ADV Photographers - Which camera type? Premium P&S or Mirrorless?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Herbivore63, May 1, 2013.

  1. Herbivore63

    Herbivore63 Adventurer

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    I am a reasonably experienced photographer but a relatively new rider and ADV’er. I’m getting geared up for a couple trips this year which will include portions of the Backcountry Discovery Routes in Washington and Utah. My good DSLR will not be going on those trips. I want something smaller, lighter and more convenient. So, I’m looking for something that will be easy to carry and always close at hand but still capable of taking some great pictures.

    Before looking at specific cameras, I’m trying to figure out which type of camera is best with the two obvious choices being a premium point & shoot (e.g. Canon G15, Canon S110, Nikon D7700, etc.) or a small Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (e.g. Canon EOS M, Samsung NX1000, etc.) with a pancake lens and/or a small zoom. I really want the larger sensor with the picture quality that a MILC would provide but it’s not as convenient to pack and handle. A P&S can stay in my coat pocket close at hand. A MILC would reside in my tank bag.

    Can any of you tell me about your experience and how you typically use your camera when traveling? Where do you keep it? How important is having a completely pocketable camera? Am I likely to take fewer pictures if it’s in my tank bag? Are there other issues that would be created by the more clunky form of the MILC’s? Is having an integrated lens cap important? What conclusions have you come to regarding the trade-off of convenience vs. image quality? :ear
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  2. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    I feel your pain. For the last 4 -5 years I've traveled with my Sony mega zoom, H-9, I believe. It's been a good compromise, I think. Of course the image quality suffers with the smaller sensor, but it & all it's gear (charger, ext. batt., filters, etc) all fit into a small vidcam bag, strapped to the luggage rack or sometimes worn on my back if I know I'm likely to be shooting. A small P&S would of course be easier & more handy for sudden shots, but the big zoom range of the H-9, without the bother of extra lenses or weight & bulk (& cost!) of a DSLR is a blessing.It's just about in the middle. Of late, however, I've been hearing glowing reports about the new, larger format, NEX series, with interchangeable lenses, but no mirror. Sort of the form factor of an old rangefinder camera. The reviews are glowing, especially the NEX 7, with an OLED viewfinder. (I never came to love the LCD screen). It's smaller than my H-9 but with the sensor of an entry level DSLR. The >$1000 price is intimidating, but I think I'll make the jump when the price drops, probably after a newer top of the lie is introduced.
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  3. FakeName

    FakeName Wile E Coyote SuperGenius

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    I used a NEX5 for a couple weeks in Europe last year, and if I was looking to buy a camera right now, the NEX7 would be at the top of my list. IMHO, a perfect camera for ADV riding.

    I'd keep it in the tank bag for easy access. I LOVE wide lenses, so I'd keep the shortest I could find on the body with a good polarizer for daytime shooting.
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  4. kuroda_tadayoshi

    kuroda_tadayoshi Kuroda

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    I've been shooting for 30 years with a variety of equipment, and right now I am setting on micro 4/3 for adventure riding.

    I have a Panasonic GF5 with a 14mm lens that goes into my jacket pocket. It is no bigger than the Canon G15. I use to have a G10, but gave that away when I got the Panasonic. Having to remove the lens cap does not bother me. I can do it with my gloves on (and take a picture with my gloves on), and I just stick it in my pocket.

    In my side case, I keep a Panasonic GF3 with a 45mm Oly lens attached. Yep, two 4/3 cameras. First, I am a prime lens guy. There is too much of a trade off of image quality with zooms, for me. Also, when you use zooms, most people just use either ends; not focal lengths in between. If you do need something in between, zoom with your feet :norton
    The other reason I have two is the price. Panny and Oly update models all the time. The close out prices are ridiculous. I picked up the GF3 for $200 last year, and the GF5 last month for $200. You can get the 14mm on ebay new for about $178. I can't remember how much the 45mm was.

    Also, the advantage of buying 4/3 over point and shoot is the glass. The G15 will be updated, and you will get a new camera at some point. With the 4/3 system, update the body, keep the glass forever. The 14mm is a good, compact lens. The 45mm is a great lens.

    I also like having the two cameras hiking. I don't have to changed lenses. One goes into the right pockets, the other in the left. They are so small and light, it is no big deal.

    I do have one concern. Having that camera in my pocket in front of my chest. On a get off, I can see landing in such a way that the camera is between me and the ground. Broken rib?

    Hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions. Have fun on your rides! I may actually get around to doing the entire WABDR this year. I really don't have a good excuse as to why I haven't yet.
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  5. Lujo

    Lujo Long timer

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    I traveled around the US with a DSLR in the tank bag. This worked really well -- better than a smaller camera would have. The extra weight of the DSLR didn't matter, and the extra bulk made it much easier to use for quick shots -- I could even take pictures without taking my gloves off. That said, most of the time now I use a mirrorless camera (earlier Samsung NX100, now Fuji X-E1) because they're so much easier to walk around with than a DSLR.
    #5
  6. Herbivore63

    Herbivore63 Adventurer

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    Thanks for the input everyone. It sounds like mirrorless is the consensus view and I was really expecting to hear the opposite!

    Those are great points. Using a prime lens does make it about the same size as some of the P&S cameras. Less convenient maybe than a zoom, but with the larger sensor size photos can be cropped significantly if needed, in effect adding a "digital zoom" to the camera. And you bring up the wisdom of buying good glass and the best lens system because glass retains it's value and cameras, particularly digital cameras, depreciate quickly. The Sony DSC-RX100 has a lot going for it as a P&S with a relatively large sensor and decent lens. But it costs $650 and will probably be nearly worthless in two or three years.

    One other question/issue...As one of you mentioned, shooting without a viewfinder can be painful. I was on a weekend trip recently using a cheap P&S and almost threw it off the ferry because I couldn't see a blasted thing in the LCD. How do you find the LCD's and is it worth focusing on finding one that has an accessory viewfinder?
    #6
  7. SpeedyK

    SpeedyK Lone Rider

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    I like M4/3, but prefer the Panasonic G-series. Articulated LCD is useful for various reasons, but in sun the EVF is better, esp, when close-focusing.

    Another consideration, if you are proficient with cropping for a shot, is the Sigma Merrill series, proficient photogs are getting some incredible stuff out of them. Drawback is no lens changing and short battery life. I'm not quite there with carrying multiple battery-eating cameras, but if the charging could be sorted they could be good tools.

    The NEX 7 I briefly handled was nicely-built, but it left me cold as a tool somehow. One thing is the lenses aren't significantly smaller than DSLR, and there are fewer choices without adapters.
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  8. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    I agree that Sony e-mount glass is still fairly thin on the ground. That's one reason I'm holding off a purchase. I'm told there are many in the pipeline as this NEX series gains acceptance, & I expect more & better lens choices in coming months. (Hopefully some price drops on existing glass as well).
    #8
  9. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Sony's come out with a new 16-50mm lens that's just a tad bit bigger then the 16mm pancake lens. Very much more compact then any DSLR lens. Also, the new NEX 6 while only 16MP compared to 24 with the 7 still offers the OLED viewfinder. Amazon has the 6 with the 16-50mm lens for a tad under $900. Thinking very seriously of picking one up.
    #9
  10. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    We have that dilema also. My GF and I have destroyed 2 P&S cameras over the past couple of years. We mount them on the bars and with the wind resistance and bugs, after a while the pop-out lens stops working.

    I would like to try one of those waterproof and shockproof ones and see how they do.

    What are your opinions on that?
    #10
  11. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    For what you're doing I'd just get a Contour or GoPro camera.
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  12. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

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    Already have a Contour. I need pictures, not video. I also carry my DSLR that I use when we stop.
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  13. BobPS

    BobPS Been here awhile

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    Sony RX100 is a great little pocket camera. A point and shoot camera, but you can still shoot manual with it, and it takes RAW too. Great IQ. I really love it. After I bought it, I never use my dslr anymore. And I think it will make a great camera for travelling on motorcycle.
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  14. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Might want to look at your owners manual, my Contour does video AND pics . :dunno In fact, I bet you'd be hard pressed to find a video camera that doesn't do pics, or a still camera that doesn't do video. :lol3
    #14
  15. vcvarmitcong

    vcvarmitcong Cheekrashsucks

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    OP, best wishes on your search.

    Lots of compromises. I'm going to try something different. I have a D5100 for which I am going to try to build a protective bar mount. I know that I would take much more pics if all that I had to do was point the bars and shoot using a remote release. We'll see.
    #15
  16. FakeName

    FakeName Wile E Coyote SuperGenius

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    I don't mind using a screen for a viewfinder- years of using a ground glass on medium and large format. Most of the things I shoot while riding- odd, funky scenics with the bike as my star- allow a more contemplative creative approach, and the LCD/ground glass is quite comfortable.

    Were I shooting action, a "real" viewfinder would be my only choice. But then I'd need a "real" camera for that as well.

    Different jobs require different tools.

    Shooting midrange with a zoom- say 135mm(ish) is not the same shot as walking closer to a subject with a 50mm(ish) lens. Very different results- but what do I care? I typically use the shortest lens combination available to me. But that's a personal style decision, it does not imply my way is better than anyone else's.

    Look at your personal shooting style for guidance. Zooms are not terribly valuable to me for the kind of shots I like to make.

    I love primes.
    #16
  17. Stratlanta

    Stratlanta Flabby Adventurer

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    I've gone back and forth on this a bunch of times now. For me - and this is just my opinion - I find that even though they are capable of taking great pictures, I'm constantly disappointed with cameras that don't have an actual viewfinder (and an optical one at that, but that's a whole other story). Maybe it's just years and years of SLR use and I'm an old dog trying to learn new tricks, but it's just what I've come to realize. I recently took a week long trip up the coast of CA (by cage) and had my Canon 6D and Sony RX100 with me. Both took spectacular images and the RX100 is, in my opinion, one of the best small cameras available, but again I was constantly frustrated with not being able to see what I was framing due to sun on the screen. Also, I think DSLRs are just easier to use - yes, yes, I know that's counterintuitive, but the smaller cameras just have a tendency to be too fiddly with small buttons, too much menu diving, forcing things on me that I don't want, etc. At least with the DSLR I have total control and it's easy to make changes.
    So anyway, just my opinion of course. I think some of the smaller/lighter DSLR's out there would make great travel cameras. And I have to admit that I'm dying to try the Olympus OMD5..... :-)
    #17
  18. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I think the line is pretty blurry between the lower end consumer DSLR's and even the mid range 4/3 camera's. My little NEX 3 which is at the bottom end of the range can take every bit as good a picture as my old 20D and it has every bit as much manual control. Or at least as far as I want to take manual control. :lol3

    It is missing a viewfinder which I find I really want at times as well. But considering the thing cost 1/4 of what my 20D BODY cost, I really can't complain.

    Oh, and I picked up a Canon FD adapter so I can use my old AE-1 FD 50 mm 1.4 prime lens if I ever get around to shooting any portraits.
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  19. Lost Rider

    Lost Rider Roadie

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    Have you tried changing the screen brightness setting to "sunlight"
    I never had an issue framing in direct sunlight and I don't even use the bright setting but I have a screen protector on.






    There's no right or wrong in cameras just like bikes and most things, to answer this question posted by the OP:

    "I want something smaller, lighter and more convenient. So, I’m looking for something that will be easy to carry and always close at hand but still capable of taking some great pictures.

    To me the obvious answer is the RX-100 (since there's no direct competitor out there yet), it can go in a pocket (jeans front pocket!) or tank bag, has a big enough sensor, fun to use for experienced photographers and at $650 holds great value, especially when you're talking about spending 2-3 times as much for a MILC system with multiple lenses and many times more bulk with very little IQ advantage. I've carried cameras the size of a MILC and it still needs a dedicated storage place on the bike making it not as convenient, for me at least, and that's not mentioning when you're off the bike, still needs to go around your neck or in your hand.



    The RX-100 is perfect for motorbike travels IMHO making very high quality, large file images yet as small as a P&S making it very easy to carry on a bike.
    It's not a P&S, it's a photographers tool with the largest sensor in it's class in a small package.
    The controls are intuitive, fully customizable and it gives fast access to whatever you want to change most.
    Fast lens, fast focus, RAW files, excellent high ISO performance, etc...
    I'm not sure if Stratlanta is talking about the RX specifically when he said small cameras are fiddly, but the RX has the enough programable wheels and buttons to make controlling it not much different than a DSLR, just smaller.
    Like anything if you use it often it becomes second nature, I don't need to look or think about it when I want to change something.


    I didn't buy the RX thinking about what it will be worth on 2-3 years, it's a bargain right now and is cutting edge, in 2-3 years it will still take the same great photos too. If it's worth $300 in 2 years when I get the next latest and greatest, then $350 for 2 years with 1000's of great images in a tiny package is a steal. Any consumer digital camera will be worth about half in 2-3 years whether it has interchangeable lenses or not, I've bought and sold many throughout the years. Granted my 5D Mark II held a little more value and my M9 held all it's investment after 2 years, but those are in a different league than anything being discussed here.




    here's a thread that has some more comments and samples I posted about the RX-100 in it:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=833788&page=6



    It doesn't get any easier than this when carrying cameras on a bike, I've BTDT with a wide variety. :evil

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    While no award winners here, I have no issue getting results for MC travels that make me happy with the RX-100.

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  20. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

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    Hadn't heard of the RX-100 before, but that little camera seems like a winner to me.

    Me personally, I like my DSLR (pentax k30) and its moderately long zoom (18-135mm), especially since both are weather and dust sealed. With the moderate zoom, which is only slightly longer than the kit lens, I never have to change lenses for 99% of what I'm doing. I'd like a couple wider fast primes for sure, particularly when the northern lights come out or if I'm shooting inside, but for most of my time this is the perfect setup. But I found for me, if I just want a snap shot I'll use my cell phone and if I want a nice shot I'll use the DSLR, and if I just want to have fun I'll bring a film body.
    #20