Advice on P&S for climbing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JDDavis, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. JDDavis, Jan 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011

    JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #1
    I'm a Nikon user and I currently take my D90 and one or two lenses whenever I go rock climbing or mountaineering. It and it's successor DSLRs will always be my first choice. There are some instances though were climbing with a large bulky camera is pointless. It either puts me at risk carrying it or the climb is such that I never have the opportunity to take the camera out and use it. Just to be clear I'm not talking about going out and intentionally taking photographs of subjects climbing but taking photographs while I am climbing. (there is a big difference).

    Anyway I have started looking at some of the high end point and shoots as an option to carry when I don't want the DSLR. I'm looking for a rugged camera with full manual controls, a wide angle lens, shoots in RAW, handles highlights and shadows as best as it can, and is decently light and slim. I do not want any kind of interchangeable lens and would prefer it used SD cards. I'm really looking for the best IQ I can get in this class of camera.

    Here are the ones I'm currently looking at. If anyone has any tips or experience with these cameras I'd love to hear it.

    Ricoh GRD III - magnesium body, 28mm f1.9 (no zoom) - might miss the zoom in some situations

    Ricoh CX3 - don't think it is as rugged as the GRD, 28-300mm lens

    Panasonic DMC-LX5 - great price - question it's durability - 24mm (3.8x zoom) f2.0

    Canon Powershot S95 - smallest and lightest - f2.0 28mm 3.8x zoom

    Canon Powershot G11 - durability looks good - 28-140mm lens

    Nikon P7000 - should be familiar to me - 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 lens

    Edit: I'm adding the Fuji FinePix X100 to my list of possibilities. Good looking camera.

    I'm leaning towards the GRDIII because of the body and the f1.9 fixed lens. I know nothing about Ricoh cameras and there quality though. I know people raved about the film GR cameras. I worry I would miss the zoom but when climbing with someone with my DSLR I find most of the shots are between 18 and 70mm. If I really wanted the long reach I'd probably have my DSLR.

    Anyway, I thought I 'd throw it out there since you folks always give great advice. Any tips on these cameras or any new suggestions would be great to hear.

    Thanks
     
  2. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    #2
    I used to have a Canon PowerShot SD1000, very similar to the S95 in that it was very small. I found it perfect because I could either slip in in my pocket or even have it hanging in hand while climbing through caves with relative ease.

    Unfortunately, it met an untimely end while serving its duty: it slipped off my wrist in a cave and broke, but not before serving as a faithful camera for many years.

    Personally, in the end I would go for the least expensive camera (within reason, you don't want it to be junk) just incase it does brake, which has a much higher possibility since you'll be active while using it.

    Hope that helps.
     
  3. RHVC59 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Location:
    St. Johns, Portland, Oregon
    #3
    I am very happy with the Nikon P7000, I picked up for work in my Museum. Fairly small, good battery life. Impressive low light performance. Once LR 3 was updated to 3.3, it plays nicely with the P7000 RAW files. Video performance is also very impressive. The 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 lens has enough range for most of the things I shoot. B & H had good price when I ordered it. I also picked up a wireless remote, and a spare battery.
     
  4. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #4
    That's why I was interested in the S95, for it's size. I'm not sure about the image quality compared to the others. Honestly though, I'm not worried about breaking it. I'll risk smashing an expensive camera to get high quality shots (not just snapshots). I climb with my D90 strapped to my back all the time. I'm looking for a smaller alternative that doesn't sacrifice too much in IQ.
     
  5. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #5
    Thanks for the info. I have Nikon accessories like the remote so that would be great if they all worked. Do you know if the hot shoe is the same size...can you put a SB600 on it (not that I really need to). Do you have any opinion on how it handles dynamic scenes (bright highlights and dark shadows)?
     
  6. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #6
    I have the S95 (in addition to shooting with a Nikon D200 and D7000). It's a fantastic little P&S camera with great IQ.
     
  7. Ish, Jan 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011

    Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Do you remember about a year ago there was something in the DP forum about a professional, maybe a news photographer (?) who'd travelled all over and took the majority of his photos with a camera of the type your describing? I don't know if some of his pictures were in the post/thread or if it was a link but this camera had been through some tough times as you might imagine, and the photos were impressive.

    If anyone remembers it better than I do and can find the thread it would be a very good recommendation for you. Sorry not to be more help. I recently got a Canon S95. Very light, very small, ideal for carrying around. Perfect for what I want as a second camera but you might want to handle it first. I don't know what it would be like if you've got bigger hands than me and they're freezing cold halfway up a mountain. It'd be a shame to drop it, especially for the person following you! The Canon G11 is much more chunky and though I haven't used a G11 I've read that the IQ is comparable.

    EDIT: Found it. It was Alex Majoli. Maybe you'll find some useful info in here.
     
  8. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #8
    I don't imagine the OP would handle a P&S while climbing without a strap.

    For my work, I like the Black Rapid products, and they have a new strap for P&S cameras.
     
  9. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Neither do I. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. :)
     
  10. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #10
    I am a big fan of the R4 and have one on my D90. I love it for rock climbing because the strap stays on me (comfortably) and then the camera gets clipped to my harness behind my back. I can retrieve the camera one handed without the camera ever becoming unattached from my person. For a smaller P&S I would probably wear it on my chest or harness and make my own lanyard to keep it attached to me.
     
  11. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #11
    Thanks for that link! I do remember reading the story. He used Olympus cameras. I think one of his big things was that he felt using the smaller P&S gave him more access to the subjects and got more personal shots since they were not intimidated by the big DSLR. I'm going to put the Oly XZ-1 on my list of cameras to check out.
     
  12. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #12
    I use the DR-1 Double strap to carry a Nikon D7000 and a D200 with 70-200 VR and a 24-120 VR (or 12-24/4). They make great stuff.
     
  13. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #13
    I've narrowed my group for now down to:

    Ricoh GRD III

    Olympus XZ-1

    Canon S95

    Fuji X100 (just have to wait and see it)

    Still open for suggestions and I really want to wait for the Fuji and see what it's all about. I'm having a hard time weighing the quality of a fixed lens vs the versatility of a zoom. The bottom three are relatively new except for the Ricoh (2009 release). I wonder if there will be an update soon.
     
  14. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #14
    Even though I have the S95, I came very close to getting the Lumix LX-5. I would add that to the short list.

    The S95 won out for me just because I wanted something very pocketable (to slip in my fire suit pocket when working the pits). Otherwise, I really liked the LX-5.
     
  15. RHVC59 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Location:
    St. Johns, Portland, Oregon
    #15
    I will check with mine tomorrow:eek:.
     
  16. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #16
    The LX-5 is still on the edge. I'm just not drawn to it for some reason. I kept the S95 on my watch list because of the size and the great reviews on the image quality. I am a little concerned about it being too small. I'm a big guy and I generally fumble with the small P&S cameras. My D90 almost feels too small in my hands and I'm more comfortable when the grip is on it. I have to say, that now that I've seen the X100 I'm not sure I can live without it.
     
  17. Eaton Photos macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    Location:
    KY
    #17
    OP,

    I have owned both the S90 & Currently the G11. We bought the S90 just before a business/ family trip to Florida in Nov. 2009, and it did a pretty good job, but had three Major drawbacks: (1) the Battery life was horrendous, (2) its a slippery little ph*cker, & (3) the zoom mechanism in the lens broke, while on vacation. Regarding the slickness, I have large hands and had trouble keeping the camera steady at times. But on the flip side, my wife is very petite, and has small hands, and had trouble with it too. So it wasn't just me. :) While we were on vacation, we swapped the S90 at a Best Buy in Miami, and continued to test it out. Regarding the battery life, I had the camera set to minimal power settings, and it was +70º everywhere we were, but we were charging the battery almost non-stop, as it seemed to only last for about 200 images, before dying.

    Regarding Features; Raw was great, and the resulting IQ of the images were outstanding. We shot anything & everything that caught our eyes, during the road trip to & from Key West, the Shuttle Atlantis Launch, St. Augustine, & Savannah, GA. Compactness was a nice feature too, but its metallic exterior, made it not so nice to us. The flash is motorized and is recessed along the upper shell. However, if your finger blocks its operation, an error message will appear on the LCD. The Menu is easy to navigate, and the customizable menu/ functions were definitely a nice touch.

    After we returned from our trip, we returned the replacement S90, and bought the G11. Feature for feature, the G11 truly beats the S90. The primary similarity between the two is the IQ, though the G11's Raw files have the slightest bit more detail to them. Though the compactness of the S90 is appealing, I definitely prefer the added features of the G11. It is larger, about twice as thick as the S90, and overall more rugged. The Hot-shoe is definitely a Big Positive for me. The G11 has a much better battery life, the same menu/ customizable settings as the S90, and a little bit more zoom. If you would like to see some pixs shot with both, I'll post em up.

    Good Luck with your search.
     
  18. Cruleworld macrumors newbie

    Cruleworld

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    #18
    I Love the sony Cybershot line of point and shoots. I have the Sony DSC-HX5v and I'd recommend it or it's newer brother the DSC-HX7v (coming in March) to any body. It's durable and I can just pop it in my pocket. Not to mention you can get some amazing lanscape shots with it.

    This photo is 100% unmodified since I removed it from the camera. You can see more of the pictures I've taken with it here.
     
  19. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #19
    A custom grip from Richard Franiec solves most of the S90/95's handling woes.

    (the battery life on my S90 is acceptible and the camera itself has been fine)
     
  20. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    #20
    Thanks for the info. I am worried about the S95 size. It looks like that it also only has one small place for attaching a lanyard. I like the beefier option that the Oly XZ-1 offers. I'm assuming that they all have standard tripod threads on the bottom so a Black Rapid clip would work too but this adds some bulk to the overall dimensions.

    The grips for the S95 are a great idea. If I bought one I'd go for the grips for sure. The IQ on the S95 seems impressive. The info on the battery life is not good.

    Looks like the Ricoh and the Oly beat the S95 in battery life by a bit. That could be a consideration. Looks as if the Ricoh can take AAA batteries in a pinch. Not sure about the other ones.

    Other than lusting after the Fuji X-100 I think I'm leaning towards the Oly right now. It will be a while before I pull the trigger though. I'm also weighing this purchase against the Nikkor 105mm Micro that I have on my list.
     
  21. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #21
    Thanks for the link. I just ordered one of these.
     

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