I went to a holiday party last week. I got to wear my suit, which I do maybe once a year, which is alright by me. While my 10+ year-old formal garb still fits, the waist was snug enough that I won’t be eating any steak dinners. The inner jacket pocket was perfect though for carrying around the Fuji XF1 that I’ve toted around lately. While not truly pants pocket-sized, it works well with jackets.
I’ve waited for technology to improve so that I can have a small carry around camera that works in almost any situation. And while any camera, even smart phones, work well in bright light, low-light interior shots have certainly been out of reach — at least at a level of quality that matches my expectations. I use a 27″ monitor and I want relatively noise free, detailed images, full screen.
Back in 2006, when I got my first DSLR, the then outstanding Canon Rebel XT was fairly noisy at ISO 1600. I remember I had to run special noise reduction software to remove the chroma splotches. I just had a kit lens that started at a modest f3.5 and with no image stabilization and with the mirror recoil, 1/30 of a second was iffy.
In 7 years, we now have $200 cameras with modest sensors that have f1.8 lenses with image stabilization. ISO 1600 is on the borderline but in some ways, better than that old Rebel XT. I’m satisfied with these party pics in a dark hotel. Isn’t technology wonderful? I’m certainly not one of those nostalgic film people.
Snapshots of my friends, especially with Fuji’s Super Intelligent Flash System, came out good for the most part. One downside is that the Fuji defaults to a slow shutter speed in these dark scenes. 1/15 of a second is common. And with image stabilization, my shots usually come out good enough, but not always. Letting others use the camera becomes tenuous. They need to be steady or mostly sober. In retrospect, I probably should have gone to shutter priority and dialed in a 1/30s or 1/60s shutter speed.
Focusing in dark areas gets slower but still does better than the Fuji X100S. All in all, it’s a close to perfect camera for these party situations. Maybe someday, with on board sensor based phase detection, these little point and shoots will have the assured snap focusing of a DSLR. You know there is always room for improvement. But at the rate these technologies advance, I’m excited to see what cameras will do in 2020.
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