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High end compact vs entry level DSLR

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by rossi46, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2012
    Hallo all,

    A friend of mine would like to buy a new camera and asked for my advise.
    Let me tell you what he wants -
    - good JPEG quality (he is not interested in working with raw files)
    - once he buys a camera, he is not looking at adding lens
    - he wants bokeh ability.

    Reason of me suggesting DSLR as a comparison instead of M43 is because my friend loves to get traditional brands of Canon and Nikons (like most blokes out there). So upon understanding his needs, I throw high end compacts into the comparison. Here's my list of questions -

    - Will a high end compact (Sony RX100, Panny LX7, Fuji XF1) has better image quality in good light vs entry level DSLR with kit lens?

    - Low light image quality of bigger APS-C sensor definitely should be better, but I guess their Kit lens small aperture would require high ISO in handheld shots, thus resulting in similar end image quality, or worse? Because high end compacts can use much lower ISO than APSC combo with kit lens.

    - Which camera has the best out of camera Jpeg, a Canon EOS 650D, a Nikon 3200D, a Sony RX100, Panasonic LX7, Fuji XF1?
    I had read Ming Thein's blog review that Fuji XF1 has superb Jpeg, but poor Raw picture. And general forums states that Canon has more natural skin tones in Jpeg files.

    - I assume APS-C's bokeh ability with their kit lens F3.5-F5.6 is about the same as those high end compacts?
  2. ggibson

    ggibson Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2011
    DPReview had a pretty good comparison of the portrait/bokeh abilities of many high-end compact cameras. Maybe check those comparisons out and see if they are acceptable.
  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    The RX-100 is in a class of its own in terms of image quality in the enthusiast compact sector, almost entirely due to the size of the sensor. It's an impressively capable camera with a slightly overwhelming amount of custom options - played with a friend's for a bit, and it's a great piece of kit that's easy to get to grips with if you know something about cameras already.

    Furthermore, if by 'bokeh ability' you mean 'blurred background and subject isolation', none of the compacts will really give you all that much, and even MFT cameras with only a kit lens won't make you terribly happy. More than one lens is the entire point of getting an interchangeable lens camera, IMO. Even the RX-100, which has the biggest sensor of the bunch, is not going to excel in subject isolation.

    I really like Canon's out of camera JPG processing, and all cameras allow a degree of customization in-camera. Canon's DPP lets you use additional present profiles for JPGs and upload them to the camera (with the 5D anyway, I think also for other cameras). Best bet for 'one lens solution' and bokeh would be something like a 650D with a 17-55/2.8 zoom, but that's not really all that affordable.

    Right now, if someone were looking for good quality images in good and moderate/poor light, no desire to drag around a large camera or switch lenses, I would go for the RX-100. If subject isolation is really important, consider a larger sensor camera and get either a fast standard zoom, or a kit lens and a cheap prime (for Canon, the 'ideal' would be am 85/1.8 or a 50/1.4 or 50/1.8 in addition to either the kit or the aforementioned 17-55/2.8)
  4. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Assume wrong.

    And how's he expecting to get blurred background without changing a lens?
    At the very least he's going to need something like the 40-150 zoom for m4/3rds, or even the 45mmF1.8 prime or of course equivalents on a DSLR.

    (I'm not including the ability of ANY camera to blur backgrounds when used with a LONG focal length)

    Solution : Sony RX1
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If he only wants to buy Canon or Nikon, both brands have an insanely inexpensive 50mm f/1.8 lens which would suit the requirements. The Canon platic-fantastic would be the cheapest. One of these mounted on an entry-level DSLR gives you a far better performance to price than any high-end compact.

    The only reason you should be looking at a high-end compact over an entry-level DSLR in the same (or probably lower) price range should be for size. I didn't see that factor mentioned.
  6. The only fixed-lens zoom camera that can really be directly compared with APS-C DSLRs for specs is the Canon G1X, which also offers a better lens (zoom range, sharpness) than a DSLR kit zoom. The biggest caveat is that it isn't a good option if you want something that is close focusing. The RX100 looks like a decent proof-of-concept for the 1" sensor but I'd like to see it in another form before making my mind up. If someone puts it in a better handling body with a real killer lens it could be an enticing camera. My most recent experience with a smaller sensor camera is the Olympus XZ-1. It was okay. None of these cameras is great for shallow depth-of-field with their zoom lenses.
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Before considering the Fuji XF1, I'd look at the Fuji X10, which has the same sensor but a much nicer lens and controls, not to mention a pretty nice built in viewfinder. I personally liked it a lot more than the RX100, which has a better sensor but a set of controls and a lens I never warmed up to or enjoyed using at all. As Nic said, for IQ, the Canon G1X is the only all-in-one "compact" to compare to an entry level DSLR, but it has a pretty slow lens in comparison. Great sensor though. Not as quick in operation compared to some of the smaller options, I don't think, but Nic would know better.

  8. bartjeej

    bartjeej Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    In terms of bokeh, cameras like the Canon G15, Nikon P7700, Panasonic LX7, Olympus XZ-2 and Samsung EX2 are pretty similar to the RX100 at longer focal lengths, and these compacts are not very far off an APSC's kit lens, although part of the reason is that most compacts have more tele reach than the APSC kit lens. At wide angle, the RX100 is far more likely to get you some bokeh than the other compacts, and will in fact give slightly more bokeh than the APSC/kit lens combo.

    for the tech geeks, here's my way of reaching that conclusion:
    There're three basic parameters for the depth of field: physical aperture opening (larger opening is shallower DOF), distance to subject (shorter distance is shallower DOF) and the enlargement of the photo (bigger enlargement is shallower DOF, so if printed at the same size and all else is equal, small sensor cameras actually have shallower DOF than large sensor cameras).

    If we assume that subject distance is fixed and the enlargement thing is left out of the comparison for the time being, we can focus on the lens part of it.
    An APS-C camera with an 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 lens has a physical aperture opening of 5.14mm at full wide angle and 9.82mm at full tele.
    The RX100 has a 10.4-37.1mm f/1.8-4.9 lens, giving a physical aperture opening of 5.77mm at full wide angle and 7.57mm at full tele.
    The LX7 has a 4.7-17.7mm f/1.4-2.3 lens, giving a physical aperture opening of 3.35mm at full wide angle and 7.69 at full tele. A Canon G15 has a physical aperture opening of 10.89mm at full tele, and a Nikon P7700 10.7mm, although they're both significantly longer effective focal lengths than an APS-C's kit.
  9. LeoS

    LeoS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 6, 2012
    How about Panasonic FZ200?

    It has 25-600mm super zoom w/ constant f/2.8 'Leica' lens.
  10. bartjeej

    bartjeej Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    ^probably lacking a little low light capability compared to the larger-sensored, faster-lens compacts (and lacking quite a bit in low light capability compared to a DSLR), but in terms of bokeh, as long as it's no problem to stand some distance away from your subject, the long, fast lens should give you plenty of bokeh...
  11. No, the G1X is no E-M5 when it comes to speed, but Canon are their own worst enemy when it comes to CDAF speed. You can see the camera lock focus, but there is a noticeable delay before it confirms it with the green focus box and the beep. If you don't wait for the focus confirmation and take the shot as soon as it looks right you'll get an in-focus image. A guy who has an EOS M told me that it does the exact same thing. Very odd.
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Interesting. I've heard people say that the X100 does the same thing, but I was never dis-satisfied enough with the half-press to lock process to really feel the need to try it.

    I'd have thought about this camera more seriously but for the speed issue. When I had an S90, not only was the AF slow but there was significant shutter lag even when using manual focus - you just couldn't count on getting a shot to fire when you wanted it to. Maybe they're better now, not sure. But I've always had that impression of Canon compacts not only from my own limited experience, but from numerous reviews. Nonetheless, for more sedate shooting, the G1X looks like a really good find - I'm constantly impressed with the quality of what I see from it. And with such a large sensor, f2.8 at the wide end isn't that bad. Its not great, but it should allow for reasonable low light possibilities if not much in terms of narrow DOF...

  13. I don't think that shutter lag is a problem on this camera, and I've had an E-PL1 so I've definitely experienced shutter lag before! Once it has found focus it seems to fire straight away after pressing the shutter button all the way. There is however a slight delay in manual focus mode if you have a big stab at the shutter button which I think is to do with metering. If you're talking street photography I think there are better cameras for that (including one starting with O that you already have :biggrin:)
  14. rossi46

    rossi46 Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 1, 2012
    Hallo All,

    Thanks once again for giving useful info.

    thanks for the useful input in terms of Canon's Jpeg engine. Does it give nice warm Jpeg colour in the same way Olympus does?
    I did read somewhere that Nikon DSLR normally gives some unpleasant greenish tint in the Jpeg or something like that.

    P/S - I did not mention about size or form factor because my friend seems confused over what he wants, he would love to have DSLR yet not wanting something too big (you can't blame anyone with zero photography knowledge for getting confused over what he wants, because I was like that not too long ago :) ) )
    Thanks for your recommendations. I thought about that as well, no point buying DSLR or M43 with just the kit lens, you end up not fulfilling the potential.
    50mm may seem abit too long for beginner, is the Canon 35mm F1.8 (if there is any such lens) of very good image quality and inexpensive?

    And for entry level or near entry level Canon DSLR, what is the best bang for buck?
    Canon EOS 1100D is cheapest, but what are its flaws?
    What about EOS 650D? Is this camera sharing the same sensor as the EOS 1100D?

    And about Canon G1X, other than the slow focusing issue, I think it does not make much sense that it is abit too large for a compact, M43 would be a much better choice. Furthermore, its lens is too slow. I do not know what Canon is thinking, but if they fix a great killer lens with very fast aperture, maybe F1.8, and fix the focusing issue, I think they could have a winner in that camera.
  15. bartjeej

    bartjeej Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 9, 2012
    Can I just say, regarding jpeg engines, that the absolute worst skin colour I've ever seen has come from 2 Canon cameras (S90 and S95), where people's skin looked a positively radioactive kind of glowing orange. I don't know which settings were used for those photos and I've seen plenty of nice photos from those cameras as well, but I've been a bit scared of Canon's jpeg engine ever since!
  16. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Could also look at the new Nikon D3200 and then add a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens for under $200.
  17. arentol

    arentol Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2012
    Couldn't agree more. The XF1 is meant to compete with highly pocketable cameras like the RX100. But if you want a fixed lens Fuji then the X10 is a better camera than the XF1, and the price used/refurbished is getting pretty decent. However, the Fuji X20 is apparently just around the corner, and it might be worth waiting for if not in a rush.

    As to the OP directly....

    If your friend is only going to have one camera he should consider whether a Superzoom is appropriate for him, in which case the Panasonic FZ200 might be his best choice.

    And another thing to keep in mind when comparing ISO based sample shots for fixed lens cameras using online tools like the one at dpreview is that you should adjust ISO for each camera based on relative lens speed* to see what your results will be like in anything other than good lighting.

    For instance, lets say you are comparing the RX100, X10, and G1X. At ~28mm equivalent focal length the respective max apertures are f/1.8, f/2, and f/2.8. So at 28mm in lower light the G1X would end up being 1 stop higher ISO than the other two. So if looking at ISO 800 for the RX100 you would also want to use 800 for the X10, but 1600 for the G1X. Meanwhile at ~112mm they are f/4.9, f/2.8, and f/5.8 respectively. So at 112mm the X10 would be ~2 stops lower ISO than the other two, so you would want to also compare 800, 200, and 800 respectively.

    *Technically you should also adjust for the difference in megapixels, but that requires downloading and adjusting the originals, which is too much trouble usually.
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Based on that, I would advise him to get a Sony RX100 if he doesn't like many tactile controls and a Fuji X10 if he does.
  19. Remember that the G1X is not meant to be a compact camera by the normal definition. Its lens projects onto a sensor that is even larger than that found in a Micro 4/3 camera. That's why is harder to make direct comparisons between it and other fixed-lens cameras.
  20. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Based on your friend's requirements:
    - good JPEG quality (he is not interested in working with raw files)
    - once he buys a camera, he is not looking at adding lens
    - he wants bokeh ability.

    and your suggestion of an entry level DSLR, one alternative sprung to mind:

    How about a Fuji XE-1 + 18-55/2.8-4? This camera will provide excellent JPEG quality with signature Fuji color, and the zoom is faster than most DSLR kit zoom, while providing the same zoom range...
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