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  1. #1
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    Help deciding on a digital camera for the trails

    So I have a GoPro for taking video while pedaling but I would like to start capturing some of the cool places my bike takes me and some of the action of riding partners. I'm new to photography but would like to learn and get better so I want a good camera. Probably one above my current abilities that I can grow into. So, that leads me to the decision on what camera? I have been considering both the ruggedized point-and-shoot cameras and just the normal high quality point-and-shoots.

    Is the rugged camera really necessary or a good idea at the loss of image quality? The best rugged camera I think I have found is the:

    Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS (12MP, f/2, OLED screen, 1/2.3" sensor)

    The big selling points, besides the rugged dustproof/waterproof design, are the f/2 aperture and the OLED screen for better viewing in daylight.

    Now the best "regular" piont-and-shoot I think I have found is the:

    Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 (20MP, f/1.8, 1" sensor, ability for RAW)

    Open to any other suggestions. I just want a good camera. Not sure if giving up image quality is worth the supposed ruggedness for a mtbing camera.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    To be honest if you want great photos then dont go with a point and shoot.... go buy your self a DSLR.... if your really set on a P&S then look at the Canon S100 or even S95 both very great cameras with awesome image quality.... I ride with my Nikon D7000 17-55 f2.8g and 11-16 f2.8 lens all the time... Mind you when I have my camera in my bag I dont hit crazy jumps etc.... If you want more control (more then you can get form a P&S) but dont want to go as far as getting a DSLR then check out a Micro four thirds ( see Soney Nex 5N, Olympus Pen,) when it comes to mountain biking you dont have much time to focus on a subject so that is why I would steer clear of P&S and more towards a DSLR or Micro four thirds camera.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response. I get what you are saying for sure. Thing is I really want something that I can carry in a belt-loop pouch connected on the strap of my pack so that I can get to it easily without having to take-off and dig around in my pack. Just something I can stop but stay on the bike, pull out and take some shots. I'm still very much a noobie to photography so I think I could learn a lot from a good enthusists P&S with manual controls at first. Then later step up to a nice DSLR.

    Have you read the reviews on the Sony RX100 at all? It sounds like a great camera for a P&S. They say it takes as near DSLR quality photos as can be expected from a P&S. It has a f1.8 lens at the widest focal length and a 1" 20MP sensor. I know that no one characteristic makes a great camera but the sum of the characteristics seem great for what it is. Images I have seen seem very good. Allows for full manual control and shooting in RAW. Specs allow for some ok depth of field shots. The whole camera is quite small still too. Still very pocketable. Seems to be getting rated above the Canon S100 overall usually.

    My biggest worry is the durability of a camera like this on the trails because it's a pretty good chunk of change to buy one. Obviously I can't be crashing on it and dropping it and such but what about just simple vibrations and trail dust? Mainly just trail environment effects.

  4. #4
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    I recently bought a Sony Cybershot DSC-W90 (16MP, 1080@60fps, 16x optical zoom) back last spring and it has been a solid P&S. You won't get DSLR quality pics out of them but they are good for quick and easy pictures and for the most part, they fit in a pack and I have yet to break one..I had a Sony drop on pavement countless times and it still works like a charm. (Unit was off at the time, I am sure if it had been on it could have been a different story).

    If you want mind-blowing pictoral awesomeness, you will want a DSLR or Compact-DSLR (Sony NEX 5N). The Compact DSLR's minus the lenses are not that much larger than a P&S and the main issue with lugging those aren't the camera but the lenses...the lenses cost a nice chunk of change (in fact some of the Sony NEX 5N lenses cost more than the camera body itself). Those you obviously would need to protect enroute on the bike. They do sell a wide angle lens for the DSLRs that aren't long but you sacrifice zoom for portability.

    I had a NEX 5N for a few weeks but just thought a P&S would serve better for the portability and lower cost and from what I have experienced with the NEX 5N, battery life was shorter than it was on a P&S.
    I don't use Strava. Don't need an application to tell me I am slow because I already know.

  5. #5
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    Went to Walmart before a trip a few years ago and picked up a Canon S3000IS. It's been dropped, wet, muddy, sandy, etc. and still working great. I bought it cause I wouldn't feel bad if I landed on it going over the bars. Yet to happen. Landing on it that is...I've gone over the bars with it plenty.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rehammer81 View Post
    Thanks for the response. I get what you are saying for sure. Thing is I really want something that I can carry in a belt-loop pouch connected on the strap of my pack so that I can get to it easily without having to take-off and dig around in my pack. Just something I can stop but stay on the bike, pull out and take some shots. I'm still very much a noobie to photography so I think I could learn a lot from a good enthusists P&S with manual controls at first. Then later step up to a nice DSLR.

    Have you read the reviews on the Sony RX100 at all? It sounds like a great camera for a P&S. They say it takes as near DSLR quality photos as can be expected from a P&S. It has a f1.8 lens at the widest focal length and a 1" 20MP sensor. I know that no one characteristic makes a great camera but the sum of the characteristics seem great for what it is. Images I have seen seem very good. Allows for full manual control and shooting in RAW. Specs allow for some ok depth of field shots. The whole camera is quite small still too. Still very pocketable. Seems to be getting rated above the Canon S100 overall usually.

    My biggest worry is the durability of a camera like this on the trails because it's a pretty good chunk of change to buy one. Obviously I can't be crashing on it and dropping it and such but what about just simple vibrations and trail dust? Mainly just trail environment effects.
    I'm not familiar with the Sony, I do know the S100 has amazing IQ (image quality) and does something like 8-10 frames per second..... and has great video so if the Sony is getting better reviews then it might be worth it.... I know Sony is coming op in the world....... and if you care when I ride with my DSLR and lenses I take my Click Elite Compact sport bag with me holds a 100oz bladder DSLR and lenses. (Camera equipment in a designated camera block for easy access) and still has pleanty of room for ( what I normally take) cell phone wallet keys snack shock pump extra tube tire levers lights and battery, with room to spare

  7. #7
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    DAnREal, talk to me about this ClikElite bag. I've been looking for just this sort of pack. How easy is it do get to your DSLR? I know it'll never be as quick as my chest strap point and shoot but if I could get to it pretty quick with out totally taking off the pack that would be awesome. Hows the build on the pack? Lowe pro quality or better?

  8. #8
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    I used to hike with all sorts of cameras - film SLRs 135/MF, view cameras, DSLR, Sony point and shoot and now I pretty much only take two of them with me because they are super pocketable - Sigma DP2 for its picture quality and Nokia N8 that I have always with me (better image quality than many point and shoots). In order to get good results from them, you need to know what you are doing though. I would highly suggest to get one of the EVIL cameras with large sensors sans a mirror box.

    Edit: and btw if you want to get the most out of your cameras, you need to get at least a little competent at post processing. It makes no sense to me to buy an expensive camera and then only use the straight jpgs or trivially converted raw files.

    A sample from my DP2 (Cedar Breaks NM, UT), full size


    one from Nokia N8 larger size

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by StiHacka View Post

    A sample from my DP2 (Cedar Breaks NM, UT), ]
    Stunning image!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgautier View Post
    Stunning image!
    Thank you. It felt like cheating with that light!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeroack View Post
    DAnREal, talk to me about this ClikElite bag. I've been looking for just this sort of pack. How easy is it do get to your DSLR? I know it'll never be as quick as my chest strap point and shoot but if I could get to it pretty quick with out totally taking off the pack that would be awesome. Hows the build on the pack? Lowe pro quality or better?
    The build is great very comfortable and I would compare it to lowpro no problem.... its not the.fastest thing to get to but still pretty fast

  12. #12
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    Nice pics! That first one is exactly the kind of stuff I want to capture on my mtb rides. I decided on the Sony DSC-RX100. It was getting great reviews for a P&S everywhere I looked. It's not a DSLR but sounds like it is as close as can be expected from a P&S and tops in the category. It gives me full manual capability to start playing around and learning the basics of becoming a good photographer and is pocketable so I will carry it often and actually take pictures while out riding. I totally understand actually learning how to use the post processing software. I am a computer/software engineer so I won't need much motivation to learn that. I will probably end up over-obsessing about it.

  13. #13
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    Good choice! I am looking forward too seeing your pictures.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rehammer81 View Post
    Nice pics! That first one is exactly the kind of stuff I want to capture on my mtb rides. I decided on the Sony DSC-RX100. It was getting great reviews for a P&S everywhere I looked. It's not a DSLR but sounds like it is as close as can be expected from a P&S and tops in the category. It gives me full manual capability to start playing around and learning the basics of becoming a good photographer and is pocketable so I will carry it often and actually take pictures while out riding. I totally understand actually learning how to use the post processing software. I am a computer/software engineer so I won't need much motivation to learn that. I will probably end up over-obsessing about it.
    Yes what StiHacka said get out and ride and post some pictures!

  15. #15
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    I'm considering the same deal. Though I'll use mine for trail running and hiking too. so compact is most certainly needed.

    I'm tired of the "pics or it didn't happen" responses I keep getting.

    I've been looking at the Nikon AW100. Tough p&s with 16mp and 5x zoom.
    Seems like its getting good reviews.

  16. #16
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    The RX100 is an awesome camera that should blow the S100 or S95 out of the water.

    Canon S100 vs Sony DSC-RX100 - Our Analysis

    And for those who like in depth reviews.
    Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 In-Depth Review: Digital Photography Review

  17. #17
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    I am having the same quandary, but I already have the cameras. I just need to figure out a method to safely carry them. My choices are: Canon G12, Canon T2i w/ 18-200, or Canon 5DII w/ 17-40 f4, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 40 f2.8, and a 50 f 1.4. when I hike, I usually take the 5D with the wide zoom and the telephoto. I just can't imagine this gear living through trail rides and I hate the idea of putting all that weight in a back pack and having it slosh around on my back.I have tried the G12 in a seat bag and it got pretty beat up. I also tried it in a pocket and it got damaged when I went over the bars. Any ideas?

  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusheleven View Post

    I've been looking at the Nikon AW100. Tough p&s with 16mp and 5x zoom.
    Seems like its getting good reviews.
    That was my other option when I wanted a camera I could throw in a pocket and not care about. From what I studied on the subjet I think Nikon has pretty good picture quality for what it is. I remember liking it more than the Olympus TG-820 that I finally got myself. Went for the Olympus only because of lens protection, no other reason. I'm happy with it, it takes a beating, is not afraid of water and lives to see another day. Good for what it is as long as you don't expect DSLR quality and don't mind the occasional blown out skies.

    ephotozine has reviews that I found helpful.

  20. #20
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    Last year I bought a Sony DSC-H70 to replace an older Canon Powershot. The Sony is worse in every way except video. Action shots are blurs, and the damn thing has started turning itself on.
    So Im shopping for another p&s thats good on action shots. Ive seen good results from a Casio @ $250.

  21. #21
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    I have a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX 100 and find it brilliant for using on the trails.

  22. #22
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    For me the ability to shoot RAW is really important. Pick P&S that can be able to shoot RAW (If you love editing)

  23. #23
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    Let me tag on to the end of this great thread. Are there any cameras in the category being discussed that have an optical viewfinder? I've had two little P & S cameras, both of which have not taken any great pictures and I hate, hate, hate trying to understand what I'm seeing using a screen on the back. Glare and inability to focus/really see what I'm looking at means I just can't get these cameras to work for me.
    What cameras would allow these factors to intersect: optical viewfinder, ability to focus, light or relatively light weight, compact, photo quality, cost. Video is irrelevant for me at this time. Just wait for Smart Phones to catch up?
    Had an OM10 Olympus back in the day that I really liked.

  24. #24
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    Fuji X-Pro1 would be nice. A bit on the pricey side though but I'd certainly love to get one. Check it out. Perhaps even some lesser model might do.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rinseflow View Post
    Fuji X-Pro1 would be nice. A bit on the pricey side though but I'd certainly love to get one. Check it out. Perhaps even some lesser model might do.
    Thanks for this great suggestion! It has pointed me in the direction of the FujiFilm X10, which, as one reviewer notes, "It is the X for the rest of us."
    "The Fuji X10 is the most affordable of the rangefinder-like models, and its features include a zoom lens, real-image finder, and compact frame. It's the X for the rest of us, and as such, it's been love at first sight for many photographers." It can also do close ups, which is important to me.

    Full review here. A bazillion other reviews are on the internet, and there are some especially useful ones on Amazon.
    $500 to $600 range, depending on where you buy.

    I need to make a pilgrimage to Best Buy or similar after the holiday craziness has passed to see one in person and try out the viewfinder.

    If anyone has had direct experience with the FujiFilm X10, please post up with your experience/opinion.

  26. #26
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    Nikon V1

    Don't think it's been mentioned yet, but I bought a Nikon V1 on the cheap(-ish) from Amazon a few months ago and while I've only ridden with it a couple of times, it's the perfect size and definitely makes passable pictures.
    Got tired of having my D300 on my back - though it's a great excuse for getting dropped on climbs - and was looking for something that could shoot RAW, was reasonably quick with AF and shutter.
    The V1 (and J1 cousin) have lots of shortcomings, which have been well-documented around the web. And I think at the original retail of $700+ weren't a solid option. But if you can find one in the $300s right now while Nikon rolls out the V2, I think it's a great compact option.

  27. #27
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    A great camera to get right now is the Canon PowerShot G15. It has a good lens and image quality that's hard to beat in a P&S camera.

    I started using a Samsung HZ30W after a Nikon D40 with 2-3 lenses in my backpack. I got far more and far better pictures with the P&S than with the DSLR on mountain biking rides. A decent P&S won't sacrifice very much on image quality or performance and will allow you to ride lighter with easy access to the camera as needed.

    If you're worried about a P&S camera not being rugged enough for use while mountain biking, you can get a well padded carrying case, even waterproof hardshell cases. The biggest problem cameras have on the trail is dust, it gets inside everything over time.

  28. #28
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    just got myself a 5D III with the 24-105 and will be riding with it. Still have to get a good backpack for it

  29. #29
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    Does anyone have Canon T3i that they take on rides? I haven't gone riding with it yet, just snowboarding, but it held up well on over 7000 feet of mountain. I had it in a padded camera shoulder bag and managed to avoiding landing on it on some slides. am thinking of getting a handlebar bag for DSLRs when it gets warm again.

  30. #30
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    Im surprised no TG-1 owners chimed in yet, I just picked one up & its the sh!t

  31. #31
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    I just got my TG-1 and it is a damn good camera. I'm a bit pissed, though, that on the day it showed up, they announced the TG-2, so I'm considering returning it and getting the -2.

    As for the discussion, I've had a tough camera for about 7 years now and can't imagine not having one around. I still have the first one I had (Olympus sw770) and the second one I had (Panasonic TS-3) broke from a very minor impact. I went with the TG-1 for a few reasons, but one if them is the central lens position that is more protected than the ones out on the top corner. The Panasonic had better image quality than the 770, but not the TG-1 and it's just not as rugged as either Oly, so I went back to the Olympus.

    The TG-1 image quality is, I think, a fair trade off for a camera I can take anywhere or hand to my kid and not worry about whether it'll work when I get it back. I can take it in the water or on the trail or to the beach without worrying about sand, dust, water or...? I can take it skiing without worrying about the cold or snow. Yes, you can do this with most cameras if they're properly packed or encased, but not if you want it readily accessible to gloved hands or in an outer coat pocket.

    My only problem now is finding the right case for the TG-1. It's a bit bigger than my previous tough cameras, and so far the cases I've found are too small or huge!
    Last edited by skiahh; 02-09-2013 at 03:21 PM.

  32. #32
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    For the TG-1, these items are helpful:
    Get this and a UV lens for scratch protection-
    Amazon.com: Rainbowimaging 40.5mm Conversion Lens Adapter for OLYMPUS Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera, 100% replaces Olympus CLA-T01 Lens Adapter: Camera & Photo
    Lowepro has a bag finder, the Rezo30 is a great fit -better with the above.

    Action & macro shots are great! Im very happy with the TG-1...Best Buy let me have it for $279 new

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedaler845 View Post
    For the TG-1, these items are helpful:
    Get this and a UV lens for scratch protection-
    Amazon.com: Rainbowimaging 40.5mm Conversion Lens Adapter for OLYMPUS Tough TG-1 iHS digital camera, 100% replaces Olympus CLA-T01 Lens Adapter: Camera & Photo
    Lowepro has a bag finder, the Rezo30 is a great fit -better with the above.

    Action & macro shots are great! Im very happy with the TG-1...Best Buy let me have it for $279 new
    $279? Wow, is that a refurb or brand new?

    I decided to return mine and wait for the TG-2. I've already pre-ordered it, so it's just a waiting game now. At $279, though, I'd have kept the TG-1!!

    The Rezo30 looks nice, but I really want to have a velcro flap instead of a zipper because I think it's easier to get to. Still searching!

  34. #34
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    I got lucky with their staffing -its new. Their bag selection sucks.

    I didnt see any big changes for the TG-2.

    The Rezo30 is pretty fast opening, but velcro would be nice. At least it attaches to the MULE well.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedaler845 View Post
    I got lucky with their staffing -its new. Their bag selection sucks.

    I didnt see any big changes for the TG-2.

    The Rezo30 is pretty fast opening, but velcro would be nice. At least it attaches to the MULE well.
    Very nice!!

    But big changes? Aperture Priority mode is a pretty big change as are the 120 and 240 fps video modes. Those were the two big things for me. And the super macro has some cool potential!

    It's waterproof to 50' now; small change, but still nice.

    And I've read at least one article that says it has better IQ and image processing, though with the same sensor and processor, I'm a bit skeptical about that claim.

    But like I said, at $279, I'd have kept the -1 without hesitation!
    Last edited by skiahh; 02-11-2013 at 08:54 AM.

  36. #36
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    TG-2 showed up today. The super macro mode is, well, SUPER cool!! Focusing at that close and that zoom level when holding the camera is a challenge, though.

    Other than that, nothing really to report. I took some pictures this afternoon that caused the auto ISO to go to 800 and 1600, so there was noise in them. I need to mess with it a bit and get some full light pictures on the chip to evaluate. The noise on the ones I have is only visible at full size, but full screen on my laptop they're beautiful.

    Here's a super macro of my laptop screen:


    Denim, from my jeans:


    And a sunset pic:

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frugaltravelguy View Post
    just got myself a 5D III with the 24-105 and will be riding with it. Still have to get a good backpack for it
    Frugal, I would highly recommend the clik elite probody sport pack if you are going to be bringing that rig on the trails. It is the only pack that I know about that can take a big dslr body with medium lens attached, plus have room for other gear, plus room for a 100oz camelbak bladder. Very comfy as well. Not cheap, but neither is your camera gear...

    As for the topic at hand, for a smaller camera on mtn bike rides I have tried a ton of high end point and shoot cameras over the years. I ended up buying a nikon v1 late a couple of months ago and love it. The v1 is cheaper than any of the better p&s caneras, takes great pix, and is lightning fast especially on autofocus. Biggest difference to me is focus speed which is a good thing on a bike ride taking action shots. It isn't perfect but for me represents a great 'bridge' between point and shoot cameras and the big dslr's....at a stupid cheap price to boot.

  38. #38
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    I have a canon g12 works great

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