Recommend a still camera for mountain biking.
I'm sure there are a lot of threads looking for camera recommendations for people to carry on the trail with them. I know there are, because I read several of them. The thing is, I don't feel like any of them answered my question. So bear with me for a minute.
I have an older Cannon Rebel XT dSLR. I've used it for years, with varying degrees of success. I found with this camera that I absolutely must use manual settings to get good pictures with it, and good is relative because in anything less than perfect light, noise levels go up quickly. Also, the auto focus function on this camera is absolute junk. It's relatively slow to focus, and it will always manage to focus on the wrong thing if it's given an opportunity. As such, I've long used manual focus as well. Unfortunately, my eyes aren't what they once were, and I've found myself recently thinking that either myself or the camera needs to improve our focusing so I can get some in focus shots.
To that end, I've been looking at newer, better cameras. But that got me thinking. What about mountain biking? I've always been a little gun shy about taking my camera with me on the bike. The vibrations, g-forces, dust, potential for water - it all makes me a little nervous. Also, the SLR cameras are rather large. I have a little Point-and-Shoot that I carry sometimes, but the pictures are really sub-par, and anything that doesn't save pictures in RAW format leaves me....wanting.
So this sort of brings me to my question. I've thought - maybe there's a better way to carry my SLR. I'm open to suggestions on that, I've seen the capture clip and some back packs, and inserts that can be used in hydration packs (which is likely the route I'd go) but if I've missed anything, let me know.
The real thing though, is if I want to buy a new camera, is there a camera that will let me shoot in full manual, like my SLR does, giving me easy (fast, intuitive) access to f-stop and shutter speeds, has a good, fast, reliable auto focus, saves images in RAW, and is better suited to being carried on the trail than a high end dSLR?
I looked at some of the new mirrorless cameras, but the Cannon offering seems to have a slow auto focus. Maybe I can get around that with manual focus, but again..sometimes my eyes just don't cut it, even with contacts or glasses! I like the idea of a camera that can use the lenses I already have, but I'm not going to necessarily let that limit me here. I'm thinking small, rugged, maybe water resistant, dust proof. And oh yeah, it has to take good pictures. That includes being less noisy in low light situations than my current camera, which should be very easy.
So...roll with the suggestions. I'm all ears, and open to pretty much anything, including being told to man up and take my current camera out more just to experience carrying one on the trails. Thanks for the help.
Look into the Canon G series. My trail camera is the Canon G12. They are built rugged like a Dslr, but are smaller in size. The controls also have a layout similar to the Dslr's. I really like the exposure compensation dial. On a side note. I went over the bars with it in my pocket about a month ago and busted the multi switch on the back. I was able to buy parts and restore it to functionality. This camera seems to be very serviceable.
BTW, I have a full frame Dslr and a crop Dslr. I love the pictures that these cameras take, but I don't want my riding to be limited because I am worried about damaging my camera.
Well, first off, worrying about carrying that camera got you an old camera that's probably like new but not worth much, So don't worry about the camera, it will last longer than than it will be useful to you so you might as well use it up. A general price range would make it easier to cut to the chase, but the newer dslrs are generally pretty fast and have many more focus points. I'm assembling funds to get a Nikon D600 after having my whole pelican case of D5000 kit stolen, because I decided full format is the way to go to get the best of both worlds, ie FX for wide shots and switch to DX for long shots. The ability to use vintage lenses is also important to me. I'm sure Canon has a similar offering, btw. I'll let others chime in on rangefinder and p&s options, there are many of them out there, and like bikes, one is never enough.
I ride with the best people.
Have you tried a newer rebel? I have a T2i and it is leaps and bounds superior to the Xsi that I used to have in focus speed, accuracy and high iso. Check out Canon loyalty program. You can get refurbs straight from Canon for 20% below refurb price if you agree to send in a busted old Canon.
Although I have a full-frame DSLR, I don't carry it while mtn biking. I consider it too large and heavy. Instead, I use my Panasonic Lumix FZ150 (but now superceded by the FZ200). It has good autofocus, has PASM dial so manual is an option, and shoots RAW. The manual focus is a bit weak but since the autofocus works so well it's not an issue. It has a zoom range of 25mm-600mm.
Originally Posted by Cotharyus
Here's a link to an in-depth review of the FZ200:
Panasonic FZ200 review | Cameralabs
Thanks for the replies so far. To respond to a few of them:
Friz: Exactly - I don't want my riding to be limited by my fear of damaging a camera. That said, I also haven't completely decided what the best way is to carry one with me. Honestly, I have friends that accuse me of never crashing, but that's simply isn't true. They never see it because I don't ride hard enough in groups to push that limit. They wouldn't be able to keep up - I have used the newer rebels, my wife shoots with a T3 which is much less noisy and does seem to have better auto focus. But taking her camera into the woods with me would be a no-no.
Bsieb: Price range? I've been looking at a 6D body, and wishing it was a little less expensive, but that's what I've been looking at. Again, not sure I'd want that on a trail, but remember that price for a body gives me a camera I can use my current lens collection with.
dbflg - I'll look into that, starting with the review you posted.
I agree about staying north of the green square (in Canon's so-called 'creative zone'), but I rarely to go M when Av and Tv make things easy to control what I wish to accomplish. I also usually choose my focus point rather than letting the camera choose it for me. AI Servo for action shots is also my preferred setting in most circumstances.
Of course, the dirty little secret about DSLR's is that the cost of the camera body is not where the real money is spent. A good lens is generally more critical in comparison, but the right body can make things easier depending on what/how you shoot. The ISO quality on the latest DSLR's is pretty impressive too, and P&S cameras start getting too noisy for my taste at ISO 400 and above (generally speaking ).
Shooting with a kit lens is actually not horrible when conditions are excellent, but becomes more challenging as conditions deteriorate. As lighting becomes more challenging, lenses become very important.
If you're used to shooting action with a DSLR, I don't know of anything but a DSLR that will perform similarly with respect to shutter lag and AF speed/accuracy. And if you're a pixel peeper used to shooting with good glass, you may have to adjust expectations.
If you can adjust your expectations about getting something that rivals the performance of a DSLR (because that is not happening in a point and shoot), you can still get some excellent pics from a P&S once you learn how to get the best from your particular model.
Shooting with a DSLR makes shooting action with a P&S a bit frustrating, but things are getting better with some of the more serious P&S offerings. The new Canon G15 seems like a great choice for a photo enthusiast wanting something less bulky to take on the trail. The improved AF response time, an f/1.8 - f/2.8 aperture range, and 28mm to 140mm focal length range make it a nice improvement over the G12 IMHO and if I were in the market for a new (serious) P&S, it would be on my very short list.
For me, taking the DSLR rig on a ride changes the ride enough to convince me to leave it at home most of the time. Taking a P&S on a ride does not alter it enough to make me leave it at home (not even close to it) and you'll never get any shot without taking a camera along so a P&S makes a lot of sense it you still want a ride to be about the ride but want some nice photos too.
Insightful Jeff, thank you.
^^jeffj- Yes, well said, certainly reflects my experience.
I ride with the best people.
Some great advice so far from everyone. I will add mine, for what itís worth.
I also still use a Rebel XT. Years ago, I was worried about bringing it into the trail, but now that itís so outdated, I donít attribute nearly the same value to it. What Jeff says about lenses is golden. A good lens to a camera is like a good wheel set to a bike. It makes a substantial difference. When I take mine on the trail, itís usually with a cheap prime lens, either the 50mm 1.8 or the 24mm 2.8. These lenses work fine with the autofocus system (as long as I remember to not use Servo AF when composing). Apart from the great subject isolation wide apertures, it also allows for lower ISOís, which I agree is poor on an XT compared to modern SLRís. 95% of my shooting is done in Av, while I like full manual for off-camera flash work. The primes also make for a very light and compact system.
Does carrying the SLR change the way I ride? Not really, but then Iím normally a conservative rider. I certainly forget that Iím carrying the camera until I pull over. Perhaps having such an old camera means I donít worry about it as much.
Now letís talk P&Sís. I too thought that a top of the line, modern P&S would be superior to my old SLR. I have not found this to be the case. I bought a Fujifilm X10, which at the time of writing is amongst the flagship of single-lens P&Sís. I wrote a little about it in responding to this older post.
Sony RX100 / Fuji x-10
Itís a stellar camera, and certainly a pleasure to use for someone used to an SLR. It handles, shoots , and responds like one (or like a rangefinder, which is what it is paying homage to). But even its best image resolution canít compare to my old XT with a prime lens.
What you have to figure out is what you really want. Stellar image quality? Price? Portability? Sacrificial worth if you crash? If I were in your position, Iíd put my money on a good lens instead of a new body. A new body wonít make up for poor glass.
Roundup: Enthusiast Zoom Compact Cameras: Digital Photography Review
Nikon announced 2 all-weather compact cameras today. They look like they can put up with everything while mountain biking in any conditions. Good prices too.
Nikon announces Coolpix AW110 and S31 rugged waterproof cameras: Digital Photography Review
Zuarte, that 50mm 1.8 is exactly what I had in mind to carry with me. I think I'll be giving the Rebel a try on the trails and seeing what happens. If I like it, I may spend the money I would have spent on another camera adding to my lens collection instead....
I'm going to start carrying on a capture clip - any other recommendations for ways to carry a camera securely, yet accessibly?
That 50mm 1.8 (the cheap plastic version) is a jewel of a lens for its affordability and performance. Just remember that on the Canon's 1.6x crop sensor, it's effectively an 80mm mild telephoto. It's certainly no landscape lens. When using it with my bike, I find myself hiking way back to get the whole bike in the frame. But wow is the image quality nice.
I just looked at the cost of the 50mm 1.8 II on Amazon. It has a lot of premium in its price now. When I bought mine in 2007 from Amazon, it's normal price was $55 new. It has steadily creeped up since then, and is right now at $110.
ride all day
The xpro 1 looks great, full frame sensor and light and compact
The Fujifilm Xpro-1? I think that's got a C sized sensor.
Originally Posted by ridonkulus
Zuarte, I love that lens, I picked mine up a couple of years ago for $99. Even at $110, it's a great deal. If this works out and end up carrying my old XT around, I'll probably pick up the 1.8 28mm as well, although it's a bit more. It's a lot less than a new camera though.
How about a Nikon 1 series? A little expensive for what it is but it has the features you are looking for.
Nikon 1 J1 10.1Megapixel Digital Camera with 1030mm Lens Kit Red 1 J1 Red - Best Buy
I'll throw out a plug for the tough cameras, too. I've had one for about 7 years now and always have it with me in a small pouch on the chest strap of my Camelbak. Yes, the image quality isn't DSLR and even not as good as the best point and shoot models, but they are getting a lot better with the current crop. I don't worry about rain, falling on it, crashing in a creek, dust or sand. Plus, I can take it skiing without worrying about freezing or snow getting into it.
In the summer time, I take it to the lake or pool and get some great shots of my daughter swimming and playing that I'd be hesitant about with a DSLR, especially the ones underwater!!
Also, as a side benefit, I always leave the camera laying around and have hundreds of shots taken by my daughter from about age 18 months on up. I don't have to worry that she'll break it or drop it in the toilet because it doesn't matter and it's pretty cool to see the world through the eyes of a kid. By age 4, she was still taking a lot of random picture, but also putting together some nice shots, too.
Here's a review on the one I just got: Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS – First Impressions | Camera News & Reviews
They just announced the updated version, the TG-2, that offers an aperture priority mode and some high frame rate video options. I'm probably going to return the -1 and get the -2, since I'm within the 30 days (will have to wait until March for the -2, though). New Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Adds Aperture Priority Control | Camera News & Reviews
Also, Nikon's AW100 has been updated to the AW110: The Nikon Coolpix AW110 Goes Deeper & Adds Wi-Fi | Camera News & Reviews
I'll also add that after my Panasonic TS-3's lens broke after a very minor hit (about a 4" swing from the wrist strap into a round fence pole), I'm a bit gun shy on the corner mounted lenses, which the TGs address. But I'll also caveat that with the fact that my original tough camera, the Olympus sw770 has a corner lens (though surrounded by a metal frame) and it's still going strong, now as my 7 year old's first camera.
I currently own a Rebel T2i, but there are a couple of issues for me personally:
1) Weight - seems pretty heavy for what I'm going to be doing (overnight / weekend bikecamping trips)
2) Cost - There is a saying in an mmorpg that I used to play: "If you can't afford to loose it, don't fly it". As that is very true IRL in this situation (I can't afford to replace / repair it), I am doubting that I want to use it on the trails, on the bike, were shock forces can ruin / distort the lense assembly.
So with that being said, I was looking at getting the Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS camera. The quality will probably not be as good as the Rebel, but I won't (or rather, shouldn't), need to worry so much about dropping it / water / shock forces.
Random - you're right, the quality of the TG cameras won't be as good as a Rebel or any other DSLR. But in general, they take pretty good pictures and outside in bright sunlight, they take really good pictures.
That said, you won't worry about having one in a jersey pocket, strap pouch or wherever you carry it. In fact, I've been known to pull it out while riding (making sure the wrist strap is on) and take pics on the fly.
And the bottom line is that if you don't take your DSLR with you, you won't have any pictures at all.
Why the TG-1 vs the TG-2?
The TG-1 is less expensive than the TG-2. I would love to get a TG-2, but I have to work within a set budget.
Also, I'm not sure I would need all of the newer features, since this would be used for just taking pictures along the routes and not for action shots and such (Solo rider).
edit 2: Also it looks like they improved the waterproofing.. but alas, I'm not exactly planning to go to the Bahama's or anything for scuba diving
(How would you even begin to pack scuba equipment on a bike??)
If its in the hangar, it gets flown!
I take my Canon P&S on the trail. Sure its too slow to get good action shots but I would plan those anyway. You don't pull out the DSLR unless you mean to shoot.
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Not sure where you're seeing that... from a reputable dealer, anyway. I do see low prices, but they're from no name places or brand new places or gray market places.
Originally Posted by RandomGuyOnABike
From the reputable places, the -1 is about $385ish and the -2 is $379.
I got mine from Crutchfield. Great customer service and a 60 day return period which doubles as a 60 day price guarantee, too. If they drop the price in that period, call them and they'll refund the difference. When I returned the -1 for the -2, there was no hassle; just a quick and painless return and re-order.
If you go for one of the $300 places, beware!
you're right! I just looked at my purchase budget, and the one that I was looking at getting wasn't a TG-1 / 2.. but the Olympus - Tough TG-820 iHS 12.0-Megapixel Digital Camera - Red
I'm not sure why I was thinking TG-1/2 =(
It's running $229, but with price matching, I can get it for $199.
wait for a deal on a camera. YOu can create deal alerts that email you when a deal comes up.
Olympus Tough Waterproof TG-820 iHS, (Silver, Blue, Black) $140 AC & FS - Slickdeals.net
the best camera is the one that's there. Don't buy a camera you won't bother brining out there. Cameras may break, but you'll have your photos forever.
Don't bother with a tough camera unless you're going to strap it to your bike to do video while riding.
Shooting manual is inefficient. Aperture priority mode with iso control is what you need 99% of the time.
there are 3 huge developments in cameras right now. A dslr will be inferior to most people compared to these 3.
get aps-c (dslr) sensor in mirrorless body. still can change lens. does everything dslr does but with one drawback, slightly less focus speed in action. Better video. samsung and sony nex series has this. Don't bother spending more than their mid-tier line. use slickdeals to prie them out.
m43 micro four thirds. Slight hit on ultimate pq (not limiting unless shooting in low low light an blowing up pics huge). smaller bodies, smaller lenses. UNIVERSAL lens mount. Any m43 lens will fit on any m43 body. This is revolutionary, and creates a ton of competition. Already we are seeing the lens offering really heat up from many manufacturers
compact all in one system with no interchangeable lens. s110, lx 7, etc. smallest, but can't change lens. Still great PQ.