Ultra-Zoom Point and Shoot Models

Discussion in 'Paddling Photography' started by Jurfie, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Dan's post about Nikon's new compact Nikon-1 got me thinking about some current ultra-zoom point and shoot models available. I've been curious about this camera format since the Olympus PEN came out, and wondered if (for me), it was worth the extra cost and "hassle" of lens changes. His explanation about image quality made me decide a P&S is sufficient for my needs, given that I am not likely to have any photos published anywhere.

    I've been waiting for a waterproof ultra-zoom, but I'm starting to think those options are mutually exclusive. At this point, as zoom is more important to me (since it would be used 90% of the time on land), I think I may get a Canon Powershot SX220 or a Nikon COOLPIX S9100 and keep it in a waterproof case until needed. Not wanting to hi-jack Dan's thread, I decided to post this one to ask if he or anyone else had any thoughts on those models, or other new ultra-zoom point-and-shoots?
     
  2. WaterMark

    WaterMark Paddler

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    I recently got a Canon Powershot Elph 100 HS with waterproof case from future shop for $200. Haven't tested it out enough to say how I like it.

    I don't like the pic quality of waterproof cameras, and buying a waterproof case by itself can a couple hundred dollars, so this seemed like the best solution. The casing does make it bulkier, but it's not too bad, and I can use the camera by itself on land.
     
  3. AM

    AM Paddler

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    I have some experience with a Nikon Coolpix P500 (which is more of a crossover model), but not from a kayaking perspective. The ultra-zooms are meant to be fun and versatile cameras, and they perform in a variety of settings quite admirably. They give you the focal flexibility you need for outdoors shots and, with the crossover models, enough control over the settings to capture what you want. For example, with shutter priority and burst mode activated, I caught some fun shots of my son feeding a whiskey jack up on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. The less expensive P&S won't do that.


    As far as the zoom goes, you obviously get much more zoom of a generally higher quality than you would find on a normal P&S. I have found the waterproof P&S cameras to have generally unsatisfactory zoom quality. On the two that I've used extensively (a Pentax and an Olympus), I generally don't zoom at all because I know the results won't be worth it. On the ultra-zooms, you do get some washing out at max zoom, but the results at anything less can be quite good. Here's a photos of Point Atkinson and the CG hovercraft that I took from UBC (6 km distant) at max zoom (36x/800 mm equivalent). The photo is unedited, so you can see the washing out.


    I think the real question is not what type of camera you want, but what type of paddler you are. I like to go out, horse around, get wet a bit and, hey, if there's a photo opportunity, that's great. But if not, no big deal. For my purposes, a waterproof P&S is just fine: small, no hassle, takes OK shots if the light is good. I don't take the P500 paddling (nor the Canon DLSRs I have access to at work), because I don't want to deal with delicate equipment on the water. That's my choice, and I get decent but not great shots as a result.

    If, however, photography is an intrinsic part of the paddling experience, you'll want the better camera.
     

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