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09-27-2011, 05:57 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
That'll make it tricky for the P&S contests.

"Alright guys, new rules. We want you to go out there, set your cameras on auto-picture mode, and take oddly composed pictures of buildings, friends, and flowers. Make sure the lighting is terrible."
Bonus points for shooting landscapes with your flash.

09-27-2011, 06:33 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Bonus points for shooting landscapes with your flash.
Extra bonus points for shooting the Grand Canyon at midday with popup flash.
09-28-2011, 03:04 AM   #18
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Opening Pandora's Box

Wow. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my comment and suggestion about the rules for the P&S Competition would release such a flood of comment. Its like I started World War 3!

Firstly, I don't think there will ever be complete agreement on what constitutes a Point-and-Shoot Camera. Unixrevolution gave an example of a point-and-shoot camera with the Vivitar VS28B. You point at at something, press the shutter release and it takes a photograph. It has a simple optical viewfinder to frame the shot and a tiny 2.1mp sensor. If we now drop the optical viewfinder and put an LCD screen on the back, most would argue that it is still basically the same camera and still a point-and-shoot. Then we replace the sensor with, say, a 12mp 1/2.3 sensor. Most would still say its a point-and-shoot camera. Now a newer model comes along with a better lens with optical zoom, auto-focus, auto-exposure and auto-ISO from 80 - 800. Yep, its still a point-and-shoot camera. Another newer model allows control of aperture and shutter speed, and then the next model has something else... At the end of this series you are maybe looking at a camera like the Sony NEX-7 with APS-C sensor and interchangeable lenses. Is that still a point-and-shoot camera? Most would say no. So the debate centers around the point at which a camera ceases to be a point-and-shoot, and everyone will have their own views on that.

Secondly, this issue began with me asking if it was not time for a rules change in the "Point-and-Shoot" Competitions held monthly on Pentax forums. Currently the rules do not allow APS-C sensor cameras or cameras with interchangeable lenses. In the current competition, the questions were raised about entries taken with a Fuji Finepix X100 (with an APS-C sensor, but with a fixed lens) and then entries taken with a Pentax Q (with a 1/2.3 sensor, but the option of interchangeable lenses). In these competitions, the winner of the previous competition sets the rules for the next competition, and so on. So the previous winner was now faced with the dilemma of accepting the entries, and thus allowing APS-C sensor cameras and cameras with interchangeable lenses, or rejecting the entries and risking driving long-standing participants away from future competitions.

Without commenting on the APS-C sensor cameras, I made the comment that I did not believe that interchangeable lens cameras gave entrants an UNFAIR advantage over those entrants with super-zoom cameras. Bear in mind that these competitions are not squarely aimed at professional photographers and judging is not based mainly on image quality. They are FUN competitions where amateurs enjoy themselves shooting images which fit the theme set in the competition and try to get the best out of their cameras (whatever cameras they use) as a learning experience for themselves.

Now, while it is a fun competition, obviously the playing field needs to be approximately even for all players. There are already competitions on this forum for owners of DSLR APS-C and upward cameras. The point-and-shoot competition is for the small-fry with less-expensive cameras who take a few pictures for their own memories and for fun. So, for those people, how do you set the rules to be as inclusive as possible while still keeping the equipment they use to a level which is ROUGHLY equivalent for all entrants? That is the $64 million question.

Does someone using a large format film camera have an UNFAIR advantage over someone using a digital 1/2.3 sensor camera?
Does the ability to set the aperture or shutter speed give an UNFAIR advantage over simply setting the shooting "mode" to match the scene?
Does having an electronic viewfinder give an UNFAIR advantage over an optical viewfinder, or a LCD screen?
Does having a super-zoom lens have an UNFAIR advantage over, say, a 10x optical zoom lens?
Does having manual focus with a split-image rangefinder have an UNFAIR advantage over an electronic auto-focus camera?
We also have to consider that Post Processing is allowed, so does the entrant with Photoshop CS5 and the skills to use it have an UNFAIR advantage over the entrant with some simple, free software that allows cropping and resizing only?

In the CONTEXT OF THE COMPETITION I would say that there is not an UNFAIR advantage, as is born out by the winning entries often being taken with very simple cameras and no obvious post processing. Its the image content that wins, not the image quality. In fact its about having fun and learning to get the best out of your camera. Nothing more and nothing less.

Thanks to all for the comments though - its been most interesting reading them all.
09-28-2011, 03:59 AM   #19
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Great analysis! I have a suggestion for a quantitative division of cameras, less subjective than trying to determine advantages. Just two criteria: sensor size, and a fixed lens. No ILC's, sorry, too many optical wonders are available. And sensors should be smaller than 1" (Nikon 1 / CX). Maybe 2/3" would be a good limit.

I'm intrigued by Laurentiu's earlier prescription of "no advanced controls". I had suggested that a P&S shouldn't NEED such controls, while he says they shouldn't HAVE them. That means my 5mpx Sony DSC-V1 is too fancy, while a simpler 7mpx cam is indeed P&S. But then there's my 5mpx Minolta F300 modded for IR. It lacks advanced (manual and priority) controls -- but it shoots IR. Do spectrum-slicers still qualify as P&S?

09-28-2011, 12:04 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I'm intrigued by Laurentiu's earlier prescription of "no advanced controls". I had suggested that a P&S shouldn't NEED such controls, while he says they shouldn't HAVE them.
I mentioned that, because that is what makes me feel most that a camera is a P&S - the lack of those manual controls. Without those controls you are forced to put up with the idiosyncrasies of the camera's automatic modes and you have no way out of that. Total control over shooting parameters becomes impossible and that makes using the camera more challenging. This requires adopting a different shooting style. Once you have manual control, the camera becomes more of a precision instrument. And you always pay extra for such benefit.

And this criteria also is nice because it is sufficient to eliminate any larger sensor cameras too - because they all provide manual controls.
09-28-2011, 01:14 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Great analysis! I have a suggestion for a quantitative division of cameras, less subjective than trying to determine advantages. Just two criteria: sensor size, and a fixed lens. No ILC's, sorry, too many optical wonders are available. And sensors should be smaller than 1" (Nikon 1 / CX). Maybe 2/3" would be a good limit.
This fits my definition; sensor size smaller that 1", fixed lens.

Manual controls mean nothing. The Canon A590 shown above is a good example. Manual controls, but clearly a point & shoot with serious limitations in DR and noise performance due to sensor size.
09-28-2011, 03:14 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
I mentioned that, because that is what makes me feel most that a camera is a P&S - the lack of those manual controls. Without those controls you are forced to put up with the idiosyncrasies of the camera's automatic modes and you have no way out of that. Total control over shooting parameters becomes impossible and that makes using the camera more challenging. This requires adopting a different shooting style. Once you have manual control, the camera becomes more of a precision instrument. And you always pay extra for such benefit.

And this criteria also is nice because it is sufficient to eliminate any larger sensor cameras too - because they all provide manual controls.
If we completely exclude Manual controls for the P&S contests, I won't even have my pocket optio. I'll have to use my phone.

I tend to agree that haivng advanced controls doesn't disqualify, but needing them does.

Personally, I'm starting to think that maybe we need to look at a camera's target market when it was released more than its features.
09-28-2011, 03:15 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
And this criteria also is nice because it is sufficient to eliminate any larger sensor cameras too - because they all provide manual controls.
QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Manual controls mean nothing. The Canon A590 shown above is a good example. Manual controls, but clearly a point & shoot with serious limitations in DR and noise performance due to sensor size.
I lean more towards physical vs control limitations. So my DSC-V1 qualifies! The near-twin to that DSC-V1 is the DSC-P10. We bought one of each at the same time. Same sensor and software, same scene and image options. Both have the equivalent of Green and P modes. But the V1 also has shutter and aperture priority, and manual exposure, and the NightShot feature. If I leave the V1 in Green or P, they produce substantially the same image at the same focal length. The optics differ a bit, but I've been able to stitch-together a mixture of photos from both.

With anything more than the most minimal camera, there are some controls that can significantly affect the image. That minimal P10 of course has the Scene selections; but both also allow menu control of ISO, EV, WB, contrast, sharpness, aspect/resolution, bracketing, burst, spot|matrix metering, focus presets, AF modes, filter effects, etc. These offer a bit more control than a box cam, eh? But that's pretty much what's on most P&S's I can think of.

So if we're looking at controls to define a P&S, we need a definition: What is 'advanced'? Just the priority and manual exposure controls? What else?


Last edited by RioRico; 09-29-2011 at 01:53 PM.
09-29-2011, 12:09 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
So if we're looking at controls to define a P&S, we need a definition: What is 'advanced'? Just the priority and manual exposure controls? What else?
T/A/M pretty much - if you don't have those, you won't have fancier ones either. And you won't have RAW or larger sensors. There is a distinction between capable and supporting. A camera may be capable of taking good shots without all controls, but a camera with good controls will support your needs better. The difference is efficiency.

This was just an idea though. I can very well agree with a wider definition and just fix the sensor size instead. We'll get the WG-1 and the Q in the same basket that way.
09-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
T/A/M pretty much - if you don't have those, you won't have fancier ones either. And you won't have RAW or larger sensors. There is a distinction between capable and supporting. A camera may be capable of taking good shots without all controls, but a camera with good controls will support your needs better. The difference is efficiency.
OK then, T/A/M are the dividing line. Those do mark a real difference between the DSC-V1 and its more P&S'y near-twin the DSC-P10 that I mentioned above, and my other P&S's lacking T/A/M. And all those other P&S's share pretty much the same supporting controls, which I suppose are standard on most digicams.

QuoteQuote:
This was just an idea though. I can very well agree with a wider definition and just fix the sensor size instead. We'll get the WG-1 and the Q in the same basket that way.
Nope, no Q, not with its swappable lenses. Hmmm, I have a project in mind, to pull the fixed lens from a cheap (five bucks) 5mpx Sakar and replace it with a D-mount, then use my one-buck Filmovara 15-25/1.2 zoom on it. Cruddy P&S, but with that mount it wouldn't qualify.
09-29-2011, 03:00 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
OK then, T/A/M are the dividing line.
I disagree. It's ridiculous to disallow cameras with these features from a p&s competition. The Canon A570 IS is a $150 p&s with T/A/M. Show it to 1000 photographers, see what 99% of them call it. I can do pretty much anything with control of ISO and exposure compensation that I can with T/A/M. Are you going to disallow Ev and manual ISO? You could insist that people shoot in auto mode, but that gets a little silly. Besides, who's going to police this nonsense? A rule like 2/3" sensor or less and no IL is clear and fair.

I guess after all this I'm going to have to enter some of the p&s competitions. With my Canon A720 IS.
09-29-2011, 03:25 PM   #27
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Ah, the battle lines are forming. Sensor size? Controls? Loose lenses? File format? Well, the next winner gets to decide!

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
You could insist that people shoot in auto mode, but that gets a little silly. Besides, who's going to police this nonsense?
Oh, the judge just uses PhotoMe to read the Exposure Program. In every single entry. Right.

Last edited by RioRico; 09-29-2011 at 04:47 PM.
09-29-2011, 10:40 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I disagree. It's ridiculous to disallow cameras with these features from a p&s competition. The Canon A570 IS is a $150 p&s with T/A/M. Show it to 1000 photographers, see what 99% of them call it.
Nice try, but that still counts as just one opinion, as Gimli would say And I doubt you can find the A570 anywhere new for $150 now - you might have got a great deal on it when they were clearing old stock, but that isn't what most of its users paid for it.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I can do pretty much anything with control of ISO and exposure compensation that I can with T/A/M. Are you going to disallow Ev and manual ISO?
Exposure compensation is not a big deal if you have little control on exposure to begin with. Manual ISO is advanced but you could have that - now you can't say I'm not the generous type.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
You could insist that people shoot in auto mode, but that gets a little silly. Besides, who's going to police this nonsense? A rule like 2/3" sensor or less and no IL is clear and fair.
It's a philosophical discussion - it doesn't matter what definition we agree on as much as what arguments we come up with. You know, the path matters, not the destination, that kind of stuff.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I guess after all this I'm going to have to enter some of the p&s competitions. With my Canon A720 IS.
That's a productive idea!
09-30-2011, 01:16 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
It's any camera that features a high degree of automation, doesn't support interchangeable lenses, and isn't a phone. I think that's a pretty solid definition
Like the man said....

P&S cameras can be fairly complex and they actually can have aux lenses you can buy albeit they are primitive compared to SLR ones. My high end Fuji had almost complete manual capacity, but the main lens was fixed, had only so much zoom capacity, and you could only buy like 4 types of screw on lenses that fit over it using an adapter. They were for the most part useless. I did get some good shots with it, but it was nothing like using a DSLR. Fuji S series, good example. Nice for someone just starting who needs more than a pocket cam, but less than a full on DSLR.
09-30-2011, 02:04 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Oh, the judge just uses PhotoMe to read the Exposure Program. In every single entry. Right.
Except Post-Processing is permitted, which often destroys the exif data....
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