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  1. #1
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    Best P&S Camera for the Front Range?

    Here's another "best of" question for all you camera guys out there.... I've got a pretty sweet dSLR setup (Canon 50D plus lenses), but I find myself NEVER taking it with me when I ride. I really like taking pictures of biking and skiing, so I thought I'd pony up for a new advanced P&S that I can carry in my pack or pocket. What are the favorites out there?

    The leader in the clubhouse is the Canon S90/S95, but I'd love to spend closer to $250 if there are cheaper options available. I'd like it to shoot RAW and have an Aperture Priority mode, but other than that I'm open.

    What say the masses?

  2. #2
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    I'm no expert but have been very happy with my panasonics. I have a basic, compact one (LZ8) and a larger more, advanced one (FZ28). If I were in the market for a new camera to take biking etc, I'd be looking at Panasonic's wide angle options. I forget the model names but they've been reviewed on DPreview.com.

  3. #3
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    I think it's Canon vs Panasonic, so far above the others in a lot of ways. I prefer the Canons especially since they stopped the megapixel wars in favor of quality. but whichever you pick the wide angle is a must IMO.

  4. #4
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    You know now that I think about it maybe you're better with a lower end model from either of those, something you're not worried about bashing. It makes a huge difference if it's right there in a jersey pocket rather than stashed in a case, wrapped in a shirt & stuffed in the camelback.

    As someone who knows photography you can probably get excellent shots from most anything already.

  5. #5
    Inflexable...
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    Nice website Steve. You probably know more about selecting a camera than most of us on here...

    Partial to Canon though...
    Tact is for people not witty enough to be sarcastic...

  6. #6
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    S95 if you can live with a 4x zoom. It shoots in RAW if you need it. It does start at 28mm wide. The Panasonic ZS7 has a 12x zoom, starts at 25mm wide (?) and is currently $199 at Amazon (see linky). No RAW, though. Heck, on the trails JPEGS are just fine.

    My thread "xcguy's mud report" was shot with my ZS1 (nearly the same specs as the ZS7). I usually shoot with a Nikon D90/D5000/D40 but am pretty pleased with the ZS1's output ("given its limitations" as DSLR users are wont to say about point and shoots).
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  7. #7
    bacon! bacon! bacon!
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    Just got the ZS7. Will provide a report once I get some ski pictures taken.

  8. #8
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    Steve, great website! My wife just bought a Nikon 3100 DSLR and is starting to get hooked on photography.

    I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1. Its shock, water, and dustproof. I really like the way it shoots and it takes some descent HD video if you like video.

  9. #9
    Rolling
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    I use a Panasonic LX-3. I like it because it has a great high ISO (good low-light noise), fast lens (f/2.0) and great macro. They replaced it with the LX-5 (more zoom) which I wish they would have made in the first place. The LX-5 is $500 though.

    Makes great movie clips too.

  10. #10
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    Hmm.... so it looks like I'll do some research on Panasonic too. I appreciate the feedback so far, and thanks for the website compliments as well. If I wasn't already such a slow climber, it'd be easier to take my dSLR with me on rides... but I sure as hell don't need another 4-5 lbs on my back!

    Oh, one other "nice to have" is a decent burst rate. I think I saw a couple P&S cams that were close to 2-3 fps. Since I'm used to 6+, it would be nice to have something better than just one per second like most seem to have.


    All in the name of posting more TRs. Damn you internet.

  11. #11
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    Even a small piece of grit will kill the cameras with the motorized lenses that retract into the body. A leak in your Camelback will kill many of them, too.

    You want one of the "rugged" point and shoots. I have a Pentax Optio W90 and love it, but it does not shoot RAW. It does do nice 12M jpegs and has a good movie mode though.

  12. #12
    Rolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit
    .... A leak in your Camelback will kill many of them, too...
    Gotta wear it on your chest for quick draw anyway.... just don't crack your sternum on a nice fall.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit
    Even a small piece of grit will kill the cameras with the motorized lenses that retract into the body. A leak in your Camelback will kill many of them, too.

    You want one of the "rugged" point and shoots. I have a Pentax Optio W90 and love it, but it does not shoot RAW. It does do nice 12M jpegs and has a good movie mode though.
    I never carried a point and shook nekkid (the camera, not me) I always carried it in a small LowePro case. After ten years of hiking/biking with point and shoots with those retractable thingies over the lens I've never had one jam or fail.

    I take that back: my first day in Utah one year, on my first ride, within the first hour, I took out my TZ5, turned it on, held it up to my eye to get some shot and a fly flew right into my ear. I reflexively swiped at it (unfortunately with the hand that was holding the camera) and basically threw my TZ5, lens first, straight down onto the slickrock.

    What a horrible SMACK it made as it died on the rock. Stupid fly. I've used a wrist strap ever since. Cool fun fact: on my drive back I phoned my insurance company and had a check waiting for me when I got back. I bought another one and still have and use it. Great camera.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by smmokan
    Hmm.... so it looks like I'll do some research on Panasonic too. I appreciate the feedback so far, and thanks for the website compliments as well. If I wasn't already such a slow climber, it'd be easier to take my dSLR with me on rides... but I sure as hell don't need another 4-5 lbs on my back!

    Oh, one other "nice to have" is a decent burst rate. I think I saw a couple P&S cams that were close to 2-3 fps. Since I'm used to 6+, it would be nice to have something better than just one per second like most seem to have.


    All in the name of posting more TRs. Damn you internet.
    I think the S95 maxes out at a little under 2 fps. My ZS1 does an honest 2.5 fps (full rez) for five shots or 2 fps continuous. However, my ZS1 has what's called a "Hi Speed Burst Mode" where it will bust out 7 to 10 fps (at a reduced resolution), even better than my D90. My TZ5 has the same "Hi Speed Burst" and I got some great shots of racers clearing a gap up at Sol Vista. Even at 3 megs or whatever the resolution was the shots were clear and clean.

    There are newer Canon models that have a CMOS sensor that have high speed continuous shooting but not the S95.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  15. #15
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    +1 on the panasonic cameras. That is what i have and i also bought a Pelican Case at REI and now my camera never sees moisture, grit and if i crash i might break the case but the camera should be fine. I have already broken one case that would have destroyed the camera but returned to REI for another, no charge.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy
    I never carried a point and shook nekkid (the camera, not me) I always carried it in a small LowePro case. After ten years of hiking/biking with point and shoots with those retractable thingies over the lens I've never had one jam or fail.

    I take that back: my first day in Utah one year, on my first ride, within the first hour, I took out my TZ5, turned it on, held it up to my eye to get some shot and a fly flew right into my ear. I reflexively swiped at it (unfortunately with the hand that was holding the camera) and basically threw my TZ5, lens first, straight down onto the slickrock.

    What a horrible SMACK it made as it died on the rock. Stupid fly. I've used a wrist strap ever since. Cool fun fact: on my drive back I phoned my insurance company and had a check waiting for me when I got back. I bought another one and still have and use it. Great camera.
    That;s the great thing about the Optio W90 and others like it: they are designed to be carried naked so you don't have to screw around taking it in and out of the case. They work great as a helmet or car cam too, with one of the available mounts.

    Check out this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg4N3cWONsU

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit
    Even a small piece of grit will kill the cameras with the motorized lenses that retract into the body. A leak in your Camelback will kill many of them, too.

    You want one of the "rugged" point and shoots. I have a Pentax Optio W90 and love it, but it does not shoot RAW. It does do nice 12M jpegs and has a good movie mode though.
    I've never had a problem with either of my P&S cameras and I take them BC skiing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking etc. I'm sure it happens but I'm not convinced it's enough of a risk to bother with a "rugged" camera. I often carry my small camera in a case on either the sternum strap or on the bottom of the shoulder strap, but sometimes it's just in my jersey pocket or the built-in pocket on my waist strap.

  18. #18
    Oh, So Interesting!
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    I recently got a Sony Nex-5 as my "real" camera and it is small enough to carry mtb'ing on some rides that are more mellow or especially scenic. Shooting 7 fps is awesome... I also use my p&s, a Fuji F20.... it still works, takes decent pics and is cheap enough I don't need to worry about it. I agree a sternum strap mounted case is required to make it easy enough to get out and put away.

    I would go Canon or Sony for a p&s just because I prefer their output over other brands.

  19. #19
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    You are only speck of grit from ruining a camera with a retractable lens. I had a Nikon P&S that I loved. I dropped it once. Just once. A small speck of grit got between the tubes of the lens, and when I turned it on to check it, it jammed and the plastic gears that extend/retract the lens stripped. Game over.

    YMMV

  20. #20
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    Yeah, I'm not really worried about ruining a camera like that... I've had a P&S before, taken it with me to shoot skiing and biking, and it's never been an issue. I know it CAN happen, but as long as you're somewhat careful with the camera, it shouldn't be a problem.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit
    You are only speck of grit from ruining a camera with a retractable lens.
    Well then I guess I'll buy....another $100 P&S

  22. #22
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    for p&s i would say the canon sd750 ... hands down. //g
    My Current Stable:
    Yeti 303 RDH | Yeti 575 | Yeti dirtjumper

  23. #23
    bacon! bacon! bacon!
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    Quote Originally Posted by gage
    for p&s i would say the canon sd750 ... hands down. //g
    Why?

    'Cause that's what you have?

  24. #24
    Chillaxin 'n Chilcotin!
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    My problem with the Canons like the S95 is the lens cover. I have a Canon G7 which has been my biking camera for the last several years. Overall, I've been very happy with the camera, but with time, the lens has developed a small score mark right in the center where the lens cover has rubbed on the lens. Canon hasn't changed that design with either the G or S series so I probably won't buy another camera with that type of protection--I don't think that closure is designed for rugged conditions.

    I'm intrigued by the new Panasonic DMC-TS3. It's designed to take a 2 meter fall, be underwater up to 10 meters and operate in sub-freezing temps. I'm a little concerned about the smallish CCD though (relative to the G series). I'd like to see how it performs in low light action shots before I take the plunge.

  25. #25
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    Here's part of a review of the "tough camera" segment. I've never researched this type of camera but here's a comparison of three of them (this is from Camera Labs, which doesn't allow direct linking to the website). I'm gonna look around for comparisons of this segment of camera, only down and dirty in the muck and not just to take to the beach.

    Compared to Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1





    Though there's little to chose between the Canon PowerShot D10 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 in terms of the quality of their images, these two cameras not only look very different, there's clear blue water between them in terms of features.

    The Panasonic beats the PowerShot hands down when it comes to video with 720p HD video recording in addition to standard definition modes. The best the PowerShot can manage is 640x480 VGA resolution video. Ranging from 4.9mm to 22.8mm (28mm - 130mm equivalent) the FT1 / TS1's zoom range also extends significantly beyond what the D10 has to offer with better wide angle and telephoto performance.

    While on paper the FT1 looks to be the better camera, we much preferred the D10 in the water. The FT1 / TS1 doesn't look tough, rugged and fun like the D10 - indeed it looks and feels like a land camera that's been sealed up so you can use it in the water. But water tightness on its own isn't enough. The FT1's controls and menus are small, difficult to see and fiddly to operate underwater and it's therefore a camera that's best-suited to normal use with only occassional forays into the water. This in itself is fine and will suit many people simply wanting a normal camera that can survive a trip to the beach or pool, but if you intend to use the camera more under the water than out of it, then you'll be happier with the Canon D10. Look out for our upcoming review of this camera.

    Compared to Olympus TOUGH 8000





    A well-designed and stylish camera, in terms of features, the Olympus TOUGH 8000 compares favourably with the Canon PowerShot D10. Both have 12.1 Megapixel sensors, but the Olympus has a slightly larger 2.7in LCD panel and a marginally wider zoom range extending from 5mm to 18.2mm (28mm - 102mm equivalent).

    But what little advantage it has, the Olympus TOUGH 8000 relinquishes when it comes to possibly the two most important criteria for judging a digital compact - image quality and usability. The quality of the TOUGH 8000 images in both our general outdoor and indoor high ISO tests was, frankly, disappointing.

    And, like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1, the controls on the TOUGH 8000 are small, difficult to operate tiny steel buttons. This is not a camera you'd easily be able to operate with gloves on, so the fact that it has a claimed lower operating temperature of -10C is largely academic.

    Having said all that, the one thing the TOUGH 8000 does have over the D10 is compactness. Like the Panasonic, it's a much slimmer camera, so if size matters, this is where it wins out.



    Canon PowerShot D10 final verdict

    The Canon PowerShot D10 is an excellent all-round digital compact that is designed specifically for use in the water and other 'challenging' environments. With a 12.1 megapixel sensor, 3x digital zoom and 2.5in LCD it's specifications may not set your heart racing, but within these boundaries it does what it does very well and produces excellent quality photos.

    Its appearance has been described by some as toy-like - we'd call it fun and functional - but whether you love or hate the way it looks, there's no denying that it's extremely easy to use. This both looks and feels like a camera you could happily use in the sea, up a mountain or jumping out of an aeroplane. That makes it all the more easy when you're at a wedding or birthday party.

    The D10 is a great little camera that would be even better with an extended zoom that's closer to 5x and the addition of an HD video mode. Despite those omissions it's still an excellent choice whether your looking for a compact specifically for in and underwater use, or just want a general purpose compact that you can occassionally take sailing or to the beach in confidence.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

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