Nikon has decided to release an update to the Coolpix P5100. Like the Panasonic LX-2 the Nikon P5100 had near perfect specs but fell down on such a major feature that I deamed it unbuyable. It was so painfully slow that you'd be religated to only taking static shots. It's took 2 seconds between shots and in continuous mode it could only muster .3 frames per second. That is in comparison to the G7s 2fps. The Panasonic LX-2 on the other hand had perfect specs but the over diligent noise suppression turned photos taken ISO 400 or higher into Degas paintings.
Now Panasonic has released the LX-3 which according to them has much nicer photos and Nikon has released the P6000. Because there aren't currently any reviews for either we have to speculate on whether they improve apon their forbearers.I've included a chart here that compares the two of them to the Canon G7. I use the G7 here because that's what I have and there's very little reason to buy a G9 if you already have the G7. The only improvements were extra resolution that nobody needed, the ability shoot in raw and a larger LCD screen. The larger screen has the same pixels and cramped some of the buttons and with the CHDK firmware you can shoot in raw with the G7. I did not include every comparison item as many are identical between the cameras so I've included the points where the three differ.
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||Canon PowerShot G7||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3|
|Max resolution||3648 x 2736||3648 x 2736||3648 x 2736|
|Low resolution||3648 x 2432, 3584 x 2016, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480||2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480||3968 x 2232, 3776 x 2520, 3328 x 1872, 3168 x 2112, 3072 x 2304, 2784 x 1568, 2656 x 1768, 2560 x 1920, 2208 x 1248, 2112 x 1408, 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||4:3, 3:2, 16:9||4:3, 3:2||16:9, 4:3, 3:2|
|Effective pixels||13.5 million||10.0 million||10.1 million|
|Sensor photo detectors||13.93 million||10.3 million||11.3 million|
|Sensor size||1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²)||1/1.8 " (7.18 x 5.32 mm, 0.38 cm²)||1/1.63 "|
|Pixel density||33 MP/cm²||26 MP/cm²||24 MP/cm²|
|ISO rating||Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP)||Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600||Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200|
|Zoom wide (W)||28 mm||35 mm||24 mm|
|Zoom tele (T)||112 mm (4 x)||210 mm (6 x)||60 mm (2.5 x)|
|Macro focus range||2 cm||1 cm||1 cm|
|White balance override||5 positions, manual preset||6 positions & manual preset||5 positions, plus 2 manual|
|Aperture range||F2.7 - F5.9||F2.8 - F4.8||F2.0 - F2.8|
|Min shutter||Unknown||15 sec||60 sec|
|Max shutter||Unknown||1/2500 sec||1/2000 sec|
|Flash guide no.||8.0 m (26.2 ft)||4.0 m (13.1 ft)||8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO)|
|External flash||Yes, hot shoe||Yes, hot-shoe||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off,|
|Metering||Unknown||Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot||Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Continuous Drive||Yes||Yes, 2.0 fps||Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images|
|Movie Clips||Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps||Yes, 1024 x 768 @ 15 fps, 640 x 480 @ 30/15 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30/15 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps||Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps|
|Self-timer||3 or 10 sec||Yes||2 or 10 sec|
|Uncompressed format||Yes||No (yes with chdk firmware)
|Quality Levels||High, Normal||Super-Fine Fine, Normal||Fine, Standard|
|LCD||2.7 "||2.5 "||3.0 "|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||280 g (9.9 oz)||380 g (13.4 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
|Dimensions||107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)||106 x 72 x 43 mm (4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)||109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)|
|Notes||Built-in GPS receiver|
I probably sound like a broken record here but companies keep releasing cameras in my range but I don't have enough information to actually purchase one.The camera that I'm trying to replace is a Canon G7 which is currently broken. I can get it fixed for about $135.00 but advances have been made since I got it. Nikon and Panasonic have both come out with replacements to their sub-SLR level cameras. The Canon P5100 was so pathetically slow that it knocked itself out of the running even though the specs and the photos were excellent. I've not seen a review on the P6000 yet to know if they fixed that issue. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 and LX2 made photos that resembled Degas paintings at ISOs greater than 200 so they were out even though they had great specs. Now here we are with a new Canon G series camera. I've put together a chart below (ripped from dpreviews comparison page) of the three contenders. Below the chart I'll outline the pluses and minuses as I see them.
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3||Canon Powershot G10|
|Max resolution||4224 x 3168||3648 x 2736||4416 x 3312|
|Effective pixels||13.5 million||10.1 million||14.7 million|
|Sensor photo detectors||13.93 million||11.3 million||Unknown|
|Sensor size||1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²)||1/1.63 "||1/1.7 " (7.60 x 5.70 mm, 0.43 cm²)|
|Pixel density||33 MP/cm²||24 MP/cm²||34 MP/cm²|
|ISO rating||Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP)||Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200||Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Zoom wide (W)||28 mm||24 mm||28 mm|
|Zoom tele (T)||112 mm (4 x)||60 mm (2.5 x)||140 mm (5 x)|
|Image stabilization||Yes||Yes, Lens||Yes, Lens|
|Macro focus range||2 cm||1 cm||1 cm|
|Aperture range||F2.7 - F5.9||F2.0 - F2.8||F2.8 - F4.5|
|Min shutter||Unknown||60 sec||15 sec|
|Max shutter||Unknown||1/2000 sec||1/4000 sec|
|Built-in Flash||Yes||Yes, pop-up||Yes|
|Flash guide no.||8.0 m (26.2 ft)||8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO)||4.6 m (15 ft)|
|External flash||Yes, hot shoe||Yes||Yes|
|Flash modes||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off,||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off|
|Metering||Unknown||Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot||Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot|
|Lens thread||Yes||Yes, optional adapter||No|
|Continuous Drive||Yes||Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images||Yes, 0.7 fps|
|Movie Clips||Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps||Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps||Yes, 640 x 480 @ 30 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps|
|Self-timer||3 or 10 sec||2 or 10 sec||2 or 10 sec or custom|
|LCD||2.7 "||3.0 "||3.0 "|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||280 g (9.9 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)||390 g (13.8 oz)|
|Dimensions||107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)||109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)||109 x 78 x 46 mm (4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in)|
I can honestly say that I only had a few complaints about the Canon G7 - it was heavy and a bit bigger than I wanted and it didn't have a built in wide angle lens. I bought the external wide angle and rarely used it because it was huge.
About the time I've decided on Panasonics GH1 micro four-thirds camera Canon pulls a rabbit out of it's hat. As I've written before the GH1 is a DSLR like camera (no mirror so technically not a DSLR) that shoots equal stills to a DSLR but also shoots HD video which is a first for an under $1000 camera in this form factor.The next best thing was to spend a couple grand on a Canon 5d Mk II but that's outside my budget and commitment level. Now Canon introduces the T1i which has the 50d's 15 MP sensor and can shoot HD video like the 5d Mk II! Thanks Canon for giving me yet another thing to have to consider. I think the only thing the Panasonic has over it is size.
The press release
Watching the compact high quality camera market is like watching a boxing match. It used to be Canon and Nikon in the ring until Nikon tucked it's tail in and ran. Panasonic promised to take the crown but after releasing the Lumix LX1 and Lumix LX2 people almost stopped listening to them because the photo quality was so poor. They came back with a knockout with the LX3 and turned out a camera with absolutely wonderful photos and low light performance in addition to it being very compact (more so than the Canon G10). A bit of history is probably in order. Canon had the G series which slotted nicely between the point and shoots and the DSLRs with full manual control, articulated screens and a bunch of other goodies. They also had a camera that slotted between the G-series and the point and shoots again - the S series. The S series had the G series' large sensor, a wide angle lens, manual controls and came in a much smaller body. It wasn't as nice to hold or use because it was compact but the quality of the photos were great. Canon cancelled the S series when the G7 came out thinking that the market was getting pretty crowded and Nikon had been K.O.ed in the 5th round anyway. The one thing I like about competition is it makes companies get off their collective arses and do something. The Panasonic LX3 takes photos as nice as the G10, has all the controls of the G10, has a faster lens (but less zoom) and is about half the size of the G10. Smaller is better in my book since I like to keep my camera in my pocket so Canon as turned the way-back machine to 2003 and reintroduced the S series and at the same time the G11 is a bit bigger and has the articulated screen again. The S90 will duke it out with the LX3 and the G11 will be for a different customer, one that wants more physical controls, an articulated screen and more zoom.
Regular visitors know of my obsession with finding the ultimate point and shoot camera and know that I bought an S90 which I've been very impressed with. It's two downfalls have been the ergonomics and the lack of improvements in video abilities. The former you can work around by adding a grip and just plain getting used to it. The latter you're stuck with. Canon appears to be listening and has released an update to the S90 aptly named S95. I think the update may be fueled as much by Panasonic adding more zoom to the LX series as customer demands.
According to dpreview they've added support for SDXC cards for larger than 32 GB (ho hum), some improvements in the image stabilization (yawn) and multi-aspect shooting (tapping my fingers here Canon). The ONE real new feature and probably the only real reason for the update is the improved sensor that does 720 HD video (at 24 fps) with stereo sound! Finally Canon is getting into the game. I don't care that much because I also own a Canon HF-200. The improvement is welcome though and shows that Canon is making the changes to be competitive in the Point and Shoot video market as well.
There are still limitations to the very design of most point and shoot cameras. They will say unlimited video recording until the card is full or the file size reaches 4 GB. In HD the S95 can record about 30 minutes of video non-stop. Sounds like a Fat32 filesystem limit to me. I think it's time camera manufacturers endorse a new filesystem.
They've made other small changes to improve the complaints about ergonomics. The small wheel on the back supposedly is less sensitive, the coating is less slippery than the old finish (listed as wet bar of soap in the catalog I believe), and the power button and ring function button have been swapped. Also it looks as if the shutter release is about the same size but the area surrounding the button is dished in to help you find it by feel. The button itself looks to have more of a bulge to it for the same reason. If you go back and read my S90 review you will see that they have directly addressed ALL of my major complaints except for the grip issue which can be fixed by buying the aftermarket grip. Since I've not used the S95 I cannot comment on whether they have been successful but it looks positive.
Read DPreviews press release.
When trying to decide which camera to get it's good to read the reviews (especially at dpreviews.com) but sometimes you just want to compare apples to apples photo quality. While digging around in dpreview's forums I found a link to this site that has photos taken by a bunch of different cameras. The great part is you can choose two cameras, then choose the same photo for each and compare the image quality. You might be surprised at what you see like the G9 being able to take photos as nice as a Rebel XTi at low ISO or how bad the photos coming out of a Panasonic (anything!) are at ISOs 200 and highers.
Imaging Resource Comparison Site
I was working on putting my Moussaka recipe back up on the new site and took one look at the photo I had on file for it and knew I couldn't do it. It's amazing how much of a difference just knowing a bit about what you're doing makes in many things. In this case it's both cooking and photography. My current camera is a bit better than my old one in that it takes better low light photos. However because of the wide angle lens it has a wider depth of field making it hard to get those really dramatic close-up images with the foreground and the background blurred out. However, how I took the new Moussaka photo I could have taken with the old camera too. I also don't have any more of a food photography studio than I ever did. One hundred percent of the difference between the two photos below is knowledge and nothing more. I'm still using a point and shoot camera, I'm still taking photos under fluorescent lights, I'm still using a couple of books and a $3.99 tripod from an outlet store, and I still don't have any flash, props, umbrellas or any of that jazz. So look at the photos below and see the difference. If you're one to run out and buy better equipment because you want to take great photos you may want to just get really good with what you have first THEN go buy new gear.
Obviously the plate is different. I bought the one on the right for $6.99 for four at TJ-Maxx. The ones on the left cost the same per plate a an Import store. The recipe is of course different and I spent more time making the Bechamel sauce thicker (whipped egg whites then folded them in) but the real difference is lighting, subtle backgrounds and matching up colors with dramatic patterns lacking in color. You don't have to spent a lot on the background either. I layed a group of fake grapes and grape leaves back there and you can see something but it doesn't draw attention. It has a presence but doesn't introduce itself to you. The photo on the left is bland and plain. I'm too zoomed out, the food looks sad, the plate looks empty and alone. It's just blah.
I've been wanting to start geo-tagging photos so I could link gallerys into google maps so users browsing my site could view a map of where the photos were taken. There are devices that record geographical points and then there is software that can take the file they create and look through a directory of photos and match up the timestamps to tag the photos. This is nice but not quite as easy as some would like.
I found an interesting device that allows you to geo-tag without using a computer at all. This would be good for straight uploading to flickre or other photo sites. Combined with an Eye-Fi you might be able to take photos, tag them and upload them without ever getting close to a computer at all!
From the ATP Electronics site
ATP GPS PhotoFinder™ mini adds geotag data to your digital images, no complicated software required!
Simply turn the device on while you're taking pictures, and insert your card into the enclosed memory card slot on the docking station and it will automatically do the geotagging for you!
h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war" h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war" h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war"
Go to ATP Electronics website for more info. The device shown is the GPS Photofinder mini. The mini has the separate dock (card reader) so the GPS recorder is smaller. They also have the GPS Photofinder which includes the card reader in the device. It's gotten mixed reviews but the idea is neat. For those with a computer it's probably better to get a datalogger and do the tagging with computer software.
I got a wonderful new Epson Stylus Photo R300 so I could start experimenting with printing my photos. As most of you know I use Linux for everything and normally it works great but there are areas in which it's behind, mostly Desktop stuff. Well, printing photos is largely a desktop thing. To make matters worse I wanted the printer to be available across the network but since it's a low end photo printer it doesn't have a network port like my color laser so I plugged it into my CentOS server via USB. Problem is CentOS is a server OS meaning the lackluster Linux printer drivers are even older. It does work pretty good however and I can print in 2880x1440 dpi and the output looks great. The problem came when I bought some 8.5 x 11 inch frames (for $5 at Michaels) for framing printer art. My "borderless" printing in Gimp-print 4.2.7 leaves a 1/4 inch border on one side which could be matted over but these frames are made for a picture exactly 8.5 x 11.
Everytime I buy a digital camera it comes with a pathetically small flash card around 32 MB. I inserted one of these otherwise worthless flash cards in my camera, formatted it and took one picture. This was vital to set up the directory structure etc.. for the printer. I then inserted it into the printer permanently and mounted it as /media/printerflash in Linux. Now whenever I want to print true borderless prints I just save the photo over top the one on the memory card and print it from the LCD screen on the printer. A hack I know, but it works.
When I travel I take lots of pictures and it always makes me nervous to only have them on flash. I've lost two flash cards in the last couple of years to file system errors. Considering how much it costs to travel it's nothing to buy a backup harddrive or extra flash cards. I bought
a harddrive case for about $12 like the one above which works great with a 60 GB 5400 rpm Hitachi laptop drive in it. The only problem is I still need my laptop because my camera can't talk directly to the drive.
I also need to bring along my memory card reader too because my daughter's camera uses CF cards and mine uses SD cards. I've found a new device that may help me. I've been considering not even taking my laptop to Ecuador in the winter because I don't want it to get stolen. Anyway the device I just purchased is a combined laptop hard drive and memory card reader. It's a lot bulkier than my other drive case but it can work without a computer. It's made by BAFO and I got it from thetechgeek.com which had it for $14.95 without a drive. I inserted a 60 GB drive into it and was thinking to myself I wonder how I format it. I was about to take the drive back out and plug it into my PVR client since it has a ribbon cable that takes 2.5 inch drives when I realized that I could just plug it in via USB (duh) and format it that way. I plugged it in and used mkdosfs to format it which took all of 3 seconds. Now that it was formatted I plugged in an SD card and pushed the Copy button and away it went. It beeped twice when it was done. This would be a great backup tool for my flash cards. I've mentioned that I'm a little paranoid about losing data and for good reason. The summer of 2005 we spent in Paris and I only backed up my pictures to my laptop and uploaded little 1024x768 versions to this website. This summer I did the same but brought along the portable harddrive and it was a good thing too because my laptop got rained on in Poland and I lost the data on the hard drive. Had that been my only copy I would have been toast. Thankfully that was one of three copies. So back to the BAFO device. This thing is so easy to backup flash cards with it should be a crime not to do it. You plug the flash card in and push the Copy button. That's it, really! It copies the contents to the hard drive and beeps twice.
I only have two complaints.
- It could be smaller
- the batteries could last longer
The battery is good for 1.6 hrs and it's about the size of an old
portable walkman. The power adapter is made for continental europe but comes with an adapter for the U.S. It's a bit bulky but not heavy.
To test the speed I created a 1 GB file and copied it to my 2 GB 120x SD card across a USB 2.0 connection.
- Copy from PC to SD card - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
- Copy from SD card to BAFO internal hd - 14 minutes (1.1 MB/sec)
- Copy from PC to BAFO internal hd - 3 minutes (5.6 MB/sec)
- Copy from BAFO internal hd to PC - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
- Copy from BAFO internal CF card to PC - 4 minutes 53seconds (3.9 MB/sec)
So it's not the fastes thing on the block.. I then plugged it into my USB controller and used hdparm to test the internal hd. It clocked at about 4 MB/sec. It looks like the little device just doesn't have enough oomph to read and write at the same time. Copying from the PC to the hd is almost 5x faster than copying from the flash to the hd. The flash can't be the problem because I can write to it fairly fast. The interesting thing is it's actually faster to copy to the internal hd than from it! This is completely backwards from what it should be. The internal hd shoould be able to sustain 20 MB/sec and our fastest time was 5.6 MB/sec which is about 40 Mbits/sec so clearly we are using USB 2.0. So it appears that something internal to the device hits a roadblock about about 5 MB/sec.
None of this matters unless you're in a speed contest. You can figure that it will take about 10 minutes a day to backup your digital pictures if you're on vacation. The battery is good for 100 minutes so it theoretically could last you a week and a half without recharging...