Please help: I want to throw my Optio S4i away!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. Few months ago I've received a Pentax Optio S4i as a gift and, after several
    attempts to allow it to satisfy me, must raise white flag: pictures are to
    the limit of decency (I am not a so-called power-user, but neither a dumb,
    and I am not able to get out of this aesthetically-wonderful gadget one only
    picture which hasn't an enormous amount of noise).

    I admit I'm not Cartier-Bresson, but, from a camera with such
    characteristics (and price), I expected much more.

    Now I'm tired, and I want to replace it, and, after lurking for a while and
    reading many reviews, I have limited the lot to Canon Digital IXUS 40
    (PowerShot SD300) (which is the one I prefer), Panasonic DMC-FX2, Casio
    Exilim EX-Z40, and, at the bottom of my list, Nikon 4200.

    The characteristics I'm looking for are:

    - very compact

    - SD storage expansion (I just took a 1GB one and would like to use it)

    - good quality both in inside and outside shots

    - good performances in non-optimal light conditions

    - quite simple to use, but with possibility for learning (if it allows a
    little manual settings, I would appreciate)

    I had also considered the Canon IXUS 430 (PowerShot S410) with SD->CF
    adapter (but what are the differences with IXUS 40 besides the storage type
    and the lower dimensions?).

    Thanks to whoever can help me.
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
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  2. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    jay Guest

    I have the Nikon 4200. I bought it this June is a bit of a rush since I had
    a Family vacation to Yellowstone coming the next week.

    very compact
    - YES - Easy in a shirt pocket.

    SD storage expansion (I just took a 1GB one and would like to use it)
    - YES I have a 256 card and it fits about 145 pics.

    good quality both in inside and outside shots
    - OK. Its our family point-n-shoot. works well and is fairly fast.

    good performances in non-optimal light conditions
    - Had a few issues here, but not too bad. I think I need to learn some
    of the modes beyond plain automatic.

    quite simple to use, but with possibility for learning (if it allows a
    little manual settings, I would appreciate)
    - Maybe too simple with not a enough manual control? I haven't played
    with all modes yet.
    But I like the fact its simple, fairly fast, and easy.
    jay, Nov 1, 2004
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  3. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Alan Meyer Guest

    The first thing I would do is find out if something is wrong
    a) with the camera, b) with the settings you're using on the
    camera or c) with your technique.

    It is possible that the camera you have can be fixed or, even
    better, you will discover a way to use it that doesn't generate
    so much noise.

    Show the images to some people who know something. If you
    don't know anyone in that category, then post them on the
    web somewhere with links to here - maybe one of
    the experts on this group can diagnose the problem.

    Also go to one of the photo sites that has pictures from
    an S4i and compare them to yours. If theirs look better
    than yours, then either your camera is defective (and may
    be repairable under warranty), or you are using incorrect
    settings that you can change.

    It would be a shame to give up on what might be a
    good quality camera without fully checking it out.
    Don't count on using an SD->CF converter unless you or
    someone you know has tried it in the camera you're thinking
    of. The combination might not fit in the camera or work
    with it.

    I have most often seen those converters used with card
    readers, where dimensions don't matter, not cameras.

    Alan Meyer, Nov 1, 2004
  4. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    BG250 Guest

    If noise is your primary concern, you may not be happy with any of them.
    Save and get a dSLR.
    BG250, Nov 1, 2004
  5. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
    mi ritrovai per un NG oscuro
    quando, tutt'a un tratto, jay tuonò:
    Thank you for your help: I'll look at Nikon with more attention.
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
  6. It's probably my technique too...:)
    But I've read lots of reviews (dpreview, Steve's digicam, etc.) and most of
    them are disappointed by this camera.
    I've seen some shots at Steve's and they're noisy too (and I think they're
    more professional than me).
    As soon as I upload somewhere some shots I've taken, I'll post here the link
    (I trust this NG).
    Thank you
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
  7. Ok, I know, but it's not a problem of money: I just need a small compact
    camera with good performances; and I've seen better shots from a
    PowershotA20 than from my S4i.
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
  8. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Alan Meyer Guest

    Here are some more comments on noise:

    1. Noise tends to disappear if an image is printed small, but be magnified
    if the image is printed large. So, if what you see on screen is much larger
    than your printouts, you can at least be reassured that the prints won't
    look as bad.

    2. The less light there is for a given image, the more noise there will
    be. The reason is that the signal must be amplified more to reproduce
    the original luminosity. Amplification amplifies both noise and signal
    equally. Since noise is a fixed quantity caused by random motion of
    electrons, if the signal is small, the noise will get larger along with
    the rest of the image when the signal is highly amplified to make it
    visible. It's the same phenomenon as "snow" on a TV screen when
    a weak TV signal must be overamplified to make it visible. The "snow"
    (or "static" in a radio) is thermal noise - random movement of electrons
    caused by the heat in the circuit.

    Therefore, anything that reduces the total amount of light per pixel
    increases noise. The following all contribute:

    a. Small CCD sensor.
    b. Too many megapixels.
    c. Small lens - high 'f' numbers.
    d. Too little light in the scene you are photographing.
    e. Use of high "ISO" sensitivity in the camera.

    The noisiest cameras are likely to be tiny mucho-megapixel
    wonders with tiny lenses.

    There are noise reducing algorithms that the camera engineers
    use to control noise, but as with everything else electronic, there
    is a price to be paid. No computer can absolutely distinguish
    noise from signal and overly aggressive noise reduction may
    produce computer generated artifacts in the image.

    Alan Meyer, Nov 1, 2004
  9. Alan Meyer wrote:
    However, it is up to the user to decide how much noise is acceptable, and
    even the noisiest of today's top cameras can produce less noise than film
    from a few years ago. It's the end results that matter - the measurements
    help us understand things along the way somewhat better.

    David J Taylor, Nov 1, 2004
  10. Yes, I agree, but look at these pictures: they represent the same subject
    with the same ambiental conditions (and, maybe, the same hand holding the
    cameras): the first is from a Pentax Optio S4i, the second from his
    "opponent" Canon Powershot S410, the third from an old Powershot A20: I
    think the quality difference is clear...
    And the Optio is a F2.6 while the S410 is 2.8...
    I'm starting to think that I'm not only a novice photographer: maybe I even
    own a bad camera...:(
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
  11. Ah, I've printed (4x6 in a professional lab) some of my shots (both indoor
    and outdoor) and the quality is still unacceptable...:((
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 1, 2004
  12. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Bari Pollard Guest

    I had a problem with the S4i in that the pictures were very soft all over
    one side of the picture. I new there could be a problem but took the risk.
    Swapped it for the Canon Ixus 430. Much better pictures. It's for the
    girlfirend so had to be compact and stylish!

    I didn;t think Canon did any SD card cameras though I thought they were all
    COmpact Flash, quite prepared to be wrong though!


    Bari Pollard.
    Bari Pollard, Nov 1, 2004
  13. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Alan Meyer Guest

    I see your point. The Canon image looks much better that the Pentax.

    I'm not sure I'd characterize the main differences as "noise". The Canon
    image is brighter, has more contrast, may be sharper, has more vivid
    color, and may have higher resolution. The differences seem to me to
    be throughout the image, but the edges and corners of the Pentax
    image are particularly bad.

    Hmmmm. I was thinking of buying a Pentax Optio 750Z. I think I'll
    examine the images very carefully before going for it.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Alan Meyer, Nov 1, 2004
  14. The new IXUS (SD series) does.
    Mmm, I think I'm going to buy one...:)
    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nov 2, 2004
  15. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    John Smith Guest

    Hi Obi. If you can wait a few more months, I think Pentax will come
    out with a compact & light DSLR (the *istD's). I don't know why SLR,
    and DSLR have to be so huge ! By the way the the Canon 300D is quite
    lite (with the 17-55 kit lens), not compact though - and priced
    competitively with the high-end PS.
    John Smith, Nov 3, 2004
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