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Author Topic: Compact Camera recomendations  (Read 2551 times)

sevenlayermuddle

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Compact Camera recomendations
« on: October 19, 2016, 09:14:44 PM »

I feel the need for a new camera and, moreover, I have a birthday approaching. :)

The one thing I would like to see, but have never seen on a compact, is full manual focus control.   I want to be able to set the distance in feet, rather than trust it to the camera's sensors.  I also want to set the aperture (iris) to achieve a particular depth of field, for selected focus distance.   

This is not new technology, relatively inexpensive cameras had these features all through the last century, by simple virtue of markings around the lens.  I'm aware that bulky and expensive SLRs might do it, but I don't want bulky and I don't want expensive (say, 200 budget).

Any suggestions for a decent compact that might fulfill my wishes?
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roseway

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2016, 10:58:54 PM »

One thing you didn't mention is the viewfinder. If you want to be serious about photography you have to have an eye level viewfinder (in my opinion of course). Using the LCD screen on the back as a viewfinder just doesn't do it, for all sorts of reasons.

I have a Panasonic Lumix TZ60, which covers just about all my needs and does so very well. It fits in my pocket, so I can take it everywhere. Recommended.
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  Eric

sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2016, 11:19:47 PM »

Actually Eric, with respect,  I don't entirely agree about viewfinder.

On an SLR the viewfinder is very useful, it shows exactly what will be captured, including focus and depth of field.  On an (old technology) rangefinder, the viewfinder is also useful... There will be some parallax error but at least it shows, with absolute accuracy, the distance to focus.

But on a modern digital compact, I just don't get it.   The LCD shows exactly what will be captured, there is no parallax error but (on all I have seen) depth of field is pot luck, what can a separate viewfinder add to the LCD?   Happy of course, to be educated. :)

Anyways old fashioned SLRs and rangefinders aside, to emphasise... What I hanker after, non negotiable,  is manual focus and manual aperture control with old fashioned depth of field indicators.   That's about it really, don't really know why it is so unreasonable or hard to find?   ???
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roseway

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2016, 07:54:23 AM »

There are two serious problems with using the LCD as a viewfinder:

1. Holding the camera in front of you greatly increases the likelihood of camera shake, particularly at high zoom levels and in poor light. All modern cameras have shake reduction systems, but these only go so far (equivalent to a few stops' increase in shutter speed).

2. In bright light the LCD is useless.

Concerning manual focus, that's one of the options on the TZ60. It has a large ring round the lens, which can be configured to control manual focus, amongst other things. You won't have depth of field markings on it of course, but these are only of limited use because in reality depth of field depends on other factors, such as eventual printing size (magnification).
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  Eric

sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2016, 08:38:46 AM »

Thanks, I'll look at the TZ60.

What I'm really after of course with the aperture control is the ability to choose whether or not the background should be in focus as well as the object I am photographing.  Most compacts seem to just assume that I want everything in the frame to be in best possible focus, whereas of course I don't necessarily want that.

But if the TZ 60 has manual focus, and I am able to also influence exposure conditions so as to influence the aperture opening vs shutter speed, I can probably achieve the effects that I want.

I guess it may just be my eyesight, or maybe my nose is in the wrong place as it seems to get in the way, but I really do prefer the LCD under all conditions, never had a major problem from bright sun.  Being short-sighted, it is very comfortable to use my eyes with glasses removed.

Re camera-shake, you probably know this but I'll mention it anyway... try using the 'delay' function when on long zoom or poor light.    That way you can concentrate on just holding the camera still, as opposed to holding it still and press a button at the same time.  I also tend to try and pin my elbows or shoulders against a wall or similar if possible where shake is a risk, for which the LCD is of course much more convenient.

Thanks again though, the TZ60 certainly sounds like a candidate.   :)
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roseway

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2016, 10:26:04 AM »

Most of the time I have my camera set to aperture priority with a fairly wide aperture. That suits the type of photography I tend to favour, with a foreground object(s) in sharp focus and a background in receding focus. It's a simple matter of turning a wheel on the top to switch to different modes when I need them.
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  Eric

sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2016, 12:55:19 PM »

Yes, aperture priority would be a big step towards what I want, none of my previous compacts supported such a setting.  You are definitely selling me on the TZ 60,  I will see if the user manual is downloadable and if so, have a read through it.   :)

The other thing that tempts me, whilst I simply don't want an SLR, would be one of the so called 'bridge' cameras.  The bigger lens and sensor can only be beneficial, especially as I want to be creative with focus depth.  I'll be investigating them too but initial thoughts are they're still quite chunky and the convenience of a compact, that just slips into my pocket, is something I'd really miss.

BTW I just noticed that for some bizarre reason I posted this thread in 'Android and other...'.  I meant to post it in 'Other Technologies & Hardware'.   Unless you think it better to leave it, perhaps you could move it for me?

Thanks for all input.
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roseway

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2016, 01:16:19 PM »

I've got a large expensive DSLR with assorted lenses, but I rarely use it these days because it's so heavy to lug around. Like you, I looked at bridge cameras and had the same feeling about them as you. Once I'd mentally adjusted to the fact that it is possible to get good quality in a compact, I've come to be happy using it for everything.
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  Eric

sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2016, 04:28:26 PM »

I have now acquired the user manual.   First thing I notice is, if I understand it right, the manual focus seems to be expressed as a coloured segment superimposed on an arc, calibrated from infinity to minimum.  The width of the coloured segment seems to indicate what Panasonic call the "focus range". So I assume the width of that segment varies depending on distance, aperture & zoom, in which case it pretty much equates to the depth of field indicators on lenses from days of old?

It is certainly something I can try for myself if I can find one on display, or probably any similar Panasonic model, that I can have a play with.  :)

But I'm still wavering between bridge & compact.   My old compact (one of the early Panasonic 'zoom' range, a TZ5), whilst lacking much in the way of manual overrides, still works as well as it every did.  So one school of thought is, if I go for a bridge I'll end up with best of both worlds.   So far, early days but sticking with Panasonic, the FZ200 has caught my eye.     Decisions, decisions.   :-\

And thanks for moving the thread.   :)
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roseway

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2016, 04:33:46 PM »

I think you're right about the manual focus. To be honest, I've never used it. I prefer to use single spot focusing, and focus on a point which I want to be in the centre of focus, before releasing the shutter.
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  Eric

sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2016, 05:05:55 PM »

A particular incident triggered this obsession with manual focus.   I was trying to take a 'trick' funny shot, with a person some way off holding up their arms, as if supporting an impossibly heavy object in the foreground.  But of course the autofocus would just focus on either the person or the object, leaving the other in soft focus, spoiling the effect.  What I wanted was to focus on the fresh air in the middle, so both person and object were in similar, if imperfect,  focus.

It also annoyed me on my recent trip to the Hebrides, aboard the ferry.  Weather was foul so we were tucked up inside the observation lounge but there were actually some pretty good views through the windows, streaming rain and all.  Unfortunately the camera insisted on focusing on the raindrops on the window glass rather than the turbulent seas and distant scenery that I wanted.  Maybe modern cameras are better.
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4candles

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2016, 05:12:15 AM »

What I wanted was to focus on the fresh air in the middle, so both person and object were in similar, if imperfect,  focus.

I've been having similar thoughts, particularly getting foreground and background in focus in landscapes, since recently acquiring a Canon EOS 100D.

Two things have been incredibly useful in this respect. One is reading about hyperfocal distance, and the other is an Android app - Focus Assistant Pro.

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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2016, 08:42:03 AM »

That's useful input, and a good read.   I can think of other times in the past I could have used that App.  Not just for trick shots either, as you point out.

It certainly inclines me towards making sure I get a camera that can use it, or similar. I guess that means WiFi which excludes the Panasonic FZ200  - it's an older model with no WiFi but then that's why it's cheaper.

May I ask, are you happy with the Canon?  Must admit the more I read on the subject, the farther up the price range I am heading.   I'm now looking at SLRs, even though I always said I didn't want one, simply because I'm beginning to understand the benefits of larger sensors when it comes to depth of field control.  But then I lose out on the pocket-sized super zoom lenses of compact or bridge, and probably lose out on cost too.

The last time I put so much effort into camera research, I managed to find one at an affordable price with full manual controls, that was capable of near-professional results.  I was 14 years and it cost just a few weeks pocket money....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorki_4

 :)


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parkdale

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2016, 10:34:10 AM »

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aesmith

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Re: Compact Camera recomendations
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2016, 11:01:12 AM »

I'm in a similar boat, looking for a half decent camera which will fit in a coat pocket but have manual controls for both exposure and focus.  I keep looking and then giving up as everything seems to only have fancy automation, and it's quite difficult to even find what manual controls are available.  My benchmark is my existing Canon A710is, now too unreliable which is the reason for replacement.   That Panasonic actually looks like it might do the trick - it's slightly longer but thinner and narrower, and all the technical parameters seem to be better than the Canon.   I don't need or want 20 megapixels, nor do I need such a long zoom, and it costs more than I was hoping to pay.   

By the way, what's the relevance of WIFI on the camera?  I thought that was just for file transfer, but does it also link into apps like that focus assistant?
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