Do Point And Shoots Have A Point?

Smartphones have become the go to camera for most people. The images they produce are stunning considering the tiny optics and small sensors that are packed into mobile entertainment devices. What does this mean for the tried and tested Point and Shoot camera? Most Point and Shoots offer Smartphone equivalent sensor sizes and megapixel counts but they set themselves apart with better optics and in some cases optical zoom lenses. Then there are Action Cameras, they take still photos too. These are 3 budget friendly options for a quick comparison.

Header
Camera Squad.

The LG G4 Smartphone, the Samsung WB350f Smart Camera, and the Optex Safari HD Action Camera (a re-branded SJCAM SJ4000). The LG and Samsung have similar sensor specs, 1/2.3″ 16MP for the Samsung, 1/2.6″ 16MP for the LG. The Safari Action Camera claims to have a 2/3″12mp sensor but it actually has a 3MP sensor. If you choose 12MP the images are the same resolution but it creates bigger files. Ok enough tech talk, lets look at some pictures. All shots are unedited out of camera JPEG files.

In daylight these 3 cameras produce wildly different results. The LG (left) defaults to HDR in bright light producing dreamlike images with tons of colour. The image is sharp and fairly clean. The Samsung (middle) overexposes in bright light. The colours are a little on the yellow side and the details aren’t as crisp as the G4. The Safari Action Camera (right) looks like security camera footage. Grainy, dull, unimpressive. That being said with a little post processing they make very usable files for Instagram. Winner – LG G4.

Indoors with mixed lighting the results are a bit closer. The LG (left) and Samsung (middle) do a decent job with the exposure but the G4 pulls out a lot more detail in the shadows. If you open the images and look at the detail on the wall tile you can see how much better the G4 renders it. The Safari Cam (right) puts out a lot of noise, colour fringing around the windows, and muted colours. Winner – LG G4.

In harsh lighting situations the LG (left) picks up good detail in the shadows while controlling the exposure in the bight areas. The detail in the copper lead is quite good and the colours are accurate. The Samsung (middle) handles this situation well. The shadow detail is very good but the light areas are slightly over exposed. It loses some detail on the copper lead as well. The Safari Cam (right) actually does a nice job with the tricky exposure here. Too bad the colours are washed out and that 3MP sensor doesn’t give much detail. Winner – LG G4

Macro shooting is something a lot of cameras struggle with. The LG (left) produces sharp details and a nice shallow depth of field with its f/1.8 lens. The Samsung (middle) is an impressive macro shooter. It produces great detail and it focuses faster than the laser autofocusing G4. The Safari Cam (right) doesn’t do macro, not even a little bit. Winner – Samsung WB350f.

Shooting in low light is a gamble with all three cameras. The LG is good for city lights and dim restaurants but the LED flash is weak. The Samsung is awful in low light, anything over ISO400 is a disaster but the built in flash makes up for it in indoor situations. The Safari Cam should stay home at night. There’s no winner here, so much so that photos aren’t necessary. If you shoot in low light do some research and spend some money.

The clear winner here is the LG G4. Does this mean that Point and Shoot cameras are pointless? That’s a tough question to answer. Entry level Point and Shoot cameras are fairly pointless but spend a few extra dollars and you get a decent zoom like the Samsung WB350f. 21x optical zoom on its small sensor is equivalent to 483mm in 35mm terms. That’s impressive. What does this mean to the average traveler or casual shooter? It means wildlife photography and cool telephoto shots are possible with a camera that fits in your pants pocket.

All of these cameras are still available but there are newer models with higher specs and different features being released regularly. There are also similar devices available from dozens of manufacturers. The choice comes down to your personal tastes. Can you get by without a big zoom? If so most modern Smartphones will be all the camera you need. Do you want a little more control and like the options a zoom lens gives you? If you do then a Point and Shoot with a decent zoom might be for you. If you do a lot of action sports and take HD video the Safari Cam is a great choice, easily keeping pace with much more expensive Action Cameras in video quality. It doesn’t really have the goods to replace your Smartphone or Point and Shoot camera for still images though.

If you like what you see here please share and comment below!

Scott.

Disclaimer – I didn’t include an iPhone in this test because the images they produce are very underwhelming. I know some people have very strong opinions about the iPhone and that’s ok. I have a 6 Plus which does a decent job in most situation but the G4 is noticeably better.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Review – Soda Stream Source

Carbonated water is awesome. No really, it is. As someone who has recently abstained from alcohol it has been a great replacement for the ubiquitous after work beer I enjoyed on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes you just want something cold and carbonated. Pop (soda for my American friends) is loaded with sugar among other things so using it as a beer substitute is a horrible idea.

IMG_1049

I started drinking San Pellegrino in place of my favourite alcoholic beverages but I was uncomfortable with the amount of glass I was pumping into my recycling bin. I was also not keen that Nestle owns San Pellegrino. Bottled still water is among the most pointless, wasteful things in modern society. I’d heard of Soda Stream and decided it was worth a try. I picked up the Source model at my local London Drugs on sale for $99.99, regularly $129.99.

IMG_1054

Setup was a breeze. There are no cords, it is powered by a Co2 canister and only uses a built in battery to light the LED carbonation level indicator. It includes the machine, one Co2 canister good for 60L of carbonated water, and a carbonating bottle. I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t read ALL of the instructions and I missed the part about the fill line on the bottle. Let’s just say it made a bit of a puddle on my counter. After filling the bottle to the proper level the Source worked flawlessly. All three carbonation levels are noticeably different and consistently delivered.

IMG_1050
Co2 canister.

I may or may not try the flavours Soda Stream offers but I purchased it to replace store bought carbonated water and it does the trick. 750ml San Pellegrino costs $1.50-$2.00 per bottle, it doesn’t seem like a lot but it adds up and the glass saved is worth the initial investment. Over the long run this will be cheaper and better for the planet. Plus our tap water in Greater Vancouver is some of the best in the world and I’d much rather drink it than Italian fizz.

Scott.

Wellington Photo Roundup

It’s been 3 months since I was in New Zealand and this is my first post about Wellington. I connected with Wellington in a way I can’t explain. These are few photos I took, I hope you like them. I honestly can’t find the words to express what Wellington meant to me.

"Solace In The Wind."
“Solace In The Wind.”
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel's Cafe
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel’s Cafe
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
Rain on Cuba Street
Rain on Cuba Street
Free range balloon.
Free range balloon.
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Street Art.
Street Art.
The Bucket Fountain.
The Bucket Fountain.

Project Pocket Camera Is Finished!

I’m sure most of you know I’m a camera hoarder. I prefer to think of myself as a rescuer of vintage cameras. I have some wonderful old film cameras that get used and appreciated instead of ending up in a landfill. Film is a bit of work, it is getting expensive to buy and process, and it sucks to travel with. My digital lineup used to include a Pentax DSLR but late last year I sold it and committed to the Fujifilm X series. My first “real” camera was the Fujifilm X-A1, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It was the camera that sparked my interest in photography. It had its limitations, the biggest being the lack of a viewfinder. After I picked up my Pentax DSLR the X-A1 didn’t see a lot of action. When I sold the Pentax I bought a Fujifilm X-T10, the little X-A1 was always around though. It was a gift and I couldn’t bring myself to sell it.

IMG_1027

A few weeks ago Fujifilm announced some new hardware. The XPro 2, the X-E2s (I also owned an X-E1 briefly which I loved), the X70, and the XF 100-400mm zoom lens. The X70 got me thinking about my X-A1, I could essentially make a pocketable fixed focus camera with similar specs for a lot less money. Project Pocket Camera was born. I purchased the Fujinon XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens from London Drugs and stuck it to my X-A1. It fits in a coat pocket and takes fantastic photos. The X70 is $899 new, my X-A1 setup is around $200 less. $250 for a used body, $399 for the lens, and $50-$60 for the optical viewfinder I found in the Ukraine. Do you need the viewfinder? No, but it sure is cool.

IMG_1031

The image quality this package delivers is outstanding. The 27mm focal length works out to 40.5mm in full frame terms given the crop factor of the APSC sensor. I’ve seen a few people complain that this lens doesn’t have an aperture ring. It would be nice but the rear control dial does the trick in aperture priority mode.

IMG_3349
Granville Street at night
The f2.8 aperture is fast enough for most low light situations. The X series is decent up to ISO 6400 with minimal noise, even when shooting jpegs.

Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
I have a few X series lenses, the 16-55mm kit zoom, the XF 35mm f1.4 (which is dreamy), and the 55-230mm zoom. The 27mm is impressive and versatile, it is well suited to travel and street photography, and the autofocus is fast and accurate. The X-A1 is a prefect companion for this lens, the rest of my lenses do the heavy lifting on my X-T10.

Winter in Vancouver.
Winter in Vancouver.
To be honest if money was no object I’d have bought an X70 instead. This setup is a compromise but the results have exceeded my expectations and my X-A1 has found a new purpose.

raw test 1

Stay tuned for more photography related pieces in the future. When the weather clears up I have some projects I want to tackle. I have a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix coming up and I’m hoping to get into the heart of the BC back country this summer.

IMG_3302

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @wflbc.

Scott.