Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?

    I'm interested in documenting my bikepacking routes for submission to Bikpacking.com. Their submission requirements vaguely ask for "better than cell phone" quality pictures.

    I'm not ready to spend a ton of money on a heavy, complicated camera/lens combo and spend years honing "the craft."

    Would I get better quality pictures from a $200 point-and-shoot in auto mode? I'm questioning something like the Canon Elph 360 or the Canon Powershot SX620.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume I'm good with subject and framing. Are the $200 P&S cameras better than a stock Android cell phone? Criteria would include crispness/graininess, focus (background and/or foreground), lighting, motion (both subject and/or background), color, etc...

  2. #2
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    If I had to go for a P&S model, and honestly I've thought about one for certain cases where I just can't bring myself to lug the real camera gear, then it'd have to be the Canon G7 (current version is the Mark III it seems.)

    IQ is top notch, and in auto mode, very easy to use... with the added ability to take manual control if you want to delve deeper down the photography rabbit hole.

    That said, I'd probably even scrap that in favor of something like the Canon M6 MkII or Sony's A6x00 models. Again, fantastic image quality that's easy to use in full auto mode, but a LOT more capability, larger sensors, lens options, etc. down the road. And far better resale value down the road if it isn't to your liking.

    As far as a $200 P&S vs a cell phone? That really depends on the cell phone. The top end models from Samsung and Apple are getting scary good (still shit compared to 'real' cameras, but 99.99999% would have a hard time telling a difference at social media resolutions/display.) https://www.dxomark.com/ has a lot of detailed ratings if you wanna dig into them. I'd put my S20 Ultra up against any $200 P&S and expect better results.

  3. #3
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    Another thought, one that I have no experience with but do see referenced often, is the Sony RX100 camera series. Supposed to be quite the performer, much like the Canon G7/G9 models. Main thing in common among them is 1in sensor sizes. Anything less is gonna be marginal vs. a good phone camera.

    Larger sensor is going to also help keep noise levels lower, allow you to get that sharp subject/blurry background effect naturally (if the lens is up to it), and handle low light far better.

  4. #4
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    I don't know how dated the bikepacking recommendation might be, but phone cameras have come a long ways in the last few years. I have an elph 360 and it really only beats my iphone 10s if I want to zoom in a fair bit. The above recommendations seem good to me if you want to step it up. I just picked up an M50 and kit lens for when I want better than phone pix and don't want to haul my dslr around. I hope I like it.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  5. #5
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Coming from a guy with some reasonably nice gear - I did a little international traveling last year and didn't want to be burdened with a lot of camera gear, and wanted something more reliable (and yes, better) than my phone for pictures, because who knew how the battery on my phone would hold up under international data or whatever? So I picked up a Canon ELPH 180 that I could just stick in my pocket. I took a ton of pictures with that, and they ARE better than cell phone pictures. So I imagine any higher form of ELPH would be a great choice.

  6. #6
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    Thanks all!

    I followed up on ALL of the suggestions with online reading. Indeed - I see mention of the RX100, Canon G7, and Sony A6x00 everywhere. But I struggle to find them for sale under $200 - even used. (Ebay and some of the online exchanges.)

    I've got the Canon Elph 360 in my Amazon cart and will ponder the purchase for a day...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Are the $200 P&S cameras better than a stock Android cell phone? Criteria would include crispness/graininess, focus (background and/or foreground), lighting, motion (both subject and/or background), color, etc...
    Current phones are pretty good -- and most will significantly outperform a $200 P&S camera or anything with a 1/2.3" sensor. So you might want to consider a "flagship" phone despite the cost because it does more than just take pictures.

    Already mentioned was the Sony RX100. It's not cheap -- but Sony is still selling older versions of the camera at a lower cost. It's small, can be put in a pocket (well, a large pocket) and has very good image quality. I think you will find the best solution to your question in the 1" sensor cameras.

    -db-

  8. #8
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    I've got a Samsung Note 9. Pretty good phone.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    I have a Sony RX100 IV which I bought when it was current but I think for $200 you'd be hard pressed to beat a phone. Camera makers seem like they are abandoning the smaller sensors. I mean what's the point when a phone can do it more easily?
    I bought an A6600 recently but there's no way I'm jamming that in my Camelbak. I have G7 which was a little cheaper than the Sony.
    But a phone will do most things well until you start to push it, low light, lack of optical zoom etc.

    What about GoPro? I've never used mine to take photos but they are bulletproof.

  10. #10
    saddlemeat
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudguard View Post
    I have a Sony RX100 IV which I bought when it was current but I think for $200 you'd be hard pressed to beat a phone. Camera makers seem like they are abandoning the smaller sensors. I mean what's the point when a phone can do it more easily?
    I bought an A6600 recently but there's no way I'm jamming that in my Camelbak. I have G7 which was a little cheaper than the Sony.
    But a phone will do most things well until you start to push it, low light, lack of optical zoom etc.

    What about GoPro? I've never used mine to take photos but they are bulletproof.
    I wouldnt want to use a gopro for most stills, challenging to frame and very wide angle.
    A less than $200 P&S though is prob goint to be challenged to better a good cell phone. Its advantages age is you can pull it out and have it ready to take a pic in a split second and if it has an optical zoom that will beat most current phones. If you go for one of the ruggedized one like Olympus TGs tyen theres advantage of not risking your phone i deluge/dirt/mud/sand. Also not using up phones battery.
    And yes, a lot of companies are dropping much of low end P&S because of phone cameras, they cant compete anymore.

  12. #12
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    Also would say most new phone cameras will outperform most P&S cameras. It's possible to find a gen 1 or 2 RX100 for that budget, so I would either look for that, or go with the phone. Alternatively, I have an old Canon G10 that takes nice landscape and portrait shots, and offers full manual control and raw capture, but it's terrible for action shooting. You can find a Sony a6000 for near that budget, and that takes excellent shots though it is a little bigger.

  13. #13
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    What about a used Micro 4/3s? I am just trying to learn how to take photos and I am starting out learning tbh but I was able to get a starting setup for sub-$200.
    Ragley Big Wig, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), 91 Schwinn High Plain (single speed "gravel" bike), Nashbar CXSS (on trainer)

  14. #14
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    Why the $200 budget? A $200 cellphone is going to take photos with quality ranging somewhere between absolute garbage, & utter [email protected] Unless you're in perfect sunlight, with no shadows around.

  15. #15
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    I think the budget is for a camera, not a phone...

  16. #16
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    My budget was ~$200 because I already have a "nice" camera and decent cell phone. I won't take my nice DSLR into the bush to get ruined. Wanted a P&S that was nice enough to take better pictures but cheap enough to abuse. I also wanted a P&S to keep it simple...

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudguard View Post
    I think the budget is for a camera, not a phone...
    That was my point. Why is a $200 camera supposed to be superior to a $200 phone? I'd expand the budget a bit, and look at 2nd hand mirrorless or DSLR cameras. Micro 4/3 probably has the best range of cheaper large aperture lenses at reasonable prices, Fujifilm would be next. Panasonic has the excellent little 14mm f/2.5, which is about the same field of view as a smartphone, and the 25mm f/1.7 for the "traditional" standard type lens. Olympus has similar lenses also. But $200 is very very limiting, whatever form factor you look at. There's been some great deals going around on the Panasonic GX80/85, which is a great little camera. Small, light, compact. For a daylight zoom lens, the Panasonic Lumix 12-32 is an excellent budget choice, punching will above it's price point.
    The thing you really need to do though, is to learn a little bit about the exposure triangle, and the settings/functions available on the camera. A bit like the same rider riding a $500 bike, or a $3000 bike. The results will be much the same, unless the rider puts in a bit of effort, to take advantage of the increased capabilities.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedygz View Post
    That was my point. Why is a $200 camera supposed to be superior to a $200 phone?
    I guess because you can possibly buy a used one inch sensor P&S for $200? Which is going to be better than any cellphone. Which the OP already has.



    Quote Originally Posted by speedygz View Post
    The thing you really need to do though, is to learn a little bit about the exposure triangle, and the settings/functions available on the camera.
    I don't think the OP needs to learn the exposure triangle...

    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    My budget was ~$200 because I already have a "nice" camera and decent cell phone. I won't take my nice DSLR into the bush to get ruined.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudguard View Post
    I guess because you can possibly buy a used one inch sensor P&S for $200? Which is going to be better than any cellphone. Which the OP already has.





    I don't think the OP needs to learn the exposure triangle...
    Well, the OP is not making much sense. In the first post he says he doesn't want to buy nice gear and learn the craft, then all of a sudden he had nice gear, but doesn't want to take it on the bike with him. Does not compute. Perhaps he just needs to buy a nice robust m4/3 camera, where you can change lenses to suit subject/environment, and learn to use it. I drag my m4/3 and mirrorless gear around the world, on motorcycles, on mountain bikes, without a second thought. Survived a head on with a ute/pickup that put me in hospital with a busted hip and wrecked knee, survived a decent high side that put me in hospital again, with bleeds on the brain, and busted collarbone. When I get near a computer, I'll post up a pic or two of my transportation setup

  20. #20
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    Here's what I use for camera & lens transportation. Nothing fancy, the lens pouches are about $10 each on the eBay, can't remember what I paid for the camera cover. 4 or 5mm thick waterproof Neoprene, soft furry lining, brilliant. I only wish I fared as well as my camera gear in my big crashes
    Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?-protection.jpg
    It just gets chucked into whatever bag/backpack I happen to be using at the time, & basically forgotten about. No special treatment.

  21. #21
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    Thanks all for responses. It's been fun researching information online while passing away the hours during home confinement!

    I ordered a Canon Elph 360HS from amazon as part of a "package" for $219. It arrived late last night.

    I ran out later today and tried to take the same picture with both the Elph and my Samsung Note 9. Photographs were taken with tripod and self timer so I didn't have to touch the camera. Both were shot in "auto" mode with zero tinkering. No Post processing or filtering. Images were down-resolved 50% to meet upload requirements.

    #1:
    Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?-elph76-50-jpeg-image.jpg

    #2:
    Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?-samusung-50-jpeg.jpg

    I won't reveal which is which for now. I have a favorite - but not by any really strong reasons. I like #1 because of the sky and cloud coloring and because the contrast isn't as severe. The walker's arm looks more natural. And the foreground (manhole covers) seem smoother.

    Thoughts?

  22. #22
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    well those are shrunken a LOT more than 50%. 1024x768 res.... less than 1MP. But there is a noticable difference in dynamic range (when side by side or actively *looking* for differences.) Somewhat to be expected. The Elph isn't a big sensor, but it's bigger than the Note 9's main camera. It's also 20MP vs 12MP.

    In this specific scene/comparison, about the only advantage the Note seems to pull away with is sharpness, but that's more software than anything in the case of Samsung's camera designs.

  23. #23
    WillWorkForTrail
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    First one for sure is the Elph. more dynamic range, better preservation of details in the brightest and darkest areas, more lifelike colors for sure. Look, cell phones and what the cameras in them can do ...it's amazing. But there wouldn't be a market for anything else to take pictures if they were as good as some people imply they are. Enjoy the new camera. I'm sure it will make your life easier, and your photos more....."publish ready".

    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Thanks all for responses. It's been fun researching information online while passing away the hours during home confinement!

    I ordered a Canon Elph 360HS from amazon as part of a "package" for $219. It arrived late last night.

    I ran out later today and tried to take the same picture with both the Elph and my Samsung Note 9. Photographs were taken with tripod and self timer so I didn't have to touch the camera. Both were shot in "auto" mode with zero tinkering. No Post processing or filtering. Images were down-resolved 50% to meet upload requirements.

    #1:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Elph76 at 50 JPEG image.jpg 
Views:	21 
Size:	452.2 KB 
ID:	1337385

    #2:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Samusung 50 JPEG.jpg 
Views:	18 
Size:	544.0 KB 
ID:	1337387

    I won't reveal which is which for now. I have a favorite - but not by any really strong reasons. I like #1 because of the sky and cloud coloring and because the contrast isn't as severe. The walker's arm looks more natural. And the foreground (manhole covers) seem smoother.

    Thoughts?

  24. #24
    saddlemeat
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    Both are good interpretations of the scene, one has more possibilities for editing.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  25. #25
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    Cotharyus nailed it. Pic #1 is the Elph.

    Picture file sizes are 8.4 Mb. MTBR won't take 'em "as is." I launch MS paint and scale by 50% to get 4.2 Mb file sizes. Those uploaded but must be down-resolved by the site.

    How do I upload higher quality pics?

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

  26. #26
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Cotharyus nailed it. Pic #1 is the Elph.

    Picture file sizes are 8.4 Mb. MTBR won't take 'em "as is." I launch MS paint and scale by 50% to get 4.2 Mb file sizes. Those uploaded but must be down-resolved by the site.

    How do I upload higher quality pics?

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    Size limitations on forums are typically driven by a desire to conserve space on the server. As far as I know, the only way to make a higher res option available on the forums is to have it hosted elsewhere and link to it.

  27. #27
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Cotharyus nailed it. Pic #1 is the Elph.

    Picture file sizes are 8.4 Mb. MTBR won't take 'em "as is." I launch MS paint and scale by 50% to get 4.2 Mb file sizes. Those uploaded but must be down-resolved by the site.

    How do I upload higher quality pics?

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    I use photoshop CC, adjust saturation, and sharpen with unsharp mask tool set for 150, 1, 1. I then downsize to 96 dpi, save as a jpg, at level 7 compression, in the srgb color space. These are handled about as well as anything by the site. I set my camera to do as little editing as possible.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post

    How do I upload higher quality pics?

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    Load them up onto Flickr, OneDrive, or Google photos, make sure the settings/permissions are set to shared/public, not private, and post the link.
    Edit -like this. Posted from my phone, so not sure what size will be shown in the link https://photos.app.goo.gl/32Uu3WP32cgSsuJ17

    Or like this
    MY2 by speedygz, on Flickr
    Last edited by speedygz; 4 Weeks Ago at 11:32 PM.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    How do I upload higher quality pics?
    You need to host them somewhere else. Like Flickr.


  30. #30
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    I'll throw another option into the mix, though it's over the $200 point.

    I've been using tough cameras as part of my standard gear for about 10 years now. My current one is an Olympus TG-5 and it does a great job in most conditions. It's waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, freezeproof, etc, so I don't worry about it in any conditions... or crashes.

    I've compared it to the most recent iphone camera and it still has an advantage in picture quality, though that gap is closing fast and, to be honest, in low light, the iphone can do better with it's night mode.

    If you haven't picked one up yet, it's an option worth considering since you don't have to baby it and if you drop it, dunk it or crash on it, it'll be just fine.

    It does well with both scenics and sport mode pictures.

  31. #31
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    This little gem is hard to beat. Excellent low light capabilities, great video capture. WiFi to IPad. Fits in a shirt pocket or small 1010 Pelican case for maximum compact protection while riding. Well worth the $400+- price tag.



    Pretty good tutorial below.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Something between cellphone and Pro-level that's mostly auto? Point-n-shoot?-png-image-26.png  

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