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Photography Question 
Betsy Melvin

LCD Display

I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 which I basically just shot everything on auto. I just purchased a Fuji FinePix Z200fd. It's a very compact camera that I thought would be good to carry in my handbag. I'm not use to these small cameras. I purchased the guide from Jim Miotke. My question is the LCD screen seems to have "live" grain to it. It seems like it is somewhat moving. Its hard to describe, but my other camera has a very clear screen. I lowered the ISO to 100. It's better in bright daylight and you really notice it in a darker room. Is there something wrong with this camera or is this just something normal that I am not use to? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Couldn't get help from the Fuji web site and I thought they wouldn't be too objective anyway. Thank you. Betsy

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11/25/2008 10:51:40 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Betsy,

You have discovered that a compact camera sports a tiny image sensor. The sensor is covered with photosites that convert photons to electrons. The photons are light particles that stream through the open shutter and are focused by the lens on the surface of sensor. Each photon hit generates a charge. The charge is minuscule and must be amplified and converted to become a usable signal. When operating in low light conditions the amplification is automatically increased. Sorry to report that when we amplify the signal we also amplify false positives which are charges produced by heat and radiant energies other than the focused light. The ratio of good signal to bad signal is called the signal-to-noise ratio. Tiny chips are guilty of having a high signal-to-noise ratio. The moving ghost stuff you see on your LCD screen is due to noise.

Larger sensor chips have larger photosites. The larger surface area of these sites is more likely to receive and amplify optical image light and thus they see less stray stuff. Therefore a larger chip has a better signal-to-noise profile.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

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11/25/2008 5:00:10 PM

Betsy Melvin   Wow! I'm impressed with your knowledge. Does this mean all compact cameras have this tiny image sensor or just this particular camera? Also, is this noise transferred to the final printed product? I didn't print any pictures as I was just going step by step and trying to learn the features. I do have 60 days before I have to return it. Do you think I should return this camera and go with another model? Thank you for your help.

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11/25/2008 6:38:46 PM

Alan N. Marcus   All digital cameras display noise. You are seeing noise on the LCD screen when you are viewing and playing with the camera in the house at night. In others words, under dim lighting conditions you are seeing obvious noise. Now keep in mind that when you take the picture, the flash goes off and the picture will be taken by the light of the flash. Likely the flash supplies adequate light and the finished picture will not have any noticeable noise.

While it is a fact of life that we must deal with noise, likely most your picture taking experiences will be awe-inspiring. When will noise bother you? When taking pictures in dim light. In dim light the camera increases its sensitivity to light. Now the camera is straining itself and amplification is at maximum. Noise creeps it. A more expensive camera with a larger sensor would help but you are learning so why pay more now. Use the camera, learn, take lovely pictures, when you are ready, move up to a better camera. By the way, cameras improve year-by-year. I predict the sensor chips will get smaller and smaller and so will the camera.

Have fun and a reminder -- you learn by studying and from practice.

You are lucky that once you have made the initial investment you can take lots and lots of pictures and practice and practice for practically nothing. I had to cut grass and pick-up pop bottles and the like to buy film and have the film developed.

Alan Marcus

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11/25/2008 8:06:46 PM

Betsy Melvin   This is only my third camera. I started with a Kodak Instamatic with these flash cubes that were supposed to go off and then turn. Half the time they didn't work. I like the Panasonic, but too big for some "daycations". I guess I just have to get use to these new smaller cameras the size of a deck of cards. Thank you for all your help. I really appreciate it. Have a good week and God Bless You. Betsy

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11/25/2008 8:22:55 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Betsy,

You can count on the folks at Betterphot to help you.

Alan Marcus

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11/25/2008 9:20:53 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Betsy,

In my pocket, always is a new Canon A1000. A compact with it all. Uses two AA batteries has a big bright LCD screen (with noise) plus an optical viewfinder that works in bright light. The little guy sports 10 MP.

Alan Marcus

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11/26/2008 7:34:27 AM

Betsy Melvin   Thanks for the info. I'll keep that in mind. I'll work my way through Jim's Guide to Better Digital Photography and try to learn the features on the Fuji and then I'll decide. Have a good day.

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11/26/2008 7:47:26 AM

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