Although I have a DSLR with a bunch of lenses, a lot of the time I want to travel light, or have a camera to hand in case a good photo opportunity arises. There are of course loads of compact cameras available, but they've got tiny sensors which make for grainy photos, especially when there is low light. Phones have of course got cameras in them nowadays but the standard of image quality is pretty bad.
Out of the blue there's been a few new cameras come out that would seem to conquer the issue of portability with high quality - Sony have come out with the RX100, large sensor (around 4x the surface area of a normal one), full manual control compact, which would appear to have almost DSLR quality in a tiny package. Anybody tried it out yet?
They've also went even further with the RX1 which is (as far as I'm aware) the first ever full-frame sensor digital camera (fixed lens fixed focal length) in a pocket size. Not cheap, but should give the other manufacturers something to compete with, other than pointless megapixel racing.
Sony has really expensive toys. :-) An alternative you should check are the mirrorless lens changing cameras. Many of these can shoot images just as good as dslr cameras, yet they are a lot smaller and easier to carry on a journey.
You're on the money, and it's only going to get better too. Increasingly I am wondering if I should invest in extra lenses for my SLR when, thinking ahead, I know a few years down the line I will probably look at compacts with interchangeable lenses and marvel that I ever lugged around my current beast.
For some photographers that might never work for them, but personally if the quality of the image and control over the camera are as good as they are now in SLRs then I won't have a problem jumping down to something more portable. Can't say for certain that's what I'll want in the future, but it's all looking promising. Even now my phone camera can take fairly decent shots if all I want is a snapshot.
Miniaturisation will revolutionise photography — that's for certain, but as yet it is still more expensive than the traditional SLR.
I have a nex3 and the image quality is pretty much equal to other modern APS-C format DSLRs (and a lot better than my older Konica Minolta 5D). The main compromises it has over a full size camera are primarily interface (less knobs and controls) a lack of in-camera image stabilisation (though this wouldn't be much an omission for canon or nikon users), and no optical viewfinder. I've stopped buying lenses for the 5d and am now looking to get a few more for the nex3
I only have a compact Lumix (5 years old now) and my mobile (a samsung Galaxy SIII). Although my phone has 8 Megapixels and my Lumix only 5, I find that the lumix provides better quality because you have better control. And I have to say that my mobile phone surprised me with a few options but still... It is only good to take a snapshot. Zooming is a nightmare.
I wanted to buy a decent SLR but I never got to decide what would be best and I didn't have the time to compare prices and qualities so I never did.
But I do confess that my compact camera is a little bit limited although the convenience of being able to carry out everywhere is so nice that... I'm glad that things are getting smaller
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The samsung galaxy SIII is an amazing phone. One of the great things about smartphones is being able to crop, process and edit straight after taking a shot, then being able to share online with your friends within seconds, even when you're somewhere remote. There's apparently a camera now that runs android and can use apps, so there's increasing convergence of mobile computing capabilities and photography. I've quite enjoyed using an ipad (which has a nice IPS screen) to edit and publish photos from a camera when away travelling.
Consider not only the size, but also the weight of the camera. Of two cameras of the same size it will be buch simpler to carry the lighter one. My Panasonic FZ 5 is not very small, but it is very light.