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Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Have some cameras picked, help me choose one on 11/18/2010 13:07:33 MST Print View

The OP did also say "quality of photos". I think the NEX 5 is the smallest, lightest camera that can be used with a zoom lens and that will produce DSLR quality images. Of course there are plenty of lighter, smaller cameras but these will not produce as good images.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Have some cameras picked, help me choose one on 11/18/2010 13:29:48 MST Print View

I agree that no small-chip compact will approach the new "EVIL" cameras--such as the NXs and µ4/3 models--in image quality, much less offer their flexibility. I'll add that the E-PL1 has been on sale lately for $400 with zoom, an astonishing deal.

The newly announced Panny GF2 is the smallest and lightest µ4/3 yet. Reviews are beginning to trickle out.

So many choices....

Rick

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Have some cameras picked, help me choose one on 11/18/2010 13:49:26 MST Print View

The NEX is an interesting camera but from the reviews I have read, suffers the poor 'shot to shot' issues that most compacts endure. There is no way to override exposure settings in the auto mode - meaning over exposed pictures in bright light. Apparently battery life is not great either, meaning you would have to bring an additional battery on a longer trip. Even the accessory lenses aren't available yet.

A screw on flash? $699 with the 18 - 55mm lens? Wow.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Have some cameras picked, help me choose one on 11/18/2010 13:59:36 MST Print View

There's no poor "shot to shot" issue with the NEX 5 that I've noticed. Exposure compensation is available in the Program mode but not the iAuto mode - the whole point of the latter is that it's a point and shoot mode (which is why I don't use it). But as there's PASM modes it's hardly a problem.

Battery life isn't as good as the Canon 450D but much better than the Sigma DP1

The NEX 5 comes with a small flash unit. I haven't used this except to check it works yet as I'd rather use high ISO speeds - and these are usable on the NEX 5 unlike small sensor compacts.

I did a great deal of research on cameras before buying the NEX 5. I wanted the same image quality as the Canon 450D in a smaller, lighter camera. In fact I've got better image quality so I'm very pleased.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Dry side of the Eastern Sierra's
Re: NEX 5 on 11/18/2010 15:11:45 MST Print View

I have the experiences with the NEX5, but for the sake of the thread, if video is not your bag the NEX3 (slightly cheaper) is identical in terms of photo quality and performance. I also have not used the flash other than to see if it worked because of the great quality of images at high ISO. I accidentally took photos on my last trip at ISO 12,800 by mistake and a majority of them (sans self shots) were usable for web. From what I've read online at photo blogs is that it is better to shoot slightly overexposed and recapture details through software like Lightroom.

ISO 12,000 - Ooops
My ISO 12800 sample, oops. Guess I should always check my settings before getting all trigger happy.

Edited by cobberman on 11/18/2010 15:12:58 MST.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Have some cameras picked, help me choose one on 11/18/2010 15:20:34 MST Print View

Great picture, Eric. I'm shooting raw with the NEX 5 and exposing to the right and processing in Lightroom.

I considered the NEX 3 but the NEX 5 felt more secure in my hands and I didn't like the position of the shutter button on the 3.

You can see some pictures taken with the NEX 5 on my blog - http://www.christownsendoutdoors.com - in the entries for October 29, November 7 and November 15.

Edited by Christownsend on 11/18/2010 15:23:09 MST.

Paul A
(paul_arc) - F
camera on 11/18/2010 20:28:05 MST Print View

Okay great stuff here, Thanks for the tips Rick of whats important to look at for the mediocre photographer like my self. Now I have been able to look what those things mean and do a little more thorough researching.

I have looked at a few of the ones mentioned here like the NEX 3/5 and LX5. I thought both of those were too heavy/ large.
Im looking at the S90/95, they might be on the borderline of being to large but I wont really know until I go and actually handle them. I dont really think I will be doing any videoing. If you guys can help me out recommending a few that are in the same bracket as those so I can compare them to eachother that would be very helpful.
Also what do I want to look for in the numbers for the lense as far as tel and wide angle?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: camera on 11/18/2010 20:44:13 MST Print View

"Also what do I want to look for in the numbers for the lense as far as tel and wide angle?"

Normally a lens can be categorized by its aperture number, so you see numbers like f/2 or f/4 or f/5.6. The lower the number, the wider the lens opening is relative to its focal length (like telephoto or wide). The lower the number, the better the lens can gather dim light. Also, the lower the number, the narrower the depth of field, and that is related to how you can isolate a subject from its background and make the subject look tack sharp and make the background look creamy. So, serious photographers tend to drool over so-called "fast glass" lenses that have very low aperture numbers like f/2 or thereabouts.

Normally, a lens has a focal length, and that refers to how "far out" it can grab the subject versus how wide it can go in a panorama. Just for comparison, many lenses are related to 50mm since it was the so-called normal lens back in the days of 35mm film. So, anything lower than 50mm equivalent is considered wide angle, and anything higher than 50mm equivalent is considered a telephoto. So, a super-wide would be 10mm or 15mm, and a super-long would be 500mm or 600mm. Those extremes won't be of much interest to you unless you are shooting unusual subjects. Many users of a compact camera want a major degree of zoom factor, meaning that it can adjust from wide to tele. That just makes it versatile.

Some of us specialize in wildlife photography, so we tend to deal with long lenses in the 400-600-800mm ranges, but that is hard to do with a compact camera, and that remains the realm of the bigger camera with the bigger lens.

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
lens help on 11/18/2010 23:10:19 MST Print View

Here is tutorial on lenses that you might find useful.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-lenses.htm

When looking at compact digital cameras in a store you will usually see a focal length range and aperture range engraved on the lens,e.g., 5mm-20mm, f2.8-8. To convert the focal length to 35mm film equivalent you can generally multiply the focal lengths shown by 6 to give you a ballpark number. So the lens above would be like a 30mm-120mm on an SLR film camera. Note the 50mm "normal" means that the subject you see in viewfinder/screen will have the same 1:1 magnification/scale as you see naked eye. A 100mm lens make things appear 2x closer while a 25mm lens makes things look 2x further away. Thus, this hypothetical lens is a 4x zoom from wide to tele.

I should add that you should decide first if you plan on printing your art, or will you just view the final output on a PC or TV monitor. If the latter, the camera/sensor/lens is almost irrelevant. An simple 8mp camera phone is good enough now. Spend the savings on a good photography book from an acclaimed artist. Galen Rowell should be the patron saint of us lightweight backpacking photobugs.

Once you build your skills to where you want to print larger than 8x10 to hang on your wall then it will be time to go deeper down the rabbit hole of dslrs.

Edited by rmjapan on 11/18/2010 23:44:30 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: lens help on 11/18/2010 23:33:48 MST Print View

"When looking at cameras in a store you will usually see a focal length range and aperture range engraved on the lens,e.g., 5mm-20mm, f2.8-8. To convert the focal length to 35mm film equivalent you can generally multiply the focal lengths shown by 6 to give you a ballpark number."

Wow. That is a sweeping generalization for a focal length multiplier. Surely that is not what you really meant.

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
lens help on 11/18/2010 23:42:35 MST Print View

For almost all compact digital cameras with a fixed lens, 6 as a multiplier will get you close. Paul has said a few times now he is not interested SLRs or "evil" cameras with detachable lenses for weight/size and probably cost reasons.

Edited by rmjapan on 11/18/2010 23:43:13 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: lens help on 11/19/2010 00:14:25 MST Print View

"For almost all compact digital cameras with a fixed lens, 6 as a multiplier will get you close."

Five is a more accurate number for some that we've been discussing here.

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
splittin hairs on 11/19/2010 00:40:31 MST Print View

Bob, the number of cameras on the market now that have a 1/1.7" sensor and use a ~5 multiplier can be counted on one hand. You would need all the fingers and toes of a small village to count the cameras that use 1/2.3", 1/2.5" and 1/2.7" sensors with a ~6 mulitplier.

Johan Westring
(Johan) - MLife
cant go wrong with the S95 on 11/19/2010 07:29:26 MST Print View

I own both the S90 and TS2. The S90 is very similar to the S95. The best predictors for image quality is the quality of the sens and the size of the sensor. With S95 you will get a lightweight "real" camera with SLR functions, good lens and a bigger sensor. I highly recommend it, especially with a gorillapod. It's basically a ultralight SLR kit. I bring my TS2 in tougher conditions. 50% of the time? It takes good pictures and videos but you don't have as much creative freedom as a photographer. It a very good packrafting camera. I think Ryan as used TS1 quite a lot. For example in this video.http://backpackinglight.typepad.com/weblog/2009/09/24-hours-hyalite-cirque-near-bozeman-montana.html

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: splittin hairs on 11/19/2010 07:34:10 MST Print View

"...or will you just view the final output on a PC or TV monitor. If the latter, the camera/sensor/lens is almost irrelevant. An simple 8mp camera phone is good enough now."

The cold brutal truth. Thanks.

Give me 24mm, aperture control, easily accessible exposure control, under 8 ounces, and I'll call it good.

I'll join the f64 club later.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Re: spliitin' hairs - camera choice on 11/19/2010 08:14:48 MST Print View

"...or will you just view the final output on a PC or TV monitor. If the latter, the camera/sensor/lens is almost irrelevant. An simple 8mp camera phone is good enough now."

In fact a simple 4 or 5mp camera phone is good enough. Or 2 or 3mp if you can find one. I took photos on the Pacific Northwest Trail last summer with a 5mp phone camera and the results look fine on the web and when printed up to 3x2" (some appeared in TGO magazine). Of course these were pictures taken in good light. Most small compacts can take even better images in good light at low ISOs. It's in low light that more camera control and larger sensors have advantages. Sunset shots? Nightime shots? Storm shots? Camera phones aren't so good for these.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
The Addiction to Digital Cameras Will Leave You Empty in the Long Run on 11/19/2010 10:18:14 MST Print View

I am selling most of my camera gear.

I am keeping:

1. My Nikon FM3a because with Fuji Velvia and the excellent 28mm AIS lens, it provides my favorite color for landscape photography that is nearly impossible to reproduce with a digital camera this light. I've tried everything for quality landscapes and the only carryable cameras really suitable for it are the high end Nikons and Canons and they are h-e-a-v-y if you want Velvia-like color quality of say, the 5D or D700. And you just can't reproduce in in post processing (yet).

2. An old Leica M6 because it's my favorite camera for people and it's fun to use.

3. A Panasonic TS1 because it's still the best pocketable waterproof backpacking camera I've used. The S90/S95 takes photos that are a bit higher quality, especially in low light, but requires care in snow and rain. In addition, the TS1 has a ... look ... to the images that give it quite a bit of character. I like shooting video with this camera a lot, too. Most of the footage on my "24" episodes were shot with it.

4. A Sigma DP2 because it renders digital images with character that separate it from the sterile "digital look" you find with seemingly every other camera.

After affairs with a 5D, M9, NEX5, GF1, X1, and EP1, and realizing the empty promises that they make, I've come to the conclusion that I really do hate digital cameras, and I'm going back to studying photography and paying attention to my surroundings.

I like this photo (below) because it connects me to a moment in time that I will always cherish. Ultimately, that's the only thing I really want out of my photography and the camera needs to stay the heck out of the way so I can do that.

Chase

Taken with the 1.3MP Olympus D460 in August of 2001 while Backpacking with my then three-year old son near McCall, Idaho. This camera was one of the most fantastic digital cameras ever manufactured, and was way, way ahead of its time. To be honest, while we've increased resolution, I just don't think we've made much more than incremental progress in small sensor cameras for daylight photography in the past 10 years.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Digital or film on 11/19/2010 10:41:09 MST Print View

I must say I've taken the opposite view to Ryan! I shot film for 25 years and had thousands of images published. I started using digital compacts in 2000 and a digital DSLR in 2004. By 2006 I'd stopped shooting film. A few years ago I sold all my film cameras bar a Ricoh GR1, which I haven't used since then. I much prefer digital and it has revitalised my photography.

I have a book of landscape photography on the Cairngorms coming out next year. All the images were taken on Canon 300, 350 and 450 D series DSLRs plus the Sigma DP1. My most recent book (Scotland World Mountain Ranges, Cicerone Press) has hundreds of photos, most digital, some film. I can't tell which is which.

Of course it's all a matter of personal choice. As long as your camera gear takes the images you want that's all that matters. But it's interested to hear different points of view.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Digital or film on 11/19/2010 10:57:30 MST Print View

I have used many different film cameras before I switched to digital. If I where to shoot film these days it would be with a Fuji 670 format. I like the results I get with my Nikon D700, often with a Nikkor 28mm f2 AIS and the ability to have my darkroom in the computer means I will stay with digital. With out a darkroom film just can not deliver what I want. Either way I carry a lot of weight when doing photography.