Since being challenged with the DSLR last year at the icerink, I have had it in the back of my mind that a good quality compact would be a wise move. Something capable of capturing RAW, with a bit of manual control that did not look too assuming. The Canon top compact is a bit too serious looking, but the Panasonic LX3 has been pretty attractive, not least because of the 24mm equvalent lens (I am a wide angle fan). The new retro Olympus micro 4/3s camera is even more interesting. With the standard lens it looks very unassuming, Pop an adapter on, and you can fit all manner of 4/3s lenses, including a fisheye! Very interesting. But £650 or so, plus £150 for the adapter, £600 for the fisheye. Looking very pricey to be retro and compact.
Since discovering th benefits of uncompressed RAW files, that is the only format I shoot in with my SLR. There are a couple of issues with this. File size is about 4 times larger than high quality jpeg and Pentax RAW (PEF) is not the most widely compatible, a potential future disaster in the making. I have tried Adobe’s DNG converter, but I have problems with that as well. File size is good, about half that of the Pentax PEF file, but I do worry what is being lost. One thing I know is taken out in DNG is the lens information, which may be useful for fisheye images (of which I take a lot). Raw Therapee shows the correct focal length for a DNG file converted from a PEF, but not the lens description. Autopano Pro seems to recognise that the image is fisheye, but the way it converts the focal length to 35mm equivalent has changed. One major annoyance was the lack of thumbnail support for PEF files in Windows XP. DNG is relatively easy to activate thumbnail images, PEFs were not so easy. I have just discovered that ArcSoft offer a free plugin that shows PEF thumbnails, so one of the advantages of DNG is wiped out. In part, I wonder if this is less of an issue than I think, but there are nagging doubts about the best format for long term storage.
The Nikon D90 is still a tasty prospect, but Pentax are just coming up toward the release of the new K7, also looking like a tasty prospect. But what is with the price of cameras here in the UK. The Nikon D5000 is selling at the same price as the D90 (despite being about 30% less in the US. Amazon are also listing the K7 at £1100 body only. YIKES! That better come down a LOT, or it will be a definite jump to Nikon. It would have to have spectacular IQ to justify the price, and the addition of Nikon fisheye, flash etc do not dent the reluctance I have to part with £1000 for the Pentax.