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  1. #1
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    Camera recommendations?

    This probably gets asked relatively often, but the answers probably change too, so My two cameras (a 7 year old P&S and a 5 year old DSLR) have died, so I need a camera to replace them. The main use is cycle touring, with a bit of hiking. I'd really like something rugged, and weatherproof if possible. (I don't need to take it kayaking, but I'd like not to worry about a few drops of rain). One hand operation is essential, and a long battery life is a big plus (4 days without a charge). Fitting in a jersey pocket is sort of nice, but not really essential - I have lots of other bags (from Revelate) that it could tuck into.

    Given all the above requirements, I would prefer a compact that is more DSLR-like: I would absolutely love to be able to fit a polariser, if any such such camera existed.

    Anyone have any recommendations? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    What's your budget?

    If your looking for something with a thread lens to mount a polarizer, your leaning towards DSLR's and 4/3's type cameras. I am a fan of Fuji cameras; they are a great balance between size and image quality, and are very high quality

  3. #3
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    I'll get you started. I make my living as a photographer and I do take at least one tour each year. For a small compact to have with me every day I have a Nikon P330 that slips in my frame bag. You should take a look at the Canon G16-very good lens and image quality, optical viewfinder(although a poor one). An interesting new camera is the Sony RX10-great lens, excellent image quality, great video in a DSLR style package. The drawback is that it is pricey. The other interesting camera is the Nikon 1 AW1-waterproof, great performance, very good image quality. The drawback for you may be that it uses interchangeable lenses and will not be as compact as the other cameras. Look at the Olympus TG 2 if you want a rugged, waterproof compact. I am a proponent of micro 4/3 systems, and this is what I carry on tour. I use an Arkel small handlebar bag which works very well and provides fairly quick access. The micro 4/3 cameras will give you a more DSLR like experience and will be easier to use filters, will give excellent performance and image quality. I like the Panasonic GX7 and G6 as affordable travel cameras, and you could not go wrong with cameras like the Olympus OMD EM5/EM1 or the Olympus rangefinder style cameras like the EPL 5. For me micro 4/3 is the right balance of performance and image quality vs. size/weight. I hope this gets you started.

  4. #4
    Aspiring Fred
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    Not waterproof, but compact and amazingly capable, the Sony RX100 and RX100 II are the darlings of current compact cameras. DSLR functions in your pocket with a big sensor, decent fast lens, great high ISO output, RAW files and reasonable controls. My only gripe is they would be fantastic if they had dedicated aperture and shutter speed controls in all modes. For most activities our micro 4/3s kits stay home unless we need a really long lens or extreme wide angle. They the perfect cycling cameras but you will have to baggie them if carried in a jersey pocket. The II will accept an electronic viewfinder and is compact enough to shoot range finder style with both eyes open. Highly recommended.

    Edit: I just read post number eight and realized I sold all the micro 4/3 gear a couple of years ago. The wife and I replace them with a pair Sony Nex 5ns. Those are the cameras that stay home, not micro 4/3s. Why is this important? Scroll down to Post number nine.
    Last edited by Mr. Thompson; 01-16-14 at 01:40 PM. Reason: Wrong camera listed.

  5. #5
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    The perfect camera does not exist, you need to decide which features are most important to you. I do not travel with DSLRs, they are too heavy and several lenses make the package even heavier.

    My second travel digital replaced an older point and shoot, I wanted more zoom for wildlife. I bought a Pentax X-90 (discontinued model, current eqquivalent is the Pentax X-5) which has a huge amount of zoom, it is one of a class of camera called superzooms. Have used this camera for several bike tours, Europe trips and canoe trips. But, not waterproof. This won't fit in a pocket, but is much more compact than a DSLR with comparable zoom power.

    My third travel digital I bought this past fall when I decided that I wanted to take more photos in wet weather. The Pentax WG-3 is waterproof and works great. A bit bulky in a pocket, but it does fit. It came with a little ring that clips on the front for macro use but I found out that I can fit a polarizer on it, I think it takes a 46mm filter.

    On camping trips and tours I now bring both the superzoom and the waterproof.

    In both cases above, I bought several spare batteries on ebay, new shipped from China. These usually have lower life but cost a small fraction of the branded batteries.

    Olympus also makes some highly rated waterproof cameras, a friend of mine has one and he really likes it.

  6. #6
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    These are great responses, much appreciated. I should have mentioned budget: I'm fairly flexible, but thinking around $500. I'd pay more if justified. Ooh, it looks like the Canon GX10 and Sony RX100 are right around that level, so that's perfect. Compared to the last time I was buying a compact (2005), things have come a long way, so it looks like I'll be getting a lot more (bigger sensor, aperture and LCD, better manual controls and image quality) and paying a bit less than last time.

    Telephoto is not of much interest to me, nor are features like external flash - but battery life, wi-fi or GPS are.

    Interesting question whether waterproofing is worth having. I don't really do any watersports, and I don't take that many photos in rain (who wants to stand around being wet?), but not having to worry about the camera being rained or sweated on would be nice.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevage View Post
    These are great responses, much appreciated. I should have mentioned budget: I'm fairly flexible, but thinking around $500. I'd pay more if justified. Ooh, it looks like the Canon GX10 and Sony RX100 are right around that level, so that's perfect. Compared to the last time I was buying a compact (2005), things have come a long way, so it looks like I'll be getting a lot more (bigger sensor, aperture and LCD, better manual controls and image quality) and paying a bit less than last time.

    Telephoto is not of much interest to me, nor are features like external flash - but battery life, wi-fi or GPS are.

    Interesting question whether waterproofing is worth having. I don't really do any watersports, and I don't take that many photos in rain (who wants to stand around being wet?), but not having to worry about the camera being rained or sweated on would be nice.
    The waterproof Pentax WG-3 I cited above that I bought comes with or without GPS. I chose to get the non-GPS version when I read reviews on the internet that the GPS ate batteries pretty quick.

    So, if you do not anticipate taking that many photos in the rain, then this won't be you in the picture.

    20IMGP4200.jpg

  8. #8
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    I have a Sony Nex-5 (about 2 years old). The sensor is the same as Sony's DSLR (APS-c), but this a a mirrorless camera, so much smaller. Its the size of the 4/3 cameras, but has a much bigger sensor. interchangeable lenses, all kinds of features, and is fairly small with the kit lens (a zoom). It fits into a smaller bag which I keep strapped to the handlebar. I really like the size and all the features, though there are not a lot of lens choices.
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  9. #9
    Aspiring Fred
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    Quote Originally Posted by VT_Speed_TR View Post
    I have a Sony Nex-5 (about 2 years old). The sensor is the same as Sony's DSLR (APS-c), but this a a mirrorless camera, so much smaller. Its the size of the 4/3 cameras, but has a much bigger sensor. interchangeable lenses, all kinds of features, and is fairly small with the kit lens (a zoom). It fits into a smaller bag which I keep strapped to the handlebar. I really like the size and all the features, though there are not a lot of lens choices.
    It's amazing how fast sensor technology advances. The results from the RX100/RX100 II are close enough to the Nex 5N that the RXs are what we use most. One of the slick things about the 5N is you can add a Leica bayonet adapter and use rangefinder lenses. Pair it up with a Voigtlander lens and have a ball.

    Any of the waterproof cameras will have marginal point and shoot quality images compared to the micro 4/3s, Nex or RX100 series.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Vivitar cameras have long been a good bang for the buck photo equipment company

    http://www.vivitar.com/products/1/digital-cameras

  11. #11
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    I use an old Canon A530is for touring. The features I like most about is that it uses AA batteries, has an optical viewfinder, and has Image Stabilization. I was looking for a replacement but had a hard time finding anything.

  12. #12
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    I bought a new Sony NEX-3N three months back for $340 to my doorstep. I really didn't want to spend much for a camera, and I originally expected to be able to afford only a decent P&S until I discovered the NEX-3N.

    It's very small and lightweight for a DSLR, inexpensive (for a entry level DSLR), the kit lens is 24mm-75 (35mm APS equiv), which gives me a wide angle for landscapes, and for another $19 I got an adapter from Amazon which lets me use my old Minolta Maxxum lenses (in full manual mode only).

    I compared it for a couple days hands-on to entry level Canon and Nikon DSLRs, and the NEX-3N actually focused a bit faster (I was worried a bit about mirrorless design focusing).

    It's main shortcoming (like all small DSLRs) is a lack of space for placement of dedicated buttons, meaning you have to learn a less intuitive LCD menu system to access controls, which makes for a steep learning curve, plus you tend to forget the sequence. It's hard to make hundreds of control changes with only a few buttons.

    Keep the manual handy!

    I'm still happy with my choice. I'd like a wider lens, but since they cost more than the Sony kit it may never happen.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    I bought a new Sony NEX-3N three months back for $340 to my doorstep. I really didn't want to spend much for a camera, and I originally expected to be able to afford only a decent P&S until I discovered the NEX-3N.

    It's very small and lightweight for a DSLR, inexpensive (for a entry level DSLR), the kit lens is 24mm-75 (35mm APS equiv), which gives me a wide angle for landscapes, and for another $19 I got an adapter from Amazon which lets me use my old Minolta Maxxum lenses (in full manual mode only).

    I compared it for a couple days hands-on to entry level Canon and Nikon DSLRs, and the NEX-3N actually focused a bit faster (I was worried a bit about mirrorless design focusing).

    It's main shortcoming (like all small DSLRs) is a lack of space for placement of dedicated buttons, meaning you have to learn a less intuitive LCD menu system to access controls, which makes for a steep learning curve, plus you tend to forget the sequence. It's hard to make hundreds of control changes with only a few buttons.

    Keep the manual handy!

    I'm still happy with my choice. I'd like a wider lens, but since they cost more than the Sony kit it may never happen.
    The Sony Nex series is not a DSLR. Its a mirrorless camera and you do not view through the lens.
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  14. #14
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Thanks for reminding me why I don't post here much anymore.

  15. #15
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    If you're looking for weather-sealed, look at Pentax.
    As mentioned, the WG-3 is a beast. It's a smaller point & shoot that lacks the options and zoom level of a dSLR, but it's cold/water/shock/crush proof, so it's perfect for a traveling experience where you aren't looking to be Ansel Adams.

    If you want a larger higher end, then I'd suggest the Pentax K-50 - which is also weatherproofed. It's not the highest end dSLR, but it'll do good stuff, and you'll probably be hard pressed to find one of the super-zoom in-between cameras (looks like an SLR but lens is fixed) that is weatherproof. And even if there is, they're basically the same form-factor as a full SLR these days so you might as well get an SLR and have the options of changing lenses and controlling your shots more.

    I looked at the WG-3 because I wanted a camera for touring and rides as well, especially because it was so bombproof, but I ended up getting a Canon S110 on sale from Amazon. It's not weatherproof or anything fancy, but its one of the only P&S cameras that shoots in RAW, which I really wanted.
    Twitter@theSurlyBiker

  16. #16
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    Nikon v2, with adapter will use dslr lenses as well
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  17. #17
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    I notice those Viv cameras are sold by the megapixle. I haven't bought a camera in the last few years, but every one I have bought up to now, the file size is normally pretty small around 2-3 meg. Including my DSLR. It has a high file size rating, but it never seems to use it, maybe if I shot it raw.

  18. #18
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    You are correct. JPEG files are much much smaller because it is a compressed type of file. RAW is just that, the raw color and visual information recorded to the camera's sensor, and the higher the megapixels, the higher the RAW file size. You'll see them anywhere form 10MB to over 20 depending on the camera and the picture's content.
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  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    LBS got a ViV to use for the website pictures ..

  20. #20
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    In the end, I've ordered a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7. Seems to have lots of the things I actually liked and used about a DSLR (low light performance, short depth of field), without the bulk or weight. Weatherproofing would have been nice, but when I thought about it, my little compact (Fuji Finepix F10) survived 8 years of my mistreatment, so hoping to repeat that. And lastly it was cheap - around $340 AUD delivered.

    There seems to be a strange lull in compacts at the moment - most of the recommended "premium" compacts available are more than a year old, and prices have come down accordingly. Thanks again to everyone for the recommendations and comments - much appreciated.

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