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Author Topic: Low light compact for £250  (Read 4205 times)

Haydn1971

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Low light compact for £250
« on: September 29, 2011, 04:57:38 PM »
A friend at work is looking for a new camera, she's asking me about the Samsung MV800 but she's wanting something for taking pictures at weddings and family gatherings, in particular where light is a poor.  She isn't wanting a DSLR and I'm not sure she would be up for a second hand G Series... 

Any suggestions for £250 that will fit in a pocket ?
Regards, Haydn

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Low light compact for £250
« on: September 29, 2011, 04:57:38 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2011, 05:19:46 PM »
I'd recommend a PowerShot S95 - on Amazon.co.uk I see them for a little over £250. 

The biggest factor in better low light images is sensor size - the larger the sensor, the higher the ISO can go without unacceptable noise.  The second factor is aperture - the wider, the more light (and at P&S sensor sizes, there's no thin DoF issue with a faster lens, unless you are at macro distances). 

The Samsung MV800 she's considering has a 1/2.3" sensor (I had to look at dpreview for that spec - Samsung's website lists the MP count, but not the size of the sensor - more evidence that the less you know, the more impressed you are by a 16 MP count...).  The S95 has a 1/1.7" sensor - 50% larger than the MV800.  The S95 also has a lens that's f/2 at the wide end, vs. f/3.3 for the Samsung - a 1.5-stop difference.  So, you add the 1.5-stop faster lens to the slightly over 1-stop better ISO performance, and you are 2.5-stops better in low light.  If she's willing to shoot in RAW, she can likely get another stop with the better NR you can achieve when processing a RAW image on a computer vs. the in-camera NR for a JPG.

Also, in really low light, the S95 does a 2x2 pixel binning for a 2.3 MP image (JPG only) that's actually not too bad.

The S100 is probably going to be a little better in low light (thanks to backlit CMOS and Digic 5), but that costs substantially more.  I have and really like the S95, it's small enough for a pocket or purse.  In fact, a few comments (hints might be a better term) from my wife about how much better my S95 is compared to her Olympus P&S was a stong factor resulting in me pre-ordering the S100.  She'll get the S95 when the S100 arrives in a couple of weeks.
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Haydn1971

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 05:37:28 PM »
Cheers for that, the S95 might be stretching the budget a bit though, any slightly less expensive options ?
Regards, Haydn

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neuroanatomist

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2011, 06:02:27 PM »
Lots...but below the S95-type, the low-light shooting ability of P&S cameras tends to go south rather quickly (sensors get smaller and lenses get slower).

How about a used S90?  Same sensor and lens as the S95...
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elflord

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2011, 06:40:25 PM »
A friend at work is looking for a new camera, she's asking me about the Samsung MV800 but she's wanting something for taking pictures at weddings and family gatherings, in particular where light is a poor.  She isn't wanting a DSLR and I'm not sure she would be up for a second hand G Series... 

Any suggestions for £250 that will fit in a pocket ?

How about a used micro 4/3 (e.g. panasonic GF series or an olympus Pen) ? The sensor size to camera size of these things is pretty hard to beat. That would be the best performing option short of getting an SLR.

For compacts, stick with a 1/1.7" or so sensor -- Canon S90/S95, Panasonic LX3/LX5, Olympus XZ1. The smaller the sensor, the worse it will perform in low light.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2011, 11:32:18 PM »
Cheers for that, the S95 might be stretching the budget a bit though, any slightly less expensive options ?


In the US, Canon sells refurbished cameras on their website http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_262361_-1, I believe they are marketed in the UK on ebay by Digital River or something like that.

It can be a good way to get a deal on a like new camera with a warranty.

She should try one out to be sure she is comfortable with the feel and operation of the controls, both myself and my wife hated our S90 for the tiny control buttons and lack of a viewfinder which limits outdoor photography in bright sun.  We went for a G11 which is larger, but worked better for us.

Another thing to be aware of with the lower end point and shoot cameras is that they can be quite slow to save images to the card and extremely slow to reach focus.  In low light, it only gets more difficult.

It would be great if there were a $100 camera that did it all, I may not see it in my lifetime though.

If you can find a used A720 IS or A650 IS on Craigslist for $50, they are a bargain.  However, they do have a lot of people wanting them and that drives up ebay prices.  I've bought a few that way and supplied my friends and children with a good camera for a low price.

http://london.craigslist.co.uk/pho/2565917581.html

« Last Edit: September 29, 2011, 11:43:14 PM by Mt Spokane Photography »

KBX500

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2011, 02:42:27 AM »
+1 on the A720 IS.
 
It is one of the best digicam bargains that Canon has
produced in the last few years. 8MP, IS, very good lens
and very nice images, in 5x7 and maybe 8x10.
However, it is not great for low-light situations. Interiors
are problematic, especially at night, and if that is the
reason for the purchase she'll be disappointed with the
A720 IS.

Canon really didn't have a great low-light digicam until
the S90 came out. Soon the 3rd generation of that camera
will be available, the S100. You will not find a better digicam
than the current S series in low-light and that is pocketable.
Think of it as the G series for interiors, and most everything
else. It has the same sensor as the G, a better lens and is
essentially built for her purposes.

New, refurbished or used you can't go wrong.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 02:51:14 AM by KBX500 »

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2011, 02:42:27 AM »

Flake

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2011, 12:07:54 PM »
I have a suggestion, but new might be a little outside the budget.  Sony have now launched the NEX 5 N and the older models are being sold off quite cheap.  I'd suggest the NEX5 with 18 - 55mm lens, having just bought the twin lens version I shot a load of low light stuff at Iso 800, most of it doesn't even need to have noise processing applied.

Will it fit in a pocket? not unless you have the 16mm pancake on it, but it fits in my handbag quite nicely with the 18 -55mm on, and the detachable flash comes with a little plastic case which attached to the strap.  This camera blows the G12 away especially in low light, and it's the kind of thing I'd hope Canon will release at some point soon.  It also shoots HD video.  My only complaints are a lack of flash functionality, and a rather clunky menu system, image quality is just about as good as any entry level DSLR though.

elflord

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2011, 02:41:02 PM »
I have a suggestion, but new might be a little outside the budget.  Sony have now launched the NEX 5 N and the older models are being sold off quite cheap.  I'd suggest the NEX5 with 18 - 55mm lens, having just bought the twin lens version I shot a load of low light stuff at Iso 800, most of it doesn't even need to have noise processing applied.

It's a decent choice, but a used micro 4/3 will be cheaper and have a better lens selection available. The sensor is slightly smaller than the sony's, but much larger than that of the G12.

Flake

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2011, 02:57:09 PM »
I have a suggestion, but new might be a little outside the budget.  Sony have now launched the NEX 5 N and the older models are being sold off quite cheap.  I'd suggest the NEX5 with 18 - 55mm lens, having just bought the twin lens version I shot a load of low light stuff at Iso 800, most of it doesn't even need to have noise processing applied.

It's a decent choice, but a used micro 4/3 will be cheaper and have a better lens selection available. The sensor is slightly smaller than the sony's, but much larger than that of the G12.

I don't think there's a camera available with as wide a lens choice as the NEX, there seems to be an adaptor for every system that's ever been made, including Canons old FD mount.

Yes of course there's a limited choice of E mount lenses, the 16mm 18 - 55mm & the 18 - 200mm, but there's also a fisheye and a wide angle available as prime attachment.

As a camera for someone who wants a compact though I don't think a user would be that interested in changing lenses, would they?

elflord

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2011, 03:48:26 PM »
Quote
I don't think there's a camera available with as wide a lens choice as the NEX, there seems to be an adaptor for every system that's ever been made, including Canons old FD mount.

The micro 4/3 system also has a pretty comprehensive selection of adapters. The problem with adapted lenses is that autofocus either works poorly or doesn't work at all. Also, if you're after a very compact setup, an adapted 35mm full frame lens isn't a good choice.

Quote
As a camera for someone who wants a compact though I don't think a user would be that interested in changing lenses, would they?

I agree --  it would be enough if they could come up with just one  good general purpose lens.


Haydn1971

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2011, 05:12:30 PM »
To be fair, for the intended use, a camera like the NEX-5 with a 18-55mm lens would be too big, I'm not entirely convinced it would come in under the £250 mark either.  Thanks for all your input folks, I've also seen an alternative today, a second hand Canon G9 in my local camera shop - lots to discuss at work Monday ;-)
Regards, Haydn

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Flake

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2011, 11:35:26 AM »
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-alpha-NEX5KB-14-2-MP-Digital-Camera-18-55mm-lens-and-spare-battery-/250899141319?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_DigitalCameras_DigitalCameras_JN&hash=item3a6ac112c7

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-Alpha-NEX-5-14-2-MP-Digital-Camera-Black-Plus-Extras-/180729363389?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_DigitalCameras_DigitalCameras_JN&hash=item2a144f3bbd

Brand new they're £370 but Sony recently had a £50 cashback offer the new 'N' version begins shipping Mid November so expect some further price falls in the next few weeks.  I think it's a smaller camera than most people think it weighs just 500g with battery & memory card & lens, physically there's not much between them when the G12 lens is extended.

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Re: Low light compact for £250
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2011, 11:35:26 AM »