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What camera would you suggest?

August 9, 2008

I’m looking to replace my current digital camera, and I want a modernized version of what I have now.  Not necessarily from the same manufacturer, and I am open to suggestions for different types.

My current camera is an Olympus 5050.  It’s a small, magnesium-body hocky puck as digital cameras go, and the display on back can tilt up allowing waist-level operation.  I really like that feature. Operation is somewhat slow, which is not unexpected as this is a 2003 design.  But the main reason I want to replace it is that the exposure control has developed a problem in bright sunlight. 

Once upon a time buying a camera was easy; Olympus made professional-grade cameras that fit my hands perfectly and so that’s what I bought.  But two things have changed.  I have not made a living with a camera for 25 years so I can’t write off a $2K camera anymore.  And I’ve gone digital, and digital cameras don’t have nearly the service life that film cameras had. So it’s hard to justify spending a lot on one.

Two current candidates include:  The discontinued Olympus 8080, which is a four-year-old design, or a Canon G9, which is new and has Canon’s Digic III processor and genuine RAW output, but lacks a tilting display.  (Canon, what the hell?  the G6 had a tilting display.)

I’m not opposed to a Dslr, especially if there were anything like the Olympus E520 with a tilt display.. And just to make matters more complicated, if something incredibly great comes along (a top digital rangefinder, maybe?) maybe I could be persuaded to break the bank anyway. 

Suggestions, anyone?  If you are serious about photography, what do you use, and what would you recommend?  (And no, WeeDram, I’m not going back to film)

Categories: Personal
  1. RayM
    August 9, 2008 at 13:34 | #1

    We aren’t camera pros by any stretch of the imagination, but we do take lots of pictures of birds and butterflies, and we have been more than happy with our trusty old Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ15K (I think that’s the model). The most recent in the series are the DMC FZ18K and FZ28K, and we are sorely tempted to upgrade one day soon. I particularly like the Leica lens, the 12x (now 18x) optical zoom, and the stabilisation system. It seems hard to beat for the price.

    In any case, whenever I look at digital cameras I also take myself off to Steve’s Digicam Reviews online, where you will find all kinds of useful information.

    Good luck!

  2. Finn
    August 9, 2008 at 14:09 | #2

    Have you had a look at the Canon PowerShot Pro S5 IS?
    Cheaper than the G9, but doesn’t support RAW unfortunately and has a 2.5 vs 3 inch display.

    The display is tilting but slightly different to the Olympus (see the canon site). It tilts when folded out and it also folds inward protecting the screen when carrying it around.

    It also has the DIGIC III Image Processor and 12x optical zoom.

  3. EdK
    August 9, 2008 at 21:21 | #3

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18K gets decent reviews, don’t know if it is a true DSLR, but has Leica zoom lens.

    Info from Ben’s Bargains with 10% coupon info
    http://bensbargains.net/deal/74112/

    Deal at Circuit City (online only, apparently)
    http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FZ18K-8-1-Megapixel-Digital-Camera-Black-DMC-FZ18K/sem/rpsm/oid/193410/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do

    Reviews say low light not so good, daylight very good, basically.  Looks like a good deal, though.

    Almost bought a Lumix, went with Canon S2-IS.

  4. August 10, 2008 at 06:27 | #4

    Having moved to a Canon DSLR, I cannot advise you about any non DSLR cameas. I am completely satisfied with my Canon Rebel XtI. The newer version has more megapixels, but I, as yet, see no reason to change. My main objection to the compacts? Shutter lag.

  5. August 10, 2008 at 20:59 | #5

    I love the smell of fixer; it smells like … photography

    Sigh … you sure do know how to take the fun out of blog commenting.  ;-)

    Actually, my first thought when I read the entry title was Canon G9.  Not because I am fond of Canon, as you know, but because aside from the lack of a tilting screen and a sensor that really is over-populated pixel-wise, it seems to be one of the best of the compact crowd.  My friend Cornelis Verwaal on flickr does good work with it both in colour & b&w;. 

    The 8080 is another very good choice, but has only an EVF.  And being a bit long in the tooth, I’d be cautious of the electronics.  As you mention, today’s electronic wonder-bricks have a much shorter lifespan than the workhorse mechanical OMs, the Canon F1, FTb, Nikkormats, etc.

    I would stay away from nearly all Panasonics, even with “Leica” lenses on them.  The 4/3-based Panasonics can be quite good, except for low-light performance—which is even worse for their smaller-chipped models.

    I would be tempted by the E-520; it is larger than the E-420 (that might be an advantage) but has image stabilisation which the E-420 does not.

    As for a digital RF … forget it unless there is some astonishing announcement from Nikon.  The Leica is an embarrassment.  Not for its performance or handling (for the most part, it is an M body), but for its price.  The only thing going for it is that there are tons of good M glass available, both new and old.

    Epson had a one night stand with the R-D1(s), but if they follow that up, you would be attending my wake as I would die of coronary event.

    I think only Nikon would be interested in a digital RF unless Cosina (the OEM of the Epson body) partnered with Zeiss.  Zeiss is only interested in a “full frame” D-RF, which means it ain’t happening soon.

  6. August 10, 2008 at 21:02 | #6

    The other options are Fuji (I really have no clue as to which models to explore), the Sigma DP-1, and the Ricoh GR-D, which seems to be a favourite among those who are hardcore rangefinder users.

  7. Abhilasha
    August 12, 2008 at 12:00 | #7

    Konica Minolta Dimage is a pretty good camera…You might want to take a look at that as well !!

  8. August 16, 2008 at 14:52 | #8

    THANK YOU, and I really mean thank you, for each of your camera suggestions!  Especially because a couple of them had not even occurred to me, but right away said “Hey yeah… why didn’t I think of that?”

    For the last week I have been obsessively reading reviews of each one to figure out the next step.  The agonizing thing is that they are sufficiently different cameras that no matter which one I buy, I will miss out on useful (to me) features of the other models.

    In the process of researching I have had to think deeply about what kind of photography I am doing now, not just what kind I would like to do if I were retired and could devote massive amounts of time to photography.  That will be the subject of a future post.

    Today I spent a lot of time handling two very different cameras, and may wind up buying both of them six months apart.  After all, no single film camera did everything I wanted it to.

  9. August 31, 2008 at 14:44 | #9

    UPDATE: Here’s what I wound up getting along with some thoughts about the megapixel fetish, and on my next camera.

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