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Pocket-Sized Compact, Low-Light, Low-Lag.

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Chris Holland, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    So i read some of this thread on compact-sized and low-light, but tracking-down the models mentioned within, I still couldn't quite get a clear picture of what I needed.

    My basic use-case can be summed-up as such:

    1. i care a lot about size: something I can fit in pants pocket, without too much of a bulge. I have a Samsung NV3 and it fits that bill pretty-well. A protruding lens would likely be less than ideal.
    2. low-light quality matters a lot.
    3. FAST. Speed. i care a lot about the smallest possible amount of lag between shots, including in low-light, and i'm more than happy to not use the flash which is why i'm looking for quality low-light in the first place.
    4. Battery Life matters a fair bit.
    5. i don't care much about zoom. Limited or no zoom would be acceptable. I prefer to take shots wide-angle and get close to my subject anyway.
    6. i don't care about video capabilities, at all.
    7. i'm flexible on pricing, as long as above requirements are met, i can forgo lunch for a few months if needed.
     
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  2. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    Possible Contenders I'm seeing so-far from past threads cross-referenced with above requirements, and additional searching:

    1. Canon-PowerShot-S95 ("truly" pocketable). | 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches ; 6.1 ounces
    2. Canon G11 | 4.4 x 3 x 1.9 inches ; 12.5 ounces
    3. Ricoh GR Digital III | 4.27 x 2.35 x 1.02 in
    4. Samsung TL500 (EX1) | 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.1 in
    5. Panasonic LX3 or LX3S, because the LX5 seems to be no-longer "truly" pocketable. | 2.2 x 1 x 4.2 inches ; 5.6 ounces
    6. Canon PowerShot SD4000IS | 0.9 x 3.9 x 2.1 inches ; 11.2 ounces (wtf? thinner but heavier?).
    7. Canon PowerShot SD4500IS | 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.9 inches ; 14.4 ounces (heavier still! w00t). (some amazon reviewers mention it's got a slow start-up and a fair bit of lag between shots?)
    8. Sony DSC-TX7 | 3.9 x 2.4 x 0.7 inches (amazon claims much thicker, i think it's a typo.)
    9. Panasonic DMC-ZS7 is on amazon's top-rated pocketables | 1.3 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches ; 7.7 ounces
    10. Nikon Coolpix S8100, "The Ashton Camera" seems a bit heavy. 1.32 pounds - It does seem to tout the other things i care about.
    11. Sony DSC-HX5V looks interesting | 1.2 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches ; 7 ounces
     
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  3. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    Some specific tech factors that'll help low-light quality:

    1. a big, high-quality lens?
    2. a big, high quality sensor with really big pixels?
     
  4. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    I have read in a few reviews that the shot to shot time on the S95 isn't as fast as the LX5. The only way you'll know if its fast enough its to try it out. The LX5 seems fast and accurate from reviewers and members who have one.
     
  5. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    Ah thanks Djarum - yea my only worry about the LX5 is that it looks bulkier than its predecessors, the LX3 or LX3S, both of which still appear for sale. It's tough. This article on low-light performance was pretty interesting and concludes:

     
  6. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    is the LX5 bigger than the LX3?
     
  7. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Yes. I may be able to find the place that shows this. I think that as silly as it might sound to some, that this pocket issue can be important. We all wear different styles of clothing and that comes into play if it really must be pocketable. Apparently Levis blue jeans work just fine with the slightly larger LX5.

    Chris, you're going to have to go try these out somewhere with your normal attire to find out if they meet your pocket criteria. Meanwhile, I look forward to some input on the LX3 from those who've either got one or had one and how they think it does in the "low light" and shutter lag, departments... Of course I also hope that folks with the other cameras on Chris's list will ante up with their input, too.
     
  8. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    • Like Like x 1
  9. sonomichele

    sonomichele SC Regular

    43
    Jul 6, 2010
    Texas
    Chris, I think you really need to sort out what your top priorities are in order to make this choice. For example the LX5 might be a bit faster than the S95 but it really isn't pocketable in the same way, so which is more important? The GRD3 is pocketable and fast to use, but I don't is really as good in low light although it has a nice fast lens. Something like the Sony WX1/WX5 is small and has rapid shooting mode (10 fps) which might be really useful for getting good shots of kids and pets and might really fit your requirements but its IQ is not as good as the S95/LX5/EX1/GRD. However it probably is better than your current NV3. So if your current images are good enough, then you can look at things in that category (high speed shooting), if you really are looking for a step-up in your ability to control parameters, use manual modes and the like then you might need to think of one of the larger sensor cameras.
     
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  10. summerkl

    summerkl SC Veteran

    374
    Oct 11, 2010
    Vancouver, Canada
    Kevin
    Chris, sonomichele described your dilemma very well, i.e. every camera will have tradeoffs. I recently had the LX3 and it definitely doesn't fit in pant pockets but coat pockets shouldn't be a problem. I handled the S95 at a store recently for interest and that is very pocketable. Furthermore, on paper it has a lot of the technical specs that suits your needs for a compact camera. I would suggest you purchase one from a store with a good return policy such as Best Buy and give it a whirl.

    As a turnstile camera owner (BB has taken "evolving" camera owner already :smile:), my personal experience with compact cameras sensors is that you will notice image quality really suffer in low light when higher ISO is generally required - that's the inherent nature of the sensor. The next step up would be a m43 camera with a prime lens such as the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 or the Olympus 17mm f2.8 or a Sony NEX with a 16mm f2.8. The tradeoff is size - passes the coat pocket test but not the pants pocket.

    If you follow the path of many camera owners, you will wind up with a 2 camera set-up - one for portability / snapshots and one for more challenging conditions - ie a SLR or m43/NEX systems. That is another discussion altogether.

    BTW - don't discount video totally. Last year, I digitized the videos of my kids when they were little and burned the good clips to a DVD. My wife and I watch it repeatedly and can't stop smiling. My boys are 15 and 17 now - good kids but no longer cute :)
     
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  11. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I know exactly what you mean, and have been exactly where you have been. Having chased small, pocket cameras when my kids were small, I can say this --

    DON'T just get a pocket camera. Get a DSLR. For in your house. Get a fast prime. Get those shots now. They won't be there again. Then, get a pocket cam for when traveling.

    Pocket cams are developing quickly, and they may be able to fully replaced DSLRs in the near future, but your child will be 4-5 years old by that time. You just can't get this time back.

    Personally, I now have a DSLR and an m43, but all I had when the kids were little was Canon SD300/800/G9, and while I got great shots outside, at Disney World, etc. -- the indoor ones are mostly blurry and smudged.

    I know this isn't what you asked, but I just thought I'd add a voice of heartfelt experience.

    p.s. you don't need to spend much. Literally an old Canon XTi + 50mm 1.8 or 35mm 2.0 would do the trick. That'd be around $500 or less.

    Sorry if this is way off topic.

    Good luck.
     
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  12. mmacleodbrown

    mmacleodbrown SC Regular

    197
    Oct 10, 2010
    London
    This is actually a very good point - a DSLR is ideal for when you are indoors..
    As for out and about, please go down a camera shop and handle the camera's, for me portability was a big issue, if I couldn't carry it in my pocket all the time, then I don't care how good it is...
    Reading all the reviews, I decided on the LX5, then went down the shop and Im going to buy the Canon s95 as the LX5 (for me) was just a little too big.
    I realise that this is a personal choice, so narrow things down to your top 3 choices and then go down and get some hands on time and see how you feel...
     
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  13. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    The LX5 is certainly pocketable. Mine lives in my jeans pocket.
    It fits easily and is a very fast operating camera. It focuses in low light with a fast snap.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    You guys are all absolutely awesome, I found every piece of feedback incredibly useful. I am coming around to your points on the value of dslr and these precious moments. And it's true i need to get me some hands-on time.

    Many thanks to all, I'll update with further findings! :)
     
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  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Thanks Chris, I'm glad you found everyone's input so helpful, and please do keep us in the loop on your own hands-on research and what happens next.:thumbup:
     
  16. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    What kind of pants youse wearing, spandex?
    I carry the camera all the time in my jeans, dress pants and it fits easy.
    I don't get this part of the conversation...
     
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  17. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    It just dawned on me that there is an underwater case for the s95: Canon WP-DC38 Waterproof - Being a scuba-diver, the s95 is looking all kinds of sexy to me right now.
     
  18. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Sounds good, Chris. Keep us in the loop!
     
  19. Chris Holland

    Chris Holland SC Rookie

    11
    Oct 18, 2010
    So after finding a great deal off of bensbargains.net, i just ordered the the Canon S95.

    A few weeks ago, i did go to a couple of local stores to handle various cameras i could get my hands on, and jotted-down some notes:

    1. Canon-PowerShot-S95 ("truly" pocketable). | 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches ; 6.1 ounces -- feels great n fast
    2. Sony DSC-TX7 | 3.9 x 2.4 x 0.7 inches (amazon claims much thicker, i think it's a typo.) -- tried tx9 -- very compact - ok fast
    3. Panasonic DMC-ZS7 is on amazon's top-rated pocketables | 1.3 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches ; 7.7 ounces -- feels pocketable ok fast --- zs5 feels big, faster though
    4. Nikon Coolpix S8100, "The Ashton Camera" seems a bit heavy. 1.32 pounds - It does seem to tout the other things i care about. - feels fast n pretty pocketable.
    5. Sony DSC-HX5V looks interesting | 1.2 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches ; 7 ounces -- feels pocketable - couldn't try because battery was dead and floor sample didn't have a charger. wtf.
     
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  20. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Congrats on the decision, Chris. The countdown begins!
     
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