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04-05-2010, 09:33 AM   #1
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should I buy an X90?

I'm active over in the DSLR forum, but I have never owned a Pentax compact camera and don't visit this forum often. So please bear wtih me.

I just noticed that the X90 is in stock at Amazon.com. Should I buy one?

I'm interested in it for a couple of reasons.

First it looks like it would be a good take-everywhere camera. Right now, when I walk out of the house I grab one of my DSLRs—usually the older and smaller *ist DS with perhaps a Pentax 35mm f/2 lens. This is excellent if I want to take a quick portrait-type snapshot, but isn't otherwise very versatile. Completely useless if I want to photograph something that I'm not close to. The X90 looks like it would be a much better carry-everywhere camera.

Second, I'm looking ahead to my summer vacation in Yellowstone National Park. I don't know what kind of photography I'll want to take there. I expect I'll want to take some panoramas, and I might take a K10D or K20D with a Sigma 10-20 zoom or the Pentax 21 limited, in any case. And I have a Tamron 70-300 zoom. But the zoom on the X90 appears to have even greater telephoto power than my Tamron 70-300. Amazon says the zoom range of the X90 is "26-676 equivalent". I assume the equivalency they are thinking of is film SLR, a.k.a. full-frame. If so, the X90 would be hard to beat as a vacation camera. I'm told that it's certain that we'll see bears, and at least remotely possible that we might we a wolf in the distance, plus other interesting fauna. Would be nice to have a powerful zoom.

Plus, the X90 apparently can do video, something I can't do with my DSLRs. (I don't have an X-7.

So does anybody know yet if the X90 is a decent camera? Will I be disappointed in the image quality? Can shake reduction in the camera really work when the X90 is zoomed all the way out, or would I have to carry a tripod with me everywhere?

One last question. I'm used to being completely in control on my DSLRs—I generally shoot in M (full manual) mode. Does anybody know if this is possible on the X90, and if possible, is it easy or hard? I could be content shooting in Av (aperture-priority) mode if that's easier.

I'll be grateful for any advice. Perhaps the camera is so new that nobody knows yet and I'll just have to wait for reviews at dpreview.com or elsehwere. But I thought I'd ask in case anybody already has one of these. Thanks in advance.

Will

04-05-2010, 04:31 PM   #2
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Frankly, I won't buy it simply because it doesn't offer RAW unlike some of it's rivals like Panasonic. Bad omission considering it's a bridge camera between a DSLR and PnS.
04-05-2010, 04:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Frankly, I won't buy it simply because it doesn't offer RAW unlike some of it's rivals like Panasonic. Bad omission considering it's a bridge camera between a DSLR and PnS.
Oh, I hadn't picked up on that fact. That is odd. Why in the world would they release a 12MP camera that doesn't shoot raw?

Will
04-06-2010, 02:13 PM   #4
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Too big. One might as well go with a K-x plus DA 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 instead. In fact, that's one reason I bought my K-x, to complement my K20D + DA* 16-50 f/2.8 and DA* 200 f/2.8. Although I'll likely put the DA 10-17 Fisheye and DA 55-300 f/4-5.8 on the K-x, when I have the wide and tele on the K20D for both more angle and more reach, respectively, instead of putting the DA 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 on it (although it is still an option if I want it, more comparable to carrying an X90). The IQ and performance will be much better.

In my pocket, I carry an "ultra compact" class, which are not really any more expensive than the "budget compact" class but smaller and often with better features:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q408slimgroup/

In my case, it's the tiny Panasonic DMC-FX series -- a FX37, and now a FX48 as well, both purchased for under $160 each. Not even 0.9" thick (other vendors do offer thinner) and really tiny at 3.7" x 2" rectangular (this is where the thin PnS of other vendors are typically much bigger when thinner). The wide angle is 25mm f/2.8 equivalent (with long only 125mm f/4.9, but I don't use that much). It does 720p (30fps) as well, although it's nothing to scream about. The optics are excellent, although the 1/2.3" sensor does let the IQ/low-light down eventually at anything over ISO 200-400 (same sensor size as in the X90, the FX48 likely has the exact same Sony (?) sensor).

But it's a no-brainer to carry it, it goes in any pocket, even smaller than my Blackberry (just about 50-70% more thickness). At $160, I couldn't resist the price for the FX37 and, more recently, the FX48 -- one for my wife and I both.
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q408slimgroup/page8.asp


Last edited by bjsmith; 04-06-2010 at 02:22 PM.
04-06-2010, 03:03 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
Too big.

Too big for you, but not for me. As I said in my original post, I'm looking for a camera that is ready to take just about any shot, from wide to very long. I'm reconciled to the fact that I'm not going to find happiness in a camera I can slide easily into my shirt pocket.

One thing that attracts me about the new superzooms, including the Pentax X90, is that the telephoto zoom has considerably greater reach than I have with my K20D + a Tamron 70-300 lens, even if I use a 1.4x converter. This is important to me. Actually, the zoom is perhaps THE most important feature in the camera for me. I don't have the money to buy a monster zoom for my DSLRs (like the Bigma) and even if I did, I don't think I'd care to have to lug it around with me while I'm hiking and camping. If I were getting paid by National Geographic, I'd do it. Otherwise, a compact superzoom seems like a reasonable compromise on image quality, and a terrific compromise on the price.

So, compact size is NOT important to me. Well, if you know a pocket camera that shoots raw and has a 25-600mm zoom lens, and costs under $400, I'd be interested. :-)

Right now, I'm considering the Olympus SP800-UZ. Its specs look even more impressive than the Pentax X90's, starting with a jaw-dropping 30x zoom. The video apparently isn't anything to get excited about, but this is the LEAST important feature of the camera for me, and the Olympus is cheaper than the Pentax.

Will
04-06-2010, 03:08 PM   #6
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Unless you absolutely must have Pentax, I'd wait to see what kind of reviews it gets and how it fairs against the new crop of upcoming super zooms:

Olympus SP800 30x (28-840mm)
Fuji HS10 30x (24-720mm)
Nikon P100 26x (26-678mm)

Plus, there's the existing Panasonic FZ35 and Canon SX1. These point and shoot super zooms are all relatively close in spec and can record HD video. I like the Fuji because you can manually zoom and I believe focus the lens, but initial image samples show the image quality is lacking. I'm waiting to see more reviews though.
04-06-2010, 03:13 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by einstrigger Quote
Unless you absolutely must have Pentax, I'd wait to see what kind of reviews it gets and how it fares against the new crop of upcoming super zooms:

Olympus SP800 30x (28-840mm)
Fuji HS10 30x (24-720mm)
Nikon P100 26x (26-678mm)
Yeah, I think this seems wise. No, I don't have to have Pentax. And I am kind of bummed about the lack of raw capture in the X90. As I said in a post I submitted a minute ago, I'm looking hard at the Olympus you mention.


QuoteQuote:
Plus, there's the existing Panasonic FZ35 and Canon SX1. These point and shoot super zooms are all relatively close in spec and can record HD video. I like the Fuji because you can manually zoom and I believe focus the lens, but initial image samples show the image quality is lacking. I'm waiting to see more reviews though.
These older cameras have less zoom reach and cost more. Right now, the Olympus is definitely leading the pack. There are only two reviews at Amazon.com but both are positive. I can't find any other more careful reviews, at dpreview.com or anywhere else yet. So I'm waiting a little.

But having the equivalent of an 800+mm telephoto capability, well, it's calling to me....

Will
04-06-2010, 03:30 PM   #8
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QuoteQuote:
Oh, I hadn't picked up on that fact. That is odd. Why in the world would they release a 12MP camera that doesn't shoot raw?

Will
Ask Canon (But the SX-1 does RAW - for another $100+ over the SX20).

I'm guessing they think that most people who shoot RAW would not be using a P&S (or vice versa) regardless of the focal length capability.

04-06-2010, 03:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
I'm guessing they think that most people who shoot RAW would not be using a P&S (or vice versa) regardless of the focal length capability.

Must be something like that, but still, it doesn't make sense. I mean, as I've said over and over when somebody asks "should I shoot raw?" the camera shoots raw willy-nilly and the only question is whether to KEEP that raw data or chuck it. Me, I'd rather keep it.

By the way, it looks like the Olympus SP800 doesn't let you save raw files either.

SP-800UZ Specs

Sigh.

On the plus side, in addition to the spectacular, amazing zoom (28-840 FF equivalent zoom range = 18-560 in Pentax DSLR terms), the aperture range is a very impressive f/2.8-5.6. Think of it: The Sigma 50-500 goes from f/4.5-6.3, so the Olympus is a stop and a half faster at the wide end and a stop faster at least at the telephoto end. Wow.

Will
04-07-2010, 10:59 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
One thing that attracts me about the new superzooms, including the Pentax X90, is that the telephoto zoom has considerably greater reach than I have with my K20D + a Tamron 70-300 lens, even if I use a 1.4x converter.
No it won't. 420mm @ 1.5x crop is 630mm. Remember, the equivalent 35mm on Point'n Shoot is really the equivalent 35mm, so you need to multiply 1.5x to the Pentax focal to match.
QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
This is important to me. Actually, the zoom is perhaps THE most important feature in the camera for me. I don't have the money to buy a monster zoom for my DSLRs (like the Bigma) and even if I did, I don't think I'd care to have to lug it around with me while I'm hiking and camping. If I were getting paid by National Geographic, I'd do it. Otherwise, a compact superzoom seems like a reasonable compromise on image quality, and a terrific compromise on the price.
The IQ sucks, and ISO is horrendous. It's not reasonable for some of us. You may be easier to please, so I can't tell you. But actually go out and use one and then report back.
I started with a K100D + DA 50-200 for a reason (uncropped, although I wish I would have shot this RAW, the JPEG processing on the K100D is severely dated, even back in 2006) ...


QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Oh, I hadn't picked up on that fact. That is odd. Why in the world would they release a 12MP camera that doesn't shoot raw?
Sheer memory size and microcontroller overhead required would be a start. I mean, how many PnS' are going to sell if the logic cost is the same as a dSLR+lens and cost $800+?
QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
On the plus side, in addition to the spectacular, amazing zoom (28-840 FF equivalent zoom range = 18-560 in Pentax DSLR terms), the aperture range is a very impressive f/2.8-5.6. Think of it: The Sigma 50-500 goes from f/4.5-6.3, so the Olympus is a stop and a half faster at the wide end and a stop faster at least at the telephoto end. Wow.
And the 1/2.3-1/2.5" sensors have 1/15th to 1/20th the area of APS-C, so remember why that aperture is low.
Yyeah, you get f/4-5.6 or so at 75-750 equivalent to the Sigma's f/4.5-6.3 at 50-500 equivalent, so a half-stop to full stop faster. But your ISO because of the sensor size is going to be at least 2 stops worse, if not far, far worse in reality.
Comparing apples and oranges at this point dude. Trust me, I've had a superzoom and it's no comparison. They are not so small either, hence why if I'm going to carry a PnS, it's going to be a ultra-compact.
The two lens flip solutions are the best I've seen yet -- keeping the sensor a bit bigger, but more range options. Frankly, I'd like to see a vendor come out with a two PnS camera approach -- one camera for wide (which already exist -- 25-125mm equiv is perfect), one camera for tele (say 120-600mm equiv). But the market is going to be questionable, because most consumers don't know any better.
04-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #11
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Personally i think the Fuji HS10 is better than the X90 (if u are after a superzoom prosumer). U might want to take a look here -> FinePix HS10 / HS11 | Fujifilm Global
04-08-2010, 08:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by raider Quote
Personally i think the Fuji HS10 is better than the X90 (if u are after a superzoom prosumer). U might want to take a look here -> FinePix HS10 / HS11 | Fujifilm Global
Thanks for this suggestion, raider. This does in fact look like the one to buy. Unfortunately, it's over $150 more. I could pick up the Olympus SP800 from Amazon for about $315. The Fuji HS10/11 is $500. But it does look like it's a real camera, while I have learned in the last day that the Olympus has some very serious limitations—no raw, no hot shoe, no manual control at all apparently, no viewfinder, and some other stuff I've forgotten.

The Fuji HS10/11 on the other hand seems to remedy all of those problems. Oh, and while it's a 30x zoom just like the Olympus, the Fuji's give a little more at the wide end—it's widest focal length is 24mm equivalent, while the Olympus's widest (if I recall correctly) was 28mm equivalent. I'd rather have that 24 at the wide end than a little more reach at the telephoto end.

Haven't seen any reviews of it yet and may wait just a little before placing an order, but I suspect this is the right one to get. Thanks again.

Will
04-08-2010, 05:06 PM   #13
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Hi WMBP, actually I have been watching this HS10 for some time now also.

Just ignoring the fact that the HS10 has a 30x zoom (which I am sure the IQ at the long end will leave much to be desired, as is expected from this type of camera), the HS10 has a 24mm wide end which is equiv to 16mm in our pentax world.

To get the type of superzoom lens on a DSLR will need something like Tamron/Pentax 18-250 and the wide end on the tamron is still not as wide as the HS10 and the long end is still not as long as the HS10.

That being said, I am sure the IQ on the tamron/dslr combo is better than the HS10 but for a vacation type of camera, i think the HS10 is a good consideration which is what I am thinking to buy it for.
04-08-2010, 07:33 PM   #14
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Unless you are a 100% Pentax fan, IMO, you should wait for the reviews on the X90 and compare it against the new crop of upcoming P&S with super zooms.

Some of the upcoming P&S (or should I say prosumer??) are Olympus SP800 30x (with 28-840mm) , Fuji HS10 30x (24-720mm), Nikon P100 26x (26-678mm), Panasonic FZ 38 (known as FZ35 in some countries), Fuji Finepix HS10 (as mentioned by raider) or Olympus SP550UZ (albeit a slightly older version as compared with SP800).
04-08-2010, 07:52 PM   #15
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Will, unless going way above 350mm is a big thing for you, I would suggest going for something like Canon SX120IS. It gives you all the manual controls easily usable. 10X zoom gives you a good range of 36-360mm (35mm equiv), Canon's IS system is reasonably good and with chdk (CHDK Wiki) you get RAW functionality as well as a bucket load of ultra cool features like being able to write your own scripts for the camera to do interesting things, various kinds of grids, DOF calculator. They have a lot of cool scripts already in the archives like time lapse, motion detection, the lost of features goes on and on. Oh yes, SX120 IS (and some other canon P&S cameras) also gives you some manual focus capabilities. Not as great as an SLR but is ultra useful. I use this feature 70% of the times on my A590IS.

Most of all it much cheaper as well as much more pocketable and much cheaper than any of the super zooms. Do look at the CHDK website and explore pictures with chdk tag on flickr to see its capabilities. You'll be amazed.
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