Non-extending lenses -- are they always this bad?

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by StrongBad, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. StrongBad

    StrongBad TPF Noob!

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    About 18 months ago I bought a Fuji FinePix A345, which is 4.1mp, and has an extending lens. At the time it was about £110, but now I'd guess it's worth more like £90 (if it was still in its packaging, that is).

    Now, for reasons which I can't be bothered to type, I need a camera without an extending lens.

    So I bought a Fuji FinePix Z3 (<a href="http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=45L5&CategorySelectedId=11193&NavigationKey=11193,4294957187,4294960228,14" target="_blank">link</a>) for £172 just a few days ago, which is 5.1mp, and boasts that it offers up to ISO 1600, which is something I'll be needing.

    However, when I take shots, even in daylight, everything's a bit fuzzy, and when you zoom in to a picture I've taken with it, you can see fuzz around high-contrast areas (not to do with JPEG compression, clearly to do with the camera).

    I've taken identical photographs with both cameras and zoomed into the same areas, and it's clear that my old camera, worth half the price of my new one, takes clearer shots.

    What I want to ask you guys is: Should I return the camera because it's crap, or is this just the price I pay for buying a non-extending lens?

    I've got little more than a week before I move abroad for two months, and I have to get this resolved by then. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. tempra

    tempra TPF Noob!

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    What ISO are you shooting at? High ISO will drastically increase digital noise, low ISO will reduce it.

    Might help if you put the test shots up with the exif information.
     
  3. StrongBad

    StrongBad TPF Noob!

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    I tried all sorts of ISO settings. But the thing that really got me was that even outdoors, in good light, with the ISO set to 'auto' (so I guess it used 200 or 400) things seem to not only have lots of digital noise, but also seem distorted in an odd way. I will take some shots with both cameras and post the exif info, but I've got a train to catch early tomorrow and I don't have time to do it right now. Watch this space though :)
     
  4. Tiberius

    Tiberius TPF Noob!

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    Most Camera without an extending lens don't actually have a zoom lens at all. They probably have one for focusing, but that's about it. What you describe sounds typical of resizing an image (also called "Digital Zoom").
     
  5. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    exactly what I was going to say, digital zoom just takes the original image and magnifies it. Think of taking a picture with no zoom at all, the widest focal length you can get. digital zoom would be like cropping the center of the picture (which in turn makes the center subject look larger, read zoom) and do that over and over again. Now you'll have a nice close up, but it will just be a crop from a wider angle, resulting in all that.... crap.

    if you absolutely have to have a non extending lense, find the highest MP camera you can. otherwise go get an extending lense.
     
  6. StrongBad

    StrongBad TPF Noob!

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    Oh I know, turning digital zoom off is the first thing I do with any digital camera. By "zooming" I meant looking closely at the picture on the computer after I've taken it.

    Anyway, I've taken some indoor shots (which is what my new camera says it's good at, and what I'll be using it for, mostly) with both my new Z3 and my old A345, both Fujifilm.

    Bear in mind that my new Z3 is 5.1mp, whereas my old A345 is 4.1mp, so the Z3 pics are slightly bigger. All the pictures I post here are just cropped out of original photos which were taken at highest resolution, finest settings and automatic ISO. The Z3 tells me the ISO, aperture and shutter speed it used, but the A345 doesn't.

    OK, first up, a nice picture of a plant:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Top: A345
    Bottom: Z3

    Lighting: Indoor bright
    ISO: 800
    Aperture: F3.5
    Shutter: 0.036 seconds


    These are the settings for the Z3, but as I said, the A345 doesn't let me alter or even view any of these.

    Next, a picture of some stuff on a shelf:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Lighting: Indoor bright
    ISO: 800
    Aperture: F3.5
    Shutter: 0.1 seconds





    And finally, the same picture, but this time in the dark, with a flash:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Lighting: Indoor dark
    ISO: 400
    Aperture: F3.5
    Shutter: 0.017 seconds



    You see what I mean about this shimmering around the edges? And the grainy images, even at low ISO! I can't help feeling that this in unacceptable considering my new camera is twice the price of my old one. Are non-extending lenses really this bad, or should I send an angry letter to Fujifilm? It's too late for me to get a replacement now, as I'm moving to Budapest in under a week.

    I've uploaded all the original pictures, in all their pixely glory. You can download them all in a zip file here: http://www.lowfuss.com/peter/hosting/Xpost2007-01/2006-10-11-CameraTest-Z3vsA345.zip
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    With your examples...you are not using a low ISO. The first two are at ISO 800 and the last one is at ISO 400. On small sensored cameras like these...ISO 400 is usually full of noise like this. Anything higher than the lowest ISO setting is probably too high.

    Do have any examples of shots that are outdoors with bright light and ISO 100? Or how about setting the ISO at 100 (or lowest) and using the flash indoors?
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    /\
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    Edit: D'oh! You beat me Mike :D


    Ah... I think I see the problem here. The lowest ISO shot you've posted there is ISO 400; I'm afraid ISO 400 can't be considered low ISO for a compact digital camera. The smaller sensors in these cameras mean that ISO 400 and 800 are going to produce very noticeable noise in a way that is not the case with digital SLRs. The Fuji may offer ISO 1600, but I'd say you'll be lucky if you can get decent prints onto a postage stamp at that sensitivity; even ISO 400 should only really be used when necessary IMO.
     
  9. StrongBad

    StrongBad TPF Noob!

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    Ah, so they're selling their cameras with relatively useless features. I should have known. I thought because it could 'handle' ISO 1600 that ISO 400 was low with respect to its capabilities.

    I can't take an outdoor shot because it's dark here, but I will tomorrow.

    The thing is, I bought this camera to help me do a little independent photography project where I'll be taking lots of sly photographs of people on public transport throughout Europe. I wanted a camera without an extending lens to make it easier to conceal, and one that could handle low light and fast shutter speeds to avoid blurring. I thought this was the answer, as it sold itself on having all these features, but it seems what I'm looking for would probably cost £500, and may not even be available to buy yet.

    Shame.

    My friend has a Canon EOS 350D, and we're both doing the photography, so I'm not completely doomed, but I'm still annoyed that this camera has turned out to be a bit of a waste of money.
     
  10. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Well if it's a few days old I should think you can offload it and get your money back. I don't really think any digital compact would be well suited for what you're trying to achieve - you really need something that lets you use higher ISO levels in available light and still get a useable picture.

    If your friend has a dSLR then that definitely helps - a 350D should have no problems at 1600 ISO. But if you're both on the project it would surely be better to both have cameras. This next piece of advice might not be very popular but I'm going to say it anyway: for what you want to do, on a limited budget, use film. Maybe a rangefinder or compact, maybe an SLR - perhaps even a Canon SLR (some of which are relatively quiet compared to other SLRs so they may be well suited to your purpose) and then you could share lenses with your friend - whatever, just make sure it has a lens with a good maximum aperture, then pop in some 3200 ISO black & white or 1600 ISO colour film and you're all set.
     
  11. StrongBad

    StrongBad TPF Noob!

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    You're right, it's not a popular suggestion, lol. I agree with you though, film clearly is the only way to do this on a small budget. But I just don't trust myself to take good shots, and paying several pounds to process each film...no. I just can't. I think I'll stick with this camera, kicking and screaming, I'll stick with it.

    *sobs*

    Thanks for all your help guys and gals. I'll come back here in 8 months and tell you how it all went. Actually, I'll probably forget.
     
  12. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    also the blur is probably from the built in "Noise Reduction" which really means the camera just blurs your pictures so you cant see the noise.
     

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