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Rubbish indoors - even with moderately bright rooms. Slow shutter speed.
on 9 January 2012
Bought this camera just before Xmas and took it on a 10 day holiday where I tested it extensively. I am not an expert - this is my first upgrade from a decent compact. I read all the reviews and was compelled by the enthusiasm for this camera.
Yes, there were lots of pluses
- the interface seemed pretty intuitive and easy to find things. I was able to play around with the different settings easily, to experiment.
- The response speed was great - you could take another picture so quickly after the last one (even when not on burst).
But I struggled over and over again to take photos inside. When the camera is in its intelligent auto mode, if it's not really bright, the camera thinks it needs to use a slow shutter speed. In dim (but not dark) rooms, it thinks it should use a nighttime setting and leaves the shutter open for a few seconds.
As a result, most indoor pictures were blurry, unless the subject was totally still, which it rarely was, as my primary subject is a 3 year old child. A tripod is not really feasible for most family situations where you just want to catch the moment and they don't help if the subject is moving. My much cheaper and older compact camera (Fuji Finepix) had always managed these sort of shots with no bother, so I was gutted to have taken a step backwards in being able to just take a photo.
I managed to get some OK shots by using the shutter priority mode and the handily-built-in flash, but this only worked when I could get close enough for the flash to be effective - it's not a very powerful flash. Plus, I then got the flash effect photos, rather than more natureal lighting. Trying to achieve the same by adjusting the aperture wasn't as effective and the ISO settings only made bit of a difference. It was all very unsatisfactory and needed constant attention to test out a shot in a new situation because I could never use Auto settings.
I took the camera back to the shop (Jacobs) in the hope of being shown where my inexperienced user error was, and being told what setting I should use, but when they tried to replicate the problem in their darker back room, they too discovered that pictures in low light caused slow shutter speed. They very kindly agreed to exchange the camera for another and recommended the Sony NEX 3 which I intend to do. In the shop, this seemed to perform effortlessly in low light. Even when it whacked up the ISO setting, the noise was much less than my compact camera and the picture was much clearer than the Lumix. (It's in their sensor, which is apparently excellent - particularly in low light.) Forget about the convenience of the Lumix's built in flash - the Sony doesn't seem to need one for most situations.
I don't understand why no other review has picked this up, as it is such a fundamental part of family photography. Did they just test landscapes and outside people? Jacobs (excellent customer service) said that two other customers had returned a Panasonic, but they have had no returns on a Sony.
Disappointed with my first experience away from simple compact. I hope the Sony will not disappoint.