Prosumer point & shoots - compact vs ultracompact

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by travis_johnson|2, Dec 12, 2007.

  1. So I've been drooling a little over the PowerShot G9 as a good point & shoot
    camera for times when I don't want to use an SLR.

    But then I thought, if I'm going for small and convenient, why not one of the
    ultra compacts (e.g. an SD950 IS)? (I'm using mainly Canon here because that's
    what I'm most familiar with, but I'm considering others too).

    How does the image quality of these ultracompacts compare with their slightly
    larger point & shoot siblings? Obviously it can't be as good a camera, but just
    how different are they?

    I've seen articles comparing the G9 with DSLRs, but I haven't seen as many
    direct comparisons of, say, G9 with sd 950is (or similar comparisons with other
  2. The ultra-compacts typically offer much less manual control -- often limited to a couple stops +/- exposure compensation and some white balance adjustment. But I've seen a number of ultra-compact shots that are in my judgment excellent. Sometimes they're taken in better light, but not always.
    If forced to generalize, I'd say that when two relatively high quality cameras such as the ones you refer to are compared, the results and the differences will be far more dependent upon the photographer and the post-processing than upon the camera.
    To directly compare camera specs, features, sensor sizes, etc., and even test photos, is a helpful site and even has a "Side by Side" table where you can plug in the models you're considering.
  3. I bought the G9 as soon as it came out so I could have a point & shoot to carry with me
    everyday. My other camera is an EOS 1Ds.

    The G9 is a great little camera and it's ability to capture RAW files is what separates it from
    it's competitors.
  4. So from what I'm reading and comparing, it sounds like the image quality difference with the ultra-compacts is not really different. For example, the SD950 IS can take as nice pictures as the G9. However, I lose features, including optical zoom and many elements of manual control (I don't see why this *has* to be, but it seems this way).

    For example, apart from worse zoom the sd950is also doesn't have:
    shutter priority mode
    aperture priority mode
    RAW mode

    And that's about the difference.

    I guess I'll just have to weigh the extra convenience of the smaller ultracompacts with their loss of features (some fairly significant, but it's not an SLR *replacement* anyways)
  5. Travis, I do think there's more here than just certain features that the G9 has and the smaller cameras do not. Did you know that the G9 has a larger sensor than the G7 had? I would bet that most extremely compact cameras have a smaller sensor than the G9. Small sensor overloaded with pixels = more noise. I knew someone who had a G7, got a smaller pocketable camera to take with her everywhere she went. She was disappointed in the quality, compared to the G7, and gave the camera to a relative.

    For one thing, check out the size of the lens on the little pocket cameras compared to the lens on the G9. Bigger lens, more light enters = better pictures. I can tell the difference between some of my lenses on my DSLR, so lenses do make a difference.

    Travis, this is not to say that pocket cameras are bad. They're incredibly good. But will there be a difference in picture quality between them and the G9? My guess would be yes.

    My theory is that in photography, every time you make something more convenient (i.e., smaller camera as opposed to larger camera), you give up something in return. So you have to weigh what's more important to you, size or image quality. And, if you got the G9 and you're not going to have it with you because it's too large to fit in your pocket, you are going to miss pictures that you would have taken if you had the smaller compact camera with you, right?
  6. I second what Diane said - the best camera is the one you have brought along. If you think the G9 is something you'd bring to say a barbecue on a hot afternoon where you only have shirt and trouser pockets on you, fine. (Is that a G9 in your trouser or are you just happy to see me, to paraphrase a famous quip.)

    For that same reason I bought a Casio EX-Z120 (similar to the well-known Z750). It even does have all manual controls, aperture and shutter prio, exp comp etc. It fits a shirt pocket just fine. But over time I find it just too small to handle comfortably, there just isn't that much real estate to grab the thing by. Also the screen is terribly hard to see in sunny conditions. Which is why I'm considering getting the (non-shirt-pocketable) Canon A650IS with its articulated screen. BTW if I was thinking G9, I'd much rather have the swivel screen AND save about a hundred $. The A650 has the slightly larger chip too afaik, although I don't really think it matters all that much.

    Finally, offers direct picture comparisons for quite a few models, e.g. a G9 and D80.

  7. I own the G9, but always had affinity for swivel screens. Since the time I was using a Nikon
    Coolpix 990. Though Canon's later swivels have much more configurable positions. G9
    compensates somewhat by having a generous viewing angle of it's LCD.
  8. >>How does the image quality of these ultracompacts compare with their slightly larger
    point & shoot siblings?<<

    Just as another poster said. You are losing a bit of manual control with the ultra compacts.
    Then again the G9 is not the best in manual controls either. I just found out I can't step down
    smaller than f11 in my G9.;-)
  9. I just wanted to add that the 950IS has the same sized 1/1.7" sensor as the G9. I have to say that the lens resolving power on the 950IS just doesn't give justice to the nice sensor.
  10. Actually, I don't believe the 950 IS and the G9 have the same size sensor.
    Assuming I'm correct that the Ixus 950 IS is called the SD850 IS in the United States, it has a 1/2.5" sensor, appreciably smaller than the sensor in the G9, which is 1/1.7"
    Ixus 950 IS/ SD 850 IS specs
    G9 specs
    But recognizing that Aaron may have a typo there and perhaps meant to refer to the A650 IS, it is true that that camera has the same sensor as the G9 -- and the same lens, too, so far as I'm aware.
  11. [[I just found out I can't step down smaller than f11 in my G9.;-)]]

    Given the limits of diffraction you are better served by using a ND filter.
  12. Michael S.

    The Canon SD950 IS is called the SD950 IS in the US and it has the same 1/1.7" 12MP sensor as the G9
  13. Thanks, Rob. It most certainly does. I was confused and stand corrected.

    Even if Canon tried, I'm not sure the company could make these international model designations more complicated. ;)

    Good point also about diffraction, in response to the earlier post.
  14. [[Even if Canon tried, I'm not sure the company could make these international model designations more complicated.]]

    I could not agree more. It's complex to the point of being absurd.

    At least they kept the "Kiss" branding isolated to the .jp market...

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