A funny thing happened on the way to the Camera shop.

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Computing, General, Movies/TV/Music

A while back I posted about picking up a Fuji Finepix F30 and how great the camera was, even compared to newer cameras. I don’t know what happened, but the camera ended up broken and couldn’t be recovered. Although I was tempted to get another, instead I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1. The Lumix is waterproof and was supposed to have excellent low-light capabilities.

Although on paper the camera does seem to be quite good, the photos just never look all that great. We still use it from time-to-time, but now that Cara and I have the iPhone 4, it’s rare that we need it. To be honest, even the Canon Rebel rarely gets used (and it takes great photos).

So recently I’ve started to think about finding a good low-light camera again (I know I’m a little daft about cameras). The fact is, the iPhone is decent, actually its quite good, but it’s not great. So I began my research again.

One of the issues with current cameras is that as the pixel density (i.e. the megapixels) has increased, the amount of light that each pixel receives is reduced. The F30 was only 6MP (which is actually fewer pixels than the iPhone4), but the sensor is more than 0.37″ (compared to the 0.18″ sensor for the iPhone). A large sensor means more area for the light to hit, which means better low light (for comparison the Canon Digital Rebel has just over a 1″ sensor so there’s no comparison there.).

A recent article I read heralds the Finepix F80 EXR as a nice successor to the F30 that I loved, and the best current-generation point-and-shoot for low light photography. At higher ISO the camera reduces its pixel density to capture more light, which sounds like a great feature. Unfortunately the quantitative results aren’t nearly as great. First off the sensor on the F80 is actually significantly smaller than the F30 (0.31″ which is about 80% of the size), and the real world examples bear out that if you look at something like f30 vs f80 comparison or this comparison.

So the long and the short of it is… the F30 is still the superior camera when it comes to shooting low light with a point-and-shoot camera. Not bad for a camera that was released half a decade ago.

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