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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Sensors, F's and Zooms...Evening. So, I'm looking for a TZ3 replacement. Something that can take a good range of pics (new baby, cars, ...
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Old 04-11-2010, 23:19   #1 (permalink)
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Question Sensors, F's and Zooms

Evening. So, I'm looking for a TZ3 replacement. Something that can take a good range of pics (new baby, cars, holiday landscapes, etc) in a variety of circumstances... a jack of all trades if you like. Given my budget of £350'ish, I'm looking at a Super Zoom Bridge or a well spec'd compact. I'm not ready for a DSLR yet, but I'd like something which might help me get there.

I want future scope, so RAW & manual modes are musts. Now, to the point (yes, I have one!).... without turning this into a "which camera should I buy" (I'll switch forums for that question later!!), I'd like to get a better understanding of Sensors, F's & Zoom.

3 cameras I've been looking at (no names!), have key specs as follows:

Cam1: 1/1.63-inch, 10.1 Megapixels High-sensitivity CCD (F2.0, 3.8x optical zoom)
Cam2: 1/2.33-inch, 14.1 Megapixels MOS (F2.8, 24x optical zoom)
Cam3: 1/2.33-inch, 14.1 Megapixels High-sensitivity CCD (F2.8, 24x optical zoom)

What I'd like to understand better is:
1. How does less MPs in a slightly bigger sensor (Cam1) differ to the smaller more densly packed sensors of Cams 2 & 3?
2. I'm struggling to understand the difference between a CCD & MOS sensor, any advice on the key differences would be appreciated
3. For a photo at the same distance (so removing zoom from the equasion), would I be right in thinking that the wider aperture & bigger sensor of Cam1, would give a brighter picture than the other 2 cams? Therefore, would I get more options for a given scenario?

I like the idea of more outdoor scope on the 24x zooms (when out in the open, unable to get close to the subject, etc), but I'm concerned about the sensors and whether I'd miss the wider aperture once I get more confident. As such, just some feedback on the kinds of differences I'd see on these key points would be appreciated and help my research.

Thanks for your patience!

Mark
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Old 05-11-2010, 10:24   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

1. In your example sensor looks to be smaller! But if one assumes that you meant larger, the (slightly glib) answer is that it's not the number of MPs but how they're used that counts. Specifically, what becomes important is the utilisation of photosites and microlenses - and then there's how the light and colour info is dealt with by the software. All of which is important for the resulting image. a pretty good explanation can be found in Understanding Digital Camera Sensors

2. As I understand it, MOS is just a sensor using CMOS technology which has been tweeked to give it more CCD-like characteristics. See CCD vs. CMOS for the difference between CCD and CMOS (but it all revolves around sensitivity, noise and price!)

3. A wider aperture will allow you to continue shooting in lower light conditions (but then so will the use of image stabilisation) but will give you narrower DOF (which may be important to blur the BG) and faster shutters (which may be important to freeze motion)

Points 1 and 2 probably don't help you decide on a camera!
Possibly point 3 a little bit!
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Old 05-11-2010, 13:05   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

Thanks for the reply! Maybe I was missunderstaning the sensor size calcs, but when I did 1/2.33 and 1/1.63 on a calulator, the former came out smaller at 0.43 vs 0.61. Either way, the links you gave (thanks!), seem to suggest that there are pros & cons to both size and sensor type, with the being no clear winner / prefered implementation method.

I'd really like as wide an aperture as possible, to hepl in those low light situations, but I'm concerned that the lack of zoom on the compact compared to the SuperZoom will hamper me elsewhere. Back to the compromise questions!

Thanks for the advice, I'll keep digging!
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Old 05-11-2010, 14:11   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

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Originally Posted by 356Speedster View Post
I'm concerned that the lack of zoom on the compact compared to the SuperZoom will hamper me elsewhere. Back to the compromise questions!

Thanks for the advice, I'll keep digging!
Over the years I've found that wider angles are far more frequently used than long zooms. Only if you anticipate taking a lot of shots at over 35mm equivalent to 150mm will a superzoom be of real value.

I'm pretty sure that the Panasonic LX-5 has a decent optical zoom and f2 to boot.
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Old 05-11-2010, 14:30   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

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Over the years I've found that wider angles are far more frequently used than long zooms. Only if you anticipate taking a lot of shots at over 35mm equivalent to 150mm will a superzoom be of real value.

I'm pretty sure that the Panasonic LX-5 has a decent optical zoom and f2 to boot.
Well, in my example, Cam 1 was the LX-5 It's 3.8x optical zoom seemed a bit stingey and I was wondering if this would be an issue after my 10x TZ3. Although sensor & aperture advantages (maths dependant, see above!) over the SuperZooms may actually make it a better all-rounder.

I'm to try and get to a shoppe and play with a few over the next couple of weeks, so that may help focus my wondering mind.
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Old 05-11-2010, 21:07   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

Well if you are used to 10x zoom & actually use the long end of the zoom, then yep you are going to miss it. Only prob is I don't think you'll find a camera with that range of zoom. with an aperture anywhere near f2.

If you look at the pro DSLR lenses from say Nikon & Canon you are paying well over £1K for a 70-200mm lens with f/2.8 capability
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Old 05-11-2010, 22:13   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

A bigger sensor all other things being equal usually means better image quality especially at high ISO however on a compact even low ISO can be a little grainy so bigger is better in this case it's almost 1.5 x bigger so about the difference between say a D300 and D700. It also means more seperation ie. you can blur a background better but the downside is less depth of field.

Bigger is also better at high f numbers and diffraction is a real problem for small sensors. Lower megapixel count will also improve noise but obviously you lose some cropping ability or being able to print poster large.

A small zoom usually gives better image quality than a long zoom but obviously is less versatile. F2.0 vs 2.8 means you will be able to take pictures in less light than the other cameras (Double the shutter speed so 1/30th will become 1/60th etc) and it will probably be better at equicalent f-stops because it will be stopped down an extra stop.

Mos and CCD are different ways of doing the same thing. They are as broad as it's long at this size for a still camera as the amount of data coming off is not that big a deal and sensor heating isn't going to hurt much.

So the first camera will probably give better image quality and get results in lower light but be less flexible than the latter 2.

Last edited by VinnyP; 05-11-2010 at 22:40.
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Old 05-11-2010, 23:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

The physical size of the sensor doesn't determine quality as such, it is the individual photosites that do. Each individual pixel is formed by a photosite and the bigger that photosite is, the 'purer' the digital content of the overall image because the ratio between the area of the sensor covered by photosites and the area covered by the lack of photosites (ie the gaps in between) is greater.

To make it clear, here is a simple numbers way of looking at it:
If each photosite is 1 square millimetre (obviously they are nothing like that but let's keep it simple!) and there is a 1 millimetre gap separating them, you will have more area that is not photosensitive than that which is sensitive. The gaps are the places where the noise comes from so an image like that would be horrendously noisy.

So let's make the photosites 1.9mm square and the gap only 0.1mm wide. Now you will have a far greater area covered by photosites and much less gap and thus much less room for noise to cause a problem.

I have over-simplified it of course but it does make the reasoning clear I think. Let's see it at work in a real camera now:

Imagine a sensor that is APS-C size. these vary in size but we'll take an average 3:2 ratio one at 22.5mm x 15mm. We'll give that 15 megapixels.
Now take a FF sensor like the 5D MkII. The sensor is now roughly 36mm x 24mm, bigger but it has 21 megapixels.
The APS-C which is 337.5mm square has roughly 75% of the pixels of the FF sensor which is 864mm square, well over double the size. Hence the individual photosites are much bigger and the quality increases accordingly.

Right, I'm off for a lie down :o)

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 06-11-2010, 00:33   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

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Originally Posted by 356Speedster View Post
I'm to try and get to a shoppe and play with a few over the next couple of weeks, so that may help focus my wondering mind.
Maybe this will help too

http://www.pixalo.com/community/land...tml#post316989
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Old 06-11-2010, 00:38   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Sensors, F's and Zooms

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Nice! I'll definately keep an eye on that thread, cheers
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