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New Cameras!
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Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
New Cameras! on 08/22/2012 11:10:50 MDT Print View

Nikon has just announced a couple new cameras that look highly of interest to me in terms of backpacking light.

I've stopped using a camera until I can get one that's worth the weight. My cell phone camera is poor quality, but its what I'm using.

Firstly, the ultralight camera: Coolpix S01

A super cool 96g/3.4 oz compact camera that looks to be pretty good quality in terms of pictures (although I'm not an expert). Cost is supposed to be about $180.

Secondly, a camera with wifi and GPS:

For $350 and 184g/6.5 oz, this one weighs twice as much and costs twice as much. Where it might save you weight comes in terms of the fact that it has GPS included, and wifi (if you're near a hotspot).

I've got no idea how these compare to a smartphone or whatever alternatives are otherwise out there--but I know that I'm interested in buying an inexpensive device that will do better than my phone.

What do you guys use?

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
this is one area where weight comes second for me on 08/22/2012 11:29:28 MDT Print View

Call me a picture snob, but I take my DSLR camera with me despite the weight issue. I guess I just figure that while I am going to some of the most gorgeous areas left on our planet, I don't want to skimp on the quality of the pics or my options while taking said pics.

You are on the right company though... in terms of being light weight and being dependable, nikon offers the best options in both the point and shoot world and the DSLR in my humble opinion of course. My issue is I have thousands of dollars into cannon, and there is nothing light about cannon whatsoever (I purchased all of this prior to becoming a gram weenie).

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
weight and features. on 08/22/2012 12:26:14 MDT Print View

It sucks in terms of weight that these cameras and devices have a lot of non-shared components.

- GPS (real GPS) on a camera would be GREAT to also share with your smart phone as you could use it to navigate GPS/topo maps and get rid of your Garmin

- having shared storage would be nice because you could do things like download the full wikipedia and store it on the same 10GB as your phone.

- you're now carrying TWO LCD screens, two batteries, etc

Basically if you could get an optical lens on a smart phone which had GPS you would be SET.

The problem is I have NOT yet seen a smart phone that competes with Garmin in terms of GPS maps. There are smart phones that had an optical zoom lens but they aren't very good.

Hopefully we will see a solution to this problem some day.

Right now I carry an iphone and, kindle. I don't want to carry a camera. The iPhone does (decent) HDR which none of these smaller cameras do just yet.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: weight and features. on 08/22/2012 12:35:55 MDT Print View

> There are smart phones that had an optical zoom lens but they aren't very good.

For an interesting look at a phone with a camera that does zoom well take a look at the Nokia 808. Its zoom is digital, but manages to be competitive with optical zooms. You may not like its current OS, but the claim is that is due to get fixed.

> The iPhone does (decent) HDR which none of these smaller cameras do just yet.

Actually a number of the small digital cameras do in-camera HDR pretty well.

Expect a number of new phone announcements in the next month or two -- Photokina is in September.

Edited by blean on 08/22/2012 12:41:37 MDT.

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
I need a large sensor on 08/22/2012 16:53:38 MDT Print View

I'm using my cell phone (Samsung Epic 4g Touch) for both my still and video camera until I can get one that's reasonably light and has a large sensor. I never use the zoom, as it's a poor zoom that seriously degrades the quality. I get better quality if I blow up the image in my computer when I get back.

I'm a serious video hobbyist but my video camera is far too heavy to take on the trail. I don't feel that I will get enough improvement over my cell phone camera until I invest in a decent camera with a large sensor (probably a DSLR, although large sensors can be found in other types), otherwise you are still dealing with a poor dynamic range, poor quality in low light, etc. I'm looking at the Panasonic GH-2 or the Canon D60. Samsung has some new cameras that look interesting as well. A lady we hiked the JMT with for a bit had a new Samsung that seemed lighter than any DSLR I've tried and had interchangeable lenses. I want to see some samples of both still and video images first though.

Another thing to keep in mind is compression formats, especially if you shoot video. I would like to be able to shoot more than 20 minutes of video on a 32g card as I don't want to carry a bunch of cards with me, but at the same time I want efficient compression that doesn't degrade the image too far. Most decent cameras now have a RAW format of some kind for still photos.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 08/22/2012 16:57:40 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: I need a large sensor on 08/22/2012 17:02:55 MDT Print View

Have you considered the Sony RX100? Pricey, but interesting. Its sensor is large for its class (1"). It is very light for its class (7.5 oz). 1080p60 video with MPEG4 and AVCHD compressions. Internet reports are that its low light performance is decent -- better than others in its class.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I need a large sensor on 08/22/2012 17:23:18 MDT Print View

Some of us go down the video+still road using a DSLR with APS-C sensor, a high-quality short zoom lens and a high-quality long zoom lens (for wildlife). Full HD video @60, if you want, although many viewers want lower resolution to make a more compact file to transfer.

You probably are not talking about the Canon D60, since that was a 6-megapixel DSLR from about ten years ago. Maybe the Canon 60D, which is new and current.


Jen Churchward
(mahgnillig) - F
Re: New Cameras! on 08/23/2012 21:13:58 MDT Print View

My guess is that the GPS in that second Nikon is not a functional navigation aid, but a way in which to "geotag" your photos. My Canon S100 has something similar, though I keep it turned off because it eats the battery (and, quite frankly, most of the time I can remember where I took the photo... I don't need a GPS to tell me). On mine the GPS is embedded into the camera, and there is no navigational software to use it with, neither can you add waypoints or follow tracks as you can with a conventional GPS.

I used to carry a DSLR with the thought that I want to capture the best possible pictures if I'm taking the effort to walk somewhere. However, I found out that I would get so tired at the end of the day's hike that I lacked the motivation to use it, so I switched to a compact and mini tripod. My current set-up is a Canon S100 paired with an Ultrapod. It is not as versatile as my DSLR & full size tripod, but since it saves me at least 6lbs (more if I was going to take multiple lenses), I really can't complain.

My advice if you're looking into getting something for serious but lightweight photography is to buy a compact that allows you to shoot in RAW format. RAW allows you to bring so much more out of your photos in post processing than the standard jpeg format. Here is an example of the kind of thing I have been able to achieve with my just my S100 and Ultrapod... not bad at all for a compact :)

Sand Ridge Lake at Sunrise

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Camera GPS on 08/23/2012 23:30:48 MDT Print View

I have the Nikon AW100 camera with a built in GPS and it's pretty useless. The maps are super poor since they're a generic global map and the camera will not display your co-ordinates, so it's of no use as a navigational aid. I believe all it does is add the lat/long co-ordinates into the picture file for use later, which is not appealing since having the GPS eats battery life.

Nice camera, just don't buy it for the GPS.

Edited by dandydan on 08/23/2012 23:34:52 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Camera GPS on 08/23/2012 23:34:57 MDT Print View

Nikon recently released a camera using Android OS. It doesn't have GPS, but it gives me hope that soon we'll see cameras with GPS that we can mod to suit our needs.

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: I need a large sensor on 08/23/2012 23:54:12 MDT Print View

"You probably are not talking about the Canon D60, since that was a 6-megapixel DSLR from about ten years ago. Maybe the Canon 60D, which is new and current."

Yes, the 60D is the one I was thinking of. My mistake. Same optical block as the 7D but with a few less features.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: I need a large sensor on 08/23/2012 23:56:56 MDT Print View

Yes, Tom, I have quite a Canon museum collection. We've come a long way.


Betsy Frazier
(DustyDeva) - F

Locale: Columbia River Gorge
Re: I need a large sensor on 08/24/2012 07:31:31 MDT Print View

Hey Tom, Betsy (Gadget Girl) here from the JMT -

Just wanted to respond to your comment about my new camera, the Samsung NX20, that I used during my JMT trip. I just finished loading the photos on to my SmugMug and I have to say they turned out fabulous. I am extremely happy with this camera and will take it on all my backpacking trips. No, it's not ultralight, but it is much lighter than all the other large sensor cameras. It has a APS-C sensor and it did a bang-up job.

Here's the link to my SmugMug photos of my JMT trip if you want to see more examples of what the camera can do.!i=2039657506

Matthias and Jason Dowser

Betsy's ZPacks Hexamid Solo-Plus Tent at Thousand Lakes

Edited by DustyDeva on 08/24/2012 07:35:31 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Re: New Cameras! on 08/24/2012 08:20:32 MDT Print View

Jen: Awesome photo! You used HDR I assume?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
S01 on 08/24/2012 08:24:12 MDT Print View

the S01 (96 grams) looks like a very viable replacement for my older Olympus FE-360 (138 grams)- I'm not looking for large sensors or any other high end features- just want something light and small that takes decent pictures, thus far the 360 has performed that role very well- overall size is as important to me as weight, it's nice when a camera fits easily in a side belt pocket or a pocket in your pants or shorts

Jen Churchward
(mahgnillig) - F
Re: Re: Re: New Cameras! on 08/24/2012 10:24:47 MDT Print View

>Jen: Awesome photo! You used HDR I assume?

Andy: Yes, it's HDR. I didn't use the built-in HDR feature as I prefer to have more control over the final image. This was 3 shots at -2, 0 and +2 EV. Cropping, sharpening and noise reduction were done in Lightroom, then I used Photomatix for the HDR processing. I'm glad of the RAW format capability though as it's a lot harder to get it right in camera with the S100 than it is with a DSLR... I find I spend much more time messing with the results in Lightroom.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: New Cameras! on 08/24/2012 11:17:02 MDT Print View

"I'm glad of the RAW format capability though as it's a lot harder to get it right in camera with the S100 than it is with a DSLR"

That is primarily because of the lack of exposure metering options in the compact camera.


carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: New Cameras! on 08/24/2012 12:22:48 MDT Print View

Unfortunately size matters-sensor size that is. I sometimes make large prints and would like to keep as much detail in them as I can afford or willing to carry. I will carry my full frame DSLR some distance but decided to spend 16 ounces on a Fuji X100. I still spend 20 ounces on a short very stable tripod for the magic hours. I have saved much weight and bulk so I am happy with my compromise.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Re: I need a large sensor on 08/24/2012 13:54:40 MDT Print View

Unless your goal is wildlife, I can heartily second the Sony RX100 for UL backpacking photographers looking to replace a DSLR with something lighter and more compact.

I brought one with on a recent trip to Olympic NP (North Fork Quinault River Trail to Low Divide, looping back via the Skyline Trail) and come back thoroughly impressed.

The image quality to size/weight ratio of the RX100 is very high, and the camera has just about every useful feature and control you could want, including a well-implemented manual focusing option. Auto-focus is fast, shutter lag is minimal, the camera doesn't leave you waiting very often, and you can customize controls for quick access to useful options such as AF mode, HDR, exposure compensation, flash mode, etc. Other than the lack of a filter mount (third party options are coming), I didn't miss my 7D at all. My only request for improvement to the operation of the camera would be an option to set a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode or the option to use auto-ISO in manual mode.

I'd rate base ISO image quality at about 85-90% as clean compared to what my 7D delivers at base ISO, but the RX100 RAW files seem to capture a wider dynamic range. At wide angle, the lens is pretty impressive stopped down, very sharp in the center, with good (but not great) corner performance, the few detractors being a bit of CA in the corners and the lens is somewhat susceptible to flare and suffers from loss of contrast when subject to harsh near-out-of-frame light sources (a lens hood would help, but it's generally easy enough to shade the lens with your hand/hat). Battery life was great - I took about 400 photos and still had 2 of 4 bars remaining on the battery when I got off trail.

The camera also fits perfectly in a Pelican 1010 case, which despite being somewhat bulkier than the bare camera, does a great job protecting it from bumps and water/dust/humidity.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Olyumpus TG 1 on 08/24/2012 16:26:51 MDT Print View

LESSEE... point-and-shoot, (relatively) light weight, waterproof, impact proof. F2 lens, capable of fitting filters and proprietary lenses. Thats' my Olympus TG 1.

The new Olympus TG 1 ruggedized camera has -in expert reviews- beaten out ALL other waterproof "ruggedized" point-and-shoot cameras. And this is a camera your can use snorkeling to 40 ft., record 1080P video WITH sound and has many special effects and shooting options.

I got one and just returned yesterday from a two week vacation in Denmark. The camera performed perfectly. I really appreciated its VERY low light abilities in museums and cstle interiors where no flash was permitted.

While heavier than my old Panasonic Lumix it is so much better in every way that the TG 1's few extra ounces are a trade I gladly make.

This camera has two underwater exposure settings for better photos and several contrast options (work like built-in digital filters) for say, bright snowy days or senic panoramas you want to make more dramatic.

Edited by Danepacker on 08/27/2012 20:11:47 MDT.