P&S puzzling me - is newer really better?

Started Feb 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
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akcorcoran
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P&S puzzling me - is newer really better?
Feb 7, 2012

So, I'm just looking for a compact P&S that I can throw in my purse when I don't want to carry a dSLR. And I have considered the mirrorless category but after testing, I don't consider them "toss around" cameras, not to mention the investment.

I was hoping for some zoom because I'm often shooting my kids across a room or in the yard. And, while I am going to have time to set up my shot with my Nikon dSLR, the P&S is really the "Hang on, let me snap a pic" camera so looking for pretty good auto and scene settings - and more than an iPhone camera in case that needs to be said. I'm maybe printing up to 8 x 10. For anything more, or the trickiest situations (dance recitals with no flash, sports etc, I'll use the dSLR.

With all the improvements over the years, I didn't think it would be hard to find a camera that takes a good quality image, is fast enough to catch candids of my kids (but not sports, I'm realistic here), and decent in low light and/or high ISO (again, realistic about the limitations there when choosing a P&S.). On the latter, with all the claims about the fabulous sensors and better lowlight performance, less noise, I bought into it.

But I am perplexed. I've tried several p&s cameras now, across different brands, and find them to be lacking in some capacity. The ones I tried seem awfully slow compared to my old cameras. Is this because of the megapixel growth (inflation?) - 12 to 16 MP in the P&Ss? I understand that should bring better image quality but is it really needed? There also seem to be some design compromises - again, maybe to get "compact" when there is a larger sensor and/or zoom in a smaller body?

I find myself wishing I hadn't dropped the Canon Powershot ELPH SD 870 I had. I had it for four years so it had lived a good life and I thought an upgrade would only be better. With the exception of the video image qualit and a litte less noise at high ISO, eh? Not really sure it's all that improved ... Four years later?

And, until I've settled on the new P&S, I've even reached for my oldest digital camera - an old Fuji E550 from 2004! - bc it started up very quickly, was nice and fast and took crisp images even when zoomed. It has all the manual settings if I want to use them, including RAW file format, and has an optical viewfinder as well as LCD. Now, it's got all sorts of issues - none of the bells and whistles of today, uses AA batteries, a XD card (!), tends to over expose with the flash and (gulp) only goes to ISO 800,, but I consistency get good image quality and it's half the MP than most of today's P&S cameras at 6 MP. It had this "Super CCd HR sensor which I guess was supposed to deliver an "effective" 12.3 MP - maybe that's why?

I suppose I'm just venting, but am I crazy to think there were some redeeming qualities about older P&S cameras?

Maybe I just haven't found the right P&S, even after doing all the research on DP Review and the other sites. When taking candids of my kids, speed is king or the shot is gone. And, I'd love fairly good low light performance but it can't be slow exposure or they are blurred. Love even more to be able to shoot more without a flash. And it needs to take video and have pretty good sound (stereo). In a compact size - I really don't think that's too much to ask?

All right, I've said my piece. Anyone else feel this way?

...

PS I should add that I did try the Sony NEX 5N but as a sub for a dSLR, not a P&S. Sure wish I could get all the benefits of that camera In a compact size. I know they are apples and oranges but it really did handle the job for the more casual settings... I just could not ever throw that baby in my purse.

Olympus E-5
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