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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A quality compact camera?

Currently you have a choice in the camera market. You either buy a compact, a bridge camera or a dSLR.

The first two are a compromise in image quality, the last in convenience.

There are advantages in both routes, there are times when you don't want to carry a large dSLR with you, and a camera you can slip into a pocket or belt bag would be ideal. Walking around city centres for instance or, in my case, when I go birding or dragonfly watching. You have a big 70-300 or 80-400 and see a landscape or building you want to photograph, your choice is either a second camera or carry a second lens and swapping. Now sometimes this is fine but if I'm birding it's a weight I'd rather avoid. If I was on Skomer next month (HOLIDAY ALERT!!) I'd definitely like something small.

My objection to compacts are image quality. Good though they may be in good light, I can spot that they are nowhere near as sharp as my dSLR (and on a dull day....). As I've mentioned before I'd like a quality compact but there is little choice.

Well yesterday Olympus announced the E-P1. A compact (admittedly a big compact - this link shows it against a Panasonic LX-3 if you page down) that has a largish sensor. The E-P1 takes interchangeable lenses and they don't collapse fully into the body like a compact. The standard kit lens (a 14-42 which is the equivalent of an 18-55 on most dSLR or 28-84 on a film camera) is small (and ideal in range for me) but still a little a bit big looking, the other lens a 17mm f2.8 lens looks the bees knees (that's 22mm on most DSLR's and 34mm on a film camera - I admit I'd prefer something a little wider but hey). That really looks a nice option to carry alongside a dSLR.

Now my friend the lovely develop-my-own-film-birder is probably saying that I have one on order! Well I don't!!!!!!, the Camera with 14-42 is £699 and with a 17 f2.8 £749. Sorry, but there is no way on earth I am buying one at those prices!! HOWEVER Nikon and Canon launched new dSLR's a few months ago at prices between £750 and £850 and now both are under £600 so prices will fall. Given that Samsung are devloping something similar there is hope that prices will fall early in the new year with the E-P1 being closer to £500. (Also the only true compacts with a large sensor the Sigma DP1 and DP2 may also see prices fall to desirable prices). The lack of an onboard flash is a pain.

Olympus is developing this system called micro 4/3 with Panasonic so lets hope Panasonic bring out something this size or smaller soon.

However it appears that those of us after a quality comact at a reasonable price may soon have something on the way.


Anonymous said...

I got quite curious about a compact camera advertised in Digital Camera, June issue. It's the Finepix F200 EXR - not very cheap! It takes two pictures at the same time, and merges them to generate a photo with higher dynamic range.

Pete said...

hey diddums.

I saw that. It look interesting price is now about £250 and will fall.

Anonymous said...

The technology can only get better - maybe the noise will improve. Might be worth waiting to see what else comes along. :-)