Best non SLR digital with usable 400/800 ISO?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by rob_murray, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Was looking at the Nikon Coolpix high end non SLR digital cameras.
    After reading some reviews these dont do too well using higher ISO
    settings. Any suggestions? Dont want to get into the SLRs due to cost,
    weight, lens swapping.
  2. I've no news about that at the moment, but Panasonic top camera with stabilizer and fast lens could help to compensate low ISO CCD. Maybe something is coming from Fuji in the future, F10 has high ISO settings with their last sensor, but at the moment no high ISO.
    If you're going to buy something that can't go in your shir-pocket anyway, what about an entry-level dSLR with standard zoom. Not so expensive and weighty versus a prosumer, and you don't have to swap lenses. No experience with DSLRs but I've been shooting for years with a SLR and never changed the standard zoom lens.
  3. Hi Rob ...

    My understanding is that all digital non-SLR cameras suffer from noise at ISO's higher than 100 and this due to sensor size. DSLR's have a larger sensor size and this greatly assists in noise reduction.

    I've been shooting weddings and portraits with a Pentax 645N since 1999 and have just recently purchased a non-SLR digital camera, the Minolta Z5. It's what I call my vacation/fun camera. I was attracted to this camera due to its lens: super-macro lets you get to within 1cm of your subject and the 12x zoom (equiv. to 420mm in 35mm terms)really brings the subjects close to you. The point is the sensor size is 1/2.5 !!! The photographs are simply stunning under sufficient lighting, ie, ISO 50 to 100. Otherwise, noisy. And it's a 5megapixel camera.

    Good luck in your search !

  4. Fuji Finepix F10 is the current leader in high ISO for compact digital. Look at the review:
  5. Another vote for the Fuji F10. I wrote a mini-review of it in this forum last month (called
    cult camera?"); see

    Some sample photos from the F10 at high ISO have been posted in the Leica forum:

    And was one of the first to give it an extensive review:

    (remove spaces, if any, in that URL)

    The F10 has its shortcomings, but I haven't seen any non-SLR -- let alone in the $300
    range -- that can touch it.
  6. Hmm. If that second link in my post just above ("samples in Leica forum") doesn't work,

    on this page go to the "Forums" tab, choose "Leica," and scroll down under "Discussion" to
    "OT: A usable ISO1600 digicam"

    Or someone more savvy than I am could put a link here. . . .
  7. If ISO800 is your limit, take a look at the (much) older Canon S30.

    3.2MP but really, a nice camera with the manual control the F10 lacks.
  8. If you don't need ISO1600, then the Fuji E550 will do the job nicely. The ISO400 is good, and the ISO800 (in the default on camera 3mp jpeg) is entirely usable. If you shoot RAW, you can shoot ISO400, underexpose by 1 stop and then push it 1 stop in your RAW converter.
    Full manual controls, RAW and a good lens - really an excellent little camera. But the F10 beats it at ISO800 and ISO1600 and as a point and shoot. I have a high rez (12MP RAW downsampled to ~8MP jpeg) macro shot of a DragonFly you can look at to see the resolution you can get. I think this blog posting was done at ISO400.
  9. Yet another vote for the Fuji F10. It really is a surprising camera!
  10. Fuji F10 at the moment.If you want smaller cameras with useable ISO400 try the Sony DSC-L1 or the Fuji Z1 which incorporates the same technology as the Fuji F10 but has a smaller sensor.I believe it has an ISO800 option as well.
  11. The answer, to your headline at least, is the Epson RD-1. But it cetainly gets you into high
    cost and lens swapping, so it seems to not meet your requirements.
  12. From what I have read, an owner doesn't know about the opposition usually, Nikon broke the mould when they moved on from the 5700 and subsequent models are not as good. It goes to 800ISO ... some of Nikon's problem may well have been the absurd pre-occupation with noise amongst folk who think that a digital camera must be perfect.

    I also use a Panasonic FZ20, my prefered camera with it's OIS, and this is great but not a miracle worker. With care I use it down to 1/25 second* and when light 'requires' greater shutter speed I switch from A to S when I usually have it set to 1/25. Deliberately under-exposing to liftr the shots in editing. It has to be very dark before I use flash.

    *When using teleconverter giving me 950mm equivalent [FZ20] I would prefer not to go below 1/80 handheld.

    After three years or so with Pro-sumers I think you will find they will meet most if not all of your needs. I do not seriously think a DSLR would help me much. Naturally if you work requires the specialise features of a DSLR then you should get one but the Pro-sumer is a wonderful all-round tool for general photography. The modern development of the digital world which we didn't have with film.

    Dioptres help with CU work and tele-converter gets you close at a very reasonable price.

    I think you should look at the FZ5 as a compact camera with good performance .. no manual focus may be strange to you at first but AF is pretty good.
  13. It goes to 800ISO ... some of Nikon's problem may well have been the absurd pre-occupation with noise amongst folk who think that a digital camera must be perfect.​

    I'm happily absurd, I suppose. I suspect the Nikon you mention is comparable to my Minolta A2, which is an excellent camera that also goes to ISO800, but my E550 easily has less noise than the A2 at comparable ISOs.
    For what it is worth, I haven't read any messages saying they expect "digital camera must be perfect". I think that luminance noise is okay, because in color, it looks similar to grain. But chrominance noise is just plain ugly, and it is what you often see in these small sensor digicams - you are free to disagree, but I suspect you are in the minority.
  14. "Some of Nikon's problem may well have been the absurd pre-occupation with noise
    amongst folk who think that a digital camera must be perfect."

    Yup, count me among the absurd too!

    Look at it this way: There really aren't many significant differences between the dozens of
    silvery point-and-shoots introduced every month except:

    1) battery life (which is easily solved by carrying another battery, although the F10, at 500
    shots, is among the best in class)

    2) response time (again, the F10 is about as quick as it gets)

    and 3) noise at high ISOs (here, the F10 *is* better than any other inexpensive P&S)

    Of the three, #3 is most important to me (and the first thing I check for when I see a
    review at It amazes me how many SLR photographers will spend twice as
    much for a lens that's one stop faster, not realizing that if they can find a body that
    produces the same or less noise at 800 as other cameras produce at 400, they'll
    immediately add one stop of speed to ALL their lenses.

    Absurd? Hardly. There are plenty of absurdities among the P&S cameras on the market,
    but addressing the noise issue for low-light photographers isn't one of them. Many of the
    best photos aren't made in bright sunlight.
  15. This might be a good time to raise the post-processing issue. I recently did a long trip which included a lot of telephoto (via conversion lens) and action shots of railways using my Oly 5060 at 200 ISO mainly. First of all, there was very little noticible noise and secondly I could easily use Elements 3.0 and a neat program called Photoclean Express to remove whatever bothered me. Ditto for shots taken at ISO 400. And, this camera has a noise reduction algorithm that works beautifully with night shots. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't do 800 so I wouldn't argue that Rob consider it.

    But, my thought is that digital imaging (note I used 'imaging' rather than 'photography') being what it is perhaps we should spend a little more time discussing the total picture -- taking the photos and then fine tuning them -- in such a manner as to be able to consider the full range of features offered by any particular camera. This might give Rob even more options and might reduce some worry about noise, which somehow just doesn't keep me awake at night (maybe I'm too old and remember those early 400ASA films!).
  16. Hi Rob ...I remember and still have my negatives from putting film through Promicrol in the early fifties to achieve 800ASA rating when fast film was 100ASA .... and also what Plus-X looked like in those days, usually from American sources which seemed to enjoy and revere grain. Perhaps the current situation is a cultural reversal :)
    One expects and gets clean results when using MF and LF for commercial applications but not amateurs shooting with miniature cameras [equivalent] etc.

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