Compact camera recommendations?

Photography knowledge exchange.

Moderator: Scott Waters

Post Reply
User avatar
KevinS
Posts: 120
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
Location: West Virginia

Compact camera recommendations?

Post by KevinS » July 4th, 2010, 1:31 pm

I've been wasting lots of time reading reviews online and I'm still not sure I know what to get, so I'm turning to you guys for some help. For the last few years, an Olympus Stylus 790 SW has been my herping camera. It's held up very well to some occasionally punishing conditions and I've generally been satisfied with its performance. The camera they got me for work is the newer model Olympus Stylus Tough, and I don't like it nearly as much (slower to use and lower quality pictures).

Both of these are waterproof, but worst case scenario I might use a camera in the rain-I never submerge them. Does a typical digital camera handle precipitation and high humidity without much fuss or should I look for more waterproof models? Assuming I don't need to go with another waterproof model, my main areas of concern are good macro capabilities and fast startup, autofocus, and shot to shot times. I'm not the most photographically inclined guy and I usually just stick with auto mode. Any recommendations with this in mind?

One more thing-I've been reading about the low light performance of several new models (particularly Canons). I frequently take pictures at night with the aid of a headlamp using my camera's flash. This generally works well for me, but amphibians with moist skin sometimes look far too reflective and the flash washes out the subject in some conditions. Is my understanding correct that improved low light shooting means sharper pictures using only ambient light with no flash? So far I've taken almost no pictures without a flash because of the blur. It seems like that option would be nice in some of the scenarios I just mentioned, but I'm wondering if the technology is good enough to produce a sharp picture with accurate colors if I snap off a few with only a headlamp for illumination? Any guidance you guys could give me would be much appreciated.

User avatar
Carl Koch
Posts: 435
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 pm
Location: West Milwaukee, WI

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by Carl Koch » July 11th, 2010, 10:30 pm

How much are you planning on spending?

User avatar
MattSullivan
Posts: 419
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 1:07 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by MattSullivan » July 12th, 2010, 3:27 pm

I would say based on other peoples' reviews, and seeing the results from others, that the Canon G11 or the Canon S90 are the top two P&S cameras available. I don't have my own experience with either of these, but I had the Canon G9 and for a compact, it was awesome!

User avatar
Carl Koch
Posts: 435
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 pm
Location: West Milwaukee, WI

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by Carl Koch » July 12th, 2010, 5:36 pm

I've been very happy with my Olympus SP570-UZ. It takes very good macro shots, very nice all-around shots, and has a relatively strong 20x optical zoom that's allowed for some OK to very good long shots. Here are a few examples:

Macro.

Image

Image

Image

Long shots (fully zoomed).

Image

Image

Image

Typical shots.

Image

Image

Image

Carl

User avatar
KevinS
Posts: 120
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
Location: West Virginia

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by KevinS » July 13th, 2010, 4:02 pm

Wow, those are some nice shots. Unfortunately, that is a little out of my preferred price range since I was hoping to stay under $400. Also, I was hoping for something small enough to slip in a cargo pocket while I'm out in the field. I have narrowed down my options considerably since I first posed my question and I think I'm between the Canon SD4000 and Canon D10 now. The SD4000 has better low light performance, better zoom, better video....basically better everything off the top of my head. The D10 is waterproof. So what I really need to figure out is if I need a waterproof camera or not? I don't plan on submerging it any, but I would need to be able to use it in the rain and in high ambient humidity. Since many herpers don't own waterproof cameras, I'm guessing most models perform reasonably well in these circumstances? I'd just like a little confirmation before I take the plunge since I'm in the unusual position of having used waterproof digital cameras pretty much exclusively up until now. Thanks for the help.

User avatar
Carl Koch
Posts: 435
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 pm
Location: West Milwaukee, WI

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by Carl Koch » July 13th, 2010, 5:21 pm

Thanks, Kevin! I definitely avoid using my non-waterproof camera in the rain, in most cases. A friend had a waterproof Olympus on a herp trip we did together in MO and got some really cool underwater shots with it. I think the camera only ran 2-3 hundred and was quite compact.

Carl

User avatar
KevinS
Posts: 120
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
Location: West Virginia

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by KevinS » July 13th, 2010, 6:14 pm

Carl Koch wrote:Thanks, Kevin! I definitely avoid using my non-waterproof camera in the rain, in most cases. A friend had a waterproof Olympus on a herp trip we did together in MO and got some really cool underwater shots with it. I think the camera only ran 2-3 hundred and was quite compact.

Carl
Thanks for the info. The rugged, waterproof nature of my Olympus has definitely been nice since I don't have to worry about it in the elements. I never have found occasion to submerge it though. I hesitate to even post this after your great shots, but just as an example here's a shot I took last night. This is about as good as my camera does with macro shots-not terrible, but definite room for improvement.
Image

User avatar
Carl Koch
Posts: 435
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 pm
Location: West Milwaukee, WI

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by Carl Koch » July 13th, 2010, 6:37 pm

Cool! What kind of sal?

User avatar
KevinS
Posts: 120
Joined: June 14th, 2010, 2:48 pm
Location: West Virginia

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by KevinS » July 14th, 2010, 4:26 am

Desmognathus fuscus-Northern Dusky They're probably the second most common species around here.

User avatar
B.Ryerson
Posts: 45
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:15 am
Location: UConn

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by B.Ryerson » August 4th, 2010, 6:39 am

You may also want to take a look at the Pentax Optio W80...around $150. It does underwater, and has a good super macro mode. I had a w60 for a while and loved it.

User avatar
justinm
Posts: 3430
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Location: Illinois
Contact:

Re: Compact camera recommendations?

Post by justinm » August 4th, 2010, 7:40 am

Carl Koch wrote:Thanks, Kevin! I definitely avoid using my non-waterproof camera in the rain, in most cases. A friend had a waterproof Olympus on a herp trip we did together in MO and got some really cool underwater shots with it. I think the camera only ran 2-3 hundred and was quite compact.

Carl
I think I may be that friend?! I have an Olympus Stylus. It's a very solid reliable camera, but... I'm used to my DSLR. It's a solid camera and I've gotten picture of the week with it, here on FHF. So my buddy liked it and bought a newer version and his is much better than mine. So I would reason to believe that the newest model is better yet.

The only complaint would be it's zoom is rather limited. But these cameras are rugged. They can handled subzero temps, 12' of water, being dropped, being crushed etc. I keep it in my pocket and without fear will jump in after a turtle and maybe take a pic. Pingleton bought the Canon version. Maybe pm him and see if he can give you a report on it.

Post Reply