Four Noteable Upcoming Compact Cameras: Canon S100 / Olympus SP-810UZ / Fuji X10 and X-S1

FINALLY, some interesting compact cameras have been announced.

Lately, I’ve been recommending the Olympus SP-810UZ to those who want to have some fun with a super long zoom lens, but it’s also able to shoot fairly wide:

Olympus announces SP-810UZ with the world’s longest zoom lens

Olympus has announced the SP-810UZ superzoom with a 36x (24-864mm equiv.) zoom lens – the world’s longest optical zoom in a compact camera. Successor to the SP-800UZ, the SP-810UZ also boasts a 14MP CCD sensor, 3.0″ LCD and 720p HD video recording. Also included are a 3D capture mode, AF Tracking and Magic Filters including a new ‘reflection’ effect. Priced at $329.99, the camera will start shipping from September 2011.

Olympus’ website shows it’s still not available and it’s already October.

It’s impossible for a camera with a sensor this small and a lens with a zoom range this large to get super high quality resolution, but it will be good enough for many. This camera also won’t shoot in RAW format, which I’ve discussed.

And it’s also not pocketable, because of the super long lens, and weighs about a pound with battery. But this should be an incredibly fun camera, considering how far this lens will reach, and at f/5.7 when fully extended to 864mm, I should add. It ranges from f/2.9-5.7, of which f/5.7 is phenomenal for a lens this long and lightweight! This will make it easier to get handheld, sharp shots even at 864mm, in daylight anyway; though, it will require steady shooting, slowly moving only your trigger finger — aided with the help of the gyros doing the internal stabilization thing.

It is only possible to make a lens to be 36X and this small because the sensor is so small.

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And Canon has finally announced the successor to the S90 and S95 cameras, the S100 [Canon was slowed down by the earthquake/Fukushima disaster]. I’m glad to see the lens starts at 24mm, which has been my main wish for it. It also zooms longer than it has — yay!:

New 24-120mm (equivalent) f/2.0-5.9 lens; S95 lens is 28-105mm (equivalent) f/2.0-4.9

DPReview has this great overview and this hands-on review.

The S100 may be the ultimate pocketable camera (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. at 7 ounces); though, many would prefer to carry it in a pouch. This will probably have fairly good image quality, like its predecessors; though, we won’t know for sure until we see the test reviews. And it will shoot in RAW.

The biggest drawback will be the lens’ small f/5.9 aperture when the lens is fully zoomed. But this is a necessary tradeoff in order for the lens to be tiny and fully retractable into the body.

It will probably be available fairly soon and in the +$400 range.

There are many cameras just as small and even smaller, but probably none that will have this high of image quality, nor will they be able to shoot in RAW, which anyone who is serious about image quality should consider:

Why I ONLY Shoot RAW — “Friends don’t let friends shoot JPEG” — Why throw all those pixels away? You may want them someday.

More Reasons to Shoot Photos in RAW

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Fuji has announced two cameras that I’m not as familiar with, but sound promising, especially for their probably higher image quality, because of the larger sensor (though it’s still smaller than micro 4/3rds, which is smaller than Canon/Nikon’s smallest DSLR sensor). If you’re more than just a casual shooter and don’t need a camera that will fit in a pocket, these might be for you.

This was just announced yesterday:

Fujifilm unveils X-S1 high-end superzoom and confirms Mirrorless intentions

Fujifilm has announced the X-S1 high-end superzoom and confirmed its intention to build a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The X-S1 is an addition to the company’s X-series and is built around the same 2/3” EXR CMOS sensor as the recently announced X10. Meanwhile, company president and CEO Shigetaka Komori said it will create a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera built around a larger sensor with ‘resolution and low noise [that] will surpass the 35mm full size sensor.’ We’re not taking this to mean it will be a full-frame camera. The X-S1 features a 26x, 24-624mm equivalent F2.8-5.3 zoom and will be available from early 2012.

This will probably have significantly higher image quality than the 36X Olympus mentioned above (if you want to make a larger than small sized print, for example); though, a zoom with this range can still only be so sharp.

And the 624mm zoom length of this lens will also be a major blast to shoot if you like shooting really long lenses.

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Some photographers are really excited about this camera. It has the larger sensor (larger than the Canon s100 and G12, and the Panasonic LX5, but smaller than M43 and DSLR sensors), and I would really like the improved dynamic range option (which can keep detail in the brightest mountain and the dark shadows, but at the cost of megapixels). But I tend to rule out cameras that start at above 24mm in their field of view. I like to shoot wide, and to me, 24mm is so much nicer than 28mm. But 28mm is a great improvement over the earlier 35 and 38mm lenses.

Fujifilm announces X10 high-end enthusiast compact

Fujifilm has unveiled the X10 – an enthusiast compact with a F2.0-2.8, 28-112mm-equivalent lens. It’s built around a 2/3″ (6.6 x 8.8mm) CMOS sensor that uses Fujifilm’s EXR pixel arrangement. The 12MP sensor can produce either 12MP images in high resolution mode, under-expose half its pixels to provide 6MP images with greater dynamic range, or combine neighboring pixels for a 6MP high sensitivity mode. The X10 borrows extensively from the styling of the X100 (though its zooming viewfinder means you lose the X100’s hybrid viewfinder), to give a camera that sits conceptually between the Olympus XZ-1 and the Canon Powershot G12.

I think the X10 will be priced about about $700. Not sure.

UPDATE from DPReview.com…:

Valhalla, N.Y., October 7, 2011 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation said today that the all new premium compact FUJIFILM X10 digital camera first announced on September 1, 2011, will have a retail price of $599.95 and will be available in early November.

Building on the tremendous success of the sophisticated FUJIFILM X100 digital camera, the new premium compact FUJIFILM X10 is the latest addition to the growing FUJIFILM X-series of advanced digital cameras.

The FUJIFILM X10 features a new larger 2/3” 12 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor and a bright high-definition FUJINON1 F2.0 wide-angle to F2.8 telephoto 4x manual zoom lens (28-112mm)2  that produces superb image quality from edge to edge. The FUJIFILM X10 has a beautiful blackout and retro design that includes a traditional optical viewfinder with a wide 20° field of view for exceptional image composition. For more information, go to http://fujifilm-x.com/x10/en/.

If the X10 would start at 24mm, I would be more excited about it, but I should also point out that it also has a very fast lens throughout its range, which is unique for a compact, f/2.0 – 2.8!!! This is actually a really big deal. Shooting indoors, fully extended at 112mm would be so easy with a lens this fast. The Canon S100 would be so much slower. The X10 would be a good indoor concert camera.

The X10 is quite a bit bigger and heavier than the Canon S100, mainly due to the larger sensor, which requires a larger lens that also does not retract into the body. The larger sensor with the same amount of pixels as the S100’s means larger pixels that translate into less noise and higher image quality especially in low light.

The X10 is probably an enthusiast’s camera that is probably state of the art in this sensor and body size.

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Of all of these, the only camera I’d personally be interested in would be the Canon 100S, because it’s so pocketable and starts wide at 24mm, but I’ll have to see the specs to see how good the image quality is with the higher MP sensor (2MP more) and greater ranged zoom lens. I’m still using the Panasonic LX5, which I’ve stated before is kind of quirky (Canons are more user friendly), and isn’t as small.

This is my favorite LX5 shot, the only one of which I plan on making a fairly large print of. This is also an example of the beauty of a very compact camera. I couldn’t have gotten this shot without having the camera on me. This was spur of the moment…

Once a full review of the S100 comes out, I’ll probably blog on it here.

I’m not interested in the Fuji X10 because I’m also now using the Olympus PEN E-P3 for higher end semi-compact shooting. It has interchangeable lenses (like an SLR but without the mirror and with a smaller sensor) that allow me to shoot much wider (including in fisheye) and much longer, but not as long as the top dog at the start of this article.

Most of the shots I’ve posted in the last two months were shot with the E-P3, but it’s too big to always carry.

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One last thing

Technology is still changing fairly rapidly. We’re still seeing major improvements almost every year. In the old days, Kodak Instamatics were really inexpensive, but the price of film and developing really added up. Nowadays, all of the cameras above probably have rechargeable batteries, so once you have a memory card and camera shooting images is practically free.

It was probably more expensive to shoot Instamatics years ago than to shoot these higher end compacts even when upgraded every few years — especially when we consider how much more the dollar was worth then.

These are really bargain prices for what we get.

Related:

Olympus SP-810UZ Zoom Test — World’s longest zoom lens really reaching out there from 24 – 864 mm!

More compact camera buying (and shooting) info

DPReview compares Canon’s G12 to its predecessor and the competition | And updates the Nikon P7000 test results after firmware 1.1′s release

[videos] Charlie Waite: Watch what can be done with a compact camera | The LX5 to replace my G11?


2 thoughts on “Four Noteable Upcoming Compact Cameras: Canon S100 / Olympus SP-810UZ / Fuji X10 and X-S1

    1. I think the main question is the lens. Will they be able to pull off a lens that goes wider and longer and still be able to fully retract into the ~1-inch body and still be sharp enough?

      My guess is they’ll succeed, and at wide angle, it will have some fairly serious barrel distortion that they’ll mostly be able to correct with software. But if we shoot in RAW and have the right software, photographers may be able to pull off greater than 24mm images that are barrel distorted, that sometimes works.

      The 2MP increase is nice for printing big, and to be able to crop at higher rez, but I would rather they increase the dynamic range and ISO quality by keeping the pixels the same size.

      The G10 had the same sized sensor and 15MP. They got a lot of complaints, so the G11 and G12 are 10MP.

      With the latest technology, they should be able to pull off 12MP fairly easily (not getting a decrease in performance compared to the S95), but it’s probably more for marketing, since many think that more MPs are better, which is often not the case.

      jeff

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