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Old Apr 11, 2005, 1:26 AM   #1
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my most valued assets would be image quality, macro ability, and dependability. i'd like it to work when i need it to (not talking speed) and last for a long time!. it'll be used outdoors 70-80% of the time, but i'd like to have good quality indoors as well so it's not limited to the outdoors when i return from the AT. i don't mind requiring the aid of a flash or whatever. size isn't an issue. the upper limit of my budget is $600. i'm not really familiar with the necessity of a nice zoom so you'll notice it varies in the camera's i've liked so far from the uh, 4X to 12X or something. my take is like, hey it'd be nice to have 12X zoom but will i get more overall pleasure outta the 8080? will the image quality of the other camera's "outrank" big zoom ability? etc.

if there's anything that would cause you to rule out an individual camera or something that would make you rank it @ the top of the list, please don't hesitate to let me know. and any first hand experience with these camera's is welcome also.

if there's a camera i don't have listed that you think would better suit me (novice user spending alot of time outdoors), i'm all ears!

so far, i've been looking @ the following:
Canon G6
Nikon Coolpix 8700
Olympus C8080
Olympus C7070
Panasonic FZ20

PS: and if you saw my other post in this forum, no you're not crazy, i did indeed post here prior to this! i got one reply from Slipe but i think he could only comment on a couple of the camera's. this time i'm shooting for more replies from a broader range of tastes.
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Old Apr 11, 2005, 3:01 AM   #2
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if i was you i would go for a 300d or similar DSLR camera, simply because you can do alot more with them.

If you bought a 15mm lens you could have great wide angle shots. With a 500mm lens you could get some awesome telephoto shots.

although it will cost you more, the benefits will be never ending.
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Old Apr 11, 2005, 2:33 PM   #3
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The Appalachian Trail is a serious hike. I do a lot of multi-day backpacking and I know what kind of conditions you can run into on the trail. When you are living outdoors you no longer have the convenience of ducking into a car or a building or just plain staying indoors when the weather turns bad. Your boots, your clothing, your tent, your sleeping bag, pretty much everything can become incredibly damp, if not soaking wet, for days on end. Either it rains outright, or there is a lot of overnight condensation that soaks your tent and your clothes, or you slip and fall into a stream, but trust me, there is a very real chance that most of your gear will become irrevocably damp at one time or another. And of course, there is no real opportunity to dry things out until the weather improves.

Sure, you can keep your camera deep in your pack inside a double ziplock bag and only pull it out only when conditions are good, but what's the fun of that? You might miss some terrific photographic opportunities because there's a light rain falling, or there's too much spray coming off the waterfall, or your photographic subject is only available for a short while and your camera is so well-protected inside your backpack that don't have time to pull it out, etc.

I realize that my views on this topic will be unpopular in this forum, but I feel that the harsh outdoor conditions you are likely to come across on an extended backpacking trip are no place for a digital camera, and certainly not an expensive one. Delicate electronic devices, moisture, fluctuating humidity and wide temperature swings just don't mix well. I recommend instead that you take along a sturdy, relatively inexpensive "knock-around" film camera, hopefully one with water-resistant qualities, that you can keep handy and make good use of even when conditions are less than ideal. (Sometimes the best shots are in the worst conditions.) You can always get your negatives scanned and digitized when you return to civilization. Just drop off your film at Costco or an equivalent photo finisher and presto, you have a CD full of digital images suitable for editing, cropping, emailing, posting to websites, etc. (You can still pick up a high-quality digital camera for the rest of the time, including shorter hikes where you are more likely to have decent weather.)

Alternatively you could look into getting a waterproof compact digital camera such as an Olympus Stylus, but there isn't a lot of selection if you limit yourself to waterproof digitals, and judging from your wish list I don't think you are going to find what you want there.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old Apr 11, 2005, 3:51 PM   #4
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When you say "hiking the AT" I assume you mean hiking the length of the AT, fromME to GA, or at least significant portions of it. I hiked portions of the AT while I was in college in CT and while my brother was in college in ME, and I have to agree w/ Daniel. Two ways to go: throwaway film or weatherproof digital. Sadly, there aren't many weatherproof consumer digicams around. You could always get a weatherproof dSLR, but body and decent glass will be very costly.

Seriously, odds that your new 8080 stops would stop working after about 3 weeks because of condensation inside the camera are high enough to give me pause.




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Old Apr 11, 2005, 4:58 PM   #5
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two fruitz:
i plan on going dSLR after i finish college and can comfortably afford it. once i graduate my father will be handing down to me his Canon Rebel and all his lenses. then getting a dSLR would be worth it to me. right now i just don't have the time/money to feel good about investing in a dSLR. up until now i've gotten by happily with my Olympus IS5.

Daniel:
i've hiked the AT b4 and i'm an active volunteer on the Maine section of the trail (Mt Katahdin is 2 hours 30 minutes south of me). also, my father has already hiked the AT a few times with his SLR equipment and never had a problem with the weather bothering any of it (except when he finished the trail here in Maine in the winter once, but that's a long and expletive-filled story). i'm also not worried about it. i've been on multipe season-long hikes in the US and Central America. i've never been bothered by any weather, including heavy rain and humidity. there are waterproof housings available for most prosumer digital camera's, and the Maxpedition gear i will be carrying is nearly waterproof in my experiences with it. don't worry, i wont break my expensive camera, haha! but c'mon, if i'm going on a big trip i'm not leaving my digital camera @ home. the scenario you out-lined applies to anyone anywhere 24/7. i'm not going to baby my camera. it's a tool that was made to be used! and yes, it will be in my Maxpedition pack until i'm using it. that's how i've always done it.

Jkusmier:
i'm undecided whether i'll do the whole thing. it's actually going to be up to a couple certain professors and bosses. if all goes well i will indeed be doing ME to GA (which i haven't done b4. the only time i hiked the full AT was GA to ME).

i'll repeat that i'm not worried about a digital camera failing on the hike. i've seen my father's equipment put thru far worse weather than is encountered on the AT between May and September.

i appreciate everyone's concern, truly. but i'm not going to baby anything here. $600 or not. it's just not in my nature to treat a tool that way (and no, i'm not going to be abusing it). the camera wont even be the most sensetive equipment that will be on my person. i'd appreciate if you guys could just go along with my original post and offer some advice.

sorry if i sound like a jackass, but it was pretty disappointing to come back to the post and find advice offered on just about everything 'cept what i was asking advice on.

aranoid:
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Old Apr 11, 2005, 7:45 PM   #6
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Oh, you already know all about this stuff! I apologize and I rescind my comments, and I hope that you and your gear have a fantastic hike and come out smiling. Furthermore, I hope that somebody here finally answers your questions.

PS: My wife and I lived in Bangor about 12 years ago during her graduate school program, and we spent some time in Presque Isle and other parts of northern Maine during her rotations. Unfortunately we never made it up Katahdin. Hey, if you ever make it out to Hawaii we've got some great hikes waiting for you!
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Old Apr 12, 2005, 11:33 AM   #7
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I own an 8080 and love it. Best lens in the game; great build; good AF performance; great WB and the best color in its class. Biggest complaint is slow RAW write times. Lacks the image stabilization and long telephoto of the FZ20 (Nikon also makes an image stabilized 8800 w/ bigger tele). Each of the cameras you listed has its own distinct strengths and weaknesses. I've always preferred Olympus color, but the Canon G6 is reportedly a good camera. You might also consider the Olympus 7070, has gotten good initial reviews.
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Old Apr 12, 2005, 4:31 PM   #8
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Daniel:
no need to apologize. i owe the apology for acting like a hard-headed jackass in my last post. it's not that i know everything you could advise me during a long hike (and especially digital camera's), i just had my heart set on the digicam for this one. i plan on taking many more photo's than usual and i feel i'll benefit from the convenient and more compact storage. i know any piece of equipment can fail on a trail like the AT, but i promise i'll take care of everything, including the camera.
it's nice to plan on taking up a new hobby and already finding well-wishes from ppl already involved in the area. thank you. it's also nice to see a former Mainer. the state that is 90% covered by forest. great photography offerings! and i actually have several relatives who have lived in Bangor since the time you were there. i'm sorry you had to spend time in Presque Isle tho. we only have 2 months of summer, haha. it is in fact snowing as i type this. Hawaii must be quite a treat after living here!

jkusmier:
thanks for the opinions on Olympus products. the 8080 was appealing to me 'cause i know it wont be obsolete any time soon with its amazing lens. i was also impressed with the 7070, which in fact replaced my 5060 option i had originally been looking @. it appears to have some of the most solid all-around performance available in a digital camera. the attraction to the FZ20 was of course the IS and 12X zoom, but will it allow me to be as creative and take as clear pictures as the other camera's is my concern. the G6 really impressed me with its relative simplicity. it kinda seems like the no-frills camera on my list. but you'd never know when looking @ the results.

how have you liked your 8080 in the outdoors? i don't think the RAW delay will bother me, as i've never been much of a spontaneous shooter, in-so-far as i need immediate reaction-times.

thanks guys. :idea:
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Old Apr 12, 2005, 9:01 PM   #9
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Hi Ryan:

I'm going to throw a curve at you. For an all weather hike in the mountains, get an Oly Stylus 410 or Stylus 400. These are very small 4mp cameras with weatherproof and water resistant bodies. They are great for inclement weather, and so light they are great to carry in your pocket for long hikes. You can get either of them for well under $300.

Now, for the big boy cameras: the Oly C8080 is absolutely great. The lens alone is worth the price. Great resolution and macro ability. To get comparable lens quality in your dslr, you would have to spend about $2 grand.

So before you make up your mind, consider a weatherproof 410for the hike, and consider a C8080 when you get back. Have a great hike.

Steve R.
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Old Apr 12, 2005, 9:30 PM   #10
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Just my two cents. How you going to charge proprietary Li-Ion battery in remote area? If I would be in your shoes I would skip all these cameras just because of batteries and look only for models with AA. You can get solar charger for AA, plus I bet you are going to have a torch with AA
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