Camera Recommendations

Discussion in 'Paddling Photography' started by Andy_Ferguson, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. Andy_Ferguson

    Andy_Ferguson Paddler

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    I'm looking at getting a new camera. My little fuji finepix2400 is dead. *sniff*

    These are the 2 I'm looking at. Any comments?

    1) The Canon

    2)The fuji
     
  2. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I would suggest as a starting point, to take a look at a few of the digital camera review sites listed in the Photography section in our Paddling Links (in the menu on the left). In particular, megapixel.net and Steve's DigiCams give very comprehensive reviews of the models you are looking at.

    Speaking from experience with the Canon S1 IS, I can tell you that it's an amazing camera -- good optics, amazingly fast zoom, quick boot time, image stabilization, and the price is extremely attractive right now. Since the end of December, I've taken over 2,500 pictures with my S1 IS and have absolutely no regrets about purchasing it. It does have a few minor flaws, but for the price, I don't think you can get a better camera.

    I haven't seen the Fuji S5100 but I see from the reviews and specs, it doesn't have image stabilization -- this could be a major consideration when taking pictures from your kayak. At full zoom, it's doubtful that you're going to get razor sharp pictures like you can with image stabilized models.

    Nearly all of the photos on this site that were taken since last December were with a Canon S1 IS.

    *****
     
  3. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    It's a tough call, in my opinion. The S1 IS has the benefit of image stabilization - which is probably a considerable benefit when a fast shutter speed is not possible (cloudy days on high zoom). When taking photos at speeds of 1/250 or faster, I can't see that the IS system would really come into play that much. But at lower shutter speeds (which would be more common at high zoom levels of course), the IS system is certainly a benefit.

    The Fuji has the advantage of a higher resolution. This is the one disadvantage of the Canon as I see it. If I were currently in the market for a new camera I'd certainly consider the S1 IS but I'd definitely want to see some similar models with greater resolution (such as the Fuji). You may look at this from the point of view of, 'what do I need a bigger photo for', but apart from the fact that you could produce larger prints with a higher resolution image (before graininess becomes apparent in the print), you can also look at higher resolution as a sort of greater zoom. For example, if you take a high-res shot of something at full zoom, but it doesn't quite fill the frame, you can crop down the image to the same resolution (width and height in terms of number of pixels) as a similar shot taken with the same focal length but less resolution, to create a greater image of the subject. Hopefully that makes sense...

    I wonder if any camera shops have 'demo models' that they'll allow you to try out for a couple of days. If the prices between the two were the same, I'd really want to try out the Fuji to see how much difference the IS system makes at different light levels. We already know that the Canon takes great shots (of course, most of the talent is in the operator, right Dan?) :wink:
     
  4. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    The megapixel difference between the two cameras is not huge, we're talking a difference of .8 megapixels or an image size of 2272 x 1704 compared to 2048 x 1536 -- not really enough to be concerned about and certainly not enough to be considered a zoom advantage. Now if it were 5 megapixels, I'd be considering options.

    Steve's new Panazonic FZ-20 camera is 5 megapixels with 12x zoom -- but it comes at a price that's at least $150-200 more than the S1 IS or the S5100.

    As Mark says, at faster shutter speeds the image stabilization is not as critical but it sure does make a lot of difference on anything less than a sunny day.

    Both cameras take AA batteries, which in my opinion is a good thing. The Canon uses Compact Flash cards which are a lot less money than the xD cards that the Fuji uses. Canon also manufactures a waterproof housing built specifically for the S1 IS.

    I'd suggest reading the reviews on the sites listed above and make your decision based on those. If you have a couple of memory cards, take them with you to the retailers and take some photos in the store using both cameras -- then compare them at home.

    btw: for memory cards look at Costco -- they've got some great deals on 512 Mb and 1 Gb cards.

    *****
     
  5. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    You can get the Panasonic Lumix FZ20 right now at A&B Sound for $685. They're $749 everywhere else. Haven't had it out on the water yet but have been playing around with it a bit. It's a bit bigger than the S1 IS, especially with the lens hood attached. However, it might be a bit lighter. The zoom is only slightly longer than the S1 IS. It has 5 Megapixal res and a very fast lens for an ultrazoom digicam.

    The downside is proprietary lithium-ion rechargable batteries that are very expensive. You can order them from the US for a much more reasonable price however. I've got a couple on order and we'll see how much of a saving they are after duty, GST and the GST collection fee. :roll: You can also get a third party external battery pack that mounts to the bottom of the camera on the tripod mount. I've got one of those puppies on order as well from the dealer.

    There is no custom watertight housing available for it like the S1 IS but you can get an Ewa Marine enclosure for it for a couple hundred bucks. The S1 IS enclosure is most likely a more elegant and user friendly solution.

    If there was an S1 IS with higher resolution I would probably have gone for the Canon but I wanted the higher resolution and it was a toss up between the FZ20 (or Fluzi as they're called on the Panasonic camera forum) and the Nikon Coolpix 8800 for another 4 or 500 bucks.

    The Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 looks pretty cool but I nobody seems to have them or know anything about the pricing yet.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Andy_Ferguson

    Andy_Ferguson Paddler

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    If I had Steve's money I could throw mine away. :lol: I did see the A&B Sound ad for the Lumix but it's out of my price range. I have to start buying those lottery tickets I guess.

    I took a look at the DiMAGE Z5 on ebay on a lark. The prices were all over the place but they seemed to top at at just under 500 bucks US. I wouldn't be buying a new camera from the States though; I just thought I'd take a look at it.

    Anyhoo, to make a long story short, I'm going for the Fuji S5100 instead of the Canon S1 IS. The final reasoning is a bit odd, but I figured that since Dan and Darren both have the Canon, I would try something different. The Fuji does sound like a decent camera so I don't think I'll be disappointed and I can use the price difference to increase the memory.
     
  7. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    Speaking of memory, I learned a valuable lesson about cheap memory. Yea, there are some real bargains on high capacity SD and CF cards out there and I've bought a few of them. They're great if you're shooting JPG files on a lower res camera. However, on a higher res camera and/or if you are shooting RAW or TIFF files, then the cheap cards are abysmally slow. As an example, I bought a couple of Kingston 512MB SD cards for $50 each. On the weekend I was shooting TIFF files and it took about 10 seconds (seemed like an eternity) for the camera to write to the card after each shot. Missed a few good shots as a result.

    Started doing some research on memory cards and discovered that most SD cards write at about 2 Mb/S, MMC cards are even slower. However, some cards write as fast as 10 Mb/S. Unfortunately, most vendors rate the speed of their cards as 30X or more. 30 X what? Certainly not 30 X 2 Mb/S. More marketing hype. In fact, the multiplier is based on the speed of a single speed CDROM drive. Huh? :roll:

    Here is what I found:

    Average SD card = 1.8 Mb/S (~ 12X)
    Lexar 'High Speed' SD card = 4.8 Mb/S (32x)
    Transcend 'Ultra Performance' 45X SD card = 6.6 Mb/S
    SanDisk Ultra II (and SandDisk Extreme) SD card = 9 Mb/S (60x)
    ATP 60X SD card = 10 Mb/S

    Based on 512MB cards, the price of the above cards ranged in (regular) price from $79 to $129. The ATP card was $99.

    So I went down to my local Future Shop and got one of the ATP cards. The 10 second write time for TIFFs on my camera was reduced to just over 1 second which, to me, was quite acceptable. Haven't tried it in JPG rapid fire mode but I'm guessing it won't even fill up the 3 shot buffer.

    Like everything, you get what you pay for.
     
  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I use the SanDisk Ultra II Compact Flash cards and there's definitely a noticable difference between those and regular CF cards. I notice it especially when I'm downloading from the card to the computer -- the regular cards seem to take forever but the Ultra II cards scream.

    Costco still has SanDisk Ultra II 1GB SD or CF cards for $139.99 each (512MB cards are $89.99)

    Olympus 512MB xD cards by Sandisk are $109.99 (don't know if that works with the Fuji camera or not)

    *****
     
  9. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    Wow - I had no idea there would be such a big difference in speed! Unfotunately my 'old' camera (I stand by the belief that it was ahead of its time when I bought it though!) uses SmartMedia cards which are no longer used in new models (not sure why exactly), and the largest SM cards made are 128MB. I haven't noticed a significant difference in speed but I only have 2 different kinds anyways. Compared with your SD cards I imagine they're probably quite slow (it usually takes about a second to write a 1.6MB file).
     
  10. Mike_Jackson

    Mike_Jackson Paddler

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    I love my Pentax Optio 33WR - it is very dunkable and I have rolled with it in surf several times. The only problem I have with it, and this is the case with every camera I have tried in kayaks is water drops on the lens port - hard to get rid of.
    I guess the new version is the 43WR and should be even better.
     
  11. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I've read that a small piece of scrap neoprene does a pretty good job of removing water by using an edge of it like a squeegee.

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  12. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    I've taken to carrying a small (8x12cm) piece of synthetic chamois in my PFD for wiping the lens of my 43WR. I keep a couple of extras in a ziplock under the deck. I cut them from a much larger piece that I bought at Walmart for about $3.
     
  13. Mike_Jackson

    Mike_Jackson Paddler

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    I have tried the chamois idea and it is better than nothing - I huess I am asking too much to have a perfect system! :D
     
  14. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    Just ordered one of these for my camera. 3 to 4 weeks delivery. :( Can't wait to try it out!

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Very cool. You'll need a bit of rough stuff to really give it a good test -- how about a paddle in Howe Sound after it arrives? :wink:

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  16. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    Hee hee - sounds like a good idea to me! I have a new egg carton I want to test - the rougher the better! :lol:
     
  17. qrpboater

    qrpboater New Member

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    I have the new Pentax Optio WP, which is a 5mp camera submersible to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. Although it is a basic point and shoot without manual modes, it does have +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, and it's very small and light. Since it uses a proprietary Lithium rechargable I bought a second battery for it. So far, it's easily lasted 2 or 3 days on a charge.

    In dry conditions, the Optio WP is no substitute for my Olympus C-5050 or Pentax SLR, but on the water it shines.

    Bruce
    Flagstaff, AZ
    (NW connection? I grew up near Ketchikan.)
     
  18. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    I feel the same way about my Pentax Optio WR43 in regards to land use. It does have manual modes, manual white balance and other higher end features but a very short optical zoom and not very ergonomic. However, unlike my other cameras, I can tuck this one into the pocket on my PFD and it's ready to go immediately. Even though I now have an Ewa bag for my Panasonic, it still takes a few seconds to retrieve it from the cockpit and is a bit more awkward to use. On land, the Panasonic is my camera of choice.
     
  19. Miklos

    Miklos Paddler

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    I just went through the camera shopping trials. Shortlist included FZ-20 and Fuji 5100. One of my main criteria was burst mode speed (wife rides hunters/jumpers). That ruled out the Fuji, and many others. Then I saw the Panasonic FZ-5 which was rated slightly faster shot to shot than the FZ-20 and important to me, cheaper. What you do give up with the FZ-5 is manual focus and at max zoom (12x) the FZ-5 is f3.3 and the FZ-20 is f2.8. But, hey, its cheaper, smaller, 12x optical zoom, image stabilization and 5mp. While its not DSLR, I have been more than pleased with its speed and picture quality.
     
  20. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    I'm not sure, but I think you also give up the flash hot-shoe which is only important if you intend to use an external flash. If burst mode is important to you, be sure to get the fasted SD cards you can find - 60X or better - otherwise you won't realize the rated number of shots/second. With my FZ20 and a 60X card I can get about 3 frames/second at full JPG resolution for as long as I can hold down the shutter release.

    Have you looked at the Konica Minolta DiMage Z5? Very similar to the FZ20 at about the same price as the FZ5. Konica Minolta's image stabilization works on the CCD rather than moving the back element of the lens which theoretically produces less aberations.

    The new Canon S2IS looks pretty nice, as well.