The trouble with compacts

_RX100_DSC3064 copy
Homage to Van Gogh. I didn’t leave the house that day with the intention of shooting anything, but if I hadn’t been packing some pocket heat, I wouldn’t have gotten this image, either.

I ended the last article on this note:

By far the most effective camera-for-when-you-don’t-want-to-carry-a-camera is a compact of some description; ideally one that’s small enough you don’t notice it, but is fast and responsive enough to react when you see something, and preferably be operable one-handed. I don’t want to feel like I’m carrying a camera. Of the dozens of these things I’ve owned, precisely none of them have fit the bill completely.

What we want – translated into something more concrete, looks like this:

  • It’s got to fit into a pocket or a bag without demanding its own or being obtrusive. Obviously we can relax the demands for something that’s trouser-pocketable given space constraints.
  • A good lens: something with a usable zoom range, and fast maximum aperture – the LX7′s lens is the benchmark here.
  • A sensor that’s large enough to give us decent ISO 1600, usable 3200.
  • Image stabilisation, or an optical finder. Preferably, both.
  • Responsiveness in operation – focusing, writing, menus, review/ zooming.
  • Easy access to the critical controls: exposure compensation, metering mode, and focusing mode/ area. (Aperture control is useless on compacts anyway since depth of field is enormous.)
  • Buffered raw shooting; it doesn’t have to be blazing fast, but say 3-4fps for 5 frames is usually sufficient.
  • Customization of the things that need setting once – auto ISO behaviour, noise reduction, blinking highlights, file naming, info displays and shortcut buttons etc.
  • Decent battery life.
  • Decent near focus limits.
  • A spot meter.
  • No compromises to review modes, by which I mean you zoom the actual file and can compare two files easily – either side by side or switching between them; easily accessible protect modes etc.
  • Call me shallow, but I’d like it to have a clean design and the right tactile qualities, too.

On that basis, you’d imagine that I’d have the Sony RX100 since it fulfills almost all of those criteria. I did for a while, then a few things about it niggled me to the point that I wasn’t using it anymore, so I sold it. My pathalogical need to carry a camera with me all the time means I’m in the market for a replacement; I have to remind myself that this kind of spec is actually not easy to find at any size. I still don’t know which one of these I’m most willing to compromise on; I suppose it’s size since I’ll land up carrying one of the DSLRs and a 24-120/4 VR if I need versatility. But it’s still not compact, and the mere fact that I’m carrying it turns photography from something that I’ll do if the opportunity arises into the reason for my being there, which can compromise the actual objectives of my excursion.

Let’s take a look at the choices that make up my shortlist – assume I’m aiming for pocket carry, which excludes any of the larger compacts or large-sensor fixed cameras; you really have to use these with a neck strap or live in a very cold country (so you have a jacket with enormous pockets) – the tropics limit you to a belt pouch at most.

Sony RX100
Pros: Best sensor and image quality of the bunch; fast and responsive autofocus; f1.8 maximum aperture; buffered 14-bit RAW shooting; impressive video output; relatively compact
Cons: f1.8 maximum aperture is only at the wide end of the lens (it quickly reaches f4.9) and furthermore it needs to be stopped down to have good corner performance; optical stabilizer is nearly useless; near focus limit is laughable; front control dial is useless for changing discrete exposure values because it lacks tactile feedback; no shoe for optical finder; slippery and not so easy to hold securely

Panasonic LX7/ Leica D-Lux 6
Pros: Standout lens – 24-90/1.4-2.3 that delivers excellent performance at all apertures; true multi-aspect ratio sensor; EVF port; buffered RAW shooting; excellent near-focus limits and optical performance; very effective image stabilization
Cons: The sensor could be better, and in some aspect ratios is limited to just 7MP; high ISO performance is so-so; lens very slow to zoom; aperture dial on lens is pointless and just adds to the bulk of the camera; a bit too thick to be pocketable; review images look terrible on LCD; focusing is slow enough to be frustrating at times

Ricoh GR-Digital IV
Pros: Highly responsive and customizable UI; ability to zone focus override; phase detect sensor and expected speed; excellent fast lens (28/1.9) usable at all apertures; good near focus limits; thin enough to fit into just about any pocket; hotshoe for optical finder; great tactile quality
Cons: Sometimes you need more than 28mm; sensor could be better

Ricoh GR-Digital V
Pros: 16MP APS-C sensor with no AA filter; highly responsive and customizable UI; ability to zone focus override; pretty fast focusing (claimed); decent lens; more pocketable than Coolpix A, not as pocketable as GR-D IV; hotshoe for optical finder; great tactile quality
Cons: Sometimes you need more than 28mm; price, though a good $400 cheaper than the A.

Nikon Coolpix A
Pros: That sensor: 16MP APS-C; outstandingly good image quality; excellent lens – not that fast (f2.8) but compensated by the sensor; just about pocketable; buffered RAW; good UI; great build-feel
Cons: No VR; high price; sometimes you need more than 28mm; not the fastest at focusing; price.

Fuji Finepix XF1
Pros: Outstanding JPEG output quality; decent lens but slow at the long end (25-100/1.8-4.9); clever collapsing design gives us both compact stored size and a mechanical zoom ring; largeish 2/3″ type sensor; reasonably fast focusing; passable image stabiliser.
Cons: RAW files are utterly terrible – nowhere near as good as the JPEGs; slow aperture at the long end; somewhat odd UI logic in places; the lens can be a bit fiddly; build quality feels cheap in places

Fuji Finepix X20
Pros: Decent JPEGs; good fast lens with IS; a very, very enjoyable camera to shoot with; high tactile quality; decent optical finder with shooting information display.
Cons: Subpar image quality at anything other than base ISO; avoid DR200/400 modes due to noise; it isn’t really pocketable – nearly the same size as an OM-D with 14-42 pancake zoom.

Clearly, everything is a compromise. You’d think it isn’t that difficult to make something which fits the bill simply because it’d sell well enough that the R&D investment would be worthwhile; however, it really seems that none of the people designing compacts these days are actually photographers. Instead of getting simplified menus and adequate manual controls, we must have mode dials which are mostly full of positions that are never used, gimmicky features like ‘pet beauty smile retouch mode’ and exposure compensation that requires a secret button sequence to access.

Why are all the companies stuck in the mindset that small must be for idiots and people who get converted from the spec sheet alone (marketing: ‘more of everything – megapixels, scene modes, fps – is better!’) and that anybody ‘serious’ must have a large, overly complicated and bulky compact? Even then, we’re still crippled by the marketeers: two command dials is no longer enough, three is now the benchmark. Some of these ‘compacts’ are larger than system cameras – the Nikon P7700 and Canon G15, for instance, are almost the same size as an OM-D body. I’d rather put a pancake zoom (the Panasonic 14-42 X is pretty good, actually – just a little slow in aperture) pay the slight size penalty and take the much larger sensor and every other benefit that camera offers.

Sony and Panasonic are the only two companies to come close, but both drop the ball in ways that could easily be fixed. Frustratingly, it feels like I’m looking for Goldilocks here: just like the fairytale, she doesn’t exist in reality. A moderate speed, 3-4x zoom on a 1″ or APS-C sensor would be perfect – it seems we can have one or the other, not both (and yes, I am aware that lenses for larger sensors need to be physically larger, too). Or maybe they just want to sell us one more iteration before we get what we want. Perhaps I should just give up and settle for the Coolpix A or GRD V; still, there are times when you just want to use a narrower perspective. If I’ve missed a possible contender, please leave a comment; hopefully it could be the one…MT

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Comments

  1. John Lockwood says:

    How about the Sigma Merrill series Ming? Image quality is reportedly great, just have to decide which lens you like.

    • True – so long as you’re okay with base ISO and don’t mind the operational foibles. They’re also a little thick to pocket and not very ergonomic.

  2. Ming that’s a great article, but it serves to highlight the fact that no camera is perfect. I applaud miniature cameras for their anonymity and convenience. I currently use a Panasonic LX5 and will change to an LX7 soon. It is in either my pocket or glove box at all times and has been instrumental in helping me take some of my best shots.

    The real issue is to understand and use any camera within its limitations. I would never have done this previously, but I also upgrade equipment regularly….cameras as well as software. The improvements in both generally increase usability and quality.

    In recent years I also use an iPhone 5 for personal shots and with proper processing, the results are more than acceptable. The bottom line is not to get over fussy with features and become too much of a gear head. If you do, life passes you by.

    • Oh, if you understand the fundamentals of light and composition you’ll be able to make good images with a cardboard tube and pinhole, but personally I like choice and good ergonomics :)

  3. Juanjo Lopera says:

    Have you tried the Powershot G15 ?
    It’s a great improvement over previous G series with an 28-140 mm 1,8-2,8 lens and optic viewfinder (cropped of course, as is the one in the X20…)
    I like the noise this camera produces at high Iso settings, as it resembles me the effect of Leica M8 and M9 cameras, some film appearance…
    I use it wide open always and it delivers great results. Good detail in shadows too.

    • Yes. I liked the feel but not the price-size-image quality ratio. Doesn’t go far enough above the other more compact cameras with the same sensor (or the LX7, for that matter) to justify the bulk.

  4. Jock Elliott says:

    Ming,

    How about a G15? Decent zoom. Fast lens (2.8 at telephoto). Jacket pocketable size. (I wear a G12 frequently on a neck strap under an over-shirt and the G15 is a hair smaller.) Lens collapses and is quick to deploy. Build quality is pretty good too. I have used my G12 for paid work. I have not personally handled or shot the G15, so a lot of this comment is based on suppositions.

    • It felt nice, in the build department, but the price and size…didn’t. We’re back to a similar problem as with the X20: it scores very low on the image quality per gram or cc stakes…

  5. Kristian Wannebo says:

    “Sony Announces the Cyber-shot HX50V: The World’s Smallest and Lightest 30x Optical Zoom Camera”

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/04/24/sony-launches-cyber-shot-dsc-hx50v-30x-compact-superzoom-with-wi-fi-and-gps

    I wonder how much noise those 20 Mpx in a 1/2.3″ sensor will make…
    And whether it does have better IS than the RX100 is said to have.
    And whether such a long compact zoom can make corners sharp at 24 mm equivalent focal distance – or maybe corners are soft also at the tele position…

    BUT, it is eminently pocketable, and for some it might turn out to be a possible travel zoom to add to your other carry-always camera.
    And it has an accessory shoe.

    • That spec sheet does not look encouraging for image quality. But for most, it will be enough. Then again, we might be surprised – the 1″ Sony sensor in the RX100 is significantly better than the Nikon/Aptina one with half the pixel count…

  6. Eddie Hawe says:

    Canon s110

  7. My suggestion would be the Merrill camera’s Ming. You can choose between the focal lenghts.
    I know you don’t seem to be fond of them, but why not borrow one and give it a go. IQ wil amaze you and perfect for BW also.
    You could even use a handheld flash with them for street portaits.
    Otherwise, I would say the new Ricoh GR. Looks very promising. IQ wise nowhere near the Merrills, but it’s made for street shooting of course.

    • I tried one. Operationally not for me. IQ is great but only at base ISO, and even then the A is pretty darned close; I never use flashes for street work. Too damned obvious and I’m not a big fan of the resulting look.

  8. With Aptinas new 14mp one inch sensor and Epsons and Finetechs new EVF’s there are bound to be new additions from many makers of compacts and evil cameras. Choices are bound to improve. I doubt Sony or Fuji would use that sensor though.

    • Sony already has an excellent 1″ sensor. And they’d probably use one of their own EVFs. Fuji’s 2/3″ unit with PDAF is a step in the right direction buy still needs work.

  9. the frustrating truth is that cameras get better as tehy get larger. there are inumerable advantages to big cameras. of course then you dont have it with you when that great shot comes. I dont have an answer i just share your frustration

  10. Fuji XF1 ; Outstanding JPEG & Fuji X20 Decent JPEGs.

    Does XF1 IQ is better than what you get from the X20 really?

  11. David Silva says:

    Sacrificing ultimate pixel peeping pleasure for compact convenience, I am partial to the Panasonic GX1 or other similar size / controls product with either the Panasonic 14-42 pancake zoom or the 20mm f1.7. I can carry it everywhere, and catch lots of otherwise missed shots. For me a very good compromise.

  12. Leica x2 has outstanding image quality and controls, just pocketable. Although not your fav 28mm, and a bit slow to focus. however, the images from your own review were outstanding…

  13. You just described the Fuji X100s.

  14. The p330 is out. I have the p310. Though I feel it might have had the same issue you had with the Coolpix A, it does fit some of the criterias you mentioned but yeah I don’t shoot it over 1600, the jpgs are surprisingly malleable and I use it only for facebook or the web media for which it provides me enough image quality incentives for the 200$ I paid for it to leave my D600 at home.

    Sorta begs the question: what snapshot camera works best for that platform? (perhaps for another post)

    Anw, yeah you asked to tell you if you missed out on something so here you are :) p330

  15. And what about the coming Panasonic LF 1..?

  16. To Ming: I know you have said before that you don’t do video, but I must point out that the Sony RX100 does it exceptionally well. I think its the one reason why I don’t trade my unit for a Panasonic LX7.

  17. Christopher says:

    What about the olympus xz-2? I like it’s usebility and Image Quality but It’s not really small and a litle bit slow.

  18. Have you tried Nokia Pureview 808? Allways-carry-on option, though compromising some points on your list.

  19. One other con for the Ricoh GR: It doesn’t have any kind of image stabilization. If this is going to be a con on the Coolpix A, it should be a con on the Ricoh too!

    This is also a big problem for anyone who does video: that’s obviously not you, but the lack of stabilization could shift anyone who wants some video use to the RX100.

    • Agreed. I think the RX100 is probably more flexible for video – and the deficiencies of the lens aren’t really visible when the whole frame is shrunk down to 2MP.

  20. Stephen Scharf says:

    I know this may sound somewhat like an outlandish idea, but have you considered the Fuji X10? From your X20 review, I know you played with one a fair bit, just curious if you’ve shot with one extensively.

    Reason I ask is this:
    I got into the Fuji X-series by literally stumbling across the X-10 last September at Costco. I didn’t even know of the X10 until I bumped into the display. I started using the X10 for everything, and relegated my old pro motorsports photography warhorse Canon 1D MkII to it’s Airport Addicted rollaboard case. I’ve been very, very impressed with the X10′s image quality, OOC JPEGs are downright gorgeous and there’s plenty of editing headroom even in JPEGs, and the EXR-baesd Dynamic Range settings actually worked very well. I’ve got landscape shots from Arches in Utah with unbelievable shadow and sky detail. Even the EXR “auto setting” worked quite well, producing excellent quality images (though I agree it tends to favor shutter speed over aperture). Raw images also convert very well in rev of Lightroom past 4.3.

    I loved that camera (and it’s image quality) so much it led me to buying the X-Pro1, which has become my main squeeze as a system-level camera.

    Reading about all the functional enhancements the X20 has, I had to have one, and ordered from B&H as soon as they were available; I received mine on April 17. To my dismay, though, I’m finding that the X20 has the same image quality issues you describe except when shot at base ISO. I shot some snaps in a mall the other day at ISO 400 that were downright dreadful when viewed at 100%. I personally find this quite disappointing, not only because I just laid down 600 smackers for it, but also because the rest of the camera is SO good. It may be going back to B&H next week.

    All this has made me realize I need to go back and thoroughly look through my higher ISO X10 shots in much more detail, but it memory, serves, it’s higher ISO performance was quite a bit better than the X20′s.

    I’m beginning to think the ideal compact for me is an X20 body w/ phase contrast AF, the wonderful trans-panel display with an X10 EXR sensor.

    Regards,
    Stephen Scharf
    P.S. I’ll have additional comments for your X20 review.

    • No, I haven’t. But I have shot with one (my brother has one). Didn’t like the slow AF speed, and frankly, the viewfinder is largely vestigial, so I’d rather have a more compact body. I didn’t get the impression IQ of the new sensor was worse than the old one, though – color and DR are definitely better, but noise seems to be binary (there’s either noise – above ISO 100 – or there isn’t – ISO 100) unlike the X10, and every other camera, that progressively gets noisier as you increase sensitivity.

  21. I’ve been lurking around the site for a couple months now, finally decided to chime in.
    Firstly, big thank you, Ming, this site is invaluable, there is nothing quite like your reviews and other writings and style out there.

    I mostly shoot b&w on my old clunky Minolta SLR nowadays, but recently picked up Fuji XF1 to use as a travel companion. Took it to Nepal and SE Asia the other month. Although the JPEGs are indeed quite stunning for a relatively cheap ‘serious’ point n shoot, after a few weeks i picked up a couple of pieces of dust in the lens (I believe it’s inside the lens, not on the sensor, because the spots move when I zoom). Suddenly, after only a few months of service, the camera became pretty much useless – yes, I can Lightroom them out, but who wants to constantly do it; yes, I can send it for repairs, but the costs are prohibitive; yes, I shook it and hit it and vacuumed it, all in vain.

    So basically a warning – aside from all the photographic aspects – if you shoot a lot in sub-pristine conditions, one of the cons of all these zoom compacts is the dust vulnerability. (I say ‘all’, because I believe none of the above are weather proof).
    Based on this alone, I will be leaning toward either fixed lens or, perhaps, micro 4/3rd for my next pocketable digital.

    • Ouch – I think it’s probably exacerbated by the collapsible lens mechanism on the XF1 that I’d imagine might well suck dust into the body. A small neoprene pouch can help a lot here; in any case I generally try to carry my compacts either in a solo pocket or in a belt holster, and haven’t had any problems so far.

    • Timur Born says:

      Moisture also is an issue with these pumping lenses. A metal body can become a disadvantage, too. I had the X10 in my jacket pocket in winter. Then I came into a very warm and very humid room. And while all the plastic cameras where snapping happily away, my full metal X10 was still cold as ice and sucked all the moisture in, which resulted in heavy condensation fog on the lens *and* sensor.

      • Ouch – if the sensor condensation is bad enough, it might well leave watermarks…

        • Timur Born says:

          Might also have been condensation on the rear element, but after some time I could not make out condensation inside the lens and still got foggy images for quite some time. So I can only assume it was on the sensor. There was no visible deprecation after it all cleared up, though.

          And frankly, the dust I got inside the lens *with the lens* after having the sensor (aka whole lens assembly) replaced for the first time – due to the orbing X10 sensors – was far worse than anything I sucked in during my time of use. That was mostly in town and inside, though. Had to sent it in again and wait another 3+ weeks to get it back.

          • Ouch. That doesn’t sound good at all. So far I’ve been pretty lucky with collapsing lenses and dust, and only ever seen it once on a compact – my wife’s, which she leaves riding around in her handbag. I wonder if it was the environment or just a poor design on Fuji’s part…

            • Timur Born says:

              It was a mixture of winter cold metal body and metal barel lens and going into a very warm indoor pool room (baby swimming course). I don’t blame the X10, just mentioning that the plastic shooters snapped away happily. And using the zoom made things foggy inside the camera very quick. The X10 pushes a lot of air through its optical viewfinder, too, which you even can feel when you have your eye close to it (naturally).

            • I have a suspicion it’s specifically the XF1 – its lens mechanism feels a bit flimsy. And it travels more, as you mentioned. Combine the two, and you have a nice little vacuum there.

  22. Timur Born says:

    One comment about your XF1 remark “RAW files are utterly terrible – nowhere near as good as the JPEGs”:

    Adobe Lightroom 4.4 got a workover for full resolution EXR files that makes RAW files match very fine detail resolution of JPGs. Even now it can help to choose small sharpening radii below 1, but with older versions it was kind of mandatory. There is an issue with 90° corners with both EXR and X-Trans files in LR 4.4′s new demosaicing (of EXR and X-Trans), but mostly only visible with pixel-peeping.

    Unfortunately working with EXR type RAW files in Lightroom is still very slow with Loupe/Compare, and even worse, the Loupe/Compare results are visibly different from Development. So it’s possible to get good results, but the hurdles are higher than necessary.

    My main beef with full resolution EXR images is that they cannot resolve diagonal line well, especially upper left to lower right ones can get lost completely (they literally vanish into mush). This applies to both JPG and RAW files.

    Concerning the decision between X10 and X20: I am still waiting for an answer from Fujifilm whether they fixed AUTO ISO with flash (and AUTO DR) on the X20, since they don’t want to fix it in firmware on the X10. As a X10 user (gave it away to a relative now) the main size related problem was the lens, not so much the additional height for the viewfinder.

    The main advantage of the X10/20 is it’s near silent operation when absolute stealth is needed. Theoretically you can shoot at a theater performance through the optical viewfinder without disturbing anyone else in the audience with the glow of a bright screen. And the shutter is so silent that I can shoot my family from 1 ft away without being noticed, while everyone turns heads when I shoot the already quite silent E-M5 from across the room.

    The main disadvantage (along the points mentioned above) is Fujifilm’s bad support. Not only the whole sensor replacement mess with the X10 (including repeated long wait times and sloppy lens assembly replacement), but several other things. Guess which company did not offer a dedicated Service point at last Photokina while most others did!? You get the point… ;-)

    • To be honest: it’s so much hassle that I’ve pretty much given up. There are so many easier ways to get better results…for instance, the JPEGs out of the new Olympus E-P5 I just tested blew me away; to the point that most of the images in the review and accompanying Flickr set are SOOC JPEG. They’re noticeably better than my OM-D, and required basically no work if you nailed exposure and white balance. And I know that even if I did want to work on it, the raw files (again, same as the OM-D’s as they use the same sensor) are nice and easily malleable. Not necessarily true with the Fuji…the JPEGs were nice, but not this ‘rich’.

      • Timur Born says:

        Now that’s a surprise, that you say the E-P5 JPGs are noticeably better than the OM-D ones. Now the question is how much of “too much bulk” does the E-P5 present compared to the compacts you listed here.

        Personally I keep thinking about an Olympus XZ-2 or maybe Panasonic LX7, but when I had them in hand they didn’t really seem *that* much smaller than m43 except for the less protruding lens when stowed away.

        • Something changed in the processor, apparently – according to Olympus. No idea what. The E-P5 is larger than the A or the GR, and that’s excluding a lens. That puts it way outside pocketable for me – a second body to accompany an OM-D, maybe, but that’s about it. I’d consider the XZ-2, G15, P7700 etc to be large cameras; the LX7 is midsize. All are too thick to comfortably fit in a pocket.

  23. D3xmeister says:

    Very good article. The only thing I was surprised with was the RX100 stabilization. I have the RX100 and the IS is very good, makes a world of difference when needed.

    • It definitely makes a difference, but in my experience it doesn’t seem anywhere near as good as the Panasonics, let alone something like the OM-D…

  24. John Nicholson says:

    Would really appreciate it if you could get your hands on an MX-1 and give us your view. Thanks in advance.

  25. Hello Ming. Thanks for your time to comment on your wealth and knowledge on your profession and hands on experiences and opinions, I am sure everybody is amazed like me at your knowledge !
    Can I ask I have a sony rx100 and whilst I love its JPEG output I don’t find it a pleasure to use, is there anything out there either compact or semi-compact or even csc that you would recommend to match the rx100 JPEG output a FL camera is not out of the question and neither is budget to a degree, Maybe looking down the lines of csc with fast prime ?
    Can I ask your experiences if any with sony nex6 or 7 ?
    Kind regards and thanks in advance
    lee

  26. Timur Born says:

    I decided that trousers pocketability is more important than anything else for a compact that can go everywhere where you’d also take a smartphone. From there it has to beat the smartphone, which is easy with zoom capabilities, not any bigger cameras. So I looked at the biggest sensor cameras that fulfill this requirements, which pretty much leaves only the Canon S100/110/120 and Panasonic LF1. The RX100 is already too thick, not to mention quite expensive for a camera that is meant to only complement a bigger one when you feel too lazy to carry the extra weight and bulk (most often for me).

    In the end I got the LF1, as it offers a viewfinder and some other niceties, costs less than a S120 and RX100, but more than a S100/110. One of its main drawbacks is that you have nearly no control over its JPG output (sharpening, noise reduction, constrast etc.), so it’s mostly a RAW shooter for me. I listed more pros and cons in a DPR post.

    Still have to gather more experience with it, but the most important aspect remains that I can carry it several days in a row in a jeans trousers pocket without feeling awkwardly impaired.

    • I prefer the GR for that purpose. Is the LF1′s image quality good enough though?

      • Timur Born says:

        Unfortunately my longer reply seems to have been swallowed. I find the LF1′s quality adequate for its sensor size + lens, with the lens being the largest compromise (soft border wide open at the wide end with strong aberrations). I need a zoom lens and I want smaller, so the LF1 is closer to my personal needs than the Ricoh. Another drawback of the LF1 is practical absence of JPG controls, but with RAW shooting capabilities I don’t miss that too much.

        Here is a list of pros and cons: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5281189784/lf1-experience-report
        Here the same with discussion and some sample images to describe what I mean by lens and JPG weaknesses: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3548788

        • I just borrowed my brother’s LF1 earlier today; handling is pretty good and the EVF is useful for stability if nothing else – it’s the worst EVF I’ve ever seen – but file quality remains to be seen…

  27. Elliot Colton says:

    Hi Ming,
    Love your site and your insightful real world reviews. Not to mention that your creative photography is very inspiring.
    I have rediscovered my love for photography of late and use a Nikon DSLR mostly. For a second camera that is good for spur of the moment carry or travel, I use an Olympus E-PL3 with the Panasonic pancake zoom. It’s as small as I could get within the criteria of good AF and sensor size. I manage to get some pretty good shots with it. However, it is weak in low light.
    I would like to go smaller though as this combination still isn’t pocket sized. I wondered if you have had a chance to check out the Panasonic GM1 or the Sony RX100 II?
    Cheers,
    Elliot

    • Thanks for the compliments. I reviewed the original RX100 here – the II is pretty much the same, though adds a bit of flexibility/ stealth with the folding screen. It doesn’t address the issue of the lens being poor wide open especially at wide, and at the corners – but at the same time it also makes an already very good camera better.

      The GM1 I just received this afternoon. If I still find myself using it after a week, I’ll put some thoughts down. If not, then I think that should answer your question…

  28. What about the Pentax MX1?

  29. Haven’t even seen one in the flesh…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Source: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/04/24/the-trouble-with-compacts/ [...]

  2. [...] Here are some choices. All of these can use the eyefi to wirelessly transmit images. Ming Thien has done a great job of doing some of these reviews and has a goodoverview: [...]

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