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24Peter
05-27-2007, 07:08 PM
My sister and her husband are looking for a new digital p&s and I realized today I don't know much about the current p&s cameras. Price range - around $200. Their biggest thing is shutter lag (less is better, none is ideal) and time between shots (faster is better). They don't need an ultra compact. They prefer a Li-ion battery to AA's. Not worried about an optical viewfinder since they're used to composing with the LCD. Superzoom (7-12X) would be nice but not required. I told them 5-8 MP is plenty. They're not worried about a particular brand. Used mostly for family snapshots. Also - pop-up flash would be nice to reduce red eye.

John_Reed
05-27-2007, 10:25 PM
A nice ideal. But all cameras exhibit some shutter lag. People who complain about long shutter lag are generally those who "mash" the shutter button and wait for the camera to then go through all the steps of metering, AF, and so forth before releasing the shutter to actually take the photograph. Most cameras that I know of benefit greatly from the user's application of a two-step shutter release. First, half-depress the shutter button to lock AE and AF. After doing that, with the button still half-depressed, you might re-frame, or the subject might move around, etc., but you're still locked in, and when you complete the process by fully depressing the button, the lag to the shot is very short, for most cameras these days.

Given that "shutter lag" caveat, I'd recommend they look at a couple of options in the Panasonic line. With pop-up flash, the DMC-FZ8. Without pop-up flash, the DMC-TZ3. I have the TZ3, and have yet to see a red eye in any of my flash photos, but can't guarantee you'd never get it.

coldrain
05-28-2007, 10:48 AM
I do not think they would appreciate the noisy nature of those panasonics, and they are both a bit over the price mentioned too.

The budget is a bit low for cameras with pop up flashes though. The Canon A710 IS for instance can be found for around that price, and delivers very good results, but it does make for some red eyes with flashed photos.

So you may have to up the budget a bit.
Less noisy than the Panasonics are the Canon S3 IS and Sony H series. These use AA batteries, but I do not know why it would matter what kind of rechargble batteries they need to use?

The Sony H2 which is being phased out and the Canon S3 IS which is also being replaced both offer a pop up flash, good IQ, not all that much shutter lag, fast shot to shot performance. But the do use AA NiMH rechargable batteries.

John_Reed
05-29-2007, 07:04 AM
I just plain FORGOT about noise! It's good to have Mr. Coldrain around to always remind us how useless these pitiful Panasonic cameras really are, wouldn't want anyone to accidentally BUY one, horrors, what a mistake THAT would be! Noise, as in this ISO 640 flash shot, straight from my TZ3?

http://John-Reed.smugmug.com/photos/157278857-L.jpg

Or how about this available-light ISO 800 shot, also straight from the TZ3?

http://John-Reed.smugmug.com/photos/151034499-L.jpg

By the way, a New Zealand colleague of mine took that second shot and printed it at a very large size, and didn't see any noise in the print. Are we all blind? Must be... :p

coldrain
05-29-2007, 11:47 AM
Blind? No, just using biased arguementation to push your favorite camera make (you always only recommend Panasonic, no matter what someone is looking for, so I guess it is safe to say Panasonic is your favorite and only make).

But lets look at the facts.

You post the photos without any EXIF data. Straight out of the camera? Hardly.
The face photo is... 450 x 640 = 288000. That is a whopping... 0.29 megapixel photo you post to prove the TZ3 does not have a noise problem.
0.29 mp from a 7.2mp camera!

Yes sure, if you want to just put photos on a website, very scaled down, the quality is fine. As would be the quality of just about any camera.
What does dpreview have to say about the noise performance and noise reduction smearing of the TZ3?

Like the TZ1 the TZ3 has very low measurable noise at all ISO settings (it's marginally higher) but, like the TZ1, this is only half the story. At anything over ISO 100 you're seeing very strong noise reduction in action, particularly on the color information, though as you move up the sensitivity range you see more and more fine luminance detail being lost too. At ISO 100 there is a touch of visible noise (viewed at 100%) and a touch of NR smoothing, but it's acceptable for normal printing / viewing sizes. As with other Venus III cameras how useful the ISO 400+ settings will be depends entirely on the type of shot; for scenes that don't rely too much on low contrast or fine color detail they're usable, for anything else you're looking at very small print sizes only.
and:

At ISO 100 only the very finest detail is being blurred away by the Venus III noise reduction, but at ISO 200 (and increasingly as you go up the range) the characteristic 'smearing' of tones reduces the individual hairs to a single lump. For critical work I'd stick to ISO 100, but for many types of photography you will get away with anything up to ISO 800 as long as you aren't doing a lot of enlargement and aren't expecting miracles.
they have this to say about ISO 100:

The images have a subtle, unprocessed appearance which at first glance looks very promising for post-processing; by comparison the TZ1 images look slightly over-sharpened. But look a little closer and you realize that the softness isn't just a lack of sharpening, but a distinct smoothing of fine texture which can only be a result of over-zealous noise reduction. The effect on the very finest low contrast detail is obvious when viewed at 100% on screen, but is considerably less of an issue at standard print sizes (or when viewed at lower magnifications on-screen).

You can easily give these images more bite with a bit of unsharp masking, but if you go too far you will start to see not only the noise reduction artefacts, but the noise they're trying to hide.

That is ISO 100. The sensor already will give noisy results, and the harsh and bad noise reduction already loses detail.
ISO 400:

As with all Venus III output the usability of the TZ3's ISO 400 setting will depend to some extent on the type of picture you're taking, the amount of low contrast detail / texture in the scene, how important the fine color information is and - obviously - how big you want to print. I personally would use these happily for quick portrait snaps in social situations (where the color smearing and red bleeding doesn't really matter - and doesn't even always show), but literally nothing else.


With other cameras and some noise reduction software you will always get better results than with the TZ3. I am happy you are happy with your TZ3 (and TZ1/FZ30 and what not you have had in the past), but severely scaled down photos to prove image quality is a bit dodgy. Yes, at 0.288 mpixels, the photos look passable.

John_Reed
05-29-2007, 01:04 PM
Blind? No, just using biased arguementation to push your favorite camera make (you always only recommend Panasonic, no matter what someone is looking for, so I guess it is safe to say Panasonic is your favorite and only make).

But lets look at the facts.

You post the photos without any EXIF data. Straight out of the camera? Hardly.
The face photo is... 450 x 640 = 288000. That is a whopping... 0.29 megapixel photo you post to prove the TZ3 does not have a noise problem.
0.29 mp from a 7.2mp camera!

Yes sure, if you want to just put photos on a website, very scaled down, the quality is fine. As would be the quality of just about any camera.
What does dpreview have to say about the noise performance and noise reduction smearing of the TZ3?

and:

they have this to say about ISO 100:

That is ISO 100. The sensor already will give noisy results, and the harsh and bad noise reduction already loses detail.
ISO 400:


With other cameras and some noise reduction software you will always get better results than with the TZ3. I am happy you are happy with your TZ3 (and TZ1/FZ30 and what not you have had in the past), but severely scaled down photos to prove image quality is a bit dodgy. Yes, at 0.288 mpixels, the photos look passable.
I find this an ironic accusation, coming from a woebegone cynic who practically NEVER posts photos, only throws barbs? I will humor you by letting you look at the full-sized version of one of those images I posted (which you could have done for yourself, if you'd known how). So here's a link to the man's portrait, full-sized, out of the camera:

http://john-reed.smugmug.com/photos/157278857-O.jpg

Take a look at it, show me all the noise in it, I know you're a real expert on all this stuff. Actually, you're a real jerk, and I will now proceed to put you back on my ignore list, where you belong. For my part as the "always Panasonic" character you make me out to be, I'll match that against your smugly bigoted "Anything But Panasonic" philosophy, based on NO experience, NO photos to show, based really on your pitifully spiteful character.

coldrain
05-30-2007, 02:25 AM
Very nice response again John.
The full version shows just what I say about the TZ3, the lack of detail in full res. is amazing. This of course is not so strange, as with the very high ISO 640 you will get a lot of noise, and the noise reduction of the Panasonic Venus III processing unit is known for this detail munching smearing of details. If you can not see that, that is fine. And if you get angry at me for repeating what reviews point at (The reviews of dpreview, Jeff Keller and others), that is your problem.

All cameras produce noise to a certain extent. Not all already lose detail at ISO 100 or 200. The Panasonics do that, this is not something I make up, nor my fault. With other cameras you get better results, and even when you remove noise from them with noise reduction software.

Of course I never post any TZ3 or FZ8 photos, I do not own them. I often post links to online samples though, which makes you yell at me anyway. And of course when I want to show the quality of some photo my camera makes, I post 100% crops so one can see what the camera does.

So me stating my opinion about Panasonic cameras, and why I do not recommend them, is really ok, I think. And from other makes I do not recommend just any camera either, just camera models that have good qualities in the areas that are important to people asking for camera advice, within stated budgets.