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Old May 20, 2006, 1:09 PM   #1
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I've been waffling looking for a camera that I can use out west while skiing, and also when I'm hunting in the woods of Wisconsin.

Of these two deals...hunting is much tougher to find a camera that would work well.

For both sports, I need a camera that is small enough that I can get it into or out of a pocket easily (or is light enough to leave hanging from my neck inside my clothing).

For hunting... I need light gathering. The more light the camera can gather...the better. It would also be nice if the camera were fairly quiet (although I've used cameras that made a lot of buzzing/whirring noises that animals didn't really pay attention to)

I don't really need zoom... If i can get a high enough resolution camera, I should be able to get sufficent detail from an enlarged/cropped pic to suit my needs.

So....I had been looking down the road of cameras like the old Pentax Optio 33 43 wr's, and now the w10's. These cameras have good features for weather resistance... but the 33/43 were so tiny as to be a tough item to use in low light (hell...to hold still any time). They also fit the bill for not having an ungodly long lens to hang up on stuff. But...from what i can tell, their low light performance was less than stellar.

Recently, I've seen pics and reviews of Canon's s80. while this is not a weather-resistant camera, and it does have a lens that protrudes from the body... it looks like it may do ok in lower light situations. From what I've seen ...the pics look pretty snazzy too.

Any other thoughts on candidates? Or experiences with these two?
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Old May 20, 2006, 1:59 PM   #2
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Keep in mind that an 8Mp camera at 2X digital zoom or cropped to give the effect of 2X gives the equivalent of a 2Mp camera. Put another way, it uses only 2Mp of the sensors in the 8Mp CCD. Cropping isn't generally a substitute for optical zoom.

The S80 is an excellent camera. It has a good lens and sensor plus it has wide angle for those beautiful shots you get from the top of the ski slope. It has no special low light capabilities.

There are three things that give you added low light capability. The first is a large piece of glass to give more light for the sensor. You aren't likely to find anything with more than f2.8 in the size camera you are looking for.

The second is high ISO capability. The Fuji F10/F11/F30 have excellent noise at higher ISO. The F10/F11 would be inappropriate for skiing. They have no optical viewfinder and the LCD is hard to see in bright sunlight. They improved the LCD on the F30 but I have no idea whether it would be useable on a sunny ski slope – probably marginal at best. The other Fuji cameras aren't as good for high ISO noise and nobody else makes a camera with that great high ISO capability either.

The third thing is image stabilization. Manufacturers are claiming 3 f-stops and I find that close. So the zoom shot you can handhold at 1/120 second without stabilization you can get as sharp using 1/15 second with stabilization. The problem there is that you can't have subject motion or it will blur. I personally prefer stabilization to high ISO capability because you end up with lower noise. But I don't tend to shoot a lot of action in limited light.

A good compromise might be the new Canon SD700. It has true optical stabilization and better than average noise at higher ISO. The combination should give decent low light capability. It also has a 4X zoom and an optical viewfinder. They were also smart enough to make the area around the optical finder black so you don't pick up as many reflections from the camera. I would wait for the prices to drop though since it was just released and prices are still high.

I don't think a LCD only camera would be very good on a sunny ski slope regardless of LCD quality. There is a type of LCD called transreflective that uses the sun's light to illuminate the LCD when outdoors and would be excellent on a ski slope. Unfortunately nobody is currently putting them on good still cameras. Some of the hybrid cameras have them.

There aren't any weatherproof cameras that would be as good for your purposes. I don't baby my cameras and always have one with me when out in my boat. I just avoid pulling them out in heavy rain, and there are ways to even shield them from that.

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Old May 20, 2006, 4:35 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. I know I've heard some of it before from a photography prof friend of mine. I just can't keep stuff straight

I should also say.... another spec is finding a camera that's bigger than a pack of cigarettes / cassette case. These things may fit well in smaller pockets are too small for my hands.

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