What is the role of an “enthusiast” compact camera?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by blue box, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. blue box

    blue box New to FujiXspot

    4
    Feb 20, 2013
    It may be better to “say” too little, than too much.

    The Fujifilm FinePix compact X cameras (i.e. cameras with a fixed lense), at face value, seem to be a paradox in development. From my experience, compact cameras tend to have a design focus on utility through minimum size, shape, weight, and/or function. The performance of such a compact camera may be considered an afterthought and luxury. In contrast, interchangeable lense cameras tends to have a design focus on performance through maximum image quality, ergonomics (e.g. balance, leverage, control accessibility, ..., etc.), adaptability (e.g. varying environments, lighting conditions, subject matter, accessories, ..., etc.), and/or function. The cost of a gain in compact utility tends to result in a loss of greater performance (vice versa). In general, a paradox of the compact X cameras, and other “enthusiast” compact cameras like them, seems to be a designs that focus on both compact utility and greater performance, to varying degrees of priority.

    For those that value camera performance, does the compact utility of enthusiast compact cameras validate a potential lack of greater performance (e.g. the flexibility of an interchangeable lense system)? Perhaps, the function of these enthusiast compact cameras is at least (and not at most) sufficient for their intended purpose(s).

    Before answering this question, try to imagine a compact cameras like the Fujifilm X20, XF1 and X-S1, with the feature of compact interchangeable lense and sensor units similar to those of the Ricoh GXR system. As I imagine it, not only could a person have the choice of a specific compact lense and sensor unit, but (conditionally) the choice of a compact camera body to combine it with!

    I hope that “just enough” has been written in this thread, rather than too much or too little. Thank you for reading.
     
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  2. carlb

    carlb FujiXspot Veteran

    268
    Feb 6, 2013
    twin cities, minnesota
    Carl
    The role of an enthusiast's camera is to pique the interest of a rather discerning subset of amateur, mid-budget photographers just enough to make a lot of sales among them. :)

    "... does the compact utility of enthusiast compact cameras validate a potential lack of greater performance (e.g. the flexibility of an interchangeable lense system)? Perhaps, the function of these enthusiast compact cameras is at least (and not at most) sufficient for their intended purpose(s)."

    Yup! And every individual in the "enthusiast" group will have a different level image quality and/or shallowness-of-field-capability they're willing to sacrifice to get a particular feature set at a particular price.

    For me, an X10 or X20 is so very tempting, but I haven't jumped at them because I just want a few more "bokeh" opportunities than these cameras can offer.

    There's a thread on forum which is showing more than a little interest in a 1" sensor size, larger than X10-X20 type camera with a sharp, big aperture diameter, fixed zoom. Just large enough sensor and fast enough lens to get some decent portrait bokeh would be the tipping point for "oooh! I gotta have that even if it's too dang expensive!" :)
     
  3. snkenai

    snkenai FujiXspot Regular

    57
    Jan 31, 2013
    Campbellsville, KY
    To get the best image possible, with the smallest, usable package. (KISS., Keep It Simple Stupid) :)
     
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  4. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    855
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Steve nailed it right there. And everyone has their own variation of tradeoffs in terms of best image, smallest, usable, etc.
     
  5. blue box

    blue box New to FujiXspot

    4
    Feb 20, 2013
    I do not disagree with any of the responses to the question(s) posed in the opening post.

    The remark about interest in 2.7 crop, 1 inch sensors in compact cameras, gained my interest. If such a compact camera were to exist would you prefer an all-in-one camera body and sensor unit (i.e. like the Sony RX100) or a “modular” camera body and sensor package (i.e. like the Nikon 1 series)? In addition, assume that the only difference between the two types of camera is that the modular compact camera may only be slightly less compact (depending on the type of lense that is attached) than its all-in-one alternative.

    “To get the best image possible, with the smallest, usable package. (KISS., Keep It Simple Stupid)”

    This is a decent, obvious goal. I agree with both Luke and Steve. I agree with Luke that trade-offs are relative to the photographer.

    One reason as to why I began this thread, was to gain perspective on why a photographer (of any level os skill) would choose an all-in-one, enthusiast compact camera over a comparable camera with interchangeable lense (and perhaps, sensor) units. Although the first camera may gain the advantage as an all-in-one package, the second camera gains the advantage as an all-in-one functionality through a lense system.

    I feel that the Luke’s mention of trade-offs is a good start to gaining some perspective.

    Again, thank you for reading (and adding to this discussion).

    Good night and good luck!
     
  6. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    525
    Feb 1, 2013
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    If you push me into a corner, put a gun to my head and force me to choose, I'll personally go with the integrated lens, camera body and sensor if we're talking about a compact. But there are enough enthusiasts out there to justify making both kinds of cameras based on the same product development.

    In truth, it is all about the best image quality in the smallest, usable package. But exactly what that formula is depends on the individual. Which is why there is room for many variations on that theme in the marketplace.
     
  7. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx FujiXspot Regular Subscribing Member

    94
    Feb 4, 2013
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    When I moved to digital a dozen years ago, my first camera was one of the original enthusiast cameras - the Canon Powershot G2. It had the features I thought I wanted: a pretty complete set of manual controls, tilt/swivel screen, OVF, and something called RAW to capture the best possible images. And I loved it!

    Even with forays into DSLR and MFT, I find myself returning to my roots when I leave the house with a camera; the X10 is usually the tool of choice, with the X100 not far behind. Yes, I'm giving up some potential image quality, but I wind up with more photos in more places than I would have if lugging a multi-lens system.

    So far me the role of an enthusiast compact is: primary camera.
     
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  8. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Premium compacts are bought by people who want to have something "nice", above average, with good design and build-quality. Those people don't often know much about photography. Enthusiasts do (or think they do), that's why they read and write in forums, study reviews and peep pixels. However, enthusiasts are a small minority (but a very vocal one, because taking pictures their hobby or even passion).

    When a camera maker targets a new model to enthusiasts, it is basically to communicate that this camera offers superior (as in above average) durability, design, quality and performance. It also relays that the camera is good enough to please passionate, knowledgable customers. However, the majority of customer who actually buy such cameras have neither passion for nor knowledge of photography. They simply want to point & shoot at special occasions, just like the majority of APS-C DSLR users do. They want the camera to take the pictures, they don't care about RAW, Lightroom, post-processing and whatnot.

    According to Japanese online market reserach, 71% of X100 users and 63% of X10 users subscribe to at least one of these statements: “Don’t have special knowledge about camera”, “Only for snap shots”, “Only take photos on special occasions”. Only 18% of X100 and 24% of X10 buyers consider themselves "photo enthusiasts with technical knowledge who go out to take photos". It's interesting that in Japan, the X100 is appealing more to point&shoot non-enthusiasts than the X10, isn't it? Who'd have thought?

    Now fasten your seat belts: "Image quality" is NOT part of the 5 top reasons why Japanese X100 users bought their camera. Instead, these reasons are, in order of importance: "quality design", "able to use for a long time", "detailed exterior", "operation specialized for taking photos" and "made in Japan". Even among existing DLSR users who also bought a X100, "image and lens quality" only comes in at rank 5, behind "quality design", "hybrid viewfinder", "clear view finder" and "APS-C sensor". Go figure!

    So what's the role of an "enthusiast" camera? Certainly not to be bought only by enthusiasts, as this would bankrupt a camera maker in short time. It may be targeted to enthusiasts, but it will be bought by someone else. Someone who doesn't know much about photography and who doesn't really care about IQ. Someone who likes something that looks nice and durable, that makes him "feel good" and "look good".
     
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  9. carlb

    carlb FujiXspot Veteran

    268
    Feb 6, 2013
    twin cities, minnesota
    Carl
    Ah, but the "upscale family shots guy" will care if his camera is disparaged for having less than great image quality. So the camera companies have to design it in, regardless that the majority of buyers won't know image quality if it bites them. :)
     
  10. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    That's why Fujifilm needs great reviews, but not in forums, but from non-specialized media outlets with large audiences. Unfortunately, those outlets have a tendency of being clueless, either. For example, Germany's largest testing publication has just concluded that the IQ of an X-E1 with 18-55mm zoom is inferior to the IQ of a Nikon 1 (yes, seriously!) and pretty much every other current mirrorless camera or DSLR.

    This article alone will result in thousands of X-E1 cameras and lenses NOT being sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, because for those 60-70% non-enthusiasts, it's the law. Many will probably buy a Nikon 1, instead, and they will be convinced that they get better IQ out of it than with a X-E1.
     
  11. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    855
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    it's been 25 years since I took a class in German, but the phrase "das ist aber schade" still resides in my head.
     
  12. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto FujiXspot Regular

    38
    Feb 2, 2013
    Answer: Whatever the photographer wants it to be.

    An "enthusiast compact camera" can be a point-and-shoot for family vacation photos or a serious tool used in a studio setting to craft images for publication. Heck, a few years ago some of the photographers for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue used Canon G-series compacts for a handful of the images that ran in that issue.

    The X10, X20, X100 and X100s fixed lens cameras can be as much, or as little, as the photographer who uses them wants them to be ... within reason.
     
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  13. EBC Wilson

    EBC Wilson FujiXspot Regular

    100
    Feb 20, 2013
    For me, an enthusiast camera is for someone who knows what they're doing, uses the camera IQ and their own creativity and knowledge. Content-wise, it's between a point+shoot and a professional camera. Canon for instance: They make lots of digital Elphs, then up to the towering EOS D1x: In between, the G-series PowerShots: Too complicated for Aunt Martha, but fine for a EOS shooter who needs a back-up, go fishing camera for casual days. In our case, I passed on the perfectly good Fujifilm F-series point and shoots for an X10.

    Now this is compromised these days as it's easy to put whatever the camera is on the FULL AUTO stop and hand it to your uncle (look how many bundled Canon Digital Rebel sets are sold thru Costco or Target), but the question is, 'Would You?'. My better half is thrilled with her Canon P+S, yet wants NO part of shooting with my X10 or X-S, even if I set it to EXR Auto. It's too intimidating (she's NOT a shooter). Hmmmm . . . . . maybe THAT's the definition of an Enthusiast Camera, could you hand it to Aunt Martha for pictures next Christmas ? If the answer is Yes, maybe it's not an enthusiast camera.
     
  14. hellwill

    hellwill FujiXspot Rookie

    19
    Feb 5, 2013
    William Heller
    For me, life (and work) gets in the way of the system option. If I could, I'd take a DSLR with a 35mm or 50mm lens and a 100mm lens with me everywhere (the kind of pictures I like to take call out for both--and more). I cannot, however: when I travel, I travel light, and carting around a DSLR and lenses would be too much. Maybe a four-thirds, but a) they are still pretty big (too big, for me) with a zoom lens; b) carrying around two or more primes looks to me like it would start to approach the problem DSLRs have with bulk. Sure the four-thirds bodies are pretty small, but most of the lenses are not all that compact. So, a relatively compact P&S with high IQ is the clear attractive option. Also, I like zoom lenses because they allow for *quick* adjustment to shot opportunities, where changing lenses can mean opportunities lost.
     
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  15. Nic

    Nic FujiXspot Regular

    118
    Feb 5, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    The main advantage I see to a fixed-lens compact is that when the lens mount and contacts are taken away the lens can collapse into the body and be more compact for storage. There are also arguments that you can specifically design a sensor to suit a lens, but that doesn't explain how interchangeable lens camera are no less capable of taking technically excellent images. The traditional divide has always been that a fixed-lens camera has a small sensor and is relatively cheap, and an ILC has a larger sensor and is more expensive. That divide doesn't exist any more so you don't have to accept the compromises of a small sensor with a fixed lens camera, or spend a lot of money to get a great ILC. My fixed lens "enthusiast compact" (Canon G1X) actually has a bigger sensor than my main interchangeable lens system (Micro 4/3)!
     
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  16. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. FujiXspot Veteran

    409
    Jan 31, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    For me it's about having a camera small enough to take anywhere that will give me files of a quality I can use without hesitation. People will have different ideas on each of those criteria, but at the moment the X10 covers them for me.
     
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  17. blue box

    blue box New to FujiXspot

    4
    Feb 20, 2013
    Knowledge is power!

    A camera companies marketing research and perspectives, does answer a lot of what I asked in the title of the opening post, and the question in it. That and the practice of "Keeping it Sweet and Simple", helps explain how my Fuji camera came to be.

    I appreciate the insight regarding the utility of the X compact cameras. Although either a X10 or X20, would not be my first choice of camera, they look fun and engaging to use (and not too much of a hassle). The aspects of fun, engaging, and hassle have been important to me. I cannot take complete responsibility for the image quality of the pictures I create (or record).

    However, I am sure a lot of it cannot be attributed to the camera (perhaps, this debatable).

    Once again, thank you for a decent discussion.
     
  18. blue box

    blue box New to FujiXspot

    4
    Feb 20, 2013
    I agree with the feedback from JJJPhoto, EBC Wilson, hellwill, and Nic. I have seen (not in print, as I recognized it at the time) what appear to be great pictures made from compact cameras. Although the camera recorded those pictures, and acted as an interface between a lense(s) and a person, it was a photographer that created those pictures.

    Cameras don't create pictures! It is the person using the camera that creates the pictures (this may be debatable for some)!
     
  19. The_Prof

    The_Prof FujiXspot Rookie

    22
    Feb 7, 2013
    The issue - for me, at least - is that the added functionality of interchangeable lenses comes with the costs of added complexity and bulk.

    I currently have three cameras vying for my go-to shooter - Panasonic GX1, Pentax Q, and X10 (at least when the X10 gets back from the shop).

    In terms of quality and flexibility, the GX1 wins hands-down - more native lenses, at higher quality, and lots of flexibility. Unfortunately, while I can still fit a 'shooting kit' that covers most situations - the Panasonic 20mm 1/7 and Zuiko 40-150mm - into a compact camera bag, and I can get fast-reaction shots by leaving the 20mm mounted, anything more and I have to find a place where I can stop and switch lenses. And by then, the moment's usually over.

    The Q is even smaller and lighter, and even more fun to shoot with; the GX1 has a nice set of manual controls, but the Q's are a little nicer, and the light weight and decent grip make it a joy to aim and shoot. I can carry a more flexible kit in a smaller bag - C-mount cine lenses are an even better fit for the Q than for M4/3, and you can fit several of them into a small kit bag. Its main weakness is image quality from the small sensor... but aside from that, it shares the same convenience issues as the GX1 - you can leave the 'normal' prime mounted for instant shots, but anything beyond that requires time and space to assemble your combo, and by then the setting sun may have dipped below that tree you found so arresting.

    A compact camera can be carried around in a pocket - no kit to assemble and carry around. It can be ready to shoot as quickly as anything... and ready with its full capability, without having to stop and switch lenses. And a good 'enthusiast' compact can give you that convenience with something approaching the image quality and shooting control of the more serious ILC's.