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  1. #1

    Default What pocket-sized camera should I buy? Must be quality all-rounder wt telephoto zoom


    Please can anyone suggest what camera I should buy.

    > Budget
    > * What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.
    Not sure, say: GBP 150 - 450 (at a pinch)

    > Size
    > * What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?
    Must be EXTREMELY 'pocket-able'. I want it to be in my pocket without noticing. As much as humanly possible this means flat sides with nothing sticking out. No big fat lenses that wont retract.

    > Features
    > How many megapixels will suffice for you?
    Not sure... 8 to 10+
    Pixels are NOT super-important to me.
    Much more important is quality of the CCD, i,.e. the colour accuracy and the ability to not lose detail in bright highlights and dark shadows...

    > * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x)
    I need a focal length equivalent on 35mm SLR of slightly wide angle (say 35mm) to at at least 150mm, ideally perhaps 250+ mm
    A good-ish telephoto is the most important.
    I am assuming that this means that image stabilisation will be important.

    > * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)

    > Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?
    Not very fussed.

    > General Usage
    > * What will you generally use the camera for?
    Portraits, insects (e.g. butterflies), landscape/views.

    > * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?

    > Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?

    > Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
    Only occasionally

    > Miscellaneous
    > Are there particular brands you like or hate?
    I like Canon. Then Nikon. Maybe Fujifilm. Possibly Lumix, Sony. Dont very much like Richoh, Pentax, Olympus

    > Are there particular models you already have in mind?
    - Canon PowerShot G1 X - but doesnt look 'pocketable' enough.
    - Canon Powershot G15 - but only goes to focal length of 140mm, also not really pocketable enough
    - Nikon Coolpix P7800 up to 200mm (equiv) ...?

    Needs to be fairly easy to use with good ergonomics.

    > (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
    - Rotating LCD definitely a major bonus for covert portrait shots in social situations.
    - Image stabilisation (presumably this is important for long focal length shots)
    - Weather proof not necessary
    - Flash not necessary
    - removable lens would be a nice bonus

    Any recommendations?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Ceredigion, south of Aberystwyth


    Canon G15

    Sony HX50

    Panasonic TZ25 or 35

    Samsung have a few clever cameras in this category as well.

    Personally I would be happy with the advanced compacts from Sony and Panasonic. Check out their reviews both here and elsewhere. The Canon is a very nice product but check out the previous model, the G12, which you might find even more suitable. It is very high end but has a more limited zoom than the other models above, which you might find significant. OTOH it should be somewhat better in low light without flash.
    Last edited by Huw Williams; 25-09-13 at 08:46 PM.

  3. #3



    Canon G12 is way too heavy (401g) and not pocket-able at 48mm deep - also I need more than 140mm (equiv) focal length.
    Canon G15 140mm focal length too small.

    On reflection I think I need at least 200mm.

    More later

  4. #4


    I think I need at least 12MP, but maybe more (up to say 14-16MP) would help very slightly - it's just not a major consideration.

    One think I want to emphasize is insect photography (esp butterflies). This requires a good macro lens but with *intermediate* focusing distances possible too - i.e. not just jumping straight to full macro.

    Swivel screen
    Nobody has mentioned swivel screens (!) This could be v useful for photographing:
    a) an insect at arm's length (in some bush etc)
    b) photographing people (without everyone getting self-conscious)

    Focal length
    I have slightly changed my mind on this. I am thinking that 200mm is barely enough, (particularly as on rare occasions I will want to photograph birds and that will need all the mm I can get!).
    So I am now thinking perhaps as much as 500mm would be good, so long as:
    i) I have a really good image stabiliser
    ii) the image quality at normal focal lengths doesn't suffer unduly
    Do you think that going beyond 300mm (e.g. to 500mm, or even 720mm in the also slightly bulky Sony HX50V).

    I cant decide about Raw. One review quoted 2 seconds between shots to save a JPEG but a full 6 seconds (of the camera being useless, btw) whilst storing Raw. To me delays between shots shouldnt be much more than 1 second.

    None of the reviews I can find seems to be talking about shutter lag. i.e. The time between pressing the shutter and actually taking the photo. This is probably the most irritating feature of modern digital cameras. I don't know what the norms are but surely we shouldnt need to wait for more than a small fraction of a second (0.2secs?) for the photo to be taken, particularly if lens focus has already been done.

    From what I can see 233g (e.g. Canon SX280 HS) is starting to get slightly heavy... and the thickness (depth) shouldnt be more than 30mm... although perhaps the most important is to have smooth sides with no lumps and bumps sticking out.
    I agree that most of the models I was citing are definitely not pocket-able enough, having thought about it.

    Yes point taken about panda eyes. A *subtle* flash in bright sunlight can do wonders, it's just that I'm not sure how you make sure that it's only a very subtle effect, particularly when shooting indoors!

    I don't yet know much about video, but reasonable video will be important too, as I will need to shoot some videos for a website promotion to go on youtube.
    I am thinking full HD (1080p) would be a good place to start. But I am confused about frames per second. 24? 60?

    EVF (electronic view finder)
    Very few of the pocket-able cameras have this and I cant decide how important that will be to me. (e.g. Lumix DMC-LF1). I can see this would be useful in bright sunlight, and without ready readers, my old eyes now only just focus at aprox. full arm's length...(!) on the down-side though, using an EVF makes it very obvious that you are talking a photo, and taking insect/butterfly photos you may/may not be able to get your head that close too.
    All things considered, I'd much rather have a really good swivelling screen!

    Other review sites
    I am getting extremely frustrated by not actually reviews many of the cameras I 'm interested in. Yes, the reviews on this site are amazingly comprehensive, but if the reviews are missing where else does good quality reviews (or are we banned from discussing this subject on this site??)

    Here are some cameras that I now considering, based on reading reviews:

    - Sony HX20V (although a bit fat [34.6mm] and heavy [254g]

    - Lumix TZ40 (thin 27.7mm, light 172mm, long telephoto 480mm, good stabilisation, but is the lens quality high enough? also 18MP is stupidly high!)

    - Lumix DMC-LF1 (up to 200mm [just ok for me??], EVF, F2 [so good at low light], fast-ish shot-to-shot [0.8secs] but what's the lens quality like? and slightly expensive at c. £329)

    - Canon SX280 HS (long telephoto up to 500mm, fast boot time 1.5secs, 'excellent' image stabiliser, 1080p video at upto 60fps... BUT rather short battery life 210shots, slow shot-to-shot time (1.5secs?, suspiciously cheap at c. £210)

    Any further thoughts?


  5. #5


    what you need is at least 24mp camera ... good luck

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by graham_c View Post
    what you need is at least 24mp camera ...
    Are you serious?

    Do any pocket-sized cameras come at that resolution? And even if they did, would the lens quality justify such a high resolution?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Ceredigion, south of Aberystwyth


    It seems to me that you know precisely what you want, so the only problem you have is choosing the best compromise that comes closest to your ideal.
    You will probably end up with a Panasonic TZ40 for its overall capability and advanced features. But no doubt it won't have that killer feature that matches your ideal.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by graham_c View Post
    what you need is at least 24mp camera ... good luck
    Are you serious? I am told that having more than 12MP in a small camera is a seriously BAD idea by this user "snapshot2":

    > You say that number of pixels is not important - it is very important.
    > You don't want over 12 megapixels in a small camera.
    > Too many pixels will produce too much noise which means reduced image
    > quality and poor low light performance.

    For example, the Panasonic TZ40 is 18MP. If snapshot2 is correct then not only will this murder image quality, but it will make all my images unnecessarily wasteful of disk space - unless of course I resize them... in which case why not buy a smaller resolution camera in the first place !
    Last edited by ship69; 28-09-13 at 11:40 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Ceredigion, south of Aberystwyth


    Don't knock it. In two or three year's time you will probably be hard pressed to find any camera at all with less than 18MP, and that will include phone cameras.

    Examine the image quality of the TZ40 on its merit, not on some opinion of what it might be, based on guesswork.
    Here is one review of it that isn't too critical of its image quality
    Last edited by Huw Williams; 28-09-13 at 01:57 PM.

  10. #10



    Okay this is where my thinking has got to:

    From reading the reviews, the only serious camera for me are as follows:
    (There isn't really all that much choice after all!)

    1. CANON SX280 HS
    - Good long telephoto: 25–500mm (f/3.5 – f/6.8)
    - Excellent image quality with excellent image stabiliser
    - Fairly pocketable (Fairly light weight (233g) Fairly compact (32.6mm deep))
    OK 12MP sensor (but opinion divides as to whether more is any better due to noise created).
    - No RAW
    - Slightly unresponsive:
    OK Boot-to-photo time (1.5secs)
    Terrible Shot-to-shot time (1.5 secs?)
    Terrible Click-to-capture time (0.2-0.4secs)
    - Poor battery life (210 shots CIPA)

    - Good long telephoto: 25–500mm (f/3.5 – f/5.3)
    - Poor Image stabiliser (jumpy)
    - Fairly light weight (232g)
    - Higly responsive
    OK Boot-to-photo time (1.1secs)
    Good Shot-to-shot time (0.5 secs?)
    Excellent Click-to-capture time (0.05secs?)
    - Great to have RAW
    - OK 16MP sensor (too high?)

    - No RAW
    - Not very compact (36mm deep)
    - Autofocus although lightning fast, sometimes hunts unnecessarily
    - No touch screen

    3. PANASONIC TZ40 (ZS30)
    - Gool long telephoto: 24-240mm (F3.3 - 6.4)
    - Excellent image stabiliser
    - Very pocketable (light weight (172g) and very thing compact (27.7mm))
    - Good Macro range 3cm to infinity
    - 1920 x 1080 pixels, 50p

    - No RAW
    - Some users cant see screen in bright sunlight (deal-breaker?)!
    - 18MP is probably too high.
    - Slow zoom extension (4secs)
    - Revoltingly ugly, fat rubber hand grip

    - Nikon get terrible reviews for their compact cameras.
    - Olympus - no quality compacts with a 250+ mm telephoto zoom
    - Leica - just re-skinned Panasonics at a higher price(?)

    I have a nagging suspicion about 500mm lenses being overkill. Also I dont really need wider then 35mm, so 35-250 would have done fine so x7.1 zoom would have dont me fine.
    Everything seems to be pointing towards the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 although the lens may not be quite a good as the Canon.


    Very sadly, none of the good quality compact cameras have swivel/hinged screens, although some of the lower quality ones (e.g. Samsung) certainly do!
    However the Panasonic appears to let me control it via my phone which might be a sneaky (if cumbersome) alternative.

    HDR - how useful is this?
    Apparently the Panasonic does have HDR, but I cant decide how useful it is. Perhaps only useful if no RAW option?
    Fwiw, my understanding of RAW is that this involves shooting multiple image in rapid succession, (at different ISO ratings?) and then recombining them in some clever way. This aims to get details out of highlights and shadows. But does this also help with resolution (in the same way that a video still always seems more blurred to the eye than the moving picture)?

    Yes, I know I need to hit the shops, but I have been sickly... :^[

    OK, so what am I missing?


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