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Need a new camera
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 10:26:41 MDT Print View

I need a new camera. My current camera is an Olympus Tough 3000. And I'm tired of the sacrifices I make in image quality to get a waterproof camera.

I'm not a professional I just want a point and shoot that is going to take better pics then the Olympus for less then $200. Here are features I'd like
-SD Card
-Same battery as the Olympus
-Greater then 3X zoom (not a deal breaker but nice)
-Pocket sized or close to it, i.e. not a DSLR
-Good at landscapes
-Good in challenging lighting conditions
-I can live with JPEG only

Any ideas?

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 18:39:08 MDT Print View

What IQ sacrifices do you feel you are you having to make now? What shooting features seem to be missing? What's your output file...A4 prints or larger? Heavy crops?

Not sure what you mean by "same battery as the Olympus" as that certainly seems to lock you into another Oly P&S.

Your camera is only ~3yrs old so I don't think you will see significant technical IQ improvements if you want to stay with P&S at your sub$200 budget. Moving to less pocketable ILC, you can get some great deals on non-current cameras like the Nikon V1/J1 and older Oly/Panny m4/3. Otherwise you will have to pay significantly more for a state-of-the art P&S like the Sony RX100.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 18:48:27 MDT Print View

I like the Panasonic ZS series -- a big zoom in a tiny camera, with image stabilization and a wide angle lens. The ZS 19 is about $250 at Amazon. Decent image quality for such a small camera. The IS helps with challenging lighting situations, though of course that's limited by the sensor size. I often hike with the ZS1 that I got at Costco maybe 4 years ago for a hundred bucks. It does a good job for a p+s.

These days it seems every new model takes a new proprietary battery, so I doubt it will take your old batteries.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 19:34:38 MDT Print View

Okay lets clarify my goals to the essentials.

1. I cannot spend $400 on a camera. Ideally less then $200. I could go a bit higher but I need a really really good reason too.

2. I like to keep my camera handy and take lots of pics. So I don't want a hugh DSLR around my neck. If it fits in a pouch on my hipbelt that is small enough, it doesn't have to be tiny.

The Olympus is a waterproof camera so my understanding is it won't be as sharp as a non waterproof with similar specs. It doesn't handle challenging lighting conditions well. If its a bit overcast or there is a bit of blacklight my pictures suffer. For example taking a picture of mountains when the sun is not right behind me is hard, pictures in a forest are hard, and even when lighting is good I don't feel its as sharp as my old Nikon P&S.

I've been looking at the Nikon Coolpix P310 pretty seriously. A lot of people compare it unfavorably to the Canon S100 and Sony RX100. Maybe they are right but I can't afford those right now. If they are comparing it to the RX100 and S100 does that mean its at least closer to those two then other P&S? Is that the best bang for my buck at this point?

The Nikon Coolpix S6300 is getting good reviews, its affordable and I like the 10X optical zoom. That could come in handy if I want to photograph a critter from a ways off. What does the Coolpix 310 have that the Coolpix S6300 doesn't?

I checked that Panasonic out. Looks cool, any idea how it would stack up against the others I mentioned.

Thanks for the

Edited by Cameron on 05/09/2013 19:45:08 MDT.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re Re Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 20:18:51 MDT Print View

Luke, perhaps you don't need a new camera. Pulitzer-prize winning pics are being taken with iPhones now afterall. Just a few accessories and some knowledge of technique might have a greater IQ impact on your pics.

"Sharpness" is a relative term and is output dependent, e.g., the camera demands of a web blog are not the same as for A4 or larger prints. Technically sharper pics almost always require larger lenses and larger sensors than a pocket P&S can offer. P&S pics also tend to get "soft" once the aperture value goes above ~F4. For current P&S with zoom lenses that means you need to keep the zoom ~2x at most.

A small Gorillapod can do wonders for sharpness with a P&S. It allows you to shoot at the cameras base ISO in all lighting conditions (if your camera allows a manual ISO setting). Most modern P&S can deliver very good to excellent IQ at base ISO since the cameras JPEG processing engine will use little or no noise reduction.

The backlighting issues are one of technique since all small sensor P&S suffer from relatively poor dynamic range. For close subjects you need to brighten the subject with the camera flash, a small reflector or even your headlamp. For distant landscapes, use your cameras HDR function if it has one. If it doesn't, then you need to take at least 2 shots (over and under exposed) and merge them in post processing. Many software packages have an automatic HDR function and many cameras can take multiple exposures.

A small CPL filter that you can hold in front of the lens can also help with some lighting situations around water and snow.

Anyway, until you are ready to spend much more than your current budget first try investing in some small accessories I mentioned, i.e. tripod, reflector, CPL filter (~$40 total) and read some free online tutorials on HDR.

Edited by rmjapan on 05/09/2013 23:34:43 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Rick on 05/09/2013 20:40:25 MDT Print View

Thanks Rick I'll check into those ideas. I have a camera stand I haven't used so I'll go do some comparisons tomorrow and see how that works. I'll see about the ISO and HDR.

At this point the only camera I'm seriously looking at would be the Coolpix P310 because it is a $400 camera with good reviews for $180. I'm guessing it will be a bit better then the Olympus but maybe I'm wrong.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re Rick on 05/09/2013 21:42:51 MDT Print View

Luke, I pulled up a B&H list of cameras under $250. Some good values that stood out to me were the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS and the Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS. What these share is Canon's superb Digic 5 imaging processor and HS technology for noticeably IQ improvements. Canon's P&S softmenu system is the best there is for ease of use too.

IMO, the Nikon P310 had lots of potential but was somewhat compromised by its sensor. The newer P330 corrects for that but is $380.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re Re Need a new camera on 05/09/2013 21:42:54 MDT Print View

I'd look at a used canon s90 or s95. There's lots of great deals on cameras that people just try out or move on to the newest model.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Used Cameras on 05/09/2013 22:11:18 MDT Print View

Rick how did the sensor hurt the P310? Considering the deals I've been seeing it looked pretty tempting. Getting the "best" is nice but it may be that even with its problems it would be an improvement over what I have.

Brenden I was a bit leery of used cameras but I might give it a try, there are some tempting deals there.

Thanks for the help guys. Its kind of bewildering shopping for a camera with so many options. Last time it was easy, the Olympus was the only waterproof camera I could afford.

Tomorrow I'm going to go out and take landscape pictures with my Olympus and my grandfather's DSLR. I'll take side by side picture's with both for comparisons. I'll also try Ricks suggestions for the HDR and ISO. I did realize that at some point my ISO was switched from "Auto" to "High" not sure how long it has been there. Hopefully that explains some of the less the ideal pictures I've had in the last year or so. Maybe that will clear things up and I won't need a new camera (which would be nice).

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Used Cameras on 05/09/2013 23:23:09 MDT Print View

Luke I just meant the P310 was considered an "enthusiast" compact in the same niche as the Canon S100, Pany LX5 and Oly XZ-1 but without the IQ benefits of their larger sensor.

When you test make sure to set ISO to lowest fixed value possible (ISO100?) and not AUTO. And use a tripod and the camera shutter release timer.

Edited by rmjapan on 05/09/2013 23:39:34 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Used Camera on 05/09/2013 23:44:26 MDT Print View

Okay thanks a lot for the tips Nick. I've been reading reviews of the cameras you recommended. The Canon Elph 330 looks pretty good right now. The Olympus on the other hand was getting reviewed as below average for IQ so perhaps and upgrade would be worthwhile.

According to one review the P310 is okay but if you don't need manual controls the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 is better, and then in a later review they said the Canon PowerShot Elph 330 HS was even better then the the Sony.

So it sounds like the main appeal of the "Enthusiast" cameras is the manual controls plus larger sensors in some of them but NOT in the P310. So it sounds like the only advantage of the P310 over the Canons is its manual controls (which I don't need). Am I understanding this right?

Well I gotta head for bed soon. I really appreciate the help.

Edited for clarity

Edited by Cameron on 05/09/2013 23:51:00 MDT.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re Re Used Camera on 05/10/2013 03:19:01 MDT Print View

Luke the P310 lens is ~2x brighter at wide angle than the Canon 330. This can be quite useful during the "golden hours" and in the forest if you want to shoot handheld since shutter speeds will be 2x faster at base ISO. With 30% more resolution to crop from, it chips away at the longer lens focal length of the Canon 330. The LCD monitor also has 2x more rez and the camera is Eye-Fi compatible. Of course it is also $40 cheaper at B&H now which in itself is reason enough for me to choose it. Then again the Canon 330 probably has a slightly less noisy sensor at high ISO and a better lens for macro shots.

Still the question remains if either will give SIGNIFICANTLY better IQ on average than the camera you have now.

Edited by rmjapan on 05/10/2013 03:42:40 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Re Re Need a new camera on 05/10/2013 12:51:53 MDT Print View

"I checked that Panasonic out. Looks cool, any idea how it would stack up against the others I mentioned."

The image quality output of most P+S cameras is about the same. There may be minor differences (the folded 90-degree optical path of the zoom lens in most waterproof cameras is one negative), but when it comes down to it, they are P+S cameras. The enthusiasts start looking at raw files, slightly faster aperture specs, slightly large sensor sizes, etc., always searching for a compact camera that gives them output closer to a DSLR or interchangeable lens compact with a much larger sensor. (Ain't gonna happen. All of this is just diddling around on the margins -- any serious increase in image quality is going to require a larger and more expensive sensor/camera.)

I always recommend optical image stabilization and some sort of wide angle zoom lens. Beyond that, buy what you want, based on the size of the camera, the price, zoom range, whatever. If you see a camera that you like, but it's a little too expensive, there is almost always a previous model that is 95% as good for half the price. As long as you get I.S. you can pretty much go to Costco and grab any random P+S and get decent results. Seriously.

I'll happily carry my old Panasonic P+S on hikes. If I want greatly improved image quality, then I'll have to grab a larger, heavier, much more expensive camera out of the locker, but that sort of missed the point for the kind of hiking I do (which is to get away from photography for a while, natch.)

Gary Yee

Locale: NW Montana
Need a new camera on 05/10/2013 15:16:57 MDT Print View

Do some research on the Panasonic LX7. It has a larger 1/1.7 sensor. Very sharp and fast f/1.4-2.3 lens with a range of 24-90mm. The 24 end is a wonderful focal length for outdoor compositions. The image stabilization is top notch and combined with the fast lens you can get buy fairly easily with staying out of the 800+ iso range. In camera panoramic and HRD. The camera could be found easily for under $300 on the internet.

At the $300 price range that would be my pick.

A good place to research this would be the panasonic forum at

Best of Luck.

Edited by lakemcd on 05/10/2013 15:20:30 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Need a new camera on 05/10/2013 16:08:36 MDT Print View

I have an older PanaLeica compact that takes great pictures from a tripod. Small enough to mount on a shoulder strap. Okay optical zoom. Great low light performance at iso100 off a tripod. Good enough exposure control for full moon shots of peaks, meteor streaks, and stars. I get about 750 shots per charge. Good low light movie performance. Some iso and shutter control for image control , but the sensor is tiny and it can't do that much, it's best at postcard type landscape shots.

It's used. It has a lens cover quirk, where it doesn't always open all the way. I can point you to some shots and movies I took using it on my Flickr account.

PM me if interested.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
better point and shoot on 05/11/2013 13:54:51 MDT Print View

If you are wanting to move up from a standard point and shoot, look at getting one of the slightly larger sensor'd versions (canon S100, Panasonic LX7, etc.)

Both the S100 and the LX7 are great cameras. for the reasons pointed out above, the LX7 would be my go to. its $300 new from BHphotovideo, you can use 37mm filters on it without an aftermarket kit, it has a fast lens, a better sensor than most point and shoots. it also has a hot shoe for an external flash or other accessories that might come down the road if you want them.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re better point and shoot on 05/11/2013 14:22:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the ideas. Right now $200 is my limit so the LX7 isn't an option. Summer hiking season is coming up (and with it the need to save gas money) so I may but the P310 or something similar IF I determine is an improvement over the Olympus Tough 3000.

However if I don't think a cheaper PS will improve much I'll wait and get the LX7 or S100 later. Thanks for the input.

Edited by Cameron on 05/11/2013 14:47:09 MDT.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
What about an LX5? on 05/11/2013 18:37:44 MDT Print View

A Panasonic LX5 can be found used for about $200. Add a conversion lens adapter and a clear UV filter to protect the lens from sand and dirt getting into it.

You don't get as much zoom as some other cameras but I find I want the wide angle more often than the zoom when I am hiking.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
Re: Re better point and shoot on 05/12/2013 02:01:58 MDT Print View

i didn't think there was that big of a deal between point and shoots at first. i went from a Sanyo S670 (terrible in all respects except battery life) to a Pentax K100D (good, but too big to be practical for me) to a Sony DSC-W200 (much better than the sanyo, but still lacking) to a canon S100 (very good) to a sony RX100 (excellent camera). Of those, I still own the K100D and the RX100. now that i look back on my old photos i took with the Sanyo and the W200, i wish i would have had a nicer camera to remember those trips by. YMMV.

a nicer camera will also drive you to become a better photographer if you're willing to learn how to control the camera more beyond Auto. i found this website to be very useful for learning the basics.

BTW, i stormproof my camera the easy way, a ziplock freezer bag (they're thicker than standard ziplocks). Its definitely not waterproof, but i don't see myself going snorkeling with it anytime soon.

Edited by Mtn_nut on 05/12/2013 02:16:22 MDT.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Need a new camera on 05/12/2013 11:35:07 MDT Print View

I've never regretted spending what seemed at the time to be too much on a camera (within reason, of course).

In the 1970's I purchased a very nice Rollei 35LED. Years later I realized I'd spent almost 20 times the cost of the camera on film and development. The Rollei worked fine, but for not much more I could have purchased a better model with next to no impact on the overall cost, and probably gotten better pictures (maybe).

Nowadays film and developing aren't part of the equation. In fact about the only consideration is how long until you just can't resist buying a new camera since the new ones are so much better than the one you bought just 5 years ago.

I've decided to go for a Sony RX100 (to replace my great but slow and somewhat heavy Canon G5). The RX100 currently costs about $575 new, a lot less used, but still a lot more than you mentioned. But it got such great reviews, and probably will take much better pictures than a $200 camera, you might consider moving up.

I guess it all depends on how much you expect to use the camera and how important picture quality is to you.