Dpreview Recommends: Top 5 Compact Cameras

'What camera should I buy?' That's a question we get asked a lot here at dpreview, and it's a tough one to answer. We use a lot of cameras, from simple point-and-shoot models to professional workhorses, and everything in-between. We review as many of the interesting models as we can, but we can't cover everything, and our reviews are spread out across the year, which can make it hard for you to make buying decisions.

In this short article, we've selected five of what we think are the best zoom compacts on the market right now, spanning the market from point-and-shoots to Raw-capturing high-end cameras. By 'zoom compact camera', we mean cameras with non-interchangeable zoom lenses, regardless of size. Of our top 5 selection we've summarized their major strengths, with links to previously-published content, including samples galleries. Here are the cameras we've selected (in alphabetical order). You can click to go directly to the camera you want to read about or just start at the top:

Canon PowerShot G15

$499 / £499

Canon's PowerShot G-series is one of the most iconic lines of digital compact cameras, with the original G1 having debuted back in September 2000. The latest model, the G15, features a 28-140mm zoom with a fast maximum aperture of F1.8-2.8 mated with a Canon-made 12.1MP 1/1.7"-type CMOS sensor. The G15 features an ISO range of 80 to 12,800 and full HD movie recording at a frame-rate of 24 fps, with stereo sound from the built-in microphones.

Canon PowerShot G15 key features

  • 12 megapixel 1/1.7" CMOS sensor (7.4 x 5.6mm)
  • 28-140mm (equivalent) F1.8-2.8 lens with 4-stop 'Intelligent IS'
  • 3 in, 920k dot PureColor II G screen
  • ISO 80-12800
  • Raw + Raw+JPEG capture
  • 1080p video recording
  • Optical viewfinder

In our testing, we found that the G15's long but impressively bright lens is a real selling point compared to both its predecessor, and indeed most of its competitors. Having a maximum aperture of F1.8-2.8 combined with a useful 28-140mm (equivalent) zoom means that you've got a lot more flexibility in poor light, allowing you to set either a lower ISO sensitivity for cleaner images, or a faster shutter speed to avoid camera-shake or blurring due to subject movement.

The Canon PowerShot G15 offers an abundance of external controls, and an unusually fast lens, with a maximum aperture of F1.8-2.8 across its 28-140mm (equivalent) zoom.  Unlike its predecessor the G12, and some competitive models, the G15's rear display is fixed, not articulated. This makes for a smaller camera than the G12, despite the faster lens.

In other respects, the G15 is a very solid performer, firmly in the G-Series tradition. This latest model is fast and responsive in use, offers about as much direct manual control as you could hope for, but isn't as bulky as previous G-series compacts. This is partly due to Canon's decision to go with a fixed LCD screen on the rear of the camera, rather than an articulated model. This makes the G15 less flexible when shooting from awkward angles, and when shooting movies, but the increased portability compared to earlier models, and competitors such as Nikon's Coolpix P7700 is very welcome. 

As far as image quality is concerned, the G15 doesn't disappoint. Detail capture is high at the low end of its ISO sensitivity scale, and its 28-140mm lens is excellent, aided by a very effective image stabilization system that we've found can deliver sharp images at shutter speeds as low as 1/15sec at full zoom. The G15 gets noisier at its higher ISO settings but even at ISO 3200 and 6400, image quality is good enough for small prints or web use, and for critical use, shooting in Raw mode will allow you to get the most out of the camera. All in all, the G15 is a great performer and a pleasure to use. The G15 is highly recommended for anyone that needs a general-purpose compact with lots of manual control that can deliver great quality images. 

What we like: Excellent 'hands-on' ergonomics in a small, relatively portable body, optical viewfinder can be handy on occasion, very nice image quality, good, responsive operation. 

What we don't like: We miss the G12's articulated screen, and the lack of any meaningful manual control in video mode will frustrate budding filmmakers. 

Links

Olympus XZ-2

$599 / £423

The Olympus XZ-2 is the successor to 2011's XZ-1 and offers a lot of improvements. The XZ-2 incorporates a more modern 12MP CMOS sensor, a screw-in hand grip, tilting touch-screen and a two-mode control dial around the lens. Although the XZ-2 features the same lens as its predecessor, the 28-112mm equivalent range is useful and the F1.8-2.5 maximum aperture is still impressively fast, promising greater versatility in marginal light than some of is competitors. 

Olympus XZ-2 key features

  • 12.1 megapixel 1/1.7" BSI CMOS sensor (7.4 x 5.6mm)
  • 4x 28-112mm (equivalent) F1.8-2.5 lens
  • ISO 100-12800
  • 3.0 in, 920k dot LCD screen
  • JPEG, Raw, Raw+JPEG capture
  • 1080p video recording 
  • Customizable stepped/stepless front control dial
We haven't tested the XZ-2 yet, but we've been using it a lot since it arrived in our office, and in an incredibly busy year for new products, it's one of the cameras that we've been getting most excited about. The XZ-1 was a great camera that earned our gold award when we reviewed it in early 2011, thanks to its excellent lens, high-quality display, effective ergonomics and good image quality. The XZ-2 improves upon the older model in several key ways, and incorporates a lot of the same customization options that we've seen in Olympus' PEN-series interchangeable lens cameras, but leaves the essentials alone. This is the best kind of upgrade.
The XZ-2 is reasonably large for a compact camera, but an optional screw-in grip provides a nice solid hand hold. The control dial around the lens is customizable.  The rear of the XZ-2 is dominated by a 3 in, 920,000-dot LCD screen. In this view you can also see the mechanical catch for the XZ-2's small built-in flash. 
Whereas the XZ-1 offered 10MP resolution from a CCD chip, the XZ-2 is built around a 12MP CMOS sensor. Not a huge boost in pixel count, but with the new sensor comes 1080p video, and a wider ISO sensitivity range (up to ISO 12,800). This is probably the same sensor that Nikon uses in its Coolpix P7700. In terms of ergonomics, the XZ-2 has the same dual control-dial interface to its predecessor, but the front control dial can be customized, and boasts a mechanical switch to go between stepped rotation (ideal for inputting exposure changes) and stepless rotation (much nicer for zooming or manual focus). The XZ-2 doesn't offer the OLED display of its predecessor, but its 920,000-dot LCD is one of the best in its class, and now it's tiltable, too.  
 
Although we haven't been able to run the XZ-2 through the full gamut of our studio and real-world testing yet, our initial impressions are very positive, both in terms of image quality and operational ergonomics. As such, we have no hesitation in recommending the XZ-2 if you're looking for a high-quality compact camera.

What we like: Fast lens, proven 12MP CMOS sensor, excellent ergonomics including extensive customization, good image quality (on initial assessment). 

What we don't like: It's too early to make a definitive judgement, but the XZ-2's lens range isn't as wide as some of its competitors, and it's a little pricey.

Links

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

$549 / £439

The 12MP Lumix DMC-FZ200 is Panasonic's flagship super-zoom compact digital camera and features a lens with an F2.8 maximum aperture across its entire zoom range of 25-600mm (equivalent). Last year's DMC-FZ150 (which we liked a lot) had an F2.8 - F5.2 lens, so the lens on the FZ200 is a huge improvement, and the extra brightness should make a real difference at long focal lengths and/or in poor light, allowing you to shoot at lower, less noisy ISO settings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 key features

  • 12.1 megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor
  • 24x 25-600mm (equivalent) lens with F2.8 across the zoom range
  • 0.2 in EVF (Electronic View Finder) with 1,312k dot equivalent resolution
  • 3.0 in, free-angle 460k dot LCD screen
  • ISO 100-6400
  • RAW and RAW+JPEG data recording option
  • High Speed Video at 120 fps (HD) or 240 fps (VGA)
  • 1080 60p video recording in AVCHD or MP4 formats
  • 12 fps continuous shooting

Its constant F2.8 aperture makes the FZ200 stand out in its class, especially when it comes to versatility in poor light, or when shooting at the long end of the zoom. That large aperture allows it to offer faster shutter speeds at the same ISO settings as its peers, or use lower sensitivities at the same shutter speeds as the competition. In our testing, we found that in everyday outdoor shooting, the extra brightness of its lens meant that we rarely needed to select the FZ200's highest ISO sensitivity settings.

The FZ200's built-in lens covers an equivalent focal span of 25-600mm, with a maximum aperture of F2.8 across the entire range. 

The FZ200 features a built-in electronic viewfinder, above which are a hotshoe for external flashguns, and a stereo microphone. On the right you'll find an exposure mode dial. 

This is good news because although the FZ200's image quality is very good at the low end of its ISO sensitivity scale, things get pretty nasty above ISO 1600, as noise really kicks in and the camera's noise-reduction system smears away fine detail more than we'd like. As always though, if you stick to small prints or web display, these issues are much less noticeable. If you're critically-inclined, the FZ200 offers a Raw capture mode - still relatively unusual for this class. Shooting in Raw can make a lot of difference and careful processing will reward you with excellent image quality, particularly between ISO 100-400.

As well as offering impressive brightness, the FZ200's 25-600mm lens also offers very good sharpness. Considering the large maximum aperture and ambitious zoom range, we had no complaints about the FZ200's lens for everyday use. There are cameras out there with longer lenses (Nikon's Coolpix P510 is great value, also offers very good image quality and boasts an extraordinary maximum telephoto setting of 1000mm equivalent) but in terms of its feature set, versatility and overall performance, the FZ200 is one of the best super-zooms we've ever used, and highly recommended for anyone that needs the ultimate in flexibility - especially when traveling. 

What we like: Fast, high-quality F2.8 lens, well thought-out ergonomics for still and video shooting, effective image stabilization, good image quality in JPEG mode and the option to shoot Raw for best results. 

What we don't like: Image quality drops above ISO 800 in both JPEG and Raw, and ISO 6400 is unusable for all but the least demanding output, some operations can be a little 'laggy', no automatic LCD/EVF switch.

Links

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 / TZ30

$249 / £229

Panasonic was the manufacturer that defined what we now call the 'travel zoom' segment of the compact camera market, and its latest flagship model, the ZS20 (TZ30 in some markets) is the most advanced yet. The ZS20 offers a 20x zoom lens, covering the equivalent of 24-480mm, built-in GPS and a new 14MP MOS sensor that allows for features like high-speed 10fps burst shooting and 1080p60 video recording. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 / TZ30 key features

  • 14.1 megapixel MOS sensor
  • 20x 24-480mm (equivalent) F3.3-6.4 lens
  • 3 in 460k dot LCD screen
  • ISO 100-1600
  • 1080 60p video recording in AVCHD or MP4 formats
  • 10 fps continuous shooting (for burst of 10 images)
  • Built-in GPS

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 packs in some great features, foremost among which is undoubtedly its 24-480mm (equivalent) zoom lens, which is Panasonic's most ambitious lens yet in the ZS/TZ series. For traveling or just everyday point-and-shoot photography, the ZS20 is hard to beat in terms of sheer versatility. If you're shooting a wedding, we wouldn't recommend relying on the ZS20 as your only camera, but for grab shots, the ability to quickly re-frame from 24mm to 480mm is extremely useful, especially in a camera that can slip into your jacket or pants pocket. 

The ZS20 is a slim travel-zoom camera which features a 24-480mm (equivalent) zoom lens and built-in GPS.  On the back you'll find a 3 inch LCD display with 460,000 dots and a small cluster of buttons. 

When we used the ZS20 we were impressed by its adaptability, but also by the effectiveness of features like its built-in GPS. While most GPS-equipped cameras just log your location, Panasonic also offers a built-in database of a million landmarks, plus maps of ninety countries. It can even show you where you are on the map, though they're not nearly detailed enough for navigation. If you don't need GPS though, you should turn it off - it will reduce battery life. The ZS20 is also capable of recording excellent video footage, up to 1080/60p, which is still relatively unusual in cameras in this class, although in video mode, the ZS20 is effectively a point-and-shoot camera.

Speaking of which, we like Panasonic's iAuto mode a lot. If you have no idea how to operate a camera, just set the mode dial to iA mode, and the camera will do the rest. The ZS20 has a limited set of manual exposure controls as well, but lacks the option to shoot in Raw mode, bracket white balance or focus manually.

The main strengths of the ZS20 then are its versatility and ease of use. Image quality is decent, but not outstanding. If you'd prefer better images, with fewer bells and whistles, the ZS20's 'younger brother' the ZS15, is worth a look. 

What we like: Great zoom range, responsive operation, excellent iAuto mode gets the most out of point-and-shoot photography, useful 10fps burst mode, very good built-in GPS.

What we don't like: Average image quality, limited manual control, relatively low-resolution LCD screen (by the standards of the best of its competitors).

Links

Sony Cyber-shot RX100

$649 / £443

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is an enthusiast compact camera based around a large 1" 20 MP CMOS sensor, paired with  a Zeiss-branded 28-100mm equivalent F1.8-4.9 stabilized lens. The rest of its specification is pretty impressive too - a 1.2 million dot 3.0" LCD (VGA resolution but using Sony's WhiteMagic technology to offer greater brightness or improved battery life), and 1080p60 video capture or 1080i with the ability to shoot 17MP stills without interrupting movie recording. All of this in a body of roughly equivalent size to more conventional compact cameras with much smaller sensors. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 key features:

  • 20.9 MP 1" Exmor CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm)
  • 28-100mm (equiv), F1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with Steady-Shot image stabilization
  • 3" 1.2M dot 'WhiteMagic' LCD screen
  • ISO 125-6400 (ISO 80 and 100 expansion, up to 25,600 using multi-frame noise-reduction)
  • JPEG, Raw, Raw+JPEG capture 
  • 1080p60 video, (AVCHD) with MP4 option (50p in PAL regions)
  • 10 fps continuous shooting in 'Speed Priority' mode

The RX100 is a very impressive compact camera, partly just because of the amount of technology that Sony has squeezed into it. The RX100's sensor has twice the surface area of the 2/3" EXR sensor inside the Fujifilm X10, and around three times the surface area of the 1/1.7" sensors in most other high-end compacts. The RX100 offers excellent image quality which is a step above its compact competitors in most situations, from bright sunlight to the subdued environment of a bar or concert venue. The only camera which really tops it in terms of critical image quality is Canon's PowerShot G1 X with its even-larger 1.5" sensor, but the bulky, more expensive Canon is also slower, and in some respects less pleasant to use. 

Despite its large 1" (13.2 x 8.8mm) sensor, the RX100 is roughly the same size as many of its small-sensored competitors. A control dial around the lens can be customized. The rear of the RX100 is home to the majority of the control points, including a direct movie shooting button and a control dial to the right of the 3" 1.2 million dot 'WhiteMagic' LCD display.

As well as solid image quality for still photographs, the RX100's video specification is very impressive, and its performance is excellent. 1080/60p video recording is still pretty unusual in compact cameras and resolution is very high, and footage very smooth. Unlike some of its competitors, the RX100 also offers a useful amount of manual control in video mode. 

On the whole, the RX100 is a pleasure to use, too, thanks to its generous external controls and customizable Fn menu, which provides quick access to up to seven shooting parameters. Its front control dial is unusual - it moves smoothly, making it ideal for zooming or manual focus (but much less fun if you want to use it for setting discrete exposure parameters like aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation).

The RX100 isn't perfect, but we're impressed by it not only as a feat of engineering, but also by its overall performance. The larger sensor really does make a difference, placing this camera at the top of the class when it comes to image quality, and making it worth the price premium compared to some of its competitors.

What we like: Excellent image quality, small, portable body, good, fast lens (at the wide end), excellent video specification and performance.

What we don't like: USB charging, front control dial isn't great for setting discrete exposure parameters, flash exposures aren't completely reliable, image on rear LCD can be hard to see in bright light, lag when magnifying images in playback mode is frustrating.  

Links

Comments

Total comments: 582
1234
DoctorJerry
By DoctorJerry (8 months ago)

Interesting comparison but I have one comment. The Panasonic FZ200 with its constant f2.8 lens shooting at ISO 800 is like shooting at f5.6 at ISO 3200 with the other cameras. The ISO 800 shots are very good and relatively noise free. No smudging of details. It also means it will focus faster even in dim light. I just used that camera on a Baltic capital trip including Berlin and I was blown away at how fast and accurately it grabbed focus when shooting from a moving bus, even when I was zoomed out to the max and it was late and starting to get dark. It is one amazing camera. The one negative I have on the camera is how frequently I accidentally end up pressing the white balance button. I finally made a removable cover for the 4 way controller and that seems to have solved that problem.

0 upvotes
Clint009
By Clint009 (10 months ago)

Only DMC FZ 200 have a viewfinder.

That is great to have.

1 upvote
AndraM
By AndraM (9 months ago)

The Canon G15 also has a viewfinder, albeit a smaller one.

1 upvote
tabloid
By tabloid (10 months ago)

All very nice....but i would like to have a mobile phone bolted into the back of each camera.

0 upvotes
mmendo
By mmendo (10 months ago)

Another Canon sponsored Post?

The animosity against Nikon have to be for money, I can not find another explanation.

2 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (10 months ago)

considering there's 2 panasonics in there and (as clearly stated they are presented in alphabetical order) I don't see how you draw this conclusion. This was our pick of the top 5, at the time. No Nikons made the grade.

1 upvote
mmendo
By mmendo (8 months ago)

Sure

This is Another Canon sponsored Post.

Where are Nikon P7700 and P330?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (8 months ago)

The P330 was launched five months after this piece was written and the P7700 wasn't felt to be as good as the G15 (slightly shorter but brighter lens, more responsive than the Nikon).

1 upvote
harry cannoli
By harry cannoli (10 months ago)

Yeah, what about the LX-7?

4 upvotes
Darren Lee
By Darren Lee (11 months ago)

The video is surprisingly great in the RX100

2 upvotes
claudemc
By claudemc (11 months ago)

think they missed the LX7 too, it's the only fast 24mm and the only wiith RX100 to be able to choose shutter speed even under 1/30 to film in low light, it also focus faster than g15 or p7700,
I tried RX100 and video at 28mm cropped in 16/9 doesn't let you angle to film indoor, and for me using it was'nt a pleasure, except the Megapixels
I think LX7 is better but less compact the only thing I can complain about.

But really I can't make a choice in the actual market offer, even Panasonic LF1 will have a 28mm, same features than LX7 in a compact body the dream could comes true one day,
left S110, but really canon is sleeping, there's 50% more features on pana or sony than canon today, also chdk is not ported for S110....

1 upvote
Saijem
By Saijem (Apr 8, 2013)

What about the Lumix LX7?

1 upvote
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Mar 29, 2013)

Their reviews are pretty much spot on.

2 upvotes
Harry Stone
By Harry Stone (Mar 25, 2013)

Just a note. As a person who can no longer lift his camera to his eye to use an optical viewfinder. (Spinal surgery injury) I ordered a Nikon P7700. My top 1, 2,3,4,5 because of the fully articulated view screen. My feeling is there's lots of information on the internet. Even though DPR inexplicably chose not to do a complete review, other great sites have. The top five compacts are the top five that fulfill your particular needs.

3 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Mar 29, 2013)

I agree with you, even though their reviews are good, selection of camera and timing of review are something to think about.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
hefo
By hefo (Mar 25, 2013)

Why didn't you mention the Nikon Coolpix P 7700 - tilting screen, enormous zoom 28 - 200? My favourite camera since February! I don't understand your praise for the Canon G 15! You should have compared them!

6 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (8 months ago)

We had compared them, but not written a full comparison review (which we did later). The G15 is the better camera in most respects.

0 upvotes
minzaw
By minzaw (Mar 20, 2013)

G15 is not compact

2 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Mar 29, 2013)

so the others

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Heliconius
By Heliconius (Feb 14, 2013)

DP, please keep up with new releases.
This taking it slow about reviewing certain models extremely smells like a sabotage.

1 upvote
Backstage
By Backstage (Jan 25, 2013)

nothing really new. for a overview, even for beginners, really not complete enough.

2 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 11, 2013)

Another Canon paid article?

6 upvotes
Jostian
By Jostian (Jan 29, 2013)

huh, 1 canon in the top 6 and its a canon biased article... I think not!

9 upvotes
Steve oliphant
By Steve oliphant (Jan 10, 2013)

Not bad there all point and shoot cameras there all different types of point and shoots and no theres no Nikon or should i say Samsung cameras in here get over it ............

0 upvotes
tjkitch
By tjkitch (Jan 5, 2013)

Guess we need a new definition what a compact camera is.

0 upvotes
WillemVO
By WillemVO (Jan 1, 2013)

Does it make sense to compare cameras with and without a viewfinder ? I suggest you to redo the comparison with optional viewfinders attached !

0 upvotes
Sam Carriere
By Sam Carriere (Dec 31, 2012)

How far away from the dartboard were you for this "selection?"

3 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 23, 2012)

DPR, there is something I really don't understand here!
In DPR's other review "Enthusiast zoom compact cameras", DPR slips in a Canon S110 into a roundup of what is clearly higher-end compacts, but not into this one where it would be more in it's place, but they include a G15 instead?
And, although the ZS20/TZ30 is fine, we had to include another Panasonic which isn't even a compact (FZ200)? Why does that take the place of, say, a Nikon S9300 for example?
I get the "we don't have the time or space to review them all" argument, however that clearly is not the problem here. There isn't even any cohesion.
Why not just call it "our random plugs for the holiday season"?

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 23, 2012)

Or if not the 9300 - there are still the Canon SX240/SX260, Fuji F800, Olympus SZ12, SZ31, and plenty of other models that are 10x and more to choose from.

What is definitely confusing, is why use the the terms "zoom compact" and "regardless of size" in the same sentence?

2 upvotes
Chris and Laura
By Chris and Laura (Dec 17, 2012)

Of what use is including the chunky G15 and gargantuan FZ-200? If it won't fit in my front trouser pocket, it's not "compact".

Need a re-do on this article: make it the top 5 COMPACT cameras at any price plus the top 5 under $250. Right now looking at the RX100--and waiting for something comparable under $500.

2 upvotes
Larry McJunkin
By Larry McJunkin (Dec 25, 2012)

Good luck with the RX100 at higher ISOs...it's abysmal. Compare it here on the Studio Image Comparison Tool with the Canon G15 or even the Olympus Xz-2 and you'll be rudely awakened with how poor it performs.

3 upvotes
2eyesee
By 2eyesee (Jan 16, 2013)

@Larry McJunkin

The RX100 studio comparison shot has been the subject of much debate and confusion over in the Sony Cybershot forum. If you're looking at the Queen of Hearts near the centre of the frame the problem is that it's out of focus.

Have a look at the Comparometer at the Imaging Resource website and you'll see that the RX100 is a good stop better at higher ISO's than the G15.

2 upvotes
lancekoz
By lancekoz (Dec 11, 2012)

People who work with this kind of info tend to get jaded after awhile. Certainly this is a high-end selection and should be labeled as such. For most of us, a selection that would include cameras from 100 to 250 dollars US would be much more useful.

2 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 23, 2012)

I'm not sure that a 200 camera could satisfy the desires of the readership here... the place for that is more futureshop and walmart. it's below the scope of this place.

1 upvote
mmitch
By mmitch (11 months ago)

To bad most of the readers here are so stuck up about camera gear. It's just a tool to take an image with. I wouldn't have any problem taking a great shot with a $200 camera. I work with the highest resolution cameras everyday at work (Canon 5D MKIII) and they produce an incredible file, at the same time I own plastic cameras that have produced some of my favorite images. I guess that's what equipment geeks do though obsess over cameras. They are the same photographers on here that list there gear at the end of there comments.

0 upvotes
Yogi55
By Yogi55 (Dec 9, 2012)

I am confused with the ZS20 selection, if you go to the review and compare to the canon sx260, the sx260 has superior image quality? Also I just do not continue to understand the priority that is given to video capabilities. If you really want a camera that does great video buy a video camera.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 23, 2012)

I'm thinking that Panasonic paid for this article. Anyone looking in this class (and some are even talking about sub-$250) clearly isn't a target customer for the G15 or the XZ2, finding them too bulky, too little zoom or megapixels, and the RX100 too expensive, basically leaving them with a small and a not so small Panasonic to choose from that looks good on paper to them (ignoring sensor size). It's like they gave the target consumer some fake choices they'd not pick plus the two they wanted to promote. Definitely looks like one of those infomercial articles in disguise.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Finzi
By Finzi (Mar 17, 2013)

I think writing off video capabilities nowadays is a bit old fashioned. It might not be a priority for purists but being creative with video is a sound concept even on a point and shoot. While other cameras do have better sensors and IQ, the Z20 is a beautifully designed camera with largely premium controls and feels very nice in the hand. Video and IS quality is exceptional at this price range and exceeded only by the Sony HX20v. I think it's right that the Z20 is in this list. Not sure about the FZ200 though. Great camera but hardly a compact.

0 upvotes
Serban Alexandru
By Serban Alexandru (Apr 17, 2013)

Why not get a camera that does both...?
Besides, I've seen so many comments saying that it has been paid by Canon, Panasonic or whoever else, written by supporters of whatever else, that it might look like DPR belongs to the higher bidder.
DP Review can't cover every taste and reader. The selection is theirs, done to their best abilities. Why not just read the article instead?

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
kadardr
By kadardr (Dec 7, 2012)

DPR completely forgot about Samsung EX2F

2 upvotes
rogerstpierre
By rogerstpierre (Dec 19, 2012)

Indeed, as they pretty much did for the EX1. Don't understand why, it's a mistery to me; this must be frustrating for Samsung.

0 upvotes
Larry McJunkin
By Larry McJunkin (Dec 25, 2012)

They probably forgot it because it because of it's inability to shoot at high ISOs. Use the Studio Image Comparison Tool here and compare it to anything decent...even the G15.

0 upvotes
MMitchellorg
By MMitchellorg (Dec 3, 2012)

pentax ls465 should be one of those... I'm really disappointed

1 upvote
yonsarh
By yonsarh (Dec 3, 2012)

lol, fujifilm xf1 is not on the list?

1 upvote
Anoldgeezer
By Anoldgeezer (Dec 2, 2012)

Kudos to DPR for its reviews and wealth of information for amateurs like myself.

There is one issue that I believe should be discussed a lot more, and that is the "death" of the optical viewfinder. The manufacturers should seriously consider keeping viewfinders with all their cameras. The LCD's are a farce, way over rated.
I purchased a Sony Cyber Shot DSC-HX9V a while back to go on a 3 week trip the next day. A great camera with one exception...NO VIEW FINDER. I was under the impression that the LCD was able to overcome bright light situations, but how wrong I was. I should have been smart enough to return the camera, but I didn't.

How do you overcome not being able to compose your picture and to see your subject clearly? When the sun is behind you it is impossible to know what you are shooting.

My advice to amateurs like myself who has used a viewfinder for years (I'm 73) is to not buy any camera without a viewfinder or else you will be very frustrated and disappointed .

8 upvotes
Oscar Beasley
By Oscar Beasley (Dec 6, 2012)

I could not agree more strongly. 90% of my photos are in broad daylight. 90% of these are taken while wearing sunglasses. Even a 20-year old cannot see with any clarity an LCD in these conditions. Parallax problems are minimal except in extreme close-ups. Only Canon to my knowledge has continued to offer optical viewfinders for their compact digital cameras since around 2007. I cannot imagine a small addition that affords a greater benefit. I am 85, and my photography began at age 14, hence 71 years of experience.

6 upvotes
maboule123
By maboule123 (Dec 6, 2012)

I wish to see you in the old days: trying to see through a 35mm viewfinder, squinting the other eye, half vision or non at all while shooting. Talk about smeared eye glasses and condensation in Winter. It's great to have both eyes (stereo-vision) to compose a picture. Are you going to complaint about auto-focus too? And add the fact that now you can INSTANTLY see the picture without waiting for lab results?

4 upvotes
Rbbra
By Rbbra (Dec 7, 2012)

I agree with the need of a viewfinder. But the modern electronic viewfinders like I have on the Sony Nex 6 can easily replace optcal viewfinders.

1 upvote
vroger1
By vroger1 (Dec 8, 2012)

Could't agree more- ALL my digital cameras- accumulated from 2003- have viewfinders- either optical or EVF. I judge a digital on whether a viewfinder can be added. That would be as simple as having a shoe on top of the digicam to add an accessory v/f. I cannot compose without one. -vroger

2 upvotes
Steve
By Steve (Dec 17, 2012)

not only running the risk of not seeing what you are shooting, many photographers find that framing with an lcd monitor does not 'immerse you in the frame". for some reason, maybe psychological, i find it much easier to concentrate on what the future viewer will be experiencing when they study the image.. having all kinds of crap in your field of view when your camera is held up in the air, detracts from that creative thought process...
i'm not talkiing about 'travel snaps' , for which the monitor is fine..

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Dec 29, 2012)

Although good viewfinders cost money there is another reason to include them. Many camera buyers, especially those able to afford the better models are not steady enough to hold a camera with their arms extended 2 feet in front of them. Doing this also draws attention to you which may or may not be want you want. IS/VR helps but not really a substitute for a viewfinder.

1 upvote
John Beavin
By John Beavin (Dec 29, 2012)

I will never buy another camera without a viewfinder, omitting them was in my opinion a backward step.

2 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 31, 2012)

I agree with oldgeezer. I liked the rudimentary viewfinder on the Nikon P7000 I owned, for backup in sunlight, although I still used the LCD when possible. And our apologies for the not thought through remarks of maboule. however, anoldgeezer, you might want to pay attention to sensor size, and not just if there's a viewfinder, if you care about image quality.

0 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (Feb 27, 2013)

I use a viewfinder and rear screen about equally, depending mostly on ambient light level, and/or whether a tripod is used.

Prefer EVF to optical, as by and large it more nearly represents what the chip is seeing.

I shoot on Panasonic FZ and G which have useable EVFs, and the G5 autoswitches between the two which is very handy, especially as you still have a manual switchover button.

0 upvotes
SUE O''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''BRIEN

I totally agree with you and after using a couple of cameras w/o viewfinders, never again!

0 upvotes
Albert Stumpf
By Albert Stumpf (Dec 2, 2012)

The LCD on the RX-100 is no problem in bright light. There is a menu setting for the LCD in bright sunlight. With this setting, the image on the screen is bright enough to allow for accurate focusing and framing. I used this camera in Utah's National Parks on very bright, sunny days with great result.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
SUE O''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''BRIEN

@albert, the mini-review above states that it is difficult to see in bright light.

0 upvotes
MEBEE
By MEBEE (Dec 1, 2012)

What no Nikon?
So sad Nikon always kind of missing the point of what a good compact should be.

4 upvotes
Chris and Laura
By Chris and Laura (Dec 17, 2012)

We bought a P310 two weeks ago. It's sitting here next to me all boxed up, ready to go back for a refund. Supposedly it got good marks for low light--works in low light if you don't mind noise and poor focus, and if you like your subjects looking like Twilight Zone mutants thanks to creepy blur. Some kind of weird motion compensation processing going on, it's not your grandfather's motion blur. And like every Nikon I've picked up, had to fiddle with it extensively to diminish pinkish-yellowish skin tones.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Timo_T
By Timo_T (Nov 30, 2012)

This is not the first time, that you reviewd the Canon Powershoot,but not its closest competitor the Nikon P7700. Las time, Nikon introduced its P7100 it took more then 6 Month to get the review while the Powershoot Review is finished right after the Market introduction.

Even not the full review of the Nikon P7700 is not finished befor the christmas business. How can you introduce every flagship enthusiast compact camera of every brand, but forget the Nikon.

I would like to know the reasons, I think you are not as indipendent as you try us to tell.

7 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

This isn't a review. You are mistaken about many things. We fully intend to review the P7700, but we can't do everythingallatonce.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Dec 1, 2012)

indeed P7700 is a camera very similar to S110, both at the low end of premium compacts and are about the same as Nokon 1 with 10-30mm kit lens. I will be interested in any comparison review.

0 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 31, 2012)

the canon S95, S100, S110 are the ugliest cameras ever made. they are easy to hate.

0 upvotes
mmitch
By mmitch (11 months ago)

Ugliest camera ever made, Who cares?

0 upvotes
Peter Mast
By Peter Mast (Nov 30, 2012)

I have a doubt! in terms of image quality I think that there are no doubts rx 100 is very good. For the playback mode, I think the sony software is very basic compared eg with the tz30! in terms of resize? retouch photos? trim? cut videos? sony can? thanks

0 upvotes
Michael Dbn
By Michael Dbn (Nov 30, 2012)

It continues to astonish me that the Sony RX-100 is praised for it's image quality on this and other sites yet the Nikon 1 series, with the same size sensor, was given such a luke warm response when it first came out that you would (wrongly) that think it is a very mediocre camera!

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 30, 2012)

Nikon 1 does not have a zoom with f/1.8 at the wide end (its zoom start 2 stops worse), and neither it is pocketable. And its sensor (at least the 10mpix one in J1/V1/J2), despite being the same size, is not of quite the same quality.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 30, 2012)

it's really the lens aperture that counts, not the sensor size.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Dec 1, 2012)

my list of cameras sorted by image quality at 28mm equiv.
Sony RX100,
Canon G1 X,
Samsung EX2F,
Panasonic GX1 w/ standard zoom 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6,
Panasonic LX7,
Fujifilm XF1,
Fujifilm X10,
Canon G15,
Olympus XZ-1,
Ricoh GRD3,
Nikon P7700,
Nikon 1 w/ standard zoom 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6,
Canon S110,
some neighbors may positions but won't jump far.

2 upvotes
Derma pro
By Derma pro (Dec 3, 2012)

I, to a large extend, agree with you for that order. the only thing that I may bring Canon G1X before sony RX100 sensor wise.

2 upvotes
Finzi
By Finzi (Mar 17, 2013)

The XF1 takes fine stills but it has a major flaw: Video is spoilt by the extremely noisy manual zoom which also doesn't zoom smoothly but jerks in small increments for each zoom twist click, and in video mode the auto exposure steps really badly, thus there is no smooth transition in light adjustment. The Auto-focus in stills mode is fine but again in video mode it is a disaster, hunting wildly back and forth unless you are completely zoomed out. Shame because its basic IQ is good.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 29, 2012)

Here is my list of good compacts.
I can honestly and without reservations recommend only 2 compact cameras:
1) Sony RX100 - the only compact which can match and even beat most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with their kit zooms. The best for general use and city travel, churches, museums etc.
2) Olympus TG-1 - the best "tough" compact, the best for use on a beach vacation or to have with you during active sports like skiing or mountain biking - as good or better as any camera in underwater ability (40 ft), fall protection (6.5 ft), stress tolerance (200 lb) etc, has GPS, fast frame rate, good screen, but also the only one which has f/2.0 at the wide end giving you fighting chance, for example, under water without additional light, during evening entertainment and in a restaurant.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 29, 2012)

For very specific uses:
3) Nikon P7700 - not really compact, but if you need that 140-200mm eq range - this one is better than digital zoom of RX100 in that range. Unlike G15, it can shoot sports (8 fps vs 2 fps), has this additional range (200mm vs 140mm), has 30fps FullHD video, fully articulated screen and 5 (five!) control dials for maximum manual control.
4) for extremely style-conscious, who would rather sacrifice some substance for style, Fuji XF1 - as good as any enthusiast compact except RX100, but miles ahead in style. Might be the best gift for your daughter or girlfriend. Make sure the color matches other accessories. :)

Others have mortal sins - FZ200 is not compact at all (it is bridge, not compact!), G15 is slow like other Canon compacts, XZ-2 simply cannot match RX100 at the most important in low light (most used indoors and for nightscapes) wide end with whole 1.5 stops of difference while not being really pocketable, TZ30 is just another daytime-only P&S etc.

2 upvotes
iman santoso
By iman santoso (Nov 30, 2012)

nice info thx

0 upvotes
Larry McJunkin
By Larry McJunkin (Dec 25, 2012)

Please tell me how the RX100 gets to the top of everyone's list when it absolutely sucks at high ISO settings in low-light (museums, etc.)? I mean this as a serious question as I'm looking for a good P&S that would equal the GX1 in quality...but without the weight and bulkiness. When I compare the RX100 to nearly any other comparable camera in the Studio Image Comparison Tool here on DPReview...the RX100 images are almost useless over 1600. I would love to be enlightened on this.

2 upvotes
ssslayer
By ssslayer (Nov 29, 2012)

I find it funny that DPR has recommended Canon SX260 over Panny in the travel zoom comparison page - citing the noisy image from the sensor.

In fact in that page, DPR has recommended the next Panny in line, because of lower mega pixels and better image quality.

Looks like DPR reviews are more opinion based rather than fact/figure based.

Similarly, if you compare image from "Travel zoom" vs slightly larger sensor "enthusiast compact" - you will be hard pressed to find much difference.
Yet DPR keeps harping about the "better" IQ from a 1/1.7" sensor compared to 1/2.3" one!

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 29, 2012)

You obviously compare the same ISO - but ISO with f/1.8 on XZ-2 vs f/3.3 on TZ30 and other travel zooms will not be the same at all (difference even bigger with longer zoom).

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 29, 2012)

What you seem to have missed about the most recent travel zoom comparison is that the ZS20 wasn't included, mainly in the grounds that it didn't exist at the time.

3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 1, 2012)

Come on Andy, don't let facts get in the way of a good moan :)

3 upvotes
Paradigm Changer
By Paradigm Changer (Dec 8, 2012)

@Barney: Yours is the kind of response that we see on many other forums lacking emotional maturity. If the site owners start deriding members of their community, it`s really just final confirmation that this is not a place one should trust.

0 upvotes
GaryJP
By GaryJP (Dec 12, 2012)

Paradigm Changer, what's the paradigm you wish to change? Time? The answers are justified over ill-informed whines.

1 upvote
samualson
By samualson (Nov 29, 2012)

Great job DP review, it's mind boggling that camera diehard's will resort to these battles to the death if their favorite is not on the list. Get over it, it's DP reviews opinion, your opinions may differ(ya think) .

It's all subjective and opinions vary, going ballistic because a camera review site classified a particular camera as being a compact is ridiculous.

For all we know the review teams could of consisted of ex NFL football players and to them every camera is compact.

I think it would be a safer bet to try to grab the last pastry at an all you can eat luncheon hosted by Rosie O, Donnell than to disagree with a review teams camera choices.

3 upvotes
The Ron Guy
By The Ron Guy (Nov 30, 2012)

This is a forum for readers to express their views, so I think it's okay to comment about other cameras. And it's probably what dpreview intends; they can't review all the cameras that are out there, after all.

2 upvotes
E_Nielsen
By E_Nielsen (Nov 27, 2012)

Ahem... You guys forgot the Sigma DP2 Merrill. Can any of the top 5 cameras in this article produce photos comparable to the DP2 Merrill? I dare you to do an objective comparison.
I've owned the DP2 Merrill for a few months now and remain astonished that a camera of its compact size can produce photos comparable to top DSLR or even medium-format cameras. Why isn't this camera all over your Web site??

1 upvote
E_Nielsen
By E_Nielsen (Nov 27, 2012)

By the way, I know that the DP2 Merrill does not have a zoom lens. But with 46 megapixel resolution, you have plenty of room to zoom in post processing. You have to see it to believe it - the detail is breathtaking!

1 upvote
vam
By vam (Nov 28, 2012)

Because these are mainstream cameras for the average user. The Sigma DP2 Merrill is for enthusiasts who are more experienced and do not need only one smart camera for every situation. I wouldn't recommend the Merrill for a beginner as it would lead only to anger because of it's quirks and realtively low feature list. But for someone who knows more about photography and appreciates great image quality and does not miss some of todays fashionable features and does not want to shoot with it in dynamic situations, it's an amazing value.

2 upvotes
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Nov 28, 2012)

DP2 = 1 picture every 4 to 10 seconds.... might be a drawback for most situations. And half an hour battery life isn't very useful either. These aren't "frivolous features" that would be missed by a "beginner", they are requirements for the camera to be usable to anyone other than landscape and astro photogs. Otherwise looks like a great camera though. Wish Sigma would develop it to something more usable.

1 upvote
E_Nielsen
By E_Nielsen (Nov 28, 2012)

vam - I really like your thoughtful response. I would only point out that one of the goals of this artical was to select the top 5 cameras "...spanning the market from point-and-shoots to Raw-capturing high-end cameras." I would say that the big Panasonic is much too large for consideration, so why not put the Sigma in its place? It certainly fits the RAW-capturing high-end camera category.
Vituvius - I have to challeng your claims. You can shoot a lot faster than 1 picture every 4-10 seconds. I think you're referring to the write time, which affects how soon you can turn off the camera. Also, battery time is much longer than 30 minutes. For two weeks I took hundreds of photos a day. On the busiest days, I went through 3 batteries. I typically get 1-2 hours per battery depending on how I use the camera.

1 upvote
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Nov 29, 2012)

I only know what I have read from other owner reviews. Since you own one I would assume that you are correct. Still, it would be nice if they added some processor horsepower to this otherwise very nice camera (the DP2). Can't imagine what full HD video would be from this sensor and lens combo.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 29, 2012)

DP2 has 15 mpix, they are just full color. And useless in anything but good light. And useless without any zoom at all for those who have better things to do rather than try to focus on far-away or small objects without zoom and then crop thousands of pictures after each vacation, or for those who need wider angle (how do you "uncrop"?), or for those who need video etc.

0 upvotes
corkymiller46
By corkymiller46 (Nov 30, 2012)

I think a fixed 45mm equivalent is the deal killer.

0 upvotes
E_Nielsen
By E_Nielsen (Nov 30, 2012)

Yes, I'm hoping there will be a DP3 Merrill someday, too.

In the meantime, I just uploaded a couple of photos that I took with the DP2 Merrill: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/9258458912. Try viewing them at 100% resolution. In terms of results, does any other compact camera come close?

0 upvotes
always cropping
By always cropping (Nov 27, 2012)

Gentlemen & Ladies

I recently returned from an extended family trip to Hawaii. Took my Panasonic DMC-ZS8. Had it over a year. My daughter-in-law was packing a Sony RX100. We all took hundreds of photos in our own style and then exchaged memory chips. Her shots ( all natural lighting ) jumped off of the screen. Unbelievable skin tones and excellent natural colors. Mostly simple snap shots. My more artisitc approach resulted in very weak results. The unique lighting in Hawaii really challenged the ZS8. I had noticed some degradation of image quality on an earlier trip to Utah. Therefore, I had been looking to upgrade and was looking at the Sony before the trip. Now I am a new owner of one. Another poster mentioned the absolute value of excellent image quality. That had been my main search filter issue and this trip proved how critical that quality is. I know there is a substantial price point difference, but I would rather buy once than twice which is what I have done over the years.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
jpfaria
By jpfaria (Nov 27, 2012)

Dudes
I love your forums and your articles about all that can be about DP but.... and this is a big but... couldn't it be a 6 unit review an include the awesome Coolpix P7700? ;)

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 27, 2012)

It's not a review.

2 upvotes
jpfaria
By jpfaria (Nov 29, 2012)

Of course... sorry!... My bad... Got mistaken with the "What we like / Don't like" parts of "the article"!
Nevertheless.. that was not my point! ;)

0 upvotes
Diggadonkey
By Diggadonkey (Nov 27, 2012)

I brought my Panasonic ZS20 on vacation to Machu Picchu/Peru, and was thoroughly satisfied with its ability to produce great pictures for a small travel zoom. The picture quality is hardly "horrible." I was quite impressed with it. Will it replace my Canon 40D and $$ lenses? No. It's not meant to. I would highly recommend this camera for travel.

1 upvote
IchiroCameraGuy
By IchiroCameraGuy (Nov 27, 2012)

Panasonic ZS20 and ZS15 both horrible image quality. The Canon 110HS I tested last year was better and $105. Average Joe does like features and cool gadgets but they expect a $100+ camera to be very goodl and $300+ to be amazing. I don't think they would be happy with the Panasonics if they have used any camera other than what's on a cell phone.

0 upvotes
CliveRowland
By CliveRowland (Nov 27, 2012)

why are so many of you arguing over something that is SO unimportant?

1 upvote
offtheback
By offtheback (Nov 27, 2012)

Barney-Save yourself a lot of time re arguments+next time issue a report on your favorite religion and why it is the only true religion.OY!

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 27, 2012)

http://www.venganza.org/

9 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Nov 27, 2012)

Thank you, Barney. Without question, the most thoughtful post here.

0 upvotes
Finzi
By Finzi (Mar 17, 2013)

Just don't understand the "horrible IQ" comments about the ZS cameras, particularly the ZS15 or TZ25 which have better IQ than the ZS20/TZ30. Except in low light these two cameras produce vibrant, colour rich, perfectly acceptable pictures and do so in an auto mode that is excellent. Video on both is also outstanding considering the size and price of these now discounted cameras. Thus they are perfect for any holiday that isn't in a cave.

0 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (Nov 26, 2012)

> By 'zoom compact camera', we mean cameras with non-interchangeable zoom lenses, regardless of size.

Either someone was trying to be funny, or was drunk. How can you have the word 'compact' and the phrase 'regardless of size' in the same context? It's like saying 'these are all great small cameras except when they are not.'

5 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 26, 2012)

'Compact Camera' is a standard term meaning fixed interchangeable lens camera, going back decades.

6 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (Nov 26, 2012)

> 'Compact Camera' is a standard term meaning fixed interchangeable lens camera, going back decades.

Darn it. I kept telling my friends that my Panasonic GX1 is a compact camera. Now I sounded like a complete idiot. :)

0 upvotes
YiannisPP
By YiannisPP (Nov 26, 2012)

Barney, surely you meant "non-interchangeable":)

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 26, 2012)

I did, sorry. Long day (and I wrote that this morning...)

0 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (Dec 8, 2012)

> 'Compact Camera' is a standard term meaning fixed interchangeable lens camera, going back decades.<

Right. It goes to show how fast time has changed and it makes little sense applying a decades old term on today's technology.

0 upvotes
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Nov 26, 2012)

The thing is, you people are correct almost. I'll just add what i know.
If we consider two cameras of same number of pixels (let it be 12mp), one be a full frame and the other be a 2x crop.
Now, each pixel in the full frame camera will almost be twice the size of what it would be on the crop sensor. So, it'd get twice the light into it.

What it does with the light is the problem here. Assume anti cameras be saving jpeg at ISO800. The crop sensor will e amplifying the signals from each pixels 2x times than what the full frame one would do at same ISO. So, you end up taking same shutter time at similar shooting parameters.

This is the main reason why the crop sensors end up noisier than full frame ones at same ISO.

I guess some new full frame cameras feature ISO50, which deamplify the signals (and the noise in it too!).

0 upvotes
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Nov 26, 2012)

it's all about the ISO Numbering being standardised for something like brightness of the captured image relative to the actual brightness.

That is, ISO isn't directly the amount of amplification of brightness.

If there wasn't something like the ISO which is standard across all cameras, we'd have had to deal with some term related to amplification. Which, like the focal length, would be different for different sensors to give same exposure (different sensors will have different sized pixels).
That is, "0.5" amplification in a canon 5d would need the the 10x cropped camera to be set to a "5.0" amplification to give same exposure in same shutter time. But, the ISO number in each camera will be adjusted in each camera such that ISO100 would need ten times as much amplification in a 10x sensor than what it'd have taken in a full frame one. So, just leave it to the ISO to do the thing for you. :)

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Nov 26, 2012)

I don't think you understand fully.

IF you think of the photosites as buckets gathering rain, Larger buckets will catch a higher volume of water, but the same depth of water. If you have a skinny rain gauge or a large one, the amount of precipitation is measured the same. Exposure doesn't work on volume of light and a smaller photosite does not require more amplification.

What does happen with larger photosites is that they have a greater chance of not recording noise instead of light when light is scarce.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 26, 2012)

iso has nothing to do with photography nor image quality at certain exposure. iso exists for chemical developments and digital calculations at a lower level. it cannot tell you how the output image may look like without knowing the format first thus totally unsuitable across different formats.

iso only explains unit area, no more, no less.

p.s.,

there is a simple way to compare image quality if the same ISO delivers the same quality on unit area (like using the same film). it's the reverse of sensor area:

area ratio full-frame to RX100 = 7.44,
ISO100 on RX100 = ISO744 on full-frame.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Nov 28, 2012)

@tkbslc : nope. we are not measuring how much it rained. We are collecting the rain water. so, the bigger the bucket, more water you get. (light per unit area is not what we consider. we want light per pixel)

0 upvotes
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Nov 28, 2012)

@yabokkie : but in real life, cameras of different format sensors take same time to take a shot with same apparture n iso.
(so, as you said,. the iso744 in a full frame should approximately be equalent to iso100 in RX100

And, It's not the area ratio (of whole sensors) we should be considering. It sholud be the area of individual pixel (or microlenses)

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 28, 2012)

> the area of individual pixel (or microlenses)
sorry to say it has nothing to do at all. for pixels, smaller is better, but pixel size would in no way affect image quality (noise or dr) besides manufacturing technology.

0 upvotes
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (Nov 26, 2012)

The Panny getting top spot of the travel zooms is a damning judgement of the rest of them. Certainly, my TZ3 knocks the TZ30 into a cocked hat for IQ.

2 upvotes
kadardr
By kadardr (Nov 26, 2012)

Its a tragic moment when you watch people killing each other over choosing a pocket camera. Amusing though...

8 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Nov 26, 2012)

Ha ha, yes it's not exactly as important as the Palastine/Israel conflict - at least not yet.

1 upvote
jdshaw
By jdshaw (Nov 26, 2012)

At least it will be well documented.

3 upvotes
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (Nov 26, 2012)

I suppose it comes down to how much you enjoy chucking 300 euros away

0 upvotes
RogerCooke
By RogerCooke (Nov 26, 2012)

@RACHOTILKO: I found this article helpful http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-camera-sensor-size.htm

@ Beach Bum: Please mind your tone, or sign off.

2 upvotes
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Nov 26, 2012)

Thank you ! Article is nice, but I am afraid it does not answer this specific question.

1 upvote
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Nov 26, 2012)

Beach bum, you are wrong. An f2.0 lens will require give you shorter exposures regardless of sensor size. Sensor size is never calculated for a reason. It doesn't matter. A full frame camera doesn't just miraculously catch 2x the amount of light as a crop sensor despite being twice the size. if th sensor is @ iso 100, its going to require the same shutter speed regardless at a given fstop.

1 upvote
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@zos

In fact, you're wrong. But, if you want to continue this discussion (with me), then move it to to the topic Rachotilko started. I'm not going to check everything.

Briefly, here's why you're wrong. The exposure is the same at the same F-number across all formats, but the relevant measure is the total light not the exposure, when the goal is to create equivalent pictures.

Regarding this statement, "A full frame camera doesn't just miraculously catch 2x the amount of light as a crop sensor despite being twice the size", I'm afraid I'm going to need a translation to English on that.

I'm not sure of English is your primary language or not.

2 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Nov 26, 2012)

Zos: Beach bum is correct, although he seems to be too cross to get his point across in a coherent manner. If you look at the obvious contradiction in your post, I'm sure you'll agree.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@gsum

I appreciate your (sort of) support, but look at the obstacles I've had to face here.

I'm battling a troll and 10 people out to prove me wrong (plus fatigue). I dare anyone to main a perfectly civil tone dealing with this.

Having knowledge is often a curse rather than a blessing, honestly. I wish I could half-ass my way through life like most people. But it isn't to be unfortunately. :(

1 upvote
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Nov 26, 2012)

Iso 100 is the same regardless of sensor size. So the same exposure applies for a given fstop. A ff sensor is not collecting 6x as much light as a compact otherwise the exposure would change. Tell me how I'm wrong. English is indeed my first language.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Nov 26, 2012)

Zos, you've got cause and effect the wrong way 'round.

A FF sensor does collect 7.5 times as much light as a compact camera.

The thing that stops the exposures being totally different is ISO.

ISO (to simplify a little bit) is basically 'whatever it takes to give a correctly exposed image with a given aperture/shutter speed combination.'

ISO 100 means very different things at different sensor sizes - it's defined to compensate for the exposure differences you'd otherwise get.

4 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (Nov 26, 2012)

@Zos
ISO 100 is indeed ISO 100 regardless of sensor size but the noise in an ISO 100 image is not the same for small and large sensors. A sensor counts photons like a buckets would count rain. Since rain is not fully homogenous, the larger your buckets, the less variations you will get in measured rain from bucket to bucket.

2 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Nov 27, 2012)

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/does.pixel.size.matter/

I am totally wrong and stand corrected. I just had to wrap my head around the idea and several posters gave examples that were poor. The bucket anology is great, and thanks to the poster that used that example. It immediately made sense.

0 upvotes
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Nov 26, 2012)

To DPR team:

to reduce the confusion, would you not consider an article about the f-number equivalence ?

The question "does the need to apply f-number equvalence apply to DOF calculation only or to shutter speed calculation as well" has been hotly debated here for quite a long time.

Some basic lesson in photooptics would silence this, I hope.

0 upvotes
jtan163
By jtan163 (Nov 26, 2012)

@Beach Bum
Actually like it or not Beach Bum, there is a debate.
It's frequently debated by various parties in the MFT forum and I've seen the same debate elsewhere on the 'net.

I don't know the answer or have a side.
My suspicion (because I think the math for that is simple enough for me) that a given fstop is the same for the purposes of exposure/shutter speed, but I have no clue re DOF.
My maths runs out at simple functions and algebra.

But I'd really like an article from someone who does have the math/physics and credibility so I can understand it, hopefully once and for all.

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Nov 26, 2012)

A problem with the equivalence argument is that it is hypothetical, and contradicted by many of our observations.

For example, most small-sensor cameras produce pretty clean images (very clean) at base ISO, when they should have the noise of an ISO 400 or 800 or 1600 iimage on an APS-C or full-frame camera, according to the equivalence guys. What "should" happen is clearly is not the case.

I went to graduate school for Marine Biology, and had to learn a little bit about the scientific method, statistics, etc. IMHO what counts ultimately is what we observe, regardless of what we think "should" happen.

I don't know enough about cameras to say why equivalence doesn't seem to be PERFECTLY true (there is something to it). Imperfect electronics implementations probably have a lot to do with it. Also, noise does not seem to increase linearly with ISO, and the characteristics of noise change (it gets blotchy at high ISOs).

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 26, 2012)

@Rachotilko: "does the need to apply f-number equvalence apply to DOF calculation only or to shutter speed calculation as well".

Simple answer - no, by the very definition of ISO (it tells you how bright an out-of-camera JPEG image should be for a given shutter speed, aperture and light level).

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@jtan163

The problem with Rachotilko is that he's being deliberately provocative. He got into a debate with another guy called noirdesir. Instead of continuing the debate where it started, he started another topic.

Then when he got into a debate with me, he started yet another topic. Not for one second do I believe he's actually asking for assistance. He's trying to provoke people, and I'm sorry if you can't see that.

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
1 upvote
flipmac
By flipmac (Nov 26, 2012)

@Beach Bum:
You were wrong too at times, particularly when you wrote that "you have to factor in both the sensor size and the F-number, to know which camera is faster at a given focal length". Sensor size affects angle/field of view and depth of field for a given focal length and f-number but it doesn't change speed, as in shutter. Sensitivity, as in ISO, is somewhat dependent on sensor size, but sensor technology is a bigger factor. That said, ISO/aperture/shutter need not change on caneras with different sensors to properly expose the same scene albeit some may be noisier than others.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@flipmac

In fact I wasn't wrong about anything I said. Online, it's very difficult to know who's actually on the ball and who's blowing smoke.

The thing that doesn't come across is the depth of my knowledge on this topic. For one thing, this topic is about as basic as it gets regarding the comparisons I do between cameras. One of these days, I'm going to publish some of the documents I've written on the topic.

Now, here's why I wasn't wrong. To get equivalent images across formats, it's a well-established fact that you have to have the same total light (not the same F-number), assuming equal sensor efficiencies. I knew this well before the widely referenced online article on equivalence.

Let's use the RX100 and P7700. They both use similar quality Sony sensors, but the RX100 has 3X the sensor area. Let's assume that the RX100 has an aperture of F1.8. In order for both cameras to take in the same total light, the P7700 has to have an aperture of about F1.

To be continued...

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Nov 26, 2012)

@Beach Bum

"...assuming equal sensor efficiencies..."

Which you assume--Why?

I don't see how your argument gets past this assumption. This is precisely what people pay for--better sensor efficiency.

Somebody opens up their lens, more light reaches the sensor, so far, so good, your argument holds up perfectly, now the sensor processes that light in a way equal to the other sensor... Oops! Doesn't work anymore.

Reminds me of biology textbooks, where they skip over how life on earth started, devoting a few sentences or a paragraph to the topic, giving you the impression that it is a teeny-tiny point that maybe we don't understand perfectly yet, but we soon will.

"...assuming equal sensor efficiencies..."

Classic.

You're right, nobody approaches YOUR depth of knowledge on this subject.

0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

The P7700 has a max relative aperture of F2 (from my recollection). So, with both the RX100 and P7700 at their widest angle, the RX100 is actually taking in 4X as much light (a two stop advantage), assuming equivalent shutter speeds.

What's clear is that at the same shutter speed, both at their widest angle, the RX100 has a distinct and large advantage.

If you went only by the relative apertures at widest angle (F1.8 vs F2), you'd only think the RX100 has 1/3 stop advantage. But doing this, you've neglected the 1.6 stop advantage that the RX100 has at any F-number.

Now, how do you get the same shutter speed on the RX100 and P7700 when the RX100 has a 2 stop advantage in total light intake. My argument was that the only way this could happen would be that ISO100 on the P7700 is actually a higher ISO than on the RX100.

In that way, when you use the same shutter speed at widest angle on both cameras, they're not equivalent images. The P7700 will by necessity be noiser.

Out of space.

1 upvote
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@bobbarber

They're probably not exactly equally efficient per unit, but they're probably close enough for an accurate comparison.

They're both Sony sensors manufactured in the same year, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume similar efficiencies per unit area. And it would have to be pretty far off for my comparison to be invalid.

p.s. No need for sarcasm. You don't know me, and you don't know what I know.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Rachotilko
By Rachotilko (Nov 26, 2012)

@Andy.

Thank you, that was my understanding as well. But it's worth considering to have a short article on this: discussing cameras would be much more fun if I could get rid of explainig the issue over and over again just by passing an url of such an article (preferably published by DPR).

0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@Andy

You see what I'm saying about Rachotilko being a troll. Look at all the detail I've gone into.

Has he explained his point of view at all? In fact, no.

His only goal in life appears to be to provoke people. And there's no need to harp on it because, if you don't see it now, you'll see it soon enough.

This guy is nothing but trouble. :(

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Nov 26, 2012)

@Beach Bum

I'll admit, there is something to equivalency. It's a useful principle to understand.

However, it doesn't pan out in real life all the time as it is supposed to. The most reasonable assumption is that sensor efficiency is to blame.

It is also reasonable to assume that small sensors can be engineered to be more efficient than large sensors.That's the way I'd bet. Any type of smaller, simpler technology is easier to make more efficient than larger, more complicated technology.

Most of us have had the experience of looking at the beautiful, squaky-clean ISO 100 photos that the best small-sensor cameras regularly pump out, which are supposed to be "equivalent" to high-ISO photos from large-sensor cameras. They're not, they're better. How do you get around that?

Hypotheses have to be tested. If you don't get the results you expected, then you modify your hypothesis. Arguing against observed results is a poor tactic.

0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@bobbarber

Of course, I never meant this to be an exact and irrefutable thing, just a general guideline. You'd have to be crazy to think you can learn everything about a camera just by doing some math and not seeing real world results.

But it doesn't hurt to do these types of comparisons before you do your real world comparisons.

Also, regarding small sensor cameras and their "clean" output, aside from possibly greater sensor efficiency, one must consider the heavy NR most of these apply.

This becomes obvious when you compare the level of detail between a 12MP 1/2.3" sensor and a 12MP M43 sensor. There's really no comparison as any M43 camera will blow the smaller sensor away for level of detail. From my experience, you have to reduce a 12MP image from a 1/2.3" sensor down to 3 to 5MP for it to appear equally sharp to a large sensor image (when viewed at 100%).

A lot of this probably has to do with the heavy-handed NR that must be applied to keep it "clean".

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Nov 26, 2012)

@Beach Bum

Yes and no.

I own a Canon SX230HS, which looks like crap pixel peeping (I like the camera for other reasons), in large part because of noise reduction.

I used to own an Olympus C7070, which was just flat out sharp and clean at low ISO.

Also, it is interesting to me to look at cameras like the GH2 (mine) versus E-3 with the studio scene here. The GH2 looks better, but with the same lens. So you can see the difference the sensor efficiency makes in output, because the format is the same.

Equivalence makes sense, but there are SO many other variables, that you do need to look at each camera, and what I take exception with is the statement that larger format is always equivalent, ESPECIALLY on fixed lens cameras. IMHO, the lens is the most important factor. That's why my C7070 was such an awesome camera, with a presumably crappier sensor than the Canon--the lens was great.

0 upvotes
ivan1973
By ivan1973 (Nov 26, 2012)

There it goes again, debating for no useful purposes.

0 upvotes
Beach Bum
By Beach Bum (Nov 26, 2012)

@bobbarber

I never claimed that there weren't many other factors affecting a camera's performance. That doesn't mean that the factors I mentioned aren't very important.

I want to point out that I was sort of pulled into this by another guy trying to spread misinformation. When I encounter that, I'm going to try to clear it up, especially when that misinformation tells people that a smaller sensor camera is going to perform just as well as a bigger sensor.

Absent the misinformation, I wouldn't have ever said anything.

@ivan1973

That's not really very useful. If you have nothing to add (which seems to be the case), then just sit back and read and try to learn something.

If you have something useful to add, then by all means, do it.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 26, 2012)

equivalent f-number is correct for everything that aperture can control or affect with no exception.

0 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Nov 27, 2012)

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/does.pixel.size.matter/

This article does address somewhat that different technologies by their nature are going to be better or worse, but ultimately sensor and more importantly pixel area matter more than anything else. It should be noted that density is also talked about here and ultimately the author decides more pixels are better despite the tradeoff in sensitivity. The well size is most important. Smaller photosites have smaller wells that fill up faster, hence the smaller dr. This explained so much to me that I know finally understand the real differences, as pixel pitch has long made me curious. The theory always was that increasing density reduced sensitivity and increased the noise as less photons hit the photosite. Interestingly he concldes that all cameras are limited by their ability to capture light, so this problem won't be solved as densities increase. Quite the opposite. Everyone debating on this should read this article. Its all crystal clear to me now.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 28, 2012)

pixel size
if what you are interested is pixel, the larger the better. if what you are interested is image, the smaller the better. ideally a pixel should have no size, near zero area.

no image noise nor image dr is affected by pixel size, because they have nothing to do with pixel size. they are not calculated per pixel size but against the whole sensor area or, say, one millionth of sensor area.

0 upvotes
The A-Team
By The A-Team (Nov 26, 2012)

Interesting selection. I know you couldn't include all of them, but I think the Canon S110, Panny LX-7, Fuji X10 & XF1m Nikon P310, etc deserve mention as top compact options as well. Not sure how the FZ200 fits in there. Anyways, nice concept for a review, reminds me of two years ago when you did a bunch of other comparative reviews during the holidays.

1 upvote
Gwen22
By Gwen22 (Nov 26, 2012)

It's seems that the rate beetween US $ and £ is not the same for every manufacturer!!!

Th choice of the camera cannot please everybody buit at least it make sense for me.

0 upvotes
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