Fanboy’s Lament

Started May 1, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Humphrey Nash
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Fanboy’s Lament
May 1, 2011

I’ve been looking for a compact camera to replace my old Fuji 6500. This Fuji has only 6 megapixels, limited zoom (compared to superzooms), no image stabilization and other limitations one expects from a digital camera now 5 years old.

Unfortunately there is no compact camera which approaches the Fuji 6500’s image quality! The small sensor compacts and superzooms don’t compare especially at higher ISOs. But surprisingly, the premium large sensor compacts also don’t compare well. This group includes recently developed cameras such as the Oly XZ-1, the Canon S95, The Panasonic LX5, and the Nikon P7000. Like the Fuji 6500 these cameras all have large (for a compact) sensors of about 1/1.7 or larger. They all are 10 megapixels compared to the Fuji’s 6 megapixels.

Don’t get me wrong. These are fine cameras, superior in most ways to the Fuji 6500. But they still don’t match the Fuji 6500 IQ for noise, color, or detail. No compact manufacturer, including Fuji, has matched the Fuji 6500 IQ. Its sensor was magic and I’m surprised and disappointed to not see an update.

To illustrate the IQ differences the following 100% crops are extracted from the Imaging Resources website. These comparisons are for ISO 400. The IQ differences are generally smaller for lower ISOs and greater for higher ISOs. For most full image prints and displays the Fuji 6500 can’t be beat. Use the IR Comparometer to see other ISOs or image areas.

My question is what was so magical about the Fuji 6500 that it has not been equaled? Clearly the sensor (same as the Fuji 30/31) plays a dominant role but the in-camera processing and lens might also be a factor. I doubt the lens is superior since it has a much larger zoom ratio which generally decreases optical performance. We have been repeatedly and forcefully assured than more megapixels can only improve IQ, so this can’t possibly be the answer.

What’s the answer?

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