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P&S advice - and prints
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Jeffrey McConnell
P&S advice - and prints on 09/06/2011 22:40:20 MDT Print View

I'm looking into a P&S right now for backpacking. I'm a photographer, but I'm more looking for a camera to take when I don't feel like dragging my DSLR out there. What I'm trying to figure out is if I can get away with a cheaper model (around $200) or if it will drive me crazy to not have control over the camera and I need to save up for something like the S95 or LX-5. I almost exclusively shoot RAW with my DSLR. Also, I know there is a difference in sensors between the more basic and advanced models. Will I see a large difference in prints and at what size do the differences become noticeable?

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/06/2011 22:59:07 MDT Print View

Hi Jeff,

You might best concentrate on larger chip compacts and consider buying used. A G10, LX3, S90, GX200 will give excellent results and let you shoot RAW. They should all be available at your price point and will help avoid the frustrations of shooting a typical P&S.



Stephen Chan
(syc168) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
P&S on 09/06/2011 23:56:19 MDT Print View

How small do you want it to be and are you planning on shooting it in low light without flash?

In daylight, many of the P&S cameras will be fine with the notable exception of depth of field isolation, and possibly over contrasty jpegs compared to a DSLR. Once you get into low light, you either have to go with flash or pony up for the cameras with the better sensors. The Canon S95 is about as small as you can get in a P&S zoom and still have a decent sensor - the lens is bright at the widest end of its range, but max aperture drops relatively quickly.
Take a good look at the Samsung TL500/EX1 if you are willing to go with a camera in the Panasonic LX5 size - it doesn't have the cachet of Canon or Panasonic, but the lens is fast and the sensor performs well, with a reasonable set of controls available. Its more of an enthusiast's camera, with a 24-72 f1.8-f2.4 lens. A friend who is a photo geek likes his very much, and his sister the happy snapper is happy with it as a P&S. The Samsung name doesn't command a price premium, so you can often find good deals on this camera if you look around.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
LX5 , XZ1 , S90 etc.. on 09/07/2011 00:15:50 MDT Print View

Buy one of those if you can afford it ( or maybe an LX3 if you need to spend less )

My A4 sized prints from my LX3 are noticably better than those i did on other P&S, and those i do now on my FT2 ( my P&S for packrafting or even going to the sea side )

When i want A3 sized prints or bigger ( max i did is 10" x 30" landscapes )i bring my m4/3.

A GF3 or EPM1 + 14mm or soon the pana X 14-42 lens is tiny but way more expensive.

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Love my Canon S90 on 09/07/2011 10:37:50 MDT Print View

I've been very pleased with my Canon S90. Yep; I'd get better low-light performance and faster exposure bracketing shots (which I use for HDR) with a true DSLR; but I'd never carry anything that heavy in the field.

I did just add a polarizing filter to my S90 via an ingenious adapter:|utmccn=%28direct%29|utmcmd=%28none%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=29424319

Here's some photos I took with it this past weekend:

These were all shot in RAW and processed in Adobe Lightroom. I'm purely an amateur; but these are better than anything I've gotten with other P&S cameras over the years.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/07/2011 19:30:21 MDT Print View

I'm a photographer too, and I have bought a lot of small cameras over the years. Objectively, my best backpacking camera is the little Panasonic P+S camera, I think it's the ZS1, with a 25-300 (eq) lens with optical image stabilization. Fits in a shirt pocket, takes reasonably good photos, cost about $120 at Costco (so I don't really care if I trash it.) I should love this camera for hiking. Meh.

I also have the much larger and heavier Canon G7, with plenty of manual controls. But the image quality isn't really much better -- all the little sensor cameras start to suck pretty hard at ISO 400, and it's noticeable even in small prints. They have effectively infinite depth of field, lots of noise even at base ISO, and lousy dynamic range. The G7 was my hiking and travel camera for years, and I was never really satisfied with it. I don't think that there's much difference in image quality between the expensive models and the cheaper versions when you are looking at those tiny sensors.

So. The camera that actually goes with me on most trips is my Panasonic GF-1, with the 20mm f/1.7 lens and the optional viewfinder. Sure, it has no zoom range, and it's heavy and bulky and expensive. But the image quality from the micro-4/3 sensor is very good, I get much more control over the exposure and DOF, and I'm much happier with the final prints. So far I have resisted the urge to bring any other lenses with me, but if I did it would be the 14mm, and I would love to own the 7-14 zoom.

Hope this helps.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/07/2011 20:17:24 MDT Print View

You may find the decision easier if you can define your typical subjects. Also, when you want to print large, what is large?

In general, you can get a P&S camera with a large enough sensor (in megapixels) to print large. However, you may be held back by the optics.

I shot a black bear with an 8 megapixel camera, and I had it printed at 20x30 inches, and I could not have asked for any better results.


Jeffrey McConnell
Re: Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/07/2011 21:58:04 MDT Print View

The largest I'd want to print would be around 16x20 - so not too large. Generally I shoot a lot of landscapes, but the camera would be used more for just documenting the trip. Whatever subjects I find interesting along the way.

Edited by Catalyst on 09/07/2011 22:00:01 MDT.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/09/2011 17:54:34 MDT Print View

Remember, regarding photography its more about What/When/Lighting/Where than it has to do with the camera regarding good pictures.

Well, when cameras were 3MP P&S, I was stitching and HDR'ing them with limited to pretty good success. Have several printed out 17 high and 40 long that are identical to anything you can get today when seen from 3 feet. Obviously at closer pixel peeping range you can tell they were taken with a 3MP camera, but when was the last time you got within 3 feet of a hung framed portrait/landscape? Never. Since then digital cameras have only gotten leaps and bounds better.

So, its not so much the technical specs of the camera, though they help, rather the print process.

Tech specs that always help. Get the fastest lense you can. F2.8 lense hopefully as P&S cameras have very poor low light performance.

Cheaper as far as I am concerned for P&S is the way to go. I would buy old "top of the line "then" cameras. Today top of the line P&S = $400 or more. Buy yesterday's top of the line with essentially no differences and we are talking $150. EBAY/Craigslist.

As long as the old camera has image STABILIZATION, go for it. Essentially, nothing worth mentioning has changed in the small P&S sensor world for several years. They keep introducing new models just to introduce new models even though nothing has changed, or very very little.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: P&S advice - and prints on 09/09/2011 18:32:41 MDT Print View

There needs to be a standard for prints... and there is.

The standard says that the minimum viewing distance for a large print is the diagonal dimension of the print. In other words, if you have a print that is 3 feet by 4 feet, and the diagonal is 5 feet, then 5 feet is the minimum viewing distance from the center.

What that also means is that you may want to get 300 dpi in a small print, but 150 or 200 dpi may be sufficient in a large print. Trying to get 300 dpi may be an exercise in futility.