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

Started Feb 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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jeffreyrdiamond OP New Member • Posts: 24
Re: Canon lover switched to RX-100, and it was terrible! Need advice....

meland wrote:

I'm sorry to learn of your disappointment but I confess I'm also a little puzzled by it. Early CMOS sensors could be quite noisy but it's really not an issue now. I admit I have not used a Powershot SD950 but a Powershot G5 that I had which had a CCD sensor, well that was almost unusable at ISO 400 due to noise. My last G series, a G11, was infinitely superior to the G5 and the latest G15 seems to have moved the game on still further and that uses a CMOS sensor. But perhaps you're sensitive to something visual that I just don't notice or mind?

May I ask at what level of ISO are you finding noise objectionable?

Hi Meland.  Thanks for commiserating.  

I went back to check my photos, and sadly, it didn't look like the ISO was in the metadata.  (Is there a formula to compute it based on the shutter speed and aperture?) However, I found that even in the best possible lighting conditions, which I recall being in the ISO 80-150 range, any part of the picture that wasn't in crisp focus looked dithered.   In looking at my photos, almost any scenario had noise, but some was more objectionable than others.  For example, in daylight shots where you'd expect a low ISO, the sky was typically quite dithered looking.  And of course, the night shots with higher ISO are really bad, but you even see that in the sample photos on Imaging Resource. Sorry I don't have detailed ISO numbers to compare, other than to say I didn't even bother with situations with ISO above 400, and I didn't get any shots where noise wasn't visible in the background - the foreground object could come out pretty well in good lighting and focus.

For a best case example, in my office, I did a simple imaging resource style comparison - in good light, I took a casual photo of my bookcase (with books) using my old SD950.  Then, I took about 100 shots with the RX-100 using every setting I could imagine to try to get as good an image as possible, including tripod exposures.  I found that if I forced the RX-100 to flash, and set it to max aperture F1.8 (with shallow depth of field), it could get reasonably close to the quality of the SD950*, but with more picture artifacts, like JPEG compression halos, and noise in the darker areas.  That wasn't a fair fight of course, and it showed the RX-100 needed a lot of light and shallow depth of field to be "normal" - part  of my theory that the auto settings were off calibrated, since it didn't think it needed a flash when it clearly did.  When doing night comparisons, it was obvious to me that a trick of the SD950 was over exposure.

Mind you, in the good photos, you only see the noise at 1:1 resolution.  When reducing to screen size it looks perfect. (Sony's have that darker washed out look, while Canon's have that bright saturated look.) So if I'm content with a few megapixels, then the only big issue is shots in lower light conditions.   But I also have an issue with lack of focal length, which on auto is sometimes so short I can't get the foreground object all in focus.  I had to use manual aperture settings to get even mid level depths of field, often with manual focus, and when I did that, the noise got much worse, although I can't recall what ISO it jumped to.

I guess my biggest question for those of you that have used the next larger class cameras, e.g. fixed lens cameras that don't fit in your pocket, or compact changeable lens cameras, is how much of a jump in picture quality do you see compared to high end pocket cameras?

From what I see these days:

-> The sensor technology seems the same (until you get into really high end pro cameras, which still use CCDs.)

-> The sensors are larger

-> I assume the optics are better

-> Probably a lot more manual features that I personally don't need.

- Jeff

P. S. Just t round out my review for people that don't have the RX-100:  I eagerly anticipated the in camera panorama feature, which is SO much simpler than using your computer.  However, handy as it is, I found it just for fun on the RX-100:

-> The algorithm was commendable, but made inexplicable errors - where hard edges, the kind easiest to line up, were staircased where stitched.

-> You don't get a huge image out of it (my goal) - rather you get a fairly normal sized image. So really, it;s just a substitute for a wide angle lens, along with the curving distortions.  It's also of fixed physical size, so you can't choose how much of the scene goes into the panorama.  And while compressing a half a gigapixel into 20 megapixels eliminated noise, there could be significant blur due to the act of sweeping the camera.

Again, the RX-100 has obvious strengths as well.  The video I already mentioned, and the fast response time.

* Just to emphasize, I'm not boasting about the SD950.  I thought it was a decent camera, and held up the quality I was used to from the 330 at 12 megapixels, but I never thought it was the equal of pro cameras - although I've not yet experienced a pro camera.  Seems like most of the Canons used that same 1/1.7 CCD sensor from 2007-2010, and I don't know how much picture quality varied across the line.

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