.C. Charter Member

    610
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I have a S90, which is the same size at the S95. I have seen the Samsung, and it is much bigger and have more protrusions than the S95. IMO the S90/95 is the most pocketable of the cameras in your list. The GRD III is a bit bigger than the S90, too. The S90 fits very easily into most pockets and provides a suitable camera for non-critical work, and shoots great video as well.

    My only caveat is the subjective nature of image assessment. I tend to prefer the images and shooting experience of the GRD III, even though the S90 is smaller, quieter, faster, and has zoom. The S90's case is a bit slippery, although some handle this with a bit of tape or one of Richard Franiec's adhesive aluminium grips. The GRD III feels very solid and grippy, and the controls are perfectly placed. The buttons are firm, unlike the Canon's buttons which feel a bit soft and uncertain. The scroll wheel on the back of the S90 (which I think may have been improved for the S95) is quite easy to turn, leading many to accidentally changing crucial settings like EV or colour style in between shots.

    The GRD III creates images which have better, more accurate colour, and are sharper than the S90/95 due to the high quality prime lens. The S90's lens is a bit limited in quality as it is a zoom, although it is fine for most purposes. Also, I personally find the GRD III to have more 'depth' and richness to the files than those from the S90. The S90 tends to smear the details a little, even when processed with Canon DPP or Lightroom. The GRD III thrives in Lightroom and shows buckets of detail that many cameras miss. But you might only see this if you pixel peep. If you don't pixel peep and compare with other cameras much, the S90 is still fine.

    If you want the smallest of the serious BPC's, the S90/95 is the way to go. If you can handle just a touch bigger, and do not need zoom or decent movies (the GRD III's movies are like 3rd generation VHS copies of home movies) then the GRD III is actually a better choice, IMO.
     
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  8. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Thanks Archiver. That was a very, very helpful reply indeed :bravo-009:

    The GRDIII is an interesting proposition, but to be entirely honest, the reason I sold my GRDII had nothing at all to do with the quality of the images or the build quality - as both were beyond reproach. To be honest, I found the 28mm fixed focal length a hard one to work with. I am a big fan of fixed focals - and only have primes with my dSLR kit - and with my DP2, but 28mm is just a little wide for me. Having said that, I will buy a DP1 one day - but that is for specific work and is as a complement to the DP2. I suppose the best way I can think of the BPC is as a Swiss Army knife. Something that is capable of getting you out of a bind when you find yourself in one - simply because it is always with you. Of course I wouldn't like to saw off a limb with the 2 inch saw blade but would rather that than labour on the cut with my finger-nail. So the DP1, or GRD for that matter, makes sense when I'm toting around a tool-bag. But if I'm to have a small single with me then my emphasis would be on utility and versatility.

    Similarly if I were to strap on an LX5, EX1 (TL500) or XZ-1, I would just defer to the DP2 in size. Also I'd contend that that the fixed 41mm focal length makes an effective sneaker zoom - in the 28 to 70mm range.

    Hence, all things being equal the s95 might be the way to go. Conceding that it will probably never be the definitive photographic tool, but a highly pocketable 'sketchbook'. Now if the GRD came in a 35 or 50mm option then my choice would be far, far easier.

    Still be very keen to know the maximum aperture values across the S95's zoom range ....if anyone can help.

    Meanwhile, thanks again for your help Archiver....and Bill!!
     
  9. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Real Name:
    Bill Shinnick
    Minimum aperture at wide angle is f/2 and this goes up to f/4.9 at max zoom. It lags behing the EX1 (f/1.8 to 2.4) and the LX5 and XZ1 in this respect.
     
  10. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    Haven't found any official statement but I've come across this table in a number of places. I think it's probably accurate:

    6mm 28mm f/2
    7.5mm 35mm f/2.5
    10.7mm 50mm f/3.2
    18.2mm 85mm f/4.5
    22.5mm 105mm f/4.9
     
  11. john1027

    john1027 SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    187
    Jul 11, 2010
    Alexandria, VA
    The S95 is probably the smallest and compact pocketable camera you are looking at. I had one at one point and regret selling it. I was looking at picking one up again but wanted to check out the Olympus XZ-1 first. I have been doing so and finally got to handle one in a store the other day. It is definitely bigger than the S95 but not as much as I thought it would be. It is slim and also relatively light. The S95 is built like a tank and the XZ-1 seems well made but not as rugged as the S95.

    I came across one of Kai's entertaining video segments from DigitalRevTV on the XZ-1 in which he takes some comparison shots with the S95 as well. You can see for yourself, but the XZ-1 is better at least in this test but that is really not surprising based on the lens and aperture range in the XZ-1. He also brings up several little nuances about the XZ-1 (e.g. way the lens hood attaches) that you don't need to worry about with the S95 with its closed lens system when it powers off.

    YouTube - Olympus XZ-1 Hands-on (feat. Canon S95)

    Another little add-on that you might consider is Richard Franiec's grip add-ons that are true works of art and after installation are totally part of the camera. He has them for the S95 (which I purchased & used on my S95) and now the XZ-1 as well. The grips don't spoil the "compactness" of the cameras, but do make them much better to grip and hold especially one handed.

    Richard Franiec's Camera Accessories
     
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  12. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Thanks John. I'll check out the youtube thread in a minute....well maybe longer as it's loading on my S L O W rural connection.

    Meanwhile, I'm glad that you mentioned the grip as I'd figured this into my deal. I have the offer of a barely used S95 with Franiec grip and three Canon batteries for USD300 - oh yeah as well as an extra $55 to cover fees and shipping to Australia. I sounds like a good price, for a kit that's ready to go!

    Now I hope the XZ-1 clip doesn't wow me too much :blush:

    Thanks Olli, this is just the ticket!!!!

    It's looking pretty promising I must say....
     
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  13. john1027

    john1027 SC Regular S.C. Charter Member

    187
    Jul 11, 2010
    Alexandria, VA
    I re-read your original post and I think that if you didn't like the shape/size of the LX5, you wouldn't like the size of the XZ-1 as they are similar. The S95 is truly a very compact and rugged package that probably best fits the back-pocket definition you posted. The deal you mentioned seems fair especially with the extras included as a new S95 alone is going for about $400 on line.
     
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