What camera?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Si
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What camera?

Postby Si » 9 Feb 2009, 9:09am

Inspired by the place name thread, I was wondering if there is an ideal camera available that:

Takes pictures that are good enough for the 'net rather than for printing.
Small and light so easy to carry on bike.
Batteries last a long time so don't find that they are flat every other ride.
Tough enough to be chucked in the rack top bag and forgotten about.
Point and click - not faffing setting it up.
Digital so easy to upload.
Cheap because a) I can't afford much & b) is likely to get damaged/lost.
Isn't a camera phone.

Basically, something that I can always have on the bike with me in case I happen to see something interesting (like the buzzard sat in the tree looking down at me as I rode past the other day) and quickly want to take a snap. David Bailey I am not and so don't need anything with bells and whistles, but a bit of optical zoom would be nice if poss. Oh, did I mention cheap?

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NUKe
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Postby NUKe » 9 Feb 2009, 12:01pm

Si a lot depends on Price. but the Olympus Mu is excellent, the Gadget show tried to destroy one and it far oputlasted the competition.

I should have said define Cheap, plenty of deals to be had.
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Si
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Postby Si » 9 Feb 2009, 12:15pm

'cheap' for me is as little as poss - ideally under £50, better if closer to £30 etc!

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patricktaylor
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Postby patricktaylor » 9 Feb 2009, 1:07pm

Under £50 probably doesn't exist for your list of requirements, especially as you'll need a memory card as well, plus a soft case.

Looking on Comet's website there's a Sony Cybershot DSC-S750 at £79.99 which looks okay. Of course you don't need anything like 7 megapixels, but you'll be hard put to find a camera with anything less - 6 maybe.

One thing I can say about this camera: the battery life is excellent (rechargeable lithium-ion battery and charger). I'm saying that because the battery life on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W120 - a similar camera - is amazing. It seems to stay charged for weeks, although it all depends on usage. I do use the camera though.

I have mine in the Sony case (the one made for the camera) which is a bit pricey but very robust.

emergency_pants
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Postby emergency_pants » 9 Feb 2009, 1:11pm

I think you'll be wanting something used for that price, really because otherwise the lens/sensor is going to be utterly rubbish for under £50 (lens distortion, horrible noise and ugly colours).

Buying used means you can buy something old but with a better quality image.

Take a look on ebay for Canon Ixus 300, which has quite a low resolution (you did say you're not too bothered about printing but even a 2.0mp camera will print 6x4 just about adequately).

It has a 3x zoom and all the ixus range is steel-bodied and ultra compact.

For under £50 on ebay you may even get a better model than the 300.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canondigitalixus300/

Has a canon battery and comes with its own compact charger. You'll get spare batteries cheaply.

ebay item number 370116233185 buy it now £40

It's not mine, by the way! Just did a search on there and saw this.

Hope that helps.

pete75
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Postby pete75 » 9 Feb 2009, 1:36pm

These seem to get good reviews from people who've bought them.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/151501

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Postby emergency_pants » 9 Feb 2009, 1:51pm

pete75 wrote:These seem to get good reviews from people who've bought them.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/151501


Crumbs... that looks like a really great budget camera!

I found the full specs...

http://benq.co.uk/products/digicam/?pro ... ifications

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patricktaylor
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Postby patricktaylor » 9 Feb 2009, 4:37pm

emergency_pants wrote:... Crumbs... that looks like a really great budget camera! ...

I agree. Good find.

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Helen
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What camera?

Postby Helen » 9 Feb 2009, 6:28pm

I'm no expert, but I think you save on batteries by getting a camera that has an old-fashioned viewfinder as well as a display screen.

Rechargeables batteries: I use UniRoss AA Hybrio batteries that hold their charge. On tour I need to charge them every 5-7 days, taking about 300 pics per week and messing about with them. I have a UniRoss Globe Trotter mini charger that does up to 4 batteries (AA or AAA) in 5 hours in a campsite toilet! And has 3 plugs for UK, Europe and another one. I use this to charge lights, headtorch and radio too.

charger

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Paul Smith SRCC
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Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 9 Feb 2009, 7:08pm

I wrote a review of my Pentax Optio WP Waterproof camera back in 2007 that may be of interest.

Image

Many of us use our bikes for touring and like to carry a camera to take pictures of our tour along the way. Digital cameras are now commonplace; many, like this Pentax Optio WP, are an ideal size for anyone who wants to take general snaps, being light and compact enough to fit into a cycling jersey or pannier pocket. However, one common complaint amongst riders is that cameras can be vulnerable to moisture. Even waterproof panniers can be insufficient to protect a camera; moisture is in the air, after all, and especially if riding through hot humid showery conditions pannier bags can sweat. The result can soon be one broken camera!

Image

Step forward the Pentax Optio WP, which is fully waterproof. It can even take pictures underwater, although I confess I wouldn't risk that myself. It was purely bought as I felt reassured that at least if it did get wet on tour then it should be OK. Picture quality is fairly good with 5.0 megapixels, although I note that already the model has been replaced, first with a 6.0 megapixels version. The current model called Optio W30 has 7.0 megapixels, although the basic design and functions are in the same! That is, of course, the problem with this kind of product; mine is a year old only.

Image

With a simple menu screen I found the camera easy to use and perfect for on-tour shots of views and daylight general pictures of points of interest. It can be used in either fully- or semi-automatic mode with quick and easy to select options that included an emphasis on long distance views, portraits or close up pictures as well as all the normal features we would expect of a compact camera.

Image

So easy to use was the Pentax and so pleased was I with the results even I could manage that I actually started to enjoy taking pictures. In fact, more so than ever before, the convenience of digital allowing me to snap away carefree without the concern of filling up a 36 exposure film as in the past. Only the size of the memory card is a limit in that respect, my 1gigabyte card allowing for 300 pictures, more if I selected a lower resolution to be recorded in each shot, of course. I personally keep the camera set at 5.0 mega pixels as for me 300 shots is adequate plus I find that instead of using the zoom to the maximum (3 x Optical) I get a better quality picture if I crop a shot on my PC afterwards instead, the maximum amount pixels helping to achieve this.

I found it ideal for views and general location snaps that are typical cycle touring holiday pictures; it also has a 'micro' setting for real close-up clarity that is very impressive and once again encourages pictures of that type, just because it is so easy to get good results. On the downside the display screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight and flash photography is impressive for close up work only; in conclusion for I am very happy with it; even if it was out of date by the time I walked out of the shop with it; I dare say the new one is even better!


As a foot note to that review the pictures in my 'London to Paris' and 'Corsica' tours linked to below are taken with it. I am still pleased with it although I realise the limitations, low light pictures especially can be disappointing as is the picture quality if the Zoom is used, the later versions may be far better though and I dare say bargains can be found.

Paul_Smith
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Last edited by Paul Smith SRCC on 9 Feb 2009, 7:38pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tonyf33
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Postby Tonyf33 » 9 Feb 2009, 7:31pm

i'd suggest anything from the Fuji finepix A800/900 series. You can now get these for £50-£80(A850 for £50 delivered on Amazon) dependant on exact model. They have 8-9MP & 3-4x optical zoom lenses. I bought my missus an A825 with 4x optical zoom and it is fantastic. Nice & compact, takes great pics straight out of the box and using a decent pair of AA's you can easily get 100-200 pics(depending on flash use obviously)

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Postby patricktaylor » 9 Feb 2009, 7:50pm

As important as the camera itself is what is done with/to the images before they are published on the web. A program like Adobe Photoshop can be used to correct poor colour and contrast (and even poor focus) on photos off a very cheap camera - any digital camera, in fact. The software can be expensive but if one has access to it, one can be less fussy about the camera.

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Postby Tom Richardson » 9 Feb 2009, 7:59pm

patricktaylor wrote:A program like Adobe Photoshop can be used to correct poor colour and contrast (and even poor focus) on photos off a very cheap camera


take care with that though. jpegs are 'lossy' - they dump information to make the files smaller. They do that every time that you edit and save them. You can usually get away with editing once but repeat editing can destroy them. (I know because I've done it - before I knew about this).

glueman
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Postby glueman » 9 Feb 2009, 8:06pm

Get something with a viewfinder as well as a screen. You can look at facial expressions and stuff through a finder, a screen is only adequate for basic composition and not even that if the sun is on it.
Reckon I use the vf to screen ratio 10/1.

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Helen
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What camera?

Postby Helen » 9 Feb 2009, 8:06pm

Mine is Fuji Finepix A820 nearly 2 years old.
I use a big memory card - 4Gb I think. I've never downloaded on tour so far, so have to risk storing on the card till I get home.
Isn't a problem with Fuji that you have to use their specific XD card instead of an SD card?

Most-used buttons:
Flash (auto, forced, suppressed - handy for sneaky museum shots)
Self-timer (cos I'm usually alone)
Auto-focus thingy (can't think quickly enough to use the other 7 modes)
Video mode

Can be set to local time and button noise can be suppressed (cos I don't want to annoy people in churches etc).

Ideally, it would be a bit smaller and lighter, and have a viewfinder.

I was amazed how quickly I got to grips with it (compared to 2 years for my iPod!)