Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fuji F10 vs. Pentax Optio S4i

More dull information about cameras. Why? I get a lot of requests for information about my camera. As I've said before on this blog, it's really not about the camera... but here's some information anyway.

Most of the photos shown here in the past 6 months have been taken with my pocket camera, the Pentax Optio S4i. The camera has some stellar qualities, not the least of which is its tiny size. It will fit inside an Altoids tin with the lid closed. Really. But lately I've been concerned about the image quality. I have been amassing quite a body of work on this blog that really isn't good for much besides showing on the web. The image quality hasn't been good enough to consider selling the images commercially. Since that's what I do (I'm a commercial photographer), I'd like to have a pocket camera that approaches professional quality. I've decided on the Fuji F10... a 6 megapixel camera. It's larger than the Optio but not by a lot as you can see in the photo. The image quality really is stunning, particularly in the higher ISO ranges. There is a lot more to image quality than just megapixels. The lens is good and the Fuji has virtually no noise (grainy image) at ISO 400 and even at ISO 1600 it's not any worse than most pocket cameras at 400. Why is this important? Why not just shoot at ISO 100 and turn on the flash? On-camera flash looks like crap.

The comparison photos you see here were done to less than scientific standards, but it's the best I can do without going to a lot of extra trouble and they do show the difference in my opinion. The Pentax is a year old... I'm sure the newer Pentax cameras would look better, but from what I read on the test sites, not that much.

I do a lot of close-up photography and I was concerned that the macro mode on the Fuji would be less powerful than the Pentax (it's very hard to tell from published specs) but it turned out that I had nothing to worry about.

The F10 has a lot of other features that I don't really use (such as making movies) so I'm not going to comment on that stuff.

UPDATE: One of my commenters asked about shutter lag. I forgot to mention that the Fuji F10 is the first pocket camera I've owned that has really acceptable shutter lag. The lens focusing can be slow particularly on macro, but if you "pre-focus" (as usual, this is done by holding the release button down halfway), the shutter lag is virtually nonexistent.

UPDATE2: I've had several questions about my professional camera. I use a Fuji S3 digital SLR for all of my professional work. No, I don't shoot film any more. I haven't shot any film to speak of for about four years. Why the Fuji? It is an excellent camera, it has a wider dynamic range than anything else out there (it can see into the highlights and shadows better). I have always used Nikon 35mm gear and the Fuji SLRs use Nikon lenses. I think I would prefer the Fuji to the Nikon digital cameras for the type of work that I do (commerical advertisign, architectural, etc), but if one is doing reportage and needs a fast operating camera, Fuji is not the way to go. Nikon would be much better. Having said all of that, I am coming to the opinion that I should have switched to Canon a long time ago. Canon is so totally dominating the professional digital market right now that it seems the obvious choice for the pro. Switching systems would entail a lot of pain and suffering for me right now, so I'm sticking with Nikon and Fuji for the time being.

Click here to go to my main blog page where you'll see many photos taken mostly with the Fuji F10.

UPDATE: Click here for info on the new Fuji F30.


Davos said...

What did you use to photograph the Fuji and the Pentax?

Thanks again for sharing your work.

Rick Lee said...

I used my professional camera, the Fuji S3... a digital SLR.

DaveG said...

I used my professional camera, the Fuji S3... a digital SLR

Just the segue I was looking for...

Any thoughts on the Nikon D50? It's on my Xmas list, but that's not (yet) etched in stone. I'm looking for something better than my Fuji FinePix, with 'better' being defined as faster to turn on, faster to actually take a picture (approx. 1.5 seconds on the Fuji - far too slow!!), and a hot shoe so I can get a better flash.

You've seen the pix from the Fuji at the 466PG blog, and I think they're mostly OK, but I miss a lot due to the incredbily slow response time, and I'd also like a few more megapixels so I can crop tighter.

kenju said...

It's all Greek to me. I am lucky to get the camera on!

Stacey said...

I'll agree... on-camera flash is terrible. About the only time I use on camera flash is for fill flash in shaded areas. There it works well.. most of the time.

There is a big diff in those shots. That fuji really takes nice pics. For now, I'm happy as a point-n-shooter with my mavica cd-350.

Rick Lee said...

Dave... "shutter lag" is something that I forgot to cover in my post. The new Fuji has virtually no lag. That's another huge plus. You might consider getting something like that to use in the airplane... handling an SLR in the airplane (one handed?) is going to be a problem I'd think. In any case, the D50 would be a great camera when paired with a good lens. Lately I've been seeing a lot of people buying these digital SLRs and putting on it the cheapest Sigma lens (or whatever off-brand) they can find. The Fuji does not have a hot-shoe of course, but as I said, at 400 or 800 or even 1600, I need the flash less than ever.

Ian said...

It's a camera made for a very select niche user:
Commercial photog who works in a small market and wants a nice P&S for pics for his blog

I bought one as well, sweet camera