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Digital Point and Shoot Rec's

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After a lot of research, I've narrowed down my choice of digital point and shoots. I'm curious if anyone has direct experience with any of these:

 

Canon Powershot S80

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2

Leica DLux 3

 

I've read lots of online pros and cons for these; most notably, the Panasonic gets ripped for having very "noisy" photos even at low ISO settings, a pity since it otherwise has everything I'm looking for. As such, the Canon seems to be the winner for me, but I haven't found as much info on the Leica except that it's a bit pricey. I'd appreciate anyone's opinions on these models, especially from the climbing photographer's standpoint; or if you know of a model that offers similar functions that will serve well as a camera for technical climbing, I'd like to hear your thoughts. I'm particularly picky about image sensor quality and lens quality, and was hoping to find a 7-8 MP camera that does RAW capture (the old S70 used to). As well, a wider angle lens (28-ish) is preferred.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

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I love Canon cameras (I currently have an SD600 and a XTi Rebel, and have owned a number of Canon digitals in the past). I did have a Powershot S70, which is the same camera design roughly, but different specs. In my opinion, that camera design sucks a$$. I don't like the slide open thing on the front. After a very short amount of usage it got a piece of sand or something and then would not lock into place...so then when you went to take a picture and bumped it in the slightest the lense would retract. I would not buy that camera design again, but I definitely would go with a Canon (as evidenced by the two cameras I currently own).

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That Leica is one sexy camera!!!! However -- One thing to note is the lack of a view finder on many of the new cameras. If you do a lot of long cold climbs (I think you do) then you might find that the view finder feature eats up more battery and power than you want it to. Likewise bright light can be a pain when all you can use is your screen. Note that this isn't always a bad thing -- I used the Pentax W10 without a view finder on Island this past fall without a viewfinder and both the battery and screen were fine.

 

Other than that I can't say either way as I haven't used either one. I've just always lusted over Leica!

 

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I know the Panasonic is using a Leica lens- that is good- but they use a "Venus" image sensor, which thus far is getting decidedly poor reviews- tons of noise at all levels. The Leica camera's main drawback for me is the price, but curious if anyone actually handled one of them.

 

One thing I'm currently rethinking though- I took it as given that I wanted an alpine camera that at least has aperture priority if not also shutter priority. But, for the past 9 years I've used a Contax TVS (film), which has aperture priority. But the more I think about it, while climbing/belaying etc, the camera has spent about 95% of the time on auto exposure- sometimes (yes, on cold climbs particularly) trying to tweak with the controls is too much hassle, and if the camera's auto exposure is reliably accurate (the Contax's definitely is), then it's rarely needed anyway. In consideration of this, the Canon SD800-IS or the SD700-IS suddenly leaps high on the list, and both specifically mention that their exposures are excellent (they don't have manual control over shutter/aperture).

 

Comments on those models? Oly- you have the SD 600, maybe it compares well?

 

Thanks again everyone-

 

ps- I'd keep using the Contax forever, if it wasn't for scanning-I'm over it!

 

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Also, Oly- thanks, regarding the S80. I've read a number of reviews about the sliding lens cover on the S70 and S80; seems to be a universally reviled feature by all, and while climbing, sounds like something easily broken.

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I bought a Canon SD800is a week or so ago. I love it. I haven't taken many pictures outdoors yet, just a few at Seattle Center when we up there last weekend, but the indoors ones have come out great. Even in the low lighting at McMenamin's. I read lots of reviews before buying it. There seems to be a split among which people like better--the 700 or the 800. The wide angle lens sold me on the 800is.

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funny, i just picked up a TVS II.

 

of course, i don't think anyone makes a high end P&S (film or digital) that I like: fully manual with a spot meter. i don't like the trend to do away with optical viewfinders either. what better way to save battery power than to turn off the lcd viewfinder.

Edited by foraker

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Comments on those models? Oly- you have the SD 600, maybe it compares well?

 

 

 

I'd recommend any of the SD line, particularly the SD600 through to the SD900. If i were going to buy another digital point and shoot right now I'd get a Powershot SD800 IS.

 

/p

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- SD800 (better than the SD900 for climbing shots)

- LowePro Revo 10 pouch case

- Go to a locksmith and get one of those retractable deals to clip to something on you.

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I bought an SD800 about a month ago and have been happy with it, though I haven't had much time to shoot. The wide angle is really nice.

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Here's another vote for the Cannon SD line. I have lots of good shots with it. In bring sun on snow, the viewfinder\LCD as opposed to LCD only is a godsend.

 

Ditto on a device to keep it on your person and not sliding down a glacier into a crevasse. I learned that the hard way :(

 

-r

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I'm ringing in for the Canon Powershot series as well. I own a SD 600 and love it. As a person coming from a Nikon FM 2 I like the few manual features that the 600 has. Light, simple, the video looks great. Durability seems good thus far as well. I used mine on a bike tour of the west coast. Several ice climbing trips this winter and almost daily use in my classroom at school.

My vote goes with the Canons.

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I've got an SD800 which I'm pretty happy with. I think wide angle is important for climbing shots. The Panasonic/Leica has is 28mm equivalent with 16:9 ratio which I find less useful than traditional aspect ratios. Image Stabilization is not just a gimmick since it allows tripod-free shots in lower light than would otherwise be possible. One potential problem is the rechargeable battery. I would much rather it use AA so that I could put lithiums in and be confident it will work to below -40. The rechargeables haven't failed yet, but I'm nervous and carry a spare.

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I use a old SD for climbing (~3MP) and like it fine. My nicer cameras are too heavy to haul around. One thing to consider, that I have had issues with, (this and other cameras) is the camera getting cold and the batteries going dead. With this in mind, I think something to consider is getting a camera that takes AA batteries vs. rechargable manf. batteries, so if you they do go dead, you have other options. You can then carry a single set of extra batteries as a backup for headlamp/camera/gps, etc. or carry no extras and assume that you will not need all of them at the same time.

 

Also, I've found that for climbing pictures, the single biggest thing I regret not having is a better optical zoom. Being able to zoom in on your lead climber way up on a pitch is pretty sweet

 

We've got a powershot which takes great pictures, as well as a nikon SLR and both are very high quality.

 

Here's an example of a Nikon that takes AA batteries and has a 5x optical zoom...much better than some of the canon offerings. I think canon's take great pictures but I think battery compatibility and optical zoom are very important features to consider as well.

 

http://www.nikonusa.com/template.php?cat=1&grp=2&productNr=25550

Edited by ericb

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I'm glad to see this post.

I have never owned a digital camera and thought I would get the Panasonic DMC TZ3 when it comes out in a couple months. That was just from reading about it on their website.

 

Now you guys have me doing a little research.

 

Leica D Lux3 is one sexy camera but no view finder.

 

Panasonic DMC's have problem with "noise" that I think means the pictures are not as clear as they should be.

No view finder either!

The TZ3 is portly at 10oz with batt's

 

 

The Cannon's have the viewfinder.

The A710 take's AA's but has a 35mm lens.

The SD800 IS is 6.9oz w/batt's, has viewfinder, 28-105 lens but has the Lith batt (not a show stopper).

I read one review that a fella commented that the corners were blurry at 28mm. Anyone else had this issue with their SD 800?

 

How do the extendable lenses do in COLD weather?

 

I wanted to take this camera on my Denali trip but am unsure.

The little video clips would be fun.

 

I too, am tired of sending slides off and then having to get them scanned.

I wonder if two batteries would last me a month?

Solar charger an option?

 

Thanks,

Jedi

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Regarding the battery issue:

 

In my experience the Canon Li-ion batteries have done well in the cold. I would MUCH rather have the proprietary rechargable batteries than AAs because they are lighter, smaller, last longer, do well in the cold, and they are very cheap.

 

You can buy Li-ion batteries for the canon SD series on ebay for about $5 each. At that price, buy 6 of them, charge them all up, and take them on a month-long cold weather trip. No worries about battery problems.

 

The SD series is so small its comfortable to keep it on a lanyard around your neck inside your jacket (quick access!), so cold batteries shouldn't really be much of an issue anyway.

 

I've had the sd400 and now have the sd600 and will soon be getting the sd800 (when I find a good enough deal).

 

 

 

 

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not exactly what you are looking for but my SD40 rocks. fast camera (compared to the sd20) and takes 640x320 30fps videos. Wow do the videos take up space but they come out great! It's 7.1M and has a panoramic mode that takes quick pictures, the shots I have gotten from it look really nice. I would recommend >2GB SD card if you like taking movies, at the highest resolution it will only take 17minutes of video on a 2gb card.

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this is a good thread, I am in the hunt for the ideal digital as well....

 

With all due respect to the Canon SD crowd....it's a great camera without a doubt. I would own one today (actually, I do own a older 2.1mp model) if not for the battery issue. I wish I could buy one, but the battery issue is the deal breaker for me. Alpinfox's idea about buying a bunch of batteries may or may not work, but depending on the conditions and your requirements this is not always feasable and it sucks when, for whatever reason, your usage drains those Li-ions quickly.

 

From my own experience, if I was only heading out for a couple days at a time the SD line is the way to go. But often my work as a geologist requires that I spend long periods of time in the field, last summer it was over a month at one stretch. My work requires a camera that works all the time. A few seasons back I was using the old SD I have and with three Li battery packs and only once did it run out of juice before I could get to a recharge, but I ended losing some valuable photos for work because of it.

 

My usage requirements are a bit unusual maybe, but it's pretty much the same as I need for climbing...I need a camera that is light, durable, takes high quality images, from telephoto to macro, in most lighting conditions and will always be available to use and is fairly inexpensive so if it breaks I'm not out 2000$. So for me it's AA's, I use Li AA's in the field, because of their cold weather performance and usually I bring about 20(Hey, I'm not paying) for a month of field work and I use rechargable AA's at home.

 

Right now I use a Konica-Minolta from work, but I'm not super pleased with the output. I'll probably end up with another Canon.

 

I like the Canons because my experience with them is that the optics are great and they tend to not be too heavy handed with the way their processors handle the images and the build quality is great. But I would flee to whoever if they made a better product.

 

I have found DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW to be a great source of information about how these cameras function and what makes a good/bad one. Under reviews you can look by brand/date/or rating

 

If you find something you like that works then let us know. Photography comes up enough here it probably deserves it's own section.

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I've taken photos climbing for about 20 years. My second favorite camera of all time was an old Rollei 38mm-- it worked w/o batteries, was tiny and light, etc. The best was an Olympus 35mmautofocus point and shoot 28-80. It had a decent flash, was small and light, and could be operated with one gloved hand. Now I use a Canon I was given which is OK but far from best choice.

 

I would look for the following features:

 

a) a sliding cover that goes right over the lens (Canon S70 style). Cameras with finicky in-lens covers will get fucked up or frozen.

 

b) As few features as possible. You will not use 95% of the crap on a digital (do you really need 17 specialised exposure modes?) and 95% of your shots will be on either auto-exposure or you will add/remove flash.

 

c) A camera w/ viewfinder is essential-- those viewscreens can be a bitch in bright light-- and you don't want to be fiddling with the angle at which you view it. The best viewfinder I've yet seen was on a friend's Canon (S70 I think- black with big sliding front cover). IF the colours aren't suepr intense and bright, it will be a pain (my old Fuji was awful for this).

 

d) BIG KNOBS cos often you are one-hand-handling it or using mitts.

 

e) I like cameras that take AA bateries cos it's less of a pain to buy replacements when in middle of nowhere (eg Nepal) also you can swap AAs with others if necesary and les $$ than buying extra of your brand's proprietary battery.

 

f) wideangle is more important than zoom. The best climbing shots are people pics mixed with landscape, so you need wideangle to get both close and far in. I'd vote for a 28mm bottom end over 35 mm.

 

I carry mine on a soft cord around my neck, with a soft case attached to the camera. I can whip it out at belays, let it hang if I need to fiddle with the rope, etc, also it stays warm when ice climbing. The other useful tools for climbing photography are (a) hackysack-- a great cheap tripod and (b) a Reverso or other auto-locker: you will have way more opps for safe photos.

 

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Some great info and responses on here, thanks to all.

 

In the end it doesn't seem there is one camera that will do it all, at least, not all the ideal features I would prefer. So have to consider which one's are expendable and which are must haves.

 

Two of the must haves I do think are a wide, quality lens, and EV compensation.

 

Thanks again for the advice, everybody.

 

 

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