Canon lover switched to RX-100, and it was terrible! Need advice....

Started Feb 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
jeffreyrdiamond
New MemberPosts: 22
Like?
Canon lover switched to RX-100, and it was terrible! Need advice....
Feb 1, 2013

I have always loved reading this forum, and this is my first time asking for help.  I am not as sophisticated photographer as the folks on this list.  I've only used pocket cameras (although the highest end I could find.)  My main uses are taking videos of my daughter and taking landscape photos.  I value high image quality (why I don't just use a phone camera) and good video quality. Canon won me over a decade ago with the amazing quality of the S330, and my last camera was a Powershot SD950.  I was generally happy with the SD950, although I wish it were a bit faster, especially for video.

In 2012, I decided it was time to look for a new camera.  So naturally, I first tried Canon.  I was SHOCKED!  Not A SINGLE pocket camera camera offered had acceptable quality!  (OK, the S110 was OK, but not a significant upgrade from my SD950).  Why did no one seem to notice this?  The quality was almost as poor as cell phone cameras!  I later was to learn that since I bought the SD950, sensors went CMOS, and that meant noise.  All the photos were so grainy as to be unusable as native resolution - like drawing a photo in sand...

At this time the media juggernaught praised the RX-100 as the best pocket camera of 2012, and it well may be.  So I bought it - and I was horribly disappointed!  I spent months with this camera, working on manual settings, doing side by side comparisons with my old SD950.  And what I found was that almost everything I hoped to get form the RX-100 was WORSE, not better than the SD950.  Although this was contrary to most media hype, I then spotted more thorough reviews that noted issues with the RX-100, such as excessive camera noise beyond base ISOs.  And as I started researching CMOS sensors, I found that it wasn't surprising that the 1/1.7 CCD sensor in the old cameras could outperform the RX-100's on backlit CMOS sensor.

Here's what I found:  Consider this an honest, genuine review from a real user who wanted to make this work more than anything in the world!  (I mean, I saved over a year to buy it.)

PICTURE QUALITY:  The RX-100 was a little better, but compared to the old CCD cameras, had more graininess (noise) than I could tolerate.  Comparing a native resolution patch of an image to that of a cell phone camera, the results were similar.  Sure, shrinking the image to a 2 megapixel web image looked perfect, but it does on most cameras!

LIGHT SENSITIVITY:  The RX-100 was dramatically worse in light sensitivity - and I did endless tests to confirm this, with my SD950 side by side.  Forget night shots, or even dark rooms.  Compared to the RX-100, my old camera seemed like a pair of night vision goggles.

CONTRAST:  The RX-100 had worse contrast than my old camera, as a result of the sensor noise and low light sensitivity.  Because of this, even manually overexposing images could not bring back the darks in a scene.

FOCUS:  Most of the time, the RX-100 missed focus, creating a slightly blurry image.  I don't think this was due to poor lens quality - it was probably that the software wasn't hitting the exact target.  It might also have been due to camera vibrations that couldn't be fixed by image stabilization - not an issue on my old camera...  This also I believe is one source of the noise issues - this camera defaults to an insane 1/1000th of a second shutter, and I believe this is to try to reduce blur from camera motion.  Unfortunately, it also means the sensor can't overcome the noise.

THE FLAW WITH IMAGINE RESOURCE / COMPAROMETER:  How could you get such a different impression from reading imaging resource, a website I've long relied upon?  Because the typical comparison shot is an indoor photo of a high resolution poster.  I wouldn't have understood why this matters before, but since the RX-100 forced me into manual mode, I now understand that this shows each camera only in its BEST POSSIBLE PERFORMANCE - not its real world performance:

-> Long focus depth costs.  You have to use a high aperture number, which drops the incoming light and causes massive noise on the RX-100.  Most of the people on this list love the blurry background effect, but for my personal uses, most of the time I want the whole scene in focus.  This is why a photo of a poster can't cut it - because shallow depth of focus is the easiest part!

SPEED:  Absolutely incredible!  Compared to the super slow Canons, this was a miracle.  It is so fast sometimes I'd accidentally hit the shutter button and fire off 3 photos by mistake, and it didn't even matter!

VIDEO: I *LOVED* the RX-100 video!  I am so addicted to it, I don't know if I can do without it.  There are minor issues of course.  It still suffers from lack of contrast and poor low light performance, but focusing the entire 1" sensor on 2 megapixels virtually eliminated noise!  And I had to buy a new computer to play AVCHD in real time, and software to convert the file format to m4v.  But MAN it was good - 60fps is a godsend, the Full-HD was great, the fast autofocus excellent, and the ability to optically zoom while filming without noise was unmatched!  I thought the 29 minute limitation would be a bummer, but I so rarely need more...

MENU:  Contrary to reports, I found the menu system quite intuitive and easy to use, and nothing beats a dedicated movie button.

BUT... as much as I love video, I also like usable photos, and to pay $650 for a camera that's only good at video is tough...

=====================================

SO WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?

I'm tempted to get an S95 for my pocket, which also won't be a lot better than my SD950, but OK for those spontaneous shots.  I don't feel great having to do this - it's like sticking with Windows XP forever because Vista was so bad.  I'd much rather find a modern camera that's good.

For premeditated photography, I'm prepared to try ANYTHING, even my first non-pocket sized camera!  Only catch?  I've been looking around, and I'm not sure if they're enough improved over the RX-100 to be worth 3x the price!  They still use CMOS sensors, even if they're larger.  In comparing video quality, many had a slight edge on the RX-100, but not enough to justify the cost.  So it comes down to photo quality, features, and image noise..

Can any of you recommend camera models I might like, knowing that I like noise/grain free images at native resolution, good low light performance (by 2008 standards, not 2012 standards), and optical zooming while filming video?  I was thinking the Canon G1X might be a possibility, but in this new CMOS world I have no idea.  I realize that some of you on this list might not be sensitive to image noise, especially when printing.  But my whole life I've been use to WYSIWYG photography - you see it with your eyes, you take the photo, it matches - not images drawn in sand.

-- hide signature --

Sorry if this email was long and drawn out.  But this has been the culmination of 6 months of despair, trying to make an RX-100 as good as an old CCD camera by any means.  I don't really understand why such relative few people seem to have an issue with camera noise.  Why waste hard drive space with a 20 megapixel image if really it's only useable at 4-5 megapixels at best?  Sure, I could just suck it up, and say, "2 megapixels was good enough for me in 2001, so it should be good enough now."  But desktops are already at 4-5 megapixels in resolution, and might go higher in the future...  Also, I found that even when I post-processed RX-100 images and shrunk them down 4:1, I couldn't remove the noise.  Again, this isn't just me here - professional have noticed it as well.

While I'm still a bit partial to Canons, now that I've tried a Sony and found it not such a big deal to switch brands, I'll try anything up to around $1,500.  (I can't justify more than that for my needs.)

Thanks so much.  For those of you that loved the RX-100, or think current Powershots are fine, please don't be defensive - I'm just sensitive to different issues.

- Jeff

Canon PowerShot S110 Canon PowerShot S95 Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Sigma SD9
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
Post (hide subjects)Posted by
(unknown member)
(unknown member)
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark post MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow