Expert Recommendation

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Best Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $1000
Expert (88 Recommendations and 32 Compliments)
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September 21, 2008 Updated: September 26, 2008
Overview

With outstanding image quality from a class leading DSLR-sized image sensor, a wide angle view from a sharp lens, a well-built compact body, the Sigma DP1 is the best-in-class compact digital camera for photographing interiors, producing images with minimal distortion.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sigma DP1

This camera is a trendsetter featuring one of the largest image sensors among compacts. The camera produces outstanding image quality because of its sharp low distortion 28mm wide-angle lens, made by leading lens manufacturer Sigma.

It uses a 14 megapixel (4.69x3 layers of R,G,B color sensitive pixels) FOVEON X3 direct image sensor (2652 × 1768 × 3 layers, click here for details) as used in the Sigma SD14 digital SLR thus making it the most affordable compact camera with such a sensor. With this sensor, the camera can capture a wider brightness range that is frequently required for typically lit interiors (e.g. scenes with bright lights or with sunlight coming through open window has a wider brightness range than a conventional cameras can capture). The feature helps avoid blown-out highlights.

Interior photography invariably requires a wide-angle view. Unfortunately with wider angle views comes increased barrel distortion (inward bending of straight vertical objects near the corners) because of optical design constraints. However the Sigma DP1 bucks the trend and produces merely a 0.4% barrel distortion.

The camera offers full manual controls including a RAW mode, which is a desirable feature for photographing interiors With it one can remove color cast (artificial lighting can cause superimposition of unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts on image), as one can adjust the white balance (process of removing unrealistic color casts) later during image conversion to a more popular image format (e.g. JPG or TIFF) with supplied software.

The camera also has an Aperture Priority mode (i.e. one can set the lens aperture while the camera decides on the other parameters). Frequently, small f/8 settings are used to improve the depth of field, which is a required feature for photographing interiors to have a sharp focus everywhere.

Image quality is good with plenty of details giving 10 Megapixel DSLRs a run for their money.

Nevertheless have a look at pros & cons before committing to it.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

The Sigma DP1 has better image quality (wider dynamic range, less noise) because of its much larger sensor. Nevertheless the Panasonic LX3 is a close second, armed with 2.5x zoom lens (The Sigma DP1 has a fixed focal length lens), faster performance, image stabilization and an AF assist lamp.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500

Better image quality owing to its much larger sensor. Availability of a RAW mode.

Pros
  • +
    Equipped with one of the largest (around 6x in size to that of LX3) sensor among compacts
  • +
    Good quality lens with minimal distortion
  • +
    Good image quality with plenty of details
  • +
    Hot shoe for accessories (e.g. external flash or EVF mounting)
  • +
    Full manual controls including RAW mode
Cons
  • -
    Lacking AF assist lamp (minor if lighting is not too dim)
  • -
    Lacks optical image stabilization (minor as photographing interiors usually requires shooting with a tripod)
  • -
    Sluggish performer (Not meant for snappy shooter. You have to be patient with it.)
Sigma DP1 is the Best Compact Digital Camera for Interior Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Sigma DP1
  • Best Price: $599
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 4.6MP
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Website Reviews (2 reviews)

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Sigma DP1
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
Customer Rating
Price $599.00 $402.09 $279.00
Size (W x H x D) 4.5 x 2.3 x 2.0 in. 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
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Sensor Size
20.7 x 13.8 mm 7.9 x 5.9 mm 6.0 x 4.4 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
4.6 megapixels x 3 10.1 megapixels 10.1 megapixels
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Shutter Lag Time (including auto-focus time)
1.5 - 1.7 sec 0.3 sec 0.6 sec
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Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent)
28 mm 24 mm 25 mm
Optical Zoom 1.0x 2.5x 5.0x
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Image Stabilization Available
No Yes Yes
Auto Focus Assist Light Available No Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes Yes Yes
RAW mode Yes Yes No
External Flash Connection Available Yes Yes No
Battery Life 250 shots 380 shots 280 shots
Image Quality
Barrel Distortion (%) 0.4% (lower than average) 0.5% (lower than average) 0.3% (lower than average)
Corner to corner sharpness Excellent Very Good Good
Dynamic Range Excellent Good Average
Image Noise Very Good Good Average
Fine details in image Excellent Very good Good
2
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Panasonic’s association with leading lens manufacturer Leica has helped them produce cameras with good quality lenses and the Panasonic LX3 is their top-of line product featuring a 24mm (focal length equivalent to that on a 35mm film camera) ultra wide-angle 2.5x zoom lens.

The camera produces images with low barrel distortion (merely 0.5%) at its widest angle view zoom setting.

The camera also offers full-featured manual controls including a RAW mode and a useful Aperture Priority mode.

The Intelligent Exposure function automatically controls the ISO sensitivity. It increases the exposure of only the darkened areas because of backlighting (e.g sunlight coming through windows, etc.) or insufficient flash lighting to capture the scene as you see it by suppressing the extreme brightness and darkness in the picture.

The overall image quality is good.

Comparison with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500

Better image quality (less noise, a bit more dynamic range), availability of RAW mode.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Sharp low distortion lens
  • +
    Hot-shoe for mounting accessories (e.g external flash)
  • +
    Full manual controls including RAW mode
  • +
    AF assist lamp and image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Small sensor
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Best Price: $402
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 2.5x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (4 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500

The Panasonic FX500 is a premium ultra-compact camera featuring a 25mm ultra wide-angle 5x zoom lens.

The camera produces images with class-leading low barrel distortion (merely 0.3%) at its widest angle view zoom setting.

The camera also offers full-featured manual controls and a useful Aperture Priority mode. It also features an Intelligent Exposure function that automatically controls the ISO sensitivity to increase the exposure of only the darkened area due to backlighting (e.g sunlight coming through windows, etc.)

The overall image quality is good.

Comparison with Ricoh GR DIGITAL II

Less distortion, wider angle view. The GR Digital II has a fixed focal lens, while the Panasonic FX500 has a 5x zoom lens making it more versatile.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Low barrel distortion in images
  • +
    Full manual controls
  • +
    AF assist lamp and image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    No RAW mode
  • -
    Small sensor (50% smaller than LX3)
  • -
    High image noise
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
  • Best Price: $279
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 25mm (40% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
4
Ricoh GR DIGITAL II

This is a premium ultra compact digital camera from Ricoh. It features a full manual mode, including Aperture/Shutter priority and a RAW mode. It features a fixed 28mm focal length wide angle lens.

Comparison with Ricoh Caplio GX200

Less barrel distortion in images.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Low barrel distortion in images
  • +
    Full manual controls
  • +
    AF assist lamp and image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    Costly
  • -
    Fixed focal length lens
  • -
    High image noise
Ricoh GR DIGITAL II is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Ricoh GR DIGITAL II
Specifications
  • Zoom: 1.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 28mm (25% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.1MP
More
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5
Ricoh Caplio GX200

This is top of line offering from Ricoh. The camera features a 24mm ultra wide-angle 3x zoom lens. It also offers a full manual mode including Aperture/Shutter priority and a RAW mode However the high barrel distortion (1.4%) mars this otherwise good camera.

Pros
  • +
    Good image quality
  • +
    Full manual controls
  • +
    AF assist lamp and image stabilization
Cons
  • -
    High barrel distortion in images
  • -
    Very costly
  • -
    High image noise
Ricoh Caplio GX200 is one of the Best Compact Digital Cameras for Interior Photos Under $1000
Where to buy
Ricoh Caplio GX200
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 24mm (46% wider)
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
More
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