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18x megazooms; sensor size; noise; Venus Engine III

by johnsfon / October 17, 2007 8:23 AM PDT

There have been a spate of 8 Mp 18x optical zoom cameras coming out in the last couple of months. I've already read a review that says that the Olympus SP-560 UZ produces noisy soft images. I haven't seen much regarding the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 or the Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd.

Both of these cameras still have physically small sensors (1/2.5 and 1/2.35, I believe). Does the software in these cameras take care of the inherent noise problem in these small sensors? In particular, there are supposed to be multiple levels of noise reduction in Panasonic's "Venus Engine III." Does it really take care of the noise, or does it just manage to soften and/or smudge the image? Also -- maybe a stupid question -- do these software noise reductions only act upon the resultant JPEG file, or do they somehow also reduce the noise in the RAW file? I *have* read that the Leica lens in the Panasonic camera is pretty good. I just hope it wasn't wasted on the small sensor.

I am really disappointed that these vendors didn't see fit to put larger sensors in these cameras. I've been waiting for "the ideal" consumer digital camera (large zoom range, excellent image quality, small and portable size). My guess is that these came close, but that noise has not been adequately controlled.

Thanks for your feedback.


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You won't get '18x' with a larger sensor.
by Kiddpeat / October 17, 2007 8:54 AM PDT

A small sensor is critical to using an inexpensive lense to achieve things like 18x. A small sensor means high noise, and high noise means lots of noise reduction to suppress it. Noise reduction means loss of detail. With current technology, that is the basic equation.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 17, 2007 10:42 PM PDT

To hit the price where you'll buy such a camera the makers have to balance lens and sensors (costs.)

I have a fine example of an early 4MP camera that looked a little soft due to the lens. However the softness only showed we I zoomed in the picture on my PC screen. Said softness NEVER showed up on printouts or when viewed at full screen on the PC.

To make such a demand means you are willing to increase your budget?


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image quality
by johnsfon / October 18, 2007 12:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Balance.

By "make such a demand," I assume you are referring specifically to my bemoaning that they didn't put a larger sensor in these cameras. Yes, that is what I would have hoped for. Increasing to a 1/1.7" or, heaven forbid, to a 2/3" sensor increases the physical size by 30 or 40% or so. But, even a minor increase to 1/2" would help. And I do realize the optical implications for the lens. Sure, I'd pay more for improved image quality.

But, again, I was specifically asking about the noise reduction in the Panasonic. Does anyone know of testing that demonstrates the effectiveness (or not) of this new noise reduction system?


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Panasonic FZ18
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 18, 2007 7:24 AM PDT
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by johnsfon / October 18, 2007 10:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Panasonic FZ18

Thanks. That was quite helpful.

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