from my sony forums thread: My current 28mm P&S Rankings

Started Apr 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
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David Chien
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from my sony forums thread: My current 28mm P&S Rankings
Apr 20, 2008

IMO only (see Sony forums for my initial rankings)

Here's my revised ranking based on the latest I-R's W170 report.

  1. 1 Fuji F100fd

  1. 2? 3? Canon SD870 (These two may swap based on fixed focus feature &)

  2. 3? 2? Sony W170 (ability to AF in 100% darkness in a small room.)

FX35 is out due to grainy images, even at ISO 100. Not worth the extra 3mm at 25mm vs. the 28mm for the others. Also, although the lens is mostly distortion free, it is noticable softer than the SD870 lens in I-R's tests, and in tests elsewhere in Japan. Can't imaging paying $300+ for a soft lens!

Ricoh R8 is out due to the size and weight vs. the others (except the F100fd). It's on the heavier side like the Fuji F100fd, but.... at ISO 400, it's far, far grainier and noisier than the F100fd. Again, no reason paying for a grainy, noisy image.

Nikon S600 is out due to the odd blue-noise speckles at ISO 400. Although most noise is easily processed out using Noiseware, etc., unique noise patterns such as having only bright blue dots in the middle of a dark gray shadow area isn't. Also, when comparing I-R's charts, seems that only the F100fd and the SD870 have good noise processors (the noise basically goes to black dots with no coloration).

The W170 and S600 processors leave behind a blue noise pattern noticable in all dark/shadow areas at ISO 400. W170 is worse by smearing the pattern -- it makes it that much tougher to do any sort of post-processing on the pattern to remove the blue tint.

Olympus - same as before - images so soft, you'd think you just bought a 3MP camera! No point unless you need a waterproof camera.

===

For the top three.

1. Real-life tests outdoors show that some F100fd don't show the pink banding in current releases for the most part unless you go right up to ISO 800+. I've looked at many and it isn't a big problem unless you've got low-light with no flash and high ISO Speeds. Hopefully, Fujifilm will find and squash this problem quickly since some F100fd owners simply don't have this problem.

Otherwise, like the F50fd (which is another great buy if you don't need 28mm), superior image quality to ISO 400 that really has no other competition short of the Sigma DP1 or a dSLR. Even then, when you resize the 12MP Fuj F100fd image at ISO 400 to the size of the Sigma DP1 image, they're quite close and you may just pick the F100fd for the superior resolution. The biggest reason for this is simply the huge sensor and the huge image files (a nice 4.5+MB per image vs. 3.5 for the other cameras) resulting in the retention of fine image detail in blades of grass and so forth.

Lack of fixed focus is a problem for dance room shots where there is no time to focus prior to people moving away for flash night shots.

Unknown yet if the F100fd movies have any vertical banding that show up in lesser cameras with poorer processors (the SD870 and W170 are fine in this regard).

2. Canon SD870 here for the larger 3" screen, fast startup and response, and smarter menuing system than the W170. Also, superior lens sharpness, resolving power, and smarter noise reduction system than the W170. There's no wonder why it's ranked by many users so high at amazon and other places.

Lack of fixed focus is a problem for dance room shots where there is no time to focus prior to people moving away for flash night shots.

Also, unknown if they've fixed the AF at night outside, or indoors in 100% darkness problem across a small bedroom alal SD850. I had that problem with the 850 and returned it promptly - the AF light simply could not reach far enough across a small 1-person bedroom in 100% darkness to achieve proper focus or flash coverage on full auto (vs my DSC-P200 which had no problems at all focusing or lighting the dark room).

Movies from the SD870 are decent for a P&S.

3. Sony W170. Here, smaller screen vs the SD870, but it does have fixed focus mode! - perfect for rapid snap shots in day and at night! (You can't believe how useful this is until you're in a dance room at night, super-low lights, flash set to fire, and people moving all over - simply set fixed focus mode, point and snap perfectly focused shots w/o delay!!)

However, coming from a DSC-T9 myself, I'm shocked!!! looking at the I-R photos of San Fran from atop the hill! In the T9 & W170 shots they have, there really isn't any noticable difference in resolving power or detail level between the two images at 100%! The same buildings in the city scene look the same, and the extra megapixels really don't do much in the ISO 400 testbox test target either (not significantly so vs. the SD870 testbox shot, or the superior F100fd shot).

It is suprising to compare the F100fd vs. the T9 vs the W170 I-R's testbox iso 400 shots and see that the W170 is practially the same as the T9 (a two-three year old model), whereas the F100fd is lightyears ahead in image quality! Not only that, the image resolving power on the W170 lens simply cannot compete with the SD870 or F100fd. It's suprising, but you can see farther down the ranks of the I-R's testbox resolution chart on the 8MP SD870 than you can on the 10MP W170 at ISO 400!

The 'new' 2008 menuing system is horrible, too. Far slower and more clumsy to navigate vs. the older menuing system they had prior, and the fancy graphics simply delay the user from making quick changes (why oh why?!).

Movies from the W170 are decent for a P&S, but unknown if the w170 retains the 'new' problem Sony introduced with other recent 2008 models of a 10 minute max per take movie limit. Yep, other sony's stop filming automatically after 10 minutes even if you've got enough memory card space! - never happened on older models - T9 can go right up to the 2gb limit of FAT file system! This would bump the W170 down a notch vs. the SD870 and F100fd which have no such limits.

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