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Looking for a small, light, quality camera? – II

Jun 30, 2011 4 comments

Just over a year ago I wrote a blogpost Looking for a small, light, quality camera?, which collected together the size and weights of lightweight quality cameras. The focus was on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Things have moved on since then: manufacturers have released new cameras and lenses. I’ve repeated the exercise with today’s crop of cameras. If camera size and weight is an important consideration for you, then these tables may be of some help. Note I make no attempt to compare the quality or ergonomics of any of these cameras, there are plenty of camera review sites that do that.

Mirrorless cameras

The following table gives the sizes of various mirrorless cameras, and their weights with various lenses. The pancake lens is the manufacturer’s wide angle prime lens. The zoom lens is the manufacture’s nearest equivalent to a 28-84mm (full frame) lens. The superzoom is the manufacture’s nearest equivalent to a 28-300mm (full frame) lens. All weights include batteries.

Model Weight Weight
(pancake)
Weight
(zoom)
Weight
(superzoom)
Dimensions LCD Dots
Olympus E-P3 369g 440g 481g 659g 122 x 70 x 34 mm 614,000
Olympus E-PL3 313g 384g 425g 603g 110 x 64 x 37 mm 460,000
Olympus E-PM1 254g 325g 366g 544g 110 x 64 x 34 mm 460,000
Panasonic GF2 310g 410g 475g 770g 113 x 68 x 33 mm 460,000
Panasonic GF3 264g 364g 429g 724g 108 x 67 x 32 mm 460,000
Sony NEX-C3 225g 299g 439g 749g 110 × 60 × 33 mm 921,600
Samsung NX100 282g 367g 480g N/A 120 × 71× 35 mm 614,000

The overall lightest camera/lens combination, at 299g is the Sony NEX-C3 with 16mm lens. This is thanks to the low weight of the Sony camera. With zoom lenses, the inherent size/weight advantage of micro4/3 comes into play: the Olympus EPM-3 provides the lightest camera with standard zoom combination and superzoom combinations (at 366g and 544g respectively). (Of course slightly lighter combinations could be obtained by mixing Panasonic and Olympus lenses and bodies.)

Compact cameras

For comparison, here are the weights and dimensions of some of the higher end compact cameras:

Model Weight Dimensions LCD Dots
Canon PowerShot G12 [28-140mm] 491g 112 x 76 x 48 mm 461,000
Canon PowerShot S95 [28-105mm] 195g 100 x 58 x 30 mm 461,000
Leica X1 [35mm] 306g 124 x 60 x 32 mm 230,000
Nikon Coolpix P7000 [28-200mm] 310g 114 x 77 x 45 mm 921,000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 [24-90mm] 271g 110 x 65 x 43 mm 460,000

The lightest mirrorless camerea with a standard zoom lens (Olympus E-PM1 with 28-84mm equivalent lens) weighs 425g and compares reasonably favorably, weightwise, with some of these compact cameras. The Sony NEX-C3 with 16mm lens (24mm equivalent) weighs 299g and also compares reasonably favorably weightwise.

DSLRs

For further comparison, here are the sizes and weight of some of the smaller and lighter DSLRs:

Model Weight Weight
(pancake)
Weight
(zoom)
Weight
(superzoom)
Dimensions LCD Dots
Canon EOS 1100D 495g N/A 695g 1090g 130 x 100 x 78 mm 230,000
Nikon D60 505g N/A 770g 1065g 126 x 94 x 64 mm 230,000

Lenses

For reference, here are the weights and sizes of some of the lenses available for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras:

Model Weight Dimensions Filter diameter
Olympus 9-18mm[18-36mm] f4.0-4.6 155g 57 x 50 mm 52mm
Olympus 14-42mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 150g 62 x 44 mm 40.5mm
Olympus 14-42mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 II 112g 57 x 50 mm 37mm
Olympus 14-150mm[28-300mm] f4.0-5.6 290g 64 x 83 mm 58mm
Olympus 40-150mm[80-300mm] f4.0-5.6R 190g 64 x 83 mm 58mm
Olympus 75-300mm[150-600mm] f4.8-6.7 430g 70 x 116 mm 58mm
Olympus 12mm[24mm] f2.0 130g 56 x 43 mm 46 mm
Olympus 17mm[34mm] f2.8 71g 57 x 22 mm 37 mm
Olympus 45mm[24mm] f1.8 116g 56 x 46 mm 37 mm
Panasonic 7-14mm[14-28mm] f4.0 300g 70 x 83 mm
Panasonic 14-42mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 165g 61 x 64 mm 52 mm
Panasonic 14-45mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 195g 60 x 60 mm 52 mm
Panasonic 14-140mm[28-280mm] f4.0-5.8 460g 70 x 84 mm 62 mm
Panasonic 45-200mm[90-400mm] f4.0-5.6 380g 70 x 100 mm 52 mm
Panasonic 100-300mm[200-600mm] f4.0-5.6 520g 74 x 126 mm 67 mm
Panasonic 8mm[16mm] f3.5 165g 61 x 52 mm N/A
Panasonic 20mm[40mm] f1.7 100g 63 x 26 mm 46 mm
Panasonic 25mm[50mm] f1.4 200g 63 x 55 mm 46 mm
Panasonic 45mm[90mm] f2.8 225g 63 x 63 mm 46 mm
Samsung 18-55mm[28-85mm] F3.5-5.6 198g 63 x 65 mm 58 mm
Samsung 20mm[40mm] f2.8 89g 62 x 25 mm 43 mm
Samsung 30mm[46mm] f2 85g 62 x 22 mm 43 mm
Samsung 50-200mm[77-308mm] F4-5.6 417g 70 x 101 mm 52 mm
Sony 16mm[24mm] f2.8 74g 62 x 23 mm 49 mm
Sony 18-55[27-83mm] f2.5-5.6 214g 62 x 60 mm 49 mm
Sony 18-200[27-300mm] f3.5-6.3 524g 76 x 99 mm 67 mm

Looking for a small, light, quality camera?

May 14, 2010 6 comments

The success of the Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras shows that there is a demand for this type of camera – a small, light quality camera. Something smaller and lighter than a DSLR, but with better image quality and flexibility than a compact camera.

I’ve argued before that there is a proportion of this market segment for whom size and weight is a priority. It seems that Sony gets this: its recently announced NEX cameras demonstrate what can be done when size and weight are important design criteria.

But it’s not the weight of the size and weight of the camera that is important. It is the weight of the camera/lens/battery/memory card package that counts. Micro Four Thirds cameras have an inherent advantage here, since, for a given image quality, lenses for a m4/3 sensor can be made smaller and lighter than lenses for a APS-C image sensor.

This blog post collects together camera and lens sizes and weights. If camera size and weight is an important consideration for you, then these tables may be of some help. Note I make no attempt to compare the quality or ergonomics of any of these cameras, there are plenty of camera review sites that do that.

Mirrorless cameras

The following table gives the sizes of various mirrorless cameras, and their weights with various lenses. The pancake lens is the manufacturer’s wide angle prime lens. The zoom lens is the manufacture’s nearest equivalent to a 28-84mm (full frame) lens. The superzoom is the manufacture’s nearest equivalent to a 28-300mm (full frame) lens. All weights include batteries.

Model Weight Weight
(pancake)
Weight
(zoom)
Weight
(superzoom)
Dimensions LCD Dots
Olympus E-P1 355g 426g 505g 645g 121 x 70 x 36 mm 230,000
Olympus E-P2 355g 426g 505g 645g 121 x 70 x 36 mm 230,000
Olympus E-PL1 334g 406g 484g 624g 115 x 72 x 42 mm 230,000
Panasonic GF1 315g 415g 480g 775g 119 x 71 x 36 mm 460,000
Sony NEX-3 297g 371g 511g 821g 117 × 62 × 33 mm 920,000
Sony NEX-5 287g 361g 501g 811g 111 × 59 × 38 mm 920,000
Samsung NX10 414g 499g 612g 831g 123 × 87× 40 mm 614,000

The overall lightest camera/lens combination is the Sony NEX-5 with 16mm lens. This is thanks to the low weight of the Sony camera. With zoom lenses, the inherent size/weight advantage of micro4/3 comes into play: the Panasonic GF1 provides the lightest camera with standard zoom combination and the Olympus E-PL1 provides the lightest camera with superzoom combination. (Of course slightly lighter combinations could be obtained by mixing Panasonic and Olympus lenses and bodies.)

Note that Samsung does not seem to have got it. The NX10 is barely smaller or lighter than some of the smallest DSLRs (see next section).

DSLRs

For comparison, here are the sizes and weight of some of the smaller and lighter DSLRs:

Model Weight Weight
(pancake)
Weight
(zoom)
Weight
(superzoom)
Dimensions LCD Dots
Canon EOS 1000D 502g N/A 702g 1097g 126 x 98 x 65 mm 230,000
Nikon D60 522g N/A 787g 1082g 126 x 94 x 64 mm 230,000
Olympus E-450 426g 521g 616g N/A 130 x 91 x 53 mm 230,000

Compact cameras

And for further comparison, here are the weights and dimensions of some of the higher end compact cameras:

Model Weight Dimensions LCD Dots
Canon PowerShot G11 [28-140mm] 375g 112 x 76 x 48 mm 461,000
Canon PowerShot S90 [28-105mm] 195g 100 x 58 x 31 mm 461,000
Leica X1 [35mm] 306g 124 x 60 x 32 mm 230,000
Nikon Coolpix P6000 [28-112mm] 280g 107 x 66 x 42 mm 230,000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 [24-60mm] 265g 109 x 60 x 27 mm 460,000

Lenses

For reference, here are the weights and sizes of the lenses available for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras:

Model Weight Dimensions Filter diameter
Olympus 9-18mm[18-36mm] f4.0-4.6 155g 57 x50 mm 52mm
Olympus 14-42mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 150g 62 x 44 mm 40.5mm
Olympus 14-150mm[28-300mm] f4.0-5.6 290g 64 x 83 mm 58mm
Olympus 17mm[34mm] f2.8 71g 57 x 22 mm 37 mm
Panasonic 7-14mm[14-28mm] f4.0 300g 70 x 83 mm
Panasonic 14-42mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 165g 61 x 64 mm 52 mm
Panasonic 14-45mm[28-84mm] f3.5-5.6 195g 60 x 60 mm 52 mm
Panasonic 14-140mm[28-280mm] f4.0-5.8 460g 70 x 84 mm 62 mm
Panasonic 20mm[40mm] f1.7 100g 63 x 26 mm 46 mm
Panasonic 45mm[90mm] f2.8 225g 63 x 63 mm 46 mm
Panasonic 45-200mm[90-400mm] f4.0-5.6 380g 70 x 100 mm 52 mm
Samsung 18-55mm[28-85mm] F3.5-5.6 198g 63 x 65 mm 58 mm
Samsung 30mm[46mm] f2 85g 62 x 22 mm 43 mm
Samsung 50-200mm[77-308mm] F4-5.6 417g 70 x 101 mm 52 mm
Sony 16mm[24mm] f2.8 74g 62 x 23 mm 49 mm
Sony 18-55[27-83mm] f2.5-5.6 214g 62 x 60 mm 49 mm
Sony 18-200[27-300mm] f3.5-6.3 524g 76 x 99 mm 67 mm

Improvement suggestions for Sony ebook readers

Sep 23, 2009 1 comment

I’ve been using a Sony PRS-505 ebook reader for several months now and, as I said in my post Pleasantly surprised by Sony ebook reader, its ergonomics are unexpectedly good. There are some things that I’d like to see improved, and I discuss these in this post. The PRS-505 has been superceded by the PRS-300 (pocket sized ereader) and the PRS-600 (ereader with touchscreen). Most of my suggestions for improvement apply to these devices as well (judging from a quick browse of the manuals); the exceptions being bookmark comments and search, which have been implemented on the PRS-600 but not the PRS-300.

My suggestions can be divided into software improvements (which hopefully could be provided by an upgrade sometime in the future), hardware improvements and new accessories. These are listed below and explained in more detail in the following text.

Software:

  1. Add option for half-page ‘turn’.
  2. Allow user to mark books as read, and to give books a rating.
  3. Improve ‘book lists’.
  4. Allow the user to add comments to bookmarks (text input on PRS-300 to be via numeric keys, as on phones).
  5. Add search facility (text input again via numeric keys). Users need to search within a given book or across all books.
  6. Add text to speech, so users can listen to books (no restrictions are required for public domain books).
  7. Improve display of PDF documents, especially improve the reflow algorithm.

Hardware:

  1. Add a solar cell to improve battery life
  2. Make ereader smaller and lighter (implemented on PRS-300)
  3. Retain audio output (lost on PRS-300, retained on PRS-600)
  4. Retain SD card slot (lost on PRS-300, retained on PRS-600)

Accessories:

  1. Produce a cover that contains a notepad and penholder, so the user can make notes while reading.

Software Improvements

1) The most frustrating thing about the Sony ereader is the amount of time that it takes to ‘turn’ a page: almost two seconds. This is sufficient to interrupt the flow of reading and is a constant minor irritant. The problem is not unique to Sony, it is inherent in the electronic paper technology used in the majority of ereaders. There is a solution though: add an option for half-page ‘turn’. That way when you get half way through a page you can press the page-turn button, the top half of the page ‘turns’ and you and continue reading the bottom half of the page. Once you get to the end of the page, the top half of the next page is ready and waiting for you. At this point you press the page-turn button again so when you get halfway through the page the second half of the page is ready for you.

2) An ereader is not only a book reader, it also has some of the functions of a library. A user needs to be able to browse the books in the ereader to decide what they might want to read next. They need to be able to keep books and documents they have read for reference, but don’t want these read books to get in the way of the day to day use of the device. These needs would, to some extent, be serviced by the ability to mark books as read and to give books a star rating (zero to five stars).

3) The ‘book lists’ are reasonably functional, but they can be poorly formatted and they could display more information. Here’s an example of a part of the Books by Author book list:

PRS-505 book list

  1. The page title is incorrectly capitalized and prematurely truncated. It reads A – Arthur con instead of A – Arthur Conan Do
  2. The book titles are displayed in different sized fonts: this looks sloppy. Instead if a reduced size font is require for any title, then all the titles on that page should be displayed in the same reduced size font.
  3. Book titles are unnecessarily truncated: An Inquiry into the Nature and Ca… Instead this title should be wrapped into the next line, where there is ample room.
  4. The number of pages in a book should be displayed. This is very useful when browsing the list of titles.
  5. If the ereader supported ratings, then the star rating of the book should be displayed.

4) The PRS-600 already allows the user to add comments to bookmarks, so Sony have implemented the functionality. I think the only reason it was not added to the PRS-505 or the PRS-300 was that Sony overlooked the possibility of using the numeric keys for text input.

5) The PRS-600 already implements search. Again I think Sony overlooked the possibility of using the numeric keys to enter search text on the PRS-505 and the PRS-300.

6) Sometimes it’s preferable to listen to a book rather than read it. The light may be failing. The reader’s eyes may be tired, or they may have forgotten their glasses. The reader may be blind or have very poor eyesight. Text to speech would be a valuable addition to the PRS-300 and the PRS-600. I realise there are some issues with copyright works, but there is no problem implementing text to speech for works in the public domain.

7) Ereaders are useful for reading published documents as well as books. White papers, scientific papers, documents, manuals and so on. Most of these works are published in PDF format and A4 or letter size. They need to be resized to be read on a ereader, but unfortunately this resizing normally does a poor job of reflowing the text. The text reflow algorithm needs to be improved.

Hardware Improvements

1) A quick Fermi calculation shows that a solar cell would be a worthwhile addition the PRS-505. According to solarbotics a small solar cell can produce about 0.12mW/mm2. There’s space on the front of the PRS-505 for a 20mm by 40mm solar cell, this should have an output of about 96mW. I don’t know what kind of battery is in a PRS-505, but let’s assume it’s similar to a camera battery, about 1000mAh at 3.5V. That contains 12600 joules and it will power 7000 page turns, so that’s 1.8 joules per page turn. So the solar cell will take 1.8/0.096, say 20 seconds to generate energy to turn a page. How beneficial this is depends on how fast you read: if it takes you more than 20 seconds to read a page, then you’ll never need to charge your ereader. If you read at 10 seconds per page then the battery life is extended to 13,500 page turns. What’s more you can charge your ereader just by leaving it on the table.

2) Smaller and lighter. This is implemented on the PRS-300. Unfortunately in the process Sony have removed the SD card slot which seriously restricts the number of books you can take with you. The loss of audio output on the PRS-300 is also regrettable.

3) Retain audio output. This is necessary for text to speech.

4) Retain SD card slot (or at the very least add some serious memory capacity: 8GB or more). Although the 512MB and 350 book capacity of the PRS-300 may seem a lot, it’s not. There is a fundamental difference between being able to keep all of your ebooks on your ereader and being only to keep some of them. As soon as your ebook collection exceeds the capacity of your ereader you incur the overhead of having to manage your collection. You need to transfer books on and off the ereader. When you go on a trip you have the worry “do I have all the books/documents I need/want?”. You need to waste time checking what books are on the ereader. You run the risk of accidentally deleting books.

Accessories

Ereaders are not just about reading books for leisure. They are for reading documents and textbooks. They may be used when doing serious study. It’s essential to be able to make notes while reading an ebook. A cover that can include a notepad and pen is essential for some users. The cover needs to come in two variants: notepad on the right for right-handed users and notepad on the left for left-handed users.

Public domain

I’m placing all these ideas in the public domain: I’d be more than happy if any ebook manufacturer adopts them – indeed that’s the whole point of stating the ideas.