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Old Feb 23, 2011, 2:32 PM   #1
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Default Which Travel Zoom for a cruise?

We are going on a cruise in April. I have a Nikon D80 and a tiny Nikon S210. I'm loooking for an "in between" camera. I want it to take decent pictures and video and have a better zoom than the S210. I also want something that I can get some type of protection for for taking on the shore excursions (beach, rain forrests, swimming with dolphins, by the pool, erc. ) so I don't have to lug the D80. It will probably serve as our full time primary "video camera" even when not on vacations since we have an old 8mm tape video camera and a FLIP, which I like, but the zoom is only 2x. We don't tend to take a ton of video so I think we can get by without a "real" video camera. Just a few snippets of sports, dance reitals, piano recitals, etc. So....what do you suggest?

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Old Feb 24, 2011, 4:02 AM   #2
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G'day MTMk

I'd suggest you consider a "down-the-middle" road ... how about an 18-200 lens for the D80 and keep it simple

Regards, Phil
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Old Feb 24, 2011, 11:58 AM   #3
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MomtoMyKids-

While a small travel zoom camera is convenient, it will not handle a good portion of the family events you listed in your post because as you zoom out in a camera like the Canon SX130 or the Nikon S8100, the aperture is constantly becoming smaller as you move toward the max zoom position. Then in a dance or piano recital you have to use way too much numerical ISO and the photo looks terrible.Typically there is heavy grain and de-focused photos.

As Phil has already mentioned, you would be much better served by getting the correct lens for your D80 than can more effective deal with those numerically high ISO settings needed when shooting without flash, without a huge loss in image quality.

Phil suggested the 18-200mm lens which I do not think will serve you well as it is not bright enough (meaning it does not have a wide enough aperture). It would be much better to get to the dance or piano recital early and get a front row seat to minimize the amount of zoom that you will need. Then you could use a relatively inexpensive lens such as the Nikon 35mm F1.8 and get better photos.

If the attraction of the travel zoom is its smaller size and the video, then understand that it will serve you well on the cruise, but it will surely not be very good for those dance and piano recitals, and it will be difficult when taking sports photos, as good sports photo require a lot of technique and experience, as well as a top drawer DSLR camera with the right lens.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Feb 25, 2011, 12:11 PM   #4
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Thanks Sarah and Phil!

I already have the 18-200 mm lens on my D80 and it stays there all the time. I understand that the images from a P&S won't be like the D80...especially in low light. I would use the D80 for sports and recital pics, but anticipate using the "in between" camera to video those events. Are they no good for that? An on the cruise, I would like to take a smaller camera out on excursions and to the beach and such. One of the stops we are planning to swim with dolphins and on another go snorkeling and I really don't want to take the D80 along to things like that (both because I don't want it to get ruined and it is big/heavy). I'm looking for something smaller that will suffice in these situations with perhaps one of those contraptions that can protect it from water, etc. Any possibilities?
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 2:15 PM   #5
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Nikon P500,S9100,Panasonic FZ35,40 or 100,TZ10, and Olympus SZ10.
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 2:47 PM   #6
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MomtoMyKids-

Thanks for that last post. It sounds like things are clear.

Unfortunately there are no all proof/waterproof travel zoom cameras with a reasonably long zoom. So a possible strategy would be to minimize your travel zoom investment, least there be an accident in the swim with the dolphins, and the like.

My husband and I taught digital cameras on cruise ship for almost 16 years, so after 608 cruises we are used to and very knowledgeable of the shore excursion routine. At the beach and the Swim with the Dolphins there actually is very little chance of camera damage, if you use common sense.

Here are my suggestions listed by price:

Kodak Z915 - around $100 - 10X optical zoom
Nikon S6000 - around $140 - 7X optical zoom - at Crutchfield
Canon SX120 - around $150 - 10X optical zoom
Canon SX130 - around $180 - 12X optical zoom
Nikon S8100 - around $230 - 10X optical zoom

The SX130 is the best of that group. I hope that helps.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Feb 25, 2011, 7:50 PM   #7
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Sarah's advice is good. Among small, pocketable cameras, those are good cameras. I would, however, suggest what Fayyazz has recommended - a superzoom. My particular favorite is the FZ35 (Panasonic). It's slightly smaller and slightly better in low light than its successor, the FZ40. It takes decent pictures even at ISO 800. Its zoom range goes from 27mm to 486mm. It's easy to use, and has decent HD video with stereo sound. BH PhotoVideo is selling them for $219, which is really a great price for such a camera. You probably won't stick this camera in your pocket, but it is light and easy to carry.
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 8:40 PM   #8
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I surely do second Robbo's suggestion-

At it current price, the Panasonic FZ35 is an absolute bargain. I did not list it as most so called travel zooms are perceived to be somewhat pocket-able.

Sarah Joyce
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