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Technology Marches On

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:22 pm
by Andy

Tim's comments about starting out with a P&S reminded me of what I think is a funny story. I think we all started out wit "lesser" cameras and moved up. I know my first ever cameras were the Kodak 120 Baby Brownie and then the "hot" Instamatic, with the flash cube! :D. My "full" story, if anyone wants to be bored, is on my blog site Suffice it to say that I have owned lots of "gear" over the years (and most likely am not through buying new).

The image above was taken this afternoon on my newest "toy." Shortly after I joined here, some 10 years ago (wow), I met one of our talented regulars here, "Abby" (Carol Smith). She has a second home in the NEK, and was a great resource for finding good shots and up to date foliage information. She was also, at the time, a "budding" enthusiast, and shot with a P&S. I don't remember what it was (I am sure she does). Doesn't matter. We struck up a friendship and began "talking shop." One of my oft-repeated items of advice to her was to "lose" the P&S and get a DSLR body with the ability to have some control over the images, and to shoot in raw format.

The "guts" are still good advice. To really advance your technique, you need the capability of shooting in all manual mode, and shooting raw images (doesn't mean you will always shoot in manual - I shoot in "apurture priority mode" 98% of the time - and I think Al Utzig shoots using "shutter priority mode a lot of the time" - the point is, we both know how to shoot in manual and therefore, what those other modes are doing for us). And, if we aren't shooting raw in most instances (especially for landscape and nature shooting), we are missing out on a lot of good "pixels" for future use.

But the P&S thing? Well, I may have been off base on that. Or - at least, in today's terms, I am off base. That's the thing about technology. It is inexorable. My first DSLR was a 6 mp APS-C sensor Nikon D100. It was a pretty "chunky" body. Eventually, technology advanced to the point where they could affordably make a sensor that was the equivalent of a 35mm film rectangle. These so-called Full Frame (FF) cams were what all of us really serious shooters were aspiring toward. I am now on my third FF body. The images are just cleaner, better, and better in low light situations.

But the newest movement (and I have wholeheartedly embraced it as I age and as my travel increases) is smaller. My current "serious" body, the Sony a7 mirrorless is a 24mp FF frame camera in a much smaller package than the D100 was. The newest a7 offering is 40 mp in the same small size.

But for travel, and carrying around, I have been using a Sony NEX-6 camera which is P&S sized with the same APS size sensor as the D100, but much advance (the equivalent of a Nikon D7000). And I have been very impressed with the Image Quality (even in low light) that it renders. I have a 24" x 36" print hanging in my office that is really good quality, made from the NEX.

Most of the P&S cameras have smaller sensors, and with smaller sensors, comes noise, difficulty capturing low light, and decreased quality, especially for prints. I shot several of the Canon G-series P&S cams over the years and as good as they were, was not totally convinced of their IQ.

So, I was skeptical as I read Sony's take on their newest compact, P&S; the RX100iv. Until I had a private e-mail "shout-out" from a pro-shooter I know. His comment was that this diminuitive little "pocket" camera would produce IQ BETTER than the NEX series. I had to try. It sports a 1.8-2.8 24-70 (35mm equivalent) lens (which is the same as my "go to" zoom on my a7). AND, it is a Carl Zeiss lens! If this works the way I hope it does, It may well be all I carry in the future for travel. A P&S! What is this world coming too?

These images are only jpeg. Adobe has not released the raw converter update for this raw file yet, but I am hoping it comes soon.


These are "out of the box." Only some very minor presharpening applied

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:43 pm
by Utah Baker
Wow! You read my mind, I am currently starting to look for a new camera, with many questions on what to look for. If you remember my brother loaned me his old Nikon D70, and I have really enjoyed the ability to shoot in the raw format, but still love the convenience and size of my p&s Panasonic LUMIX . Lots to think about,

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:21 am
by Andy
The Sony RX100 iv - the newest - and the one I bought, is not for the faint of heart! It retails on Amazon and B&H for $950. On top of that, you really need a spare battery and an external charger. I am also ordering an addon grip (I don't think you need it, but I have large hands and will at least try it) and a screen protector for the lcd screen. $1000 is alot for a pocket camera.

But in my case, I have "justified" it. I had the Sony NEX-6 (now alpha6000) and 4 lenses. I sold the NEX to one of my partners who had borrowed and used it a few times, and the 3 additional lenses are at KEH for inspection. I expect to get the $1,000 or so back for all of that, so it turns out to be kind of a "trade" for me. Also, the Carl Zeiss 1.8-2.8 24-70 lens is the same focal range as the Carl Zeiss f4 24-70 that I carry on my larger "Full Frame" sensor camera. It will be interesting to do some "side-by-side" comparisons.

Lots depends on your intended use and your expectations. Once you have shot a "pro-level" full frame sensor with high-quality lenses, it is difficult to compromise on quality. The Rx100 iv packs all of the "pro" features into a very small , pocketable package. It includes the ability to shoot raw format, a very fast, very high-quality lens, along with essentially all the user - operable features of my "pro-quality" Sony a7. And, it has a completely new generation sensor with some bells and whistles that haven't been previously available. If the Image Quality pans out (I will only know when I get a chance to shoot and print some stuff), it will be pretty close to the do-all camera I have been looking for in a portable format.

The RX100 iii is still available and is essentially the same camera (at around $800 new retail). It is lacking mainly the new processor, and a couple internal software issues (the new model is said to favor video shooting - something I have just not been able to generate any interest in). It has also been raved about and is capable of raw, with the same high-quality Zeiss 24-70 lens. There are also 2 other RX100 versions, (the original and the ii - at less money with a pretty good sensor, but the lens is not the same 1.8-2.8, which would be a deal buster for me).

DSCHX-90V is a similar size camera for half that price. It has a Zeiss lens, but it is not the spec of the RX100. It has a much greater range (24-720) which inevitably means some compromises in design. It won't be as "fast" (which means less low low light capability and less ability to have nice blurred backgrounds), and it is only capable of shooting jpg images. That seems to be the tradeoff for the lesser priced models. Casual users want the longer range zoom and really don't care about raw capture.

There are some others out there capable of raw shooting (at least one of the Nikon Coolpix 7000 series, for example) that are less expensive. But all the reviews I read seem to see the RX100 as being the product leader.

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 12:45 pm
by Utah Baker
Thanks Andy, good info, I am sill I guess what you would call a"casual" user. Hoping one day to be able to devote more time to something I really have come to enjoy. I am trying to stay under $600.00 and there are some good package deals out there. If we are able to make the trip this year, the camera purchase may have to wait till Christmas :( , but time will tell. Any info shared is much appreciated!

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:38 pm
by autzig
Whatever camera a person buys, it is imperative that they understand the ramifications of the technology. For example, I see people shooting with their P&S cameras using the 10x zoom feature and hand holding it. I don't know what focal length is comparable to a 10x but I'm certain that a 10x can't be hand held and produce a sharp image. A 10x zoom screams for a tripod.

Many think that max pixels make the camera. Canon recently introduced a 50 megapixel camera. A photo coming out of that camera in RAW format with be somewhat larger than 36" x 48". Really, 3 feet by 4 feet. Who needs a photo that size? Each photo will take up over 50 MB of space on a hard drive. I know disk space is cheap, but even opening a file that size in Photoshop will take forever.

When buying a camera, knowledge is a beautiful thing.


PS: For the record, I almost always shoot in manual mode.

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:57 pm
by abby
Good info Andy. Good luck with the new camera.

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:24 pm
by mmvt
Andy- I picked up the same kit! I love my canon 5D but it is not always practical to take it "on the go". I had a NEX as a to go camera but found it to be slow and sold it. The rx100 blows it away with speed although I have not yet downloaded my test photos. My hope is to carry the rx100 with me whenever I am out. I don't ever see myself giving up the 5D as I am heavily invested in lenses and love the quality of the photos it produces but the little Sony will be a nice addition and fills the gap of having a portable, light camera.

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:52 pm
by deaner1971
I slid into Sony when they acquired Konica Minolta's camera division about a decade ago.

I am now on the a77 and continue to be thrilled with how Sony has dedicated itself to innovation.

That new camera sounds very interesting as I would like a high quality (I am spoiled by my a77's quality) camera with a bit more mobility (or, at least, a smaller "footbprint").

Re: Technology Marches On

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:46 pm
by Andy
I couldn't agree more, Al. Those "superzoom" P&S cameras are a marketing gimmick in my view. Mine is 24-70. I think it might have a "digitalzoom" capability, by I don't know and I don't care. All "digital zoom" is is the camera doing the same think as upsizing in a computer.

A few years back, my sister had a nice P&S and was making some pretty good images with it. She felt it was time to "upgrade." She bought one of the "super zooms" and immediately be gan to tell me that "it" didn't take as good pictures as the old. Like Al said, the extra length translated all of her bad technique in a big way.

Megapixels. They are just numbers. Lots of megapixels on a tiny little sensor (like most P&S cams) gain little and perhaps detract (creating noise). More megapixels on a large sensor (full frame or larger) can be a benefit, but at some point there are diminishing returns. They will probably diminish more as tecnology improves. I can see a couple uses for those huge mps cams. One would be if you were routinely doing heavy cropping. Another would be if you often made very large prints.

In the end, the camera is a tool and the user selects it based on needs. Knowledge about the camera and photographic needs is necessary.