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  1. #1
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    Waterproof camera choices

    I'm planning to get a camera to take pictures during MTB and adventure races. So far I've used my iPhone 5S, but it is not very good. Low light performance is poor and it does not capture the magnificent views from high places very well.

    The camera must be waterproof and shockproof. Especially during the adventure races it will see lots of water.

    I've studied all the available options carefully and it seems that there are not too many choices.

    1. Waterproof compact camera with 1/2.3" sensor. Most of the compact cameras fall into this category (Fujifilm XP130, Canon D30, Nikon W300, Lumix TS7, Olympus TG-5, Ricoh WG-50). Out of those Olympus seems best. It has fastest and widest lens and bigger pixels - that should result to better low light performance, right? RAW mode, also good 4K video recording, image stabilization, useful accessories (camera holder for backpack strap, telephoto converter, etc). But the sensor is still small - only 1.64x bigger than iPhone 5S. Weight is 250gr. Price is around €400.

    2. Nikon 1 AW1. 1" sensor - 6.7x bigger than iPhone. Two different lenses: 30-75mm zoom lens with f/3.5-5.6 aperture, total weight 540gr and 27mm fixed prime lens with f/2.8 aperture, total weight 480gr. So quite heavy and bulky. It is old model, no stabilization, no 4K video (not priority too me). Price is around €700, but availability is poor.

    3. Sony DSC-RX0. 1" sensor, 24mm prime lens with fixed f/4 aperture. Tiny - only 110gr. No 4K video, but has super-slow motion video (1000fps), no stabilization. No flash. Price is around €630.

    4. Leica X-U. APS-C sensor - 21x bigger than iPhone. 35mm prime lens with f/1.7 aperture. No 4K video, 635gr. Price is around €3000. Out of my reach.

    TG-5 is good feature-wise, but low-light performance is not good. RX0 is very tempting, but I'm little bit afraid of the flexibility. AW1 is bit too bulky. I would like to have the camera easily available, so it means it is not in the backpack but rather mounted pack straps or perhaps belt.

    So, what are your thoughts, suggestions, experiences?

  2. #2
    saddlemeat
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    What will you be doing with the images?
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  3. #3
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    Sharing in web mostly.

  4. #4
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    Friend had older panasonic and worked ok, eventually had corrosion problems. Hes on olympus now and pretty happy with it.
    I started with the first Canon waterproof. I now have the Nikon AW1. Id love it if someone had a ruggedized m4/3, but this was the closest thing. Its a tank. I can vouch for its ruggedness, i ride with it slung over shoulder so i can snaps pics on the fly. Ive crashed, slammed it in van door, tossed it to buddies, rode in torrential rain, and it works fine, even though it looks pretty bashed. Its images are a toss up though. For web it’s fine. Low light not the gratest, but better than compacts. My m4/3 stuff easily outdoes it. Unfortunately the Nikon 1 system is dead, what you can find is what is left, i dont think Nikon will be making anything for it anymore. Maybe when they release their new mirrorless system theyll eventually make something to evoke the Nikinos, which they alluded to with this one, but the Aw1 is no Nikonos.

  5. #5
    saddlemeat
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    The TG-5 will be fine. Editing skills are always a bonus for great looking images.
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  6. #6
    eri
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    Definitely try before you buy to be sure it meets your needs. I bought an open box tg5, used it on a rafting trip. Spent tme to take good pictures. When I got home after 9 days I had 1500 complete crap photos, quality was way worse than I expected, worse than my iPhone 6s plus. Lucky I could return it. It held up to days of submersion but photo Quality reminded me of my first pocket digital camera from 2000, little better than a toy. I couldn't get a single good print.

    My camera now is a d800 with a manual focus 20mm lens, weighs many pounds but I can print 30x20. Otherwise I bring my phone. I am utterly and completely satisfied with the d800 images, but the size and weight mean it can only come on training rides and nothing too epic.

    For a smaller compact the only camera I've used that meets the bar is the sony rx1rii, which is amazing and it's images are better than the d800 with my lens. Very expensive, still heavy but stunning. Beyond stunning? A used old rx1r might be an option?

    Otherwise I really think you should consider upgrading your cell phone, latest apple and samsung have better at end cameras than your old phone and better water resistance. Better than a tg5...

    Note: I don't know anything about the rx0, try before you buy!
    Last edited by eri; 05-18-2018 at 05:45 AM. Reason: NOte
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the feedback. I was playing with RX0 yesterday in store. The screen is crazy small. Eyes need some time to refocus in order to read from it. But the size is very good and build is really solid. I can rent one for a day to test it out. Actually it would be good to be able to test some other cameras at the same time, so I could better compare the images. Comparison with some smaller non-waterproof camera would be good idea to understand how much I loose by going full waterproof.

  8. #8
    saddlemeat
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    ^Waterproof cameras are rarely the answer, maybe a good carry pouch would do if you are not shooting underwater. GoPro also comes to mind.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^Waterproof cameras are rarely the answer, maybe a good carry pouch would do if you are not shooting underwater. GoPro also comes to mind.
    I like waterproof, would have been hard pressed to get this pic otherwise:
    DSC 9066 | Studio New Media gallery
    Pretty much all the recent mt biking pics in that gallery are with the Nikon AW1, carried ona single point sling slotted into holster on waistbelt. I can deploy while riding and crank off shots, although for better results i stop. As i did for this shot, but if it were inside my pack or a pouch i prob would not have gotten the shot, my friends would not stop, turn around, and go back ip the hill to recreate the shot for me.

  10. #10
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    Weather sealed if you are standing out in the elements shooting a ride/race...sure. Snap shots of a ride...probably don't really needed. Not bad to have for sure...but keeping the camera dry during the ride would be more of a priority. I mean really...you can cover the camera in a plastic bag to shoot a couple shots during a ride if the weather is nasty. Store in a dry bag in your pack during the ride unless your pack is waterproof.

    My camera of choice these days is the Sony a6000. It's weather sealed but none of my lenses are. I believe Sony is releasing a series of weather sealed lenses though. It's small and doesn't weigh much but can take amazing images that I can print to sizes that are beyond anything I'd probably ever need to print. But honestly...99% of the ride shots I take are with my phone camera....a Galaxy S7 Active which is water proof. I've even taken completely underwater shots with it and it was perfectly fine afterwards.
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  11. #11
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    I decided to go with RX0. I can always carry it with me and don't have to worry about getting it wet or dropping it. Best camera is the one that you have with you Got a good deal on the eBay for almost new unit.

    Mounted it on the shoulder strap of the backpack using Peak Design Capture. I can get it out with one hand, take a picture and put it back without stopping the bike. On the sunny day with fast shutter you can get quite decent pics this way. When it is dark you must stop to avoid motion blur.

    I was worried that the tiny screen and buttons make it hard to operate but that was not the case. It was very usable. There are two re-assignable hotkeys - I assigned movie recording function to one of them, so I can also take short clips without going to menus.

    I set it up for automatic usage (auto focus with center metering, auto ISO, WB and shutter) and used it on the local three day MTB stage race. After second day I set the minimum shutter speed to 1/125 - it defaulted to 1/50 and several pictures were blurry because the camera moved.

    Some photos as well. Those are JPEGs from camera. I also took RAW images, but I haven't looked at them yet. Some pictures taken in low-light conditions look to gray and low contrast to me. Perhaps this is something that can be corrected.

    Start of the second day course. First picture is taken before the race, second during the race when on the move. With fast shutter you will still get sharp pictures. You can see the detail of the trees on the horizon.





    Some pictures that I quite like. It felt dark under the trees, but somehow there was enough light for low ISO and I managed not to shake the camera. On third picture you can see the small sauna across the lake through the trees.







    Second picture of the trail is gray. Is this the WB thing? Or something else that can be corrected in RAW?





    Some pictures that were taken in dark, but that still look usable, because the camera did not move too much (there was some movement though).



















    BTW, it's hard to tell how steep some of the slopes were. Any tips how to compose the photos better to emphasize the steepness?

    Last morning I also got a portrait of my bike Morning sun going in through the window of the small wooden house where I slept.



    And finally some landscapes and stuff.











    Notice the Moomin house







    I also took some short video clips. I might upload some at later time. They were quite shaky. It's hard to hold such a small camera stably.

  12. #12
    saddlemeat
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    ^Pics look good, and yes, stability is hard with the tiny cameras. A little weight (Leica!) can contribute as much as a sharp lens, or image stabilization.
    I ride with the best dogs.




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