getting off the fence

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by rgonzale, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    This looks like the year I'll finally replace my 6-yr old compact ;-)

    My favorite camera was the Minox 35EL, which I researched like crazy and bought in Panama when I was a teenager. Full-frame 35mm, fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens, pocketable, 8oz. I took some of my best pictures with it before flipping a canoe in a lake in Minnesota. I inadvertently started a flamewar in another forum complaining that there's nothing like this after 35 years of technological advances. Finally the X100 comes really close!

    Of course we're accustomed to more features now. Maybe if you stripped the X100 of autofocus in favor of the Minox's "guesstimation" dial, ditched the LCD in favor of a little glass window, made it lightweight plastic, etc you could get it closer to the Minox's dimensions. Film made the engineer's life a lot easier...

    But I'm spoiled now and am backing off from the X100 after realizing that in spite of its small sensor the Olympus XZ-1 will probably produce better bokeh, is smaller and has 28mm-112mm zoom. And the images I saw on dpreview's samples have nice sharpness and clarity at least at low ISO. Also the price is less divorce-friendly ;-)
     
  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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  3. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
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    Hello and welcome. I admire your capacity to resist the lure of new cameras. Six years is quite an achievement. Despite having recently acquired a NEX-5 I still think my LX3 is a fabulous camera so I would also encourage you to look at the newer LX5 (if you haven't already).
     
  4. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    I *thought* I was decided

    Hi BBW, no I hadn't followed up on the "image smearing" thread. That is certainly disconcerting and I hope Olympus addresses this...

    Olli, I've been window shopping for a long time! I'll look more closely at the LX5 (also the Samsung EX1)...

    My birthday is in July so hopefully there will be more information by then!
     
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  5. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia SC Veteran

    242
    Nov 10, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Why would the TZ-1 produce better bokeh? Even though the Olympus is fast at max zoom, the sensor is too small for bokegraphs I think. Somewhere you can calculate this online I'm sure...
     
  6. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    bokeh with XZ-1

    I can't call up hard numbers for you, but I've seen images that I think support this. With f/2.5 at 112mm equivalent, you get a shallow enough depth of field that it makes up for the small sensor handicap.

    Also the dpreview for the XZ-1 points out that its lens is 2 stops faster than the usual kit zoom lens on a micro 4/3 camera. This makes up for the difference in sensor size so that you are able to limit depth of field to a similar degree.

    Guess I should do the math to confirm this ;-)
     
  7. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia SC Veteran

    242
    Nov 10, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Your explanation sounds very reasonable to me without the math. ;)
     
  8. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    Here's a page with a calculator to do the math: Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How it Influences Your Photography (scroll halfway down the page).

    The standard zoom lens for Olympus 4/3 cameras is a Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-f/5.6. I entered 42mm (84mm equivalent) and f/5.6 in the calculator. For a 1/1.8 sensor, the calculated equivalent focal length is 17mm and equivalent (in terms of depth of field) lens speed is f/2.3. (The calculator didn't have a 1/1.63 option, but this would have resulted in a slower lens requirement, I guess around f/2.5.)

    Since the XZ-1 lens is *faster* than f/2.5 at 84mm equivalent focal length, the conclusion is that you will get a slightly narrower depth of field and more bokeh than with the micro 4/3 zoom lens. Hope this makes sense...
     
  9. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    still on the fence!

    Apparently I'm still very much on the fence -- I'm leaning toward a Canon S95 now for pocketability. It means giving up much chance of bokeh in portraits, but I've got my DSLR for that...

    After reading more about the S95 it reminded me of my goal long ago with small cameras: a fast lens in my pants pocket to grab the opportunity. I noticed my photos got worse once I got hung up on flickr and started *looking* for shots.

    35el-elphjr.JPG
    As a comparison, here are my old (non-functioning) Minox 35EL and a Canon Elph Jr APS camera that served me very well in the waning days of film. The 35-year old Minox is almost exactly the (closed) dimensions of the S95, and the 13 year old Elph Jr is about 1cm narrower and 0.5cm thinner. Both are f/2.8 with approximately 35mm (equivalent) fixed focal length.

    The Canon S95 is a natural progression to these cameras, except that it has a f/2.0-f/4.9 28mm-105mm equivalent zoom.

    Depth of field comparison.
    I actually got some great portraits with a bit of bokeh from the Elph Jr (using hard-to-find 400-speed B&W APS film). Using the depth of field calculator from my previous post (Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How it Influences Your Photography), this is the equivalent aperature using the baseline of APS film - f/2.8 - 26mm (37mm equivalent):

    35mm film: f/4.0
    APS film: f/2.8
    1/1.8 sensor: f/0.8

    I guess with a 1/1.63 sensor you need f/0.9 or f/1.0 for the same DOF.

    Hey Canon, if you're listening, how about a S95 Jr, which substitutes a f/1.0 fixed 35mm equivalent lens so I can get similar results to the camera you sold for $150 13 years ago?!
     
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  10. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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    rgonzale, you are finding your way! Until Canon listens, you might be very happy with the S95.:wink: There are a number of folks here who have the S95 and I think they've been quite please. We may even have some reviews, etc. I'm sure you've already taken a look at the forums but since we've recently had some rearrangement, you might want to scan through the Canon forum to see what'w there.
     
  11. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    BBW, yep in fact it was the S90/S95 images thread in your Canon forum that really hit home: this camera is capable of really nice quality with the right person behind the lens!
     
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  12. lattiboy

    lattiboy SC Regular

    167
    Mar 6, 2011
    I (literally) just got the Samsung EX1 / Tl500 in and I cannot BELIEVE the quality! I'm processing the files now and am just amazed. I've previously owned an LX3 and a GF-1, but this thing is just..... wow!!! Also, way cheaper than any of the others mentioned at the moment.

    I'll post some stuff in a bit. (sorry for the teaser)


    Update: should add that a GF-1 is obviously a better performer (double or triple the sensor size!), but as far as handling and high-ISO and detail go this thing is spectacular in it's class.
     
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  13. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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    :dance3: Can't wait to hear and see more!
     
  14. lattiboy

    lattiboy SC Regular

    167
    Mar 6, 2011
    Okay, so I've gotten distracted and was only able to process a few shots. This is the only one worth showing at the moment, because the subject is pretty damn cute....

    It should be noted high-ISO jpeg is kinda weak. Up to ISO800 is really excellent with "vibrant" jpeg mode (and sometimes better than what you can achieve with some quick Lightroom), but it gets pretty blotchy past that.

    ISO 1600 raw processed with very light noise removal/sharpening. Click through for larger pic.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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    He is a cutie, that's for sure!:biggrin:
     
  16. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia SC Veteran

    242
    Nov 10, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I have been really impressed by the TL500's RAW output (less so with JPEG but that's always the case with small sensor cams). The lens really seems great, subjectively I am more impressed with this one that the comparable cameras (S95, GRD III, etc.) but I haven't looked that closely at others RAW output. Please post more when you get a chance! (not just high ISO, but anything you like.) There's a TL500 image thread now... ;)

    I really thought about the TL500 vs. E-P1. With the less expensive Oly lenses, noise is almost a draw because they are slower than TL500 lens. Size is close to a draw for me since both are compact but not pocketable. I ended up going with E-P1 because I got one for really cheap, I like using c-mounts (fast and small), and shooting speed is much better (with TL500 I would only shoot RAW.) But I know I would have been more than happy with TL500 too.
     
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  17. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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  18. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

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    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    Yeah, some of the images in the LX5 and EX1 image threads are also magnificent, so obviously the photographer is a much bigger factor than the camera ;-)

    Based on the image threads here, it *seems* like the S95 blows highlights more than the LX5. How much of this is due to the preferences or the respective photographers or deliberate in-camera special effects, and how much is due to the sensor is not entirely clear though. Also I wonder if shooting at -1/3EV or whatever might be a good idea with this camera?
     
  19. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

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    Not a few of us use the EV compensation at -1/3...but other times I have to go even farther to the negative side...but then again I've gone in the other direction a few times, too.:wink:

    Always true, rgnozale! Maybe you can try out two of your top contenders and return one?
     
  20. rgonzale

    rgonzale SC Rookie

    15
    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    My Dad sprung for a XZ-1 for my birthday (and for helping scan 82 rolls of APS film!). I've had it for a week now and have confirmed the "smudging" due to excessive in-camera noise reduction, as well as the inability to disable noise reduction in Olympus Viewer 2. I also confirmed that the RAW images do retain tons of detail.

    Below is a 100% crop from the same ISO 125 image as in-camera JPG, RAW converted to JPG using OV2 (with noise reduction "off"), and RAW converted to JPG using Picasa (which doesn't have customizable noise reduction AFAIK). The Picasa converted image has way more detail although this may in part be due to its darker nature.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Here's the full Picasa converted portrait, I used a telephoto setting with f/2.5:
    [​IMG]

    Oh, here's a shot taken with the "grainy B&W" art filter. More useful/inspiring than I expected!
    [​IMG]

    I generally use the camera in aperature-priority mode, and have set sharpening to its lowest setting, fixed ISO to 125 (anyone remember Kodak Plus-X Pan?), disabled flash. I set up the Custom mode the same except it shoots RAW+JPG, for "serious" shots.

    So I'm very happy with the camera. It's easy to make settings, has a nice form factor, takes great portraits, handles well in available light. I hope Olympus does a firmware update to allow you to tone down the noise reduction (or at least support this in OV2), but shooting RAW is a useful workaround.

    -Ralph