Sadly the Sony HX5 compact I had bought from ebay developed a lens fault. Less that a week old and the lens seemed to jam. So back it went, I am nervous about something that seems to have a problem that early, especially when I want it to be a reliable backup. I still like the camera though, so I ended up getting a HX7 to replace it (ebay again). It is supposed to be an upgraded version, although I have found a couple of little surprises. The HX5 did bracketing (ok, so it was only ±1ev, but it was something). It still has the lowlight multi-exposure feature though, and the images still look pretty good. 16MP is really pushing the boundaries, even for one of these back illuminated sensors. Detail tends to blur (in odd patches) to resemble watercolour, but hey, it is still a nice little compact.
I have had to buy another one of my favourite filters, the cheap ND 10-15 stop filter from this guy. This is about the 5th or 6th. Perhaps I should ask for a bulk order discount! Generally I buy different sizes, but this was another 49mm as I have managed to get it jammed onto the cheap UV filter I was using to protect the filter stack. I must get around to doing a proper tips page for this, I have been using these for 18 months now and not expanded this stub. For such a small outlay, they really are the best option for cheap long exposure, and there does not seem to be any supply problems.
For a while I had a nice little Olympus micro four thirds camera. But of late, it has not had a lot of use. As a compact backup for the K5 it is a bit too bulky. For me, a compact camera needs to fit in a pocket. The Olympus did not. The image quality in good light was fine, but there was never the ability to pull back the amount of detail from the shadows or use a single raw image for serious tone mapping. And despite being a serious quality camera, there was no eye level viewfinder without doubling the price of the camera.
So the Olympus had to go. Despite having a high ‘I am not sure about the sale yet’ price, it sold a couple of weeks ago. The hunt for a realistic compact began. Despite wanting a cheap compact, I had a range of demands.
Wide lens (around 24mm equivalent)
Compact but solid
Reasonable image control, e.g. for night shots
Decent image quality from the lens
Less than half the price I got for the Olympus
For a while it looked like I was going to have to go above budget for a refurb Panasonic Tz18. I have had a Panny in the past and like the night modes and the image quality. Canon compacts are nice too, but tend not to be wide and not generally good enough at the price I want to spend. Fuji EXR and the higher Samsung range had the lens and would have done in a pinch. In the end I opted for an older model refurbished Sony HX5. 25mm G lens, so sample images were nice and clear across the frame. It has enough low light ability and features. I would have preferred an A or S mode, but at least I get M. The ‘handheld twilight’ and back light hdr modes look promising, but have not had a proper play with them. Best of all, image quality seems pretty good