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Old Feb 13, 2010, 2:15 PM   #1
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Default Travel Camera, etc.

It seems about once a month I wind up here asking about cameras. Sorry for the repetition. You may recall that I purchased a Canon S90 a few months ago. As I've mentioned in the past, I would like something to supplement it.

So far I have just been reading, researching and contemplating. I am now in the process of planning a trip to Costa Rica, probably toward the middle of April, and so I would like to get more serious about a purchase so that I can spend some time getting comfortable with whatever new camera I may purchase before the trip. Unfortunately, I haven't had as much time to work with the S90 as I would have liked, so I'm going to be learning more about that at the same time.

I'm really not certain whether I want to go with a superzoom, micro 4/3 or DSLR. On the superzoom front, I am leaning toward the Panasonic FZ35. Getting another Canon, would probably reduce the learning curve, but I like the fact that the Panasonic is lighter, doesn't use AA batteries and has a faster lens on the long end. It also seems to get somewhat better reviews than Canon's current offering.

As to micro 4/3 or DSLR, I really haven't done enough homework to know where I stand just yet. I realize that cost will be a good bit higher with either of these than a superzoom and that the learning curve is going to be steeper. I also realize that weight and convenience are a factor. So the superzoom has some major things in its favor. What I'm not sure of is whether I am likely to be ultimately dissapointed with the combination of the S90 with a superzoom. So I guess my first question is this:

For typical travel photos of scenery, wildlife etc. in reasonably decent lighting, how would the superzoom do compared to a DSLR or micro 4/3 system?

And my second question: What other recommendations, if any, would you have for cameras to consider?

This should at least get the ball rolling for discussion, I hope. I'm sure I (and all responding) will likely have more questions as the thread continues.

Thank you, as always.

Last edited by Jazzer251; Feb 13, 2010 at 4:07 PM.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 2:56 PM   #2
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Hi there, jazzer-

In terms of reducing your upfront costs, the Panasonic FZ-35 is not only an excellent choice, and a great camera, but it is also near it's lowest price point right now. In contrast, m4/3 cameras are double or triple in cost to provide the same zoom capabilities. And while m4/3 camera's high ISO capabilities have gradually improved, the FZ-35 has only very slightly less in ISO capabilities.

DSLR cameras have come down in price in the last 5 years, that is true. Bit the long and short of it DSLR's are physically larger and require multiple lenses to cover the same zoom range of the FZ-35. In short, your kit will grow physically larger, and more expensive.

We have a very active group of Panasonic FZ-35 users in our Panasonic P+S folder. They are great at sharing photos and in helping each other with camera tips and photo techniques. It is a fun group and I am sure it make the learning curve with a new camera easier and faster.

Have a great weekend.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 5:27 PM   #3
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I wouldn't discount the value of AA batteries. Particularly if you travel. One bad battery can ruin a trip. If you are en route some where and the batteries die what's your option? Camera stores aren't plentiful in CR...but you could get AA's easily.

I just returned using my K-X...the main lens was 55-300. the one thing I found was that a lot of shooting was done shooting up into the trees a monkeys, birds etc. and focusing can be a problem as AF sometimes picks a branch. Having manual option was nice. The other issue is light..most times you are backlit. being able to change EV got me the shot.

Other things you may shoot at are lying in the shade so practice getting the metering in the right spot. Wildlife on the beach isn't so difficult to shoot tho

I was happy with the KX and kept the 50-300 on mostly. I asked the tour guide for his suggestions, remember they already know what you are going to see. BTW I can recommend a super tour guide for you, and tours are the way to see a lot more ..quicker. After the tours you then know where to go and don't waste a lot of time searching.

I do think I need to get a P&S tho..for the quick catch the moment shots that are lit and easy to get. But for the others, the DSLR I think will give you better results.

LOL...I took a shot of a tree branch that had a hole in it...the think looked like a Howler monkey and I thought it would look ok in my PP presentation of the trip. When I looked at the pic on my computer, I noticed something I didn't see at first ..I zoomed in and there was a lizard in the hole looking at me...I don't know if a P&S would show me that detail.

CR...wonderful place... feel free to pm for details...
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 5:53 PM   #4
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Thanks Sarah and littlejohn for your replies.

Hmm. I assume the FZ35 does have a manual focus option, but I'll need to check that out. Certainly, exposure comp can be adjusted. Littlejohn, how was it carrying around the K-X with the lenses? Is that your first experience with a DSLR? More to think about ...

Will send you a PM for infor about CR and the tour guide. Thanks!
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 6:31 PM   #5
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As a super frequent flyer, I know the need for a good travel camera. Coming from a SLR, I find that bridge camera and superzoom lack the control I desire in my travel camera. I have decided to go the route of M4/3 to augment my T1i. It will most likely be the new olympus EP-L1. I like to be able to refine my lens need for a shot for macro work, and the standard zoom seem ideal for the landscape photos I take allot. Also if I want down the road, move into a longer m4/3 zoom lens.

I also like the fact that it has a much larger sensor then any point and shoot. Giving the m4/3 better low light.

But if I were going on a trip where I know it would be ideal for my shooting taste, my canon t1i will makes that trip.

Littlejohn,

It is always a good idea to have a pocket size point and shoot. They come in handy where a larger dslr is not practical and for self photos.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 7:46 PM   #6
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Shoturtle, yes, the EP-L1 looks like it has some promise, but unfortunately it isn't out yet and I doubt there will be any reviews forthcoming immediately after it is.

I noticed that the Pentax K-x is $644 on Amazon with 2 lenses, including the 55mm-300mm lens. That seems like a great deal. I have small hands, so I suspect that camera would feel pretty good to me, but it's still going to be considerably larger than a m4/3 or superzoom.

I do like the idea of a DSLR-sized sensor and it would be great to have a "real" camera to learn on, but I do wonder about how I might feel about the size/weight when I'm walking around all day traveling. So it looks like the decision comes down to potential image quality (if I know what I'm doing) vs. convenience, which is why I'm trying to get some sense of what the "real world" image quality difference is really likely to be given a DSLR novice and about 2 months to learn.
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Old Feb 13, 2010, 8:06 PM   #7
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jazzer-

littlejohn had even less time to work with his Kx before his trip to CR. So I think that should not be a concern. You did very well with the S-90. So the focus should be on the best camera for you to use.

At 14 ounces in weight, the FZ-35 will have a real advantage in the weight department. The focus now will be on the KX weight when equipped with the Pentax 50-300mm lens. An issue littlejohn seemed to note was that he wished for a super zoom to shoot with at times. I could be incorrect, and we will have to see what littlejohn reports, but that could have been due to camera weight.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 14, 2010, 8:11 AM   #8
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There are many things to consider when it comes to travel:

1. Cost.
2. Size and weight.
3. Your photographic style.
4. Quality required.

If you are just looking to do what is commonly referred to as "travel photography" then a standard zoom from 28mm-100mm equivalent will probably do just fine.

If you are going to be producing huge prints then you need a more expensive camera, if you are only going to be printing up to A4 then even the S90 will do just fine if you have decent light.

On my forthcoming trip I have to decide what to take with me. I am leaning very much towards leaving my 5DMkII and L lenses at home and just taking my Zeiss Ikon and a bag full of film.

But if I were starting from nothing at the moment I would probably take a Panasonic GF1 20mm f1.7.
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Old Feb 14, 2010, 9:30 AM   #9
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My two cents. I never take my DSLR on vacation. I have seen too many photo ops become about the shot rather than family fun. Changing lenses, white balance, correct exposure, etc. can bring a fun activity to a halt. The difference in size and weight between a DSLR (even with a small lens) and a P&S zoom is huge. I have used the Panasonic FZ series through the 28 and they are very good all around cameras and very portable.
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Old Feb 14, 2010, 9:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
There are many things to consider when it comes to travel:

1. Cost.
2. Size and weight.
3. Your photographic style.
4. Quality required.
Add type of battery and how long it will last -- the need to carry a lot of batteries if the batteries do not last long and the need to charge them and carry charger........ there are restrictions in some cases on how many batteries you can carry on to an airplane in your carry-on luggage.

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