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Which compact camera with viewfinder?

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by ChrisNewman, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Thanks David for explaining that.
  2. AlecM

    AlecM MiniMe

    Ultimately, there are so many pros and cons for each of the models mentioned, it's going to come down to your personal 'must-haves' and which one you get on with best. If it were me, then I'd ne looking at a V1 if the viewfinder is essential and a Lumix GX1 if 'compactness' were top of the pile.
    I've used the P7000 (admittedly not the 7100) and, despite improvements in the current model, this and the Canon G12 are a bit long in the tooth now and don't offer great advantages over the 'lesser' brands (if you can call them that).
    All of the cameras mentioned will produce perfectly good image quality for a vast majority of a nn-professional's needs.
    I have had a very brief journey into MFT and I love the system. I have recently bought a (vastly over-priced) EM 5 and it's a gorgeous little camera that has prompted me to scale down my DSLR kit in a major way. I also have a Lumix GX1 and the fact they are part of a system is a real clincher for me. Turns out MFT might be all I need for 90% of what I do.
    Still, that said, the most important thing is to find a model / system that suits you.
  3. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your thoughts, Al. For now I’m happy to stick with my Nikon DX as a system (although I could be tempted by the D800 and a 24-70, used with my other DX lenses). I’m just looking for a small one-piece compact with a viewfinder for when it’s not convenient to carry my rucksack camera bag (or I’m not expecting suitable photo opportunities to make it worthwhile), without sacrificing too much IQ or control.
  4. AlecM

    AlecM MiniMe

    Be interested to see what you go for - always compromises to be made.
  5. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    I do not know if anything suitable is coming or not, but at this time of the year it is always prudent to wait and see what is announced at Photokina later this month.
  6. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the suggestion Zou, perhaps I should be patient; only a few weeks to wait. I was caught last time when they announced the Nikon D7000 a few weeks after I bought my D90, and the time before that when Minolta announced the first autofocus SLR system a few months after I bought my film DSLR outfit!
  7. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    The A1300 is 'more capable' in one respect, IIRC; the lens zoom range has been widened slightly compared to the A1200. Is the sensor the same? Hence my suggestion to try one in a shop.

    The other factor to bear in mind is that the quality of any given camera seems to vary from one box to another - possibly more so now than before. You might find the A1300 you actually test in a shop is better, IQ-wise, than your wife's A1200. Same may apply to the viewfinder. For example, my first DSLR had a sensor ever so slightly off kilter with the viewfinder!

    If you can spare the time and money, actually going to Photokina and bending the ears of the people on the stands about the sort of camera you want might pay off in the medium to long term! ;)
  8. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Yes, the A1300 zooms a little further into the telephoto range. But I value that end less than the wide end, and I fear that a wider range probably translates into inferior optical quality. The sensor is different, increased from 12MPx to 16MPx, which I am sure could pick up far more detail than the lens will be able to resolve. I am actually quite impressed by what my wife’s A1200 achieves for £50, so I don’t think we bought a dud copy. I think the higher price of the A1300 relates more to outgoing and newly launched models than to a substantially improved product. But you tend to get what you pay for, and there are physical limits to what can be achieved by a tiny sensor and a lens with a small telephoto aperture. But as well as better IQ I want a camera I can control, rather that just setting the ISO and zoom, and handing all the other decisions to the camera.

    I think I will be able to live with something the size of the G12 or X10 if I can’t find a good smaller camera; if not, I’ll just continue sharing the A1200 with my wife. But there are occasions when I take my full D90 outfit in its rucksack rather than the A1200, but I believe I would be satisfied with a G12 or X10.

    I’m really not enough of an enthusiast for camera gear to want to go to Photokina. But I like to think that a proportion of the manufacturer’s staff are interested in photography, and will have read letters in AP, etc, on this subject, or possibly even seen this forum! (I noticed Which? magazine implied it might deserve some of the credit for Canon launching the viewfinder A1200.)
  9. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I now have a Fujifilm X10

    Hi, for anyone still following this, thanks Zou, I followed your suggestion of waiting until Photokina, and Canon duly announced the G15, although it was not immediately available in the shops. For a time I was too busy to act, and then I decided to wait for the review of the G15 AP said it would publish 10 November (which was very informative), and then the comparison of 7 top-end compacts 24 November (no help as the G15 was the only viewfinder camera included). My local “SRS Microsystems” in Watford did not show any of my shortlist of Canon G15 and G12, Nikon P7100 and FujiFilm X10 on its website. I then looked at the “Park Cameras” website, which showed all in stock. But when I phoned to check, less than a week later, they no longer stocked the G12, and only had the demonstration P7100 left (I think this has been superseded by the P7700, which has no viewfinder, and so is of no interest to me.) I went there to choose and buy my camera the next day.

    Expected IQ:
    DxOMark publishes objective numerical test results, which put the X10, with its larger sensor and faster lens, ahead of the G12, which is in turn ahead of the P7100. I believe the G12 and P7100 have identical sensors, so perhaps the longer zoom range of the P7100 lowers its IQ. I expect to want to go wider than the 28mm equivalent shared by all of these cameras more often than I want to go longer than the 112mm of even the X10, so the longer zoom range of the P7100 does not seem a significant advantage for me. DxOMark have not yet published results for the G15. My expectation is that with its newer but smaller sensor than the X10, it is likely to be almost as good.

    The X10 is much the most awkward to fit into a pocket, with its large protruding lens. But it fitted fairly easily into the pocket of my walking trousers, and should be OK with any fairly large jacket pocket. The G15 is the smallest and most convenient of all.

    Handling: zoom
    The manual zoom of the X10 is intuitive, and it is satisfying to adjust the image I see in the viewfinder to what seems the best composition. (Unfortunately, the viewfinder reportedly has only 85% coverage of the image, but the other cameras have only 80%, and their viewfinders seemed to show smaller, inferior views.) Conversely, I found jiggling the zoom lever on the other cameras, to try to get them to settle somewhere close to the composition I wanted, was a fiddly chore that distracted me from perfecting my composition.

    Handling: autofocus and bracketing
    With my previous Olympus RC35 rangefinder, and then my manual focus SLR, I would frame the shot, swing the camera to pick something at the focal distance I wanted, focus, and then re-compose. I hope I will be able to autofocus my compact camera, while looking through the viewfinder, in much the same way, provided that I stick to the centre focus area. The catch is that I usually bracket my exposures automatically. With my D90, I got caught out at first by depressing the shutter button half way to hold focus, but realized that the camera re-focussed after the first exposure, and so I need to lock the focus. The X10 and P7100 have an AE-L/AF-L button like my D90. The G15 manual claims similar functionality by holding the shutter button half-way down and pressing the Macro/MF side of the multi selector. But I failed to make this work at Park Cameras, and several times during my attempts, I accidentally triggered the shutter when trying to hold it half-way down whilst using another finger to try to set the focus lock.

    I found the absence of any viewfinder information in all of these cameras very limiting, particularly as my 35 year old Olympus RC35 (shutter priority or manual exposure) shows a needle in the viewfinder to indicate the aperture that will be used. My only experience of an EVF is on my son’s 2005 Fujifilm S9500, which is absolutely terrible, but I read that they are now pretty good. I would need a lot of convincing that an EVF would offer an improvement in a DSLR, but I suspect they might be a better alternative to OVFs if built into compact cameras, for the sake of providing viewfinder information equivalent to the comprehensive display available on the monitor.

    I didn’t find anything special about the P7100 to compensate for its expected poorer IQ. I think the G15 and X10 would offer very similar IQ. The key differences are that I liked using the X10, but it would be rather awkward to carry in my pocket. Conversely, the G15 is much more portable, but I found the powered zoom, inferior viewfinder, and difficulty locking focus, seemed to conspire against getting the best out of it, and enjoying my photography. Although I expect to be carrying my compact in my pocket for many hours to take only occasional photos (I still plan to take my DSLR outfit if I am expecting photo opportunities), I chose handling over portability, and bought the X10. If I ever find myself wishing my compact was even more compact, I can console myself with the price structure. Both cameras were launched with similar list prices, but the X10 has since fallen by £200, whilst the G15 still costs almost its list price. The G12 fell about £150 from its list price during its life, so I expect the G15 to do much the same. So in the unlikely event that in a year’s time I decide the bulk of the X10 such a problem that I want to get a G15, its price will probably have fallen by half what I paid for the X10!

    EXR sensor:
    The X10 has an unusual sensor design, that Fuji has set up to be capable of various tricks. The most useful is probably to set half the photosites at a different ISO to the others, and give a 6MPx HDR-type image with a single exposure. I am willing to believe that this will give better results in high-contrast situations than a straight 12MPx JPEG. But I am not convinced it would give better results than a well-exposed 12MPx RAW image taken at the lower ISO value and processed with “Fill Light” and “Contrast” adjusted to bring out the shadow detail. A downside of the EXR sensor is that current computer-based image processors are reportedly not able to extract the best resolution from EXR RAW files. If Fuji offered an alternative version of the X10, with a conventional Bayer sensor of equivalent sensitivity to the EXR, I would have chosen the Bayer version.
  10. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Re: I now have a Fujifilm X10

    Excellent comparative review!

    The Fuji X10 is my preferred option for when I find I need to replace my current "carry everywhere" compact (Fuji E900). I was slightly surprised that it didn't make it into AP's recent comparison test of high end compacts.

    I see that the X10 is now supported by Dave Coffin's DCraw open source raw converter (scroll down to the list of supported cameras), so it will probably be supported in other open source software before too long.
  11. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    Have you thought of the Nikon1V1 or 1V2? Not strictly compact, but the 1V1 is on clearance pricing at some retailers, and it may just fit into a pocket
  12. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I had already considered that approach, and the salesman at Park Cameras also suggested it, but he could not offer anything as small as the X10 once a zoom lens was mounted.
  13. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Correction/update: SRS Microsystems now stock the Fujifilm X10

    Today I visited SRS Microsystems (searching unsuccessfully for the elusive protective filter that fits the Fujifilm X10). I noticed that they had the X10 on display. When I commented that I had not noticed it on their website, they said that they had only recently begun to stock it.
  14. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Re: Correction/update: SRS Microsystems now stock the Fujifilm X

    Thanks for your helpful posts above. How big a gap in IQ do you think there is between the P7100 and the G12/15 and then to the X-10. Are you able to express it in, say, percentage terms, please?
  15. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    IQ between the cameras

    No, I couldn't put a percentage value on them, even if I knew how I would scale it. I was only trying to judge from published tests, particularly the DxOMark Sensor scores, which were X-10 = 50; G12 = 47 and P7100 = 41. I think AP have tested all 4 of the cameras, and I'm pretty sure you will find reviews for all of them on DPReview.
  16. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Thanks Chris for sharing your research and thoughts, especially in your post of the 25th.
  17. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the various messages of appreciation. My original post was to see if anyone could advise me, I got lots of suggestions, and AlecM asked me to share my choice. My main effort was in the research, to try to avoid a purchase that I would come to regret. I did not see much point in letting members know what I had chosen without explaining why - that was the easy part.
  18. Stanovich

    Stanovich Member

    I realise this is an old (if very informative) thread, but I've just picked up on it and I have a lot in common with the OP - and my thoughts are going in the same direction. My main camera is a Pentax K5IIs (previously K20D) with assortment of lenses, and I too find it quite bulky to carry everywhere - particularly on business trips when I'm flying with laptop etc. as well (plus I recently injured my back and have to be careful about how much I'm carrying). My second camera is a Panasonic LX3, which is broadly OK but I have the same problem with seeing the detail on the screen - typically it's camera out, sunglasses off, reading glasses on (possibly dropping one of the three in the process) and then trying to compose the image with the sun reflecting off the screen.

    I looked at the above three last summer but didn't do anything as I was just about to change my SLR. Interestingly the Nikon seemed to have the best dioptre adjustment for my eyesight, though in other respects my preference was the Fuji followed by the Canon. Now models have moved on and Nikon has lost the VF (I don't like the clip-on barrel one); the Panasonic LF1 also looks interesting though I haven't played with one and my impression is that optically it's not up with the LX3 (I'd rather have a shorter, wider zoom than the typical 5-6x that's on some of these cameras).

    So I'm also heading in the direction of the X10 (and probably X10 rather than X20 given the marginal improvements and availability of new X10s for around £300). Given the need for a viewfinder (otherwise I'd be completely happy with my LX3) and desire to stay in the price/size-range of the above mentioned cameras, am I missing anything?
  19. bonynge5

    bonynge5 Active Member

    Just had a week in France, Somme region. Took canon D60 + various lenses, and my X10. Have to say it apart from a steam train ride and visit to a wild life reserve my DSLR stayed in the car. I used my X10 all the time. Really am chuffed with this camera. Thought about X20, but, thinking is about as far as I've got. X10. Super pictures
  20. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    Possibly the Canon Powershot G1-X
    and the newer Fuji X20 that has superseded the X10, which you briefly mentioned. However the firmware update that is available for the X10 adds a few features and I am not sure if even the latest X10's are shipped with this latest firmware installed. Worth searching out some on-line reviews before making a purchasing decision, and as always, it is best to get a hands-on trial of any intended purchase too
    Last edited: May 12, 2013

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