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  1. #1
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    Good cameras for the bike trail

    OK, here is my dilemna. I have two cameras, essentially, and neither are good for mountain biking. I need something that is digital, good resolution, can focus up-close, and that doesn't weigh a ton. Ability to zoom to decent focal length would be good too.

    I cant haul my Nikon D80 and interchangeable lenses around on my back, well I could, but you see the problem. It takes great pictures, close up, etc. Just too heavy and bulky and wouldn't want to damage it on the trail. And cell phone cameras are just a little sucky and awkward and don't flocus up close, so no good pictures of bike parts, animals, bugs, flowers, beer cans, etc.

    Anyone have a recommendation on a camera for the trail?

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    I went through the same issue recently. I'm not willing to bring my D300 and lenses on the bike...wanted something rugged, good quality pics, possible video capability (not critical, but fluff), good durability. I also wanted waterproof, so I didn't have to worry about sweat or occasionally getting caught in a rain shower. I also wanted small enough for a jersey pocket.

    I ended up ordering a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3. Great reviews, and from a good company. Haven't gotten it yet, so no photo reports firsthand. But I did a ton of reading on my various hobby sites (photography, biking, skiing, hiking, off-road vehicles) and found a lot of happy campers.

    Amazon.com: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 12.1 MP Rugged/Waterproof Digital Camera with 4.6x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Silver): Camera & Photo

  3. #3
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    Canon G12

    Canon G12.

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    What's your budget?

    What features are really critical to you?

    Optical zoom--how much?
    Or is wide angle more important? (It would be for me, for a pocket trail camera.)
    Low light performance... are you under canopy all the time or baking in the bright sun?
    HD video?
    Raw files?
    Ruggedness/waterproof?

    Unfortunately I have had a hard time finding inexpensive compact cameras that do both HD video and raw shooting. I went through a similar search a while back for a scuba camera. Things may have improved by now though.

    (FWIW the camera on my Android phone has a totally reasonable macro mode. It's obviously a craptacular camera compared to a real camera, but the macro performance was a nice surprise.)

    I'm still rockin' the D80 too btw.

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    The Canon S95 will do raw and HD video.

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    ^word. i love my Canon S90. it's the older version of the S95, without the HD vid. it's wicked easy to pack, fits in a cycling jersey pocket, easily. it's about the size of the palm of my hand. the HD vid is making me want to upgrade.

    i took this shot last Friday, with my S90.
    East Burke, VT

  7. #7
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    Camera Reviews, Digital Camera Reviews & Photography

    Photography Review, MTBR's sister site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by waltermitty View Post
    The Canon S95 will do raw and HD video.
    Yep and it would be a pretty good choice. A friend of mine got it for a trail camera and he's been really happy with it.

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    Hi everybody!!!!!!... i'm new in this forum, so... i really don't know how to use it!... Let's Ride!

  10. #10
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    I have this one and it is great, even underwater if you ever desired.

    Sony DSC-TX10/B Cyber-shot 16 Megapixel Waterproof Digital Camera - Black

  11. #11
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    I have a D80 too and hear ya.

    I can say right off the bat that I like the S95 because it doesn't use AAs which seems to be terrible with cameras. Maybe lithium AAs versions are a lot better but in genera my AA P&S camera experience has always been abysmal (even with rechargeables). And yes i have previously owned two different P&S cameras with proprietary batteries and they have always worked well.

    One of the important things i learned to look at with point and shoot cameras other than battery type is the ergonomics/usability/speed of it. I've used some point and shoots before that have had really frustrating ergonomics and usability so make sure you are happy with the way it works, not just what it can do and how good the photo quality is.

    My current P&S is a Panasonic Lumix, not an expensive one just a basic one. Other than AA batteries I've been pretty impressed with how usable it has been (ergonomics etc.).

    To be honest though I haven't really used it because the iPhone4 I have generally does a pretty pleasing job and it is always with me (even though the Lumix beats it).

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    I just have some cheapy nikon coolpix s210. It's a couple years old, but even then it was only like $80. If it breaks, its not that big of a deal.

  13. #13
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    If you're looking for a camera camera (not a helmet mounted camcorder), I would also say the s95. It's the current top "dslr compliment" camera, shoots raw, full manual controls, f2.0 lens (at wide angle at least), etc etc etc and it fits in a jeans pocket.

    It's one drawback for what you're asking about is that it's macro focusing distance is 5cm, there are other cameras that do 1cm.

    I was at REI yesterday, I wanted to bring it with me but I also don't want to risk falling on it and breaking it in a crash. I believe this case is the Pelican 1015 case (haven't used it yet though so I can't say for sure). The case actually fits in the bottom part of my Specialized underseat bag, with my spare tube, patches, etc in the top half of the bag...unfortunately for me I have to use that space to carry my phone (in that case rather than the camera) so I have to use a Camelback if I want to bring it with me.

    There are also some other options that aren't as small, but are more g12-sized, but you give up zoom. Like the Fuji x100 with it's dslr-sized sensor is pretty cool, but not only is it $1200 it's also a fixed 35mm-equivalent lens (no zooming). And I think it has a reputation for being rather soft at macro focussing distances. Or there's a 43rds camera with the f1.7 pancake lens...though again, there's no zooming and it's not cheap.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Good cameras for the bike trail-s95-pelican-case.jpg  


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    ...though honestly...well maybe you're going on a long day trip or multiday trips? I could see it if you're doing a whole vacation of mountain biking.

    But I was riding last night as saw a whole bunch of cool things - I flipped spectacularly (haha), I saw a cool looking small owl, I saw these weird birds that just sat on the trail until I practically ran them over...even if I kept my camera on a should strap where I could reach it, I wouldn't have been able to take a pic of any of these things because I was biking when they happened.

    If I was going to buy a camera for mountain biking right now, I'd buy a helmet video camera. I mean seriously, 95% of the stuff I want a picture/video of in my regular mountain biking happens when I'm on the bike, moving, need both hands on the bars, and even if I could somehow magically levitate the bike wouldn't have the time to turn the camera on in time to get the picture...for everyday biking I think the helmet camera would be the best. If you're really biking to places with great views I can see bringing something better like an s95.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawfarm View Post
    I went through the same issue recently. I'm not willing to bring my D300 and lenses on the bike...wanted something rugged, good quality pics, possible video capability (not critical, but fluff), good durability. I also wanted waterproof, so I didn't have to worry about sweat or occasionally getting caught in a rain shower. I also wanted small enough for a jersey pocket.

    I ended up ordering a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3. Great reviews, and from a good company. Haven't gotten it yet, so no photo reports firsthand. But I did a ton of reading on my various hobby sites (photography, biking, skiing, hiking, off-road vehicles) and found a lot of happy campers.

    Amazon.com: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 12.1 MP Rugged/Waterproof Digital Camera with 4.6x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Silver): Camera & Photo
    I was also thinking Jersey pocket and have just about decided on the DMC-TS3. It's a camera that can take some abuse and I like that it has GPS locating. I think I'd take alot more trail photos if I didn't have to keep the camera in a case, and hopefully the TS3 could handle it.

    I read a recent group test of waterproof/rugged P&S cameras and it came out on top for image quality as well. I'll probably go pick one up sometime this week.

  16. #16
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    What?

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    If you're looking for a camera camera (not a helmet mounted camcorder), I would also say the s95. It's the current top "dslr compliment" camera...
    What? The G12 is quite a step up from the S95. And no need for a fancy expensive case. My case cost about $5 at Walmart and it is attached to my Camelbak chest strap. If the camera isn't easily accessible you won't use it much. And nobody falls more than me.

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    My wife and I have an Olympus 1050SW. Shock resistant, waterproof, and very slow. Forget action shots, it ain't gonna happen. Video is very poor in low light situations.

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    Slightly larger than I would prefer but I use the Panasonic Lumix zs7.

    It has a 16x zoom, and GPS locater so that I can always go back and see exactly where I took a certain picture.

    Battery doesn't last as long as I would like, but I found a place on eBay that sells the OEM battery for something like $10, so I bought 3 spares.

    Good camera, good pics and I really like the GPS function.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    What? The G12 is quite a step up from the S95.
    The g12 and s95 use the same sensor, the s95 is smaller, and the s95 has a better lens (at wide angle) than the g12 for low light. The g12 has some additional "features" but since they use the same sensor and are both Canon cameras the photos themselves are pretty much identical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    And no need for a fancy expensive case.
    Your reply is ridiculous, the case I mentioned cost less than $20.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    My case cost about $5 at Walmart and it is attached to my Camelbak chest strap. If the camera isn't easily accessible you won't use it much. And nobody falls more than me.
    I agree with you 100% that you won't use an easily accessible camera as much. Like I said though...in my experience most of the photos I want while mountain biking can't be taken with a camera and only a helmet cam would get them. Obviously taking one hand off the bars is often (though certainly not always) a very bad idea while mountain biking. Other times things happen at a such a fast rate that the photo op is over before I could even get my hand to the camera. Things like interesting wildlife at night, people bailing on their bikes, etc could only be captured on a helmet camcorder. It's cool if you can get good shots with what you're doing, I've been thinking about it and haven't been able to figure out how it would work for me though...maybe if my trails were more scenic.

  20. #20
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    Panasonic LX5. I'm not much of a telephoto guy, I want wide angle and a fast lens for deep in the woods.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  21. #21
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    This Pentax has moved to the top of my list. Seems tailor made for mountain biking.

    Digital Cameras and Accessories - Official PENTAX Imaging Web Site
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

  22. #22
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    I got my Panasonic Lumix DSC-TS3. I'm amazed by the photo quality. I haven't dunked or dropped it yet to test its durability, but it is a great jersey pocket addition.

    In comparison to the Pentax identified above, it is 12MP instead of 14MP (which I don't really think would be noticeable), but is 1080p versus 720p on video...which is definitely noticeable.

    I give the TS3 2 thumbs up so far.

  23. #23
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    Recently bought a Canon S95. Needed a new camera for work and it had high enough resolution to do the job. It's a great size for outdoor sports (almost too small) and easy to use. I found a Lowe padded belt case (perfect size for camera & extra battery) and it's been on 2 backpacking trips already. A few bike day trips too. The Lumix LX5 was another good contender - a little bit larger and a few mm wider angle. Neither is waterproof but I have another camera for that. The only downside to the S95 is battery life only lasts one busy day. I carry a spare. Great camera and highly recommended.

  24. #24
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    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    What? The G12 is quite a step up from the S95. And no need for a fancy expensive case. My case cost about $5 at Walmart and it is attached to my Camelbak chest strap. If the camera isn't easily accessible you won't use it much. And nobody falls more than me.
    Challenge accepted.
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    Id scrap the passion forum all together, its a breeding ground for unicorn milkers, rainbow chasers and candy cotton farters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by targetdrone View Post
    My wife and I have an Olympus 1050SW. Shock resistant, waterproof, and very slow. Forget action shots, it ain't gonna happen. Video is very poor in low light situations.
    We also have the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000, and you are right. it is great for the boat, kayak, or the beach, but not for the bike.

    My wife keeps the Olympus SP-800UZ in a Bento Box and has had great sucess. 304x zoom, and full HD video.

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    Ilike my Canon D10. Pocketable, tough as nails and waterproof. My riding buddy has a better Waterproof camerabut I can'tthink of what it is at the moment.

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    Examples please?

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    The g12 and s95 use the same sensor,
    Please give us some examples of your photos from the s95?

    <p align="center"> <img border="4" src="http://arnica.csustan.edu/mtbike/Tahoe23/images/IMG_0598.jpg">
    <p align="center"> <img border="4" src="http://arnica.csustan.edu/mtbike/Tahoe23/images/IMG_0489.jpg">
    <p align="center">

  29. #29
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    Those are nice views. I don't know if I'll have time to post photos from my s95 or not, I like to confine my debating about the merits of barely-different cameras to dpreview. :-P As I said, both the s95 and g12 use the same sensor, made by Canon, released around the same time, and numerous comparisons have been done between the two - if you want to compare studio shots you can by looking at the s95 review on dpreview, or doing a search for "imaging resource comparometer" and comparing studio pics there.

  30. #30
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    +1 for the G12

    I actually have the G11 but the differences are minor. I love the G series. Here are a couple pics from my G11. This is an amazing point and shoot camera. If you like to tinker around with settings you can or if you like things simple there is an auto setting. Its a pricey point and shoot camera but well worth the money.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Good cameras for the bike trail-img_0200.jpg  

    Good cameras for the bike trail-028.jpg  


  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by KidRawkz View Post
    ^word. i love my Canon S90. it's the older version of the S95, without the HD vid. it's wicked easy to pack, fits in a cycling jersey pocket, easily. it's about the size of the palm of my hand. the HD vid is making me want to upgrade.

    i took this shot last Friday, with my S90.
    East Burke, VT
    Nice shot. Webs is one of the most recognizable spots on the planet for anyone who has been there.

    I've been a big fan of Canon Elphs. My sd200 gave 5 years of great service, taking many hits skiing and biking. Finally it took one hit too many and the lens cover fell off. Still takes pix though.

    Sd1400 IS that replaced it died of a jammed lens and dust intrusion prematurely but also took good pix and video. Canon is standing behind the product and sending out a new 300HS - we'll see how that goes.

  32. #32
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    G12

    Quote Originally Posted by theGreenEGg View Post
    I actually have the G11 but the differences are minor. I love the G series. Here are a couple pics from my G11. This is an amazing point and shoot camera. If you like to tinker around with settings you can or if you like things simple there is an auto setting. Its a pricey point and shoot camera but well worth the money.
    I was happy with my G9 but scratched the lens. The G12 is actually much cheaper than the older models. For someone who usually shoots with a DSLR the G series feels great and it almost seems like a mini DSLR.

  33. #33
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    +1 for the S95. It's an excellent P&S (point and shoot).
    My only gripe with the video is that you can't zoom in or out while shooting. For some folks, that's a deal breaker.

    My primary digital stuff however is Nikon (D700 & D300 bodies). High speed action shots remain outside the realm of most P&S except under the best conditions. Much depends on available light or flash if you have it. Shutter speeds of 1/1000 or faster to stop the action are typical. P&S cameras can't do this like DSLRs. Neither can their lenses. Another feature the small cameras lack is weather proofing found on pro bodies.

    One thing you could do using the body you have, would be to try a wide angle to mid range zoom. There are decent options in the 17-50mm range for DX body cameras. In my case, a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 is the primary lens that stays on my D300. This camera/ lens combo is small enough get pack small and keep dry with the right accessories. This kit is 4 times the size of an S95 however, so it may well be too big for your needs.

    Thom Hogan recently posted solid reviews about some of the newly released compacts which you may find useful. Whereas his focus has long been Nikon oriented, I've found his knowledge of photography extensive and his writing clear and easy to read. His site is a credible resource that explains camera technology and techniques far better than I. Hope it's useful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daves4mtb View Post
    I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughts. I am getting ready to go on vacation, and will get one of these cameras before I do. right now the canon s95 and nikon aw100 are teh front runners, but what about the canon g12? No one mentioned it. A little pricey for a point & shoot. $500. Not sure it is worth it, but has anyone tried one. The Nkon looks tasty
    You didn't actually...read any of the replies, did you?

  35. #35
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    In my opinion, you will be hard pressed to tell the differences in image quality between the G12 and the S95. There is no doubt however, as to which one is more portable.

    FWIW, I had the G11 and after some use sold it for the S95 because of that portability. No regrets either. Get a small OpTech pouch to fit and you'll take it everywhere.

  36. #36
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    G12

    Quote Originally Posted by daves4mtb View Post
    A little pricey for a point & shoot. $500. Not sure it is worth it, but has anyone tried one.
    The G12 is hardly a point and shoot camera. If you ask a question and people take the time to answer it then you should show some courtesy by at least reading what they have to say. The proof is in the pudding. The only good photos I see posted here are from the G12. Where are the photos from all the other cameras recommended? Talk is cheap. A picutre is worth a thousand words

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    The only good photos I see posted here are from the G12. Where are the photos from all the other cameras recommended? Talk is cheap.
    S90 FTW!

    Seriously- the G12 is a nice camera. The S95 is the same sensor, brighter lens, smaller package, no optical view finder or flip-out display. I definitely looked at the G11 when buying my S90, but the difference is in handling, not image quality.

    Granted neither of them are DSLR's...















  38. #38
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    Wherewolf makes a legit point that I can try to validate, as least as far as comparison between two cameras that I have owned and used (G11 & S95).
    I'll try to do this cleanly by providing a sample image taken by each, using the same subject my dog, as she's better looking than me.

    1st Image:
    Canon G11, ISO100, f/2.8 @ 1/200sec. Focal length is 6.1 (equiv to 28mm)

    2nd Image
    Canon S95, ISO80, ISO100, f/2.8 @ 1/200sec. Focal length is 6mm

    These photos are nothing special and only serve to illustrate what I believe is comparable image quality between the G11 & S95. I do most of my post processing through Adobe Lightroom. Beyond re-sizing to comply with forum guidelines & adding my © there was no crop or re-touching done.

    If anyone want's to spit hairs between G12, go for it. I don't have that camera. Something worth noting however, is that all three share the same image sensor. So regardless of how you classify them, they remain variations of a common theme found in many of today's cameras. It all comes down to features, size and performance. For me personally, the performance and features were close enough that I chose based on size.

    If your still on the fence between which one to get then try this. Go down to your local camera shop and take photos with them using your own SD card. Then compare the results using your computer, monitor and image editing software. By then you will know what you prefer ergonomic wise and cost. Then go enjoy your vacation and take a lot of pictures.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Good cameras for the bike trail-ruby-10-21-09.jpg  

    Good cameras for the bike trail-ruby-02-20-11.jpg  


  39. #39
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    Of the two, I'd go for the G12 simply for the viewfinder… I hate composing shots at arms length, and, off a screen.

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    lol, it's de-ja-vu from the camera forums...

    The issue with the g12's "viewfinder" is that it's really crappy. It has like 80% coverage, the detail you see through the viewfinder is less than you see on the lcd (strange but I've used one), and the center of the picture vs the center on the viewfinder changes as you zoom, so at wide angle the "real" center of the pic is in one location but you zoom and the "real" center of the picture is now somewhere different.

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    I just got the S95 on Monday and so far I'm impressed. If anyone is interested in seeing how it performed in challenging conditions (low light mtb race), check out: Race 4 - August 30 Photo Gallery by j_harvey at pbase.com.

    The photos won't knock your socks off, but what is impressive is that they were taken between 6pm and 7pm in fairly dense woods (official sunset was 7:30pm and around here, the woods are so dark at official sunset that I turn on my bike lights or get out of the woods at sunset). I set the speed at 1/100 or 1/125 and it selected f2 (as low as it would go) and 1600 ISO. I probably could have set the speed a little slower since I was using a short focal length.

    For a P&S camera, I'm impressed with the results. It's low-light performance is definitely a step up from my Fuji F50, which was supposed to have a good low-light sensor (for its time). When I was shooting and saw that it was 1600 ISO, I really wondered if there would be any salvageable photos. Of course, it doesn't have as good low-light performance as my Nikon D7000 DSLR, but I can't put the D7000 in my pocket.

    On the speed side, as dpreview indicated - this is not a fast camera. If there were 2 racers in series, you had to choose one to shoot. I pre-focused all the shots and this allowed me to shoot the rider with minimal delay.

    I've got lots more playing to do with this camera and I'm excited.

  42. #42
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    More photos with the S95

    Two more photos with the S95 last Saturday. The first one is 1/250s, f2.0 ISO 640, and the second is 1/125s, f3.5 and ISO 80.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Good cameras for the bike trail-img_0144ps-800h.jpg  

    Good cameras for the bike trail-img_0172ps-800h.jpg  


  43. #43
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    I have a G12 which my wife uses primarily but its a very nice camera. If you really want a serious comparison of cameras, G12 vs. S95 I suggest you check out Canon Cameras: Digital Photography Review

    What you really need to do is decide what features are important to you and base your decision around that.

    Here are some of the differences between the G12 vs. S95 There's more too it then pixel count and sensor size.

    Has a flip-out screen Yes vs No
    Significantly better macro capability 1 cm vs 5 cm
    Less shutter lag 380 ms vs 610 ms
    Slightly lower noise at high ISO 161 ISO vs 153 ISO
    Supports an external flash Yes vs No
    Has a viewfinder Tunnel vs None
    Much faster max shutter speed 1/4000s

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    Dear mtbr,

    Kiss my ass for losing my post 3 times. First time my "session token" expired. The next page said to press back which I did. Second time same message, despite having followed the instructions, this time I pressed refresh on the page. Third time the page lost it anyways, again whining about the session token. Bite me.

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