Hello friends,
We currently use a point and shoot Sony W320. Simple camera that meets most of our needs. Bought in 2005. I decided I wanted to upgrade my camera - have read tons of reviews/forums/etc. One of the camera improvements that I hope for is better low light performance. I know that sensor size is very important for this concern. But I wondered - there are several (Sony HX90V) cameras out there that look like great all-around options that I would like to consider. BUT, they have the same sensor size as my older W320 (size = 1/2.3). Has Sony improved the light sensitivity of today's 1/2.3 sensor over the 10 year old 1/2.3 sensor? Or do I need to throw out camera options with this sensor size if low light concerns me.
My W320 sometimes really struggles to focus in indoor low light - leading to annoyed family members - and sometimes blurriness - or missed smiles since people can only hold a smile for so long.
For improved low light I would consider the Sony RX100 ii - but I would love the zoom (30x) of the HX90v.
Both pocket sized. I have older SLR already if needed.

Will I find the low light capability of a new HX90v better than the old W320 since they have the same sensor size?

Much thanks

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The HX90V uses the same size sensor but it uses CMOS instead of CCD technology.
There is little low light advantage in the change , but a big jump in speed (shots per second).
It has 18 megapixels as opposed to 12 on the W320. Strangely enough the 18 MP HX90V is lower than the previous models, which had 20MP.

More mega pixels is not a good thing on same size small sensors, since they have to make the pixels smaller to get that many on the sensor. Smaller sensors equals less light.
The HX90V does have a higher ISO setting (12800 as opposed to 3200 for the W320.
Two steps brighter, but higher ISO settings usually means more noise in the picture.

The HX90V has a 30X zoom as opposed to 4X. But zoom and low light do not go together.
It is not that they can't build a bright zoom lens, it raises the cost so much there would be fewer buyers that could or would pay the increase in cost.

The W320 has a 28 - 42 mm F/3 - F/5.8 lens
The HX90V has a 24 - 720 mm F/3.5 - F/6-4 lens.
The lower the F number, the brighter the lens.
The further you zoom, the dimmer the lens becomes.

Just from the specifications, I would think the W320 has the advantage for quality low light pictures.

There are a few small cameras with bigger sensors and larger diameter bright lenses.
The Canon S series and G series cameras
The Nikon P330 & higher series
The Panasonic LX series

Those cameras perform better in low light.
But do not have much zoom.


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camera usage

Thank you to the two enthusiast who replied. Much appreciated. This definitely helps.

I should have mentioned that these days - we pretty much only post photos electronically (Facebook, email, computer). I occasionally print some 4x6 or 5x7 from my mum (who doesn't use a computer ).

Vast majority (90+ %) of my shots are family get-togethers, birthday parties, holidays, granddaughter, etc. And for roughly 3 weeks per year we go on vacation somewhere. In 2016, we will spend a week in US West (Zion National Park, Bryce NP, etc - with 2 nights in Vegas for a couple of shows (and our 25 cents that we will donate to one betting machine). Will walk around Las Vegas strip and photograph fountains, buildings, and people.

In August we will spend 2 weeks on river cruise in Germany area. This is what I wanted the zoom for - castles on the hill top that the zoom could frame better than a 4x camera.

Since I can't afford more than 3 weeks of vacation fun - this is my ratio: 49 weeks at home shooting 'normal' family/friends/photos - and 3 weeks on vacation shooting mainly outdoor shots (but with some indoor phtotos too).

Someday we hope to take a safari in Africa (camera style - not gun!) and I think zoom would be good there.

We lived in England for 5 years and I carried around an older Nikormat with all manual lenses/focus/etc. It was so heavy - but rock solid photos on 35 mm film. I used to have to set everything on that camera - iso, aperture, f-stop, focus, etc.

Not sure if this camera usage modifies the answers. I will look into suggested cameras. Hopefully they are on display at Best Buy or some other store and I can try them out.

Much Thanks,


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re: camera usage

With that in mind, I'd suggest going with one of the pocket sized, large sensor, bright lens cameras since that will serve you well 90% of the time. If you can afford it, I'd recommend moving up to the RX100 III because the lens, while shorter at 70mm equiv., is also brighter at f2.8 when zoomed all the way in. Or if you think you'll need the extra 70-100mm range, the Canon G7X (from the Canon G series that snapshot mentioned) because it's not much larger than the RX100 III but goes all the way to 100mm (like the RX100 II) but at the same bright f2.8 aperture (the RX100 II has a much darker f4.9 aperture when zoomed to 100mm).

And then, when you travel to Germany (and/or Africa), rent a super telephoto zoom lens for your DSLR. I might suggest either a Sigma or Tamron 150-600mm. While large, heavy and relatively dark, I don't think any of that will be a deal breaker when shooting from a ship (or vehicle) in broad daylight for a week or two.

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P.S. G7X has 1" sensor just like RX100

Which, as you probably already know, is much larger than the sensors in most other cameras of this size.

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re: Sensor -- is only half the equation

>" Has Sony improved the light sensitivity of today's 1/2.3 sensor over the 10 year old 1/2.3 sensor?"

I'm sure they have. Since these are digital devices, they are subject to Moore's Law -- or at least a loose version of it -- i.e. they improve over time. For example, my cellphone (LG G4) has a Sony IMX234 sensor which is both slightly smaller (1/2.6) and slightly higher MP (16) than the W320's sensor, but it functions pretty well (especially for a cell phone) in low light.

However, the other half of the equation is that the LG G4 also has an f1.8 lens in front of the sensor, so the lens is more than a stop brighter than the W320's lens at its brightest. But note that the lens has no optical zoom.

In other words, you're not going to get a 30X zoom that's good in low light that also fits in your pocket. It's just not physically possible with current lens technology. But if you'd like a 24X zoom that's good in low light, despite the fact that it's nowhere near pocket sized, check out the Panasonic FZ300. Yes, it "only" has a 1/2.3 sensor; but a) see above re: the sensor in my cell phone, and b) the other half of the equation is that the FZ300 has a constant f2.8 aperture lens which ends up being 2+ stops brighter (4+ times the light) than the HX90v when zoomed all the way in. (Also note that a similarly bright 600mm lens for your DSLR would be even bigger, heavier and more expensive.)

But if you'd rather sacrifice zoom to keep things pocket sized, yes, the RX100 series or any of the camera series snapshot listed should do fine.

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I bought both the RX100ii and the HX90V at local BestBuy - that surprised the wife! However, it was for a "field test" and one was going to be returned. I took them (along with my older W320) to various outdoor shots - and I also took them into my house and local library (which oddly enough seems dimly lit). Both new cameras were much better than the older W320 - regarding colors and sharpness. And the 30x zoom was fun to play with for outdoor shots. But I found it was pretty easy to get a blurry photo with using lots of zoom when shooting indoors. The RX100ii performed so much better than the other two cameras during indoor shots (night time - so only had lamps/etc - - no sunshine coming into the windows.) Many of the RX100ii shots did not require flash - it simply found enough light to make a great shot.

Since most of my shots will be people - and most will be within 40 feet of the camera - and many of the shots will be indoors with less than ideal lighting - I have decided to keep the RX100ii and have returned the HX90V.

I found the comments about the Fstop above most useful for my low light considerations. Of course, I found another dozen cameras with good specs when I looked again on-line, but I liked the size/feel of the Sony RX100ii (and besides, it was already purchased).

Thanks for your help. Much Appreciated.

When I started down the path of buying a new camera - I didn't know how complicated it could be. There are so many choices - and many of them claim to be good/great in low light situations. And then there are dozens of web sites dedicated to the whole process of picking your next camera. Wow.

The other thing that helped me decide that I didn't really need a 30x zoom was looking at my older SLR and the lenses that I used to carry around Europe - and also by looking at my son's new DSLR camera and lenses and realizing that none of these "better" system cameras had much zoom.

Thanks again.

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New camera

It was good that you could try out two prospective cameras.
Most people don't really need a big zoom, but want one any-way.
I seldom use anything except the kit lens that came with my DSLR.
Anything over 10X is subject to camera shake (camera movement).
Image stabilization helps but it has its limits.
To really enjoy a big zoom you need to use a tripod.
Enjoy the new purchase!


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One last look at Sony A5000

Thank you again. I obviously must enjoy inflicting pain on myself - because after all of my research - I want to consider one more thing. Since I have decided I'm OK with a small zoom camera as such - and want a big sensor camera that does well indoors - and is mostly pocket sized - for less than $500 --- I stopped at BestBuy and played around with A5000/A5100 mirrorless cameras. The A5000 has a APS-C sensor - compared to the 1 inch sensor of the RX100 - so that would help with low light. A5000 has native ISO range of 100-16000, whereas the RX100 range is 160-12800. So, ISO range is wider. But the aperture of the A5000 is f3.5 - f5.6 compared to the RX100 f1.8 - f4.9. So I'm somewhat confused again about how to decipher this info - The A5000 has bigger sensor and ISO - but the RX100 has 'faster' aperture lens. So, the $64,000 question is - which camera would be better in indoor lighting - or are they close enough for someone like me that it wouldn't matter?

I know I could buy a better lens for the A5000 - but doubt I would do this - so I would stick to the kit lens of 16-50 mm. Maybe someday when I retire I might consider getting more into photography and buying a lens. There's also all kinds of other info on various sites comparing these two cameras - pixel density, pixel size, etc that makes it hard for non-experts to decide.

Many thanks.

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re: One last look at Sony A5000

Bottom line: I'd stick with the RX100 because:

a) with the kit lens, low light image quality of the A5000 won't be significantly better.

b) There is no free lunch. A bigger sensor needs a bigger body to enclose it and a bigger lens to cover the sensor with light (note that with the kit lens attached, the A5000 is nowhere near pocketable). And note that assuming similar specs -- equivalent focal length, aperture -- the bigger the lens, the more expensive it is.

c) since you don't intend to change lenses, you won't be taking advantage of the main feature of an interchangeable lens camera. That being said, there are few large sensor cameras with bright fixed lenses -- Sony RX1, Fuji X100, Panasonic LX100 (of the LX series that snapshot mentioned, that has a 4/3 sensor), etc. -- but keep in mind that, as noted above, they are bigger and more expensive.

So I'd stick with the RX100 II or at most upgrade to an RX100 III or Canon G7X because that will give you the best value for your intended usage.

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Done at last :)

Thank you for your help. I definitely appreciate it as I only know enough to be dangerous and yet I want to make the best decision for me.

I will keep the RX100ii. It's a great camera. And the upgrades of the RX100iii do not seem worth the extra cost for me.

And, in ten years when I retire, I may very jolly well revisit the entire question of a new camera for a hobby yet again. I'll be back at that time since I love the C/Net reviews and expert help on these forums.

Thanks again. Happy New Year.

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