Size, Weight, Focal Length, and Image Stabilization
If it has to be something that fits in your shirt pocket, then it’s game over, and it has to be a compact or super compact.
With the exception of a model by Leice and one by Ricoh, all of these compact cameras produce jpegs. That means the camera converts the raw (RAW) data within the camera and presents it as a jpeg that is readable by just about any digital aparatus – so the finished product that comes out of the camera needs to be as good as possible.
And the reason for this is that it really doesn’t pay to tweak a jpeg image to any great extent; particularly one processed on a small sensor. If the shot is not well exposed, with good white balance and good processing ‘out of the box’ then forget it and move on to the next image or the next camera. And the reason that it does not pay to tweak a jpeg with an image processing package such as Photoshop, is that the original jpeg image is ‘8bit’.
What that means put simply is that for any given color or hue, there are 256 steps between dark and light. RAW ‘digital negatives’ are 16bit, which means there are millions of steps between dark and light. And if one tweaks a 16bit image there is no visible degradation in the image even with quite a lot of tweaking. Whereas with an 8bit image, even a little tweaking can create posterization. Posterization is the effect one sees when there is an abrupt change from one tone to another rather than a gradual and smooth change. That said, there are some compacts that are capable of producing good images that are well exposed, with good white balance and good processing ‘out of the box’.