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Compact trail camera recommendations?

bluebug32

Asshat
Jan 14, 2005
6,143
0
Floating down the Hudson
I know there has been a lot of camera talk on here, but I'm looking for some updated opinions from the photomonkies.

I have a DSLR, but want to buy something compact for throwing in the pack on rides and for everyday quick photos when I don't want to drag around a larger camera. I have an older Sony Cybershot that's been great, but the shutter speed isn't quite fast enough and it has a long lag time between shots.

I'm looking for suggestions for a camera that will take crisp action shots and can handle low-light. My budget is flexible, but $300 or less sounds good.
 

jimmydean

The Official Meat of Ridemonkey
Sep 10, 2001
29,211
1,756
Portland, OR
Man, I need a new camera. I am still shooting with a 3.2mp, but it does an awesome job for everything I do.
 

bluebug32

Asshat
Jan 14, 2005
6,143
0
Floating down the Hudson
Cannon seems to be the best bet. It's hard to narrow them all down. I definitely don't need more than 7 megapixels. The only limiting factor with some of these is a lack of control over the settings.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,644
397
NC
I just got a Canon 850IS - just the newer model to IAB's camera - and am very happy with it. In bright light it has a tendency to clip highlights so you need to be a little cautious, but it's a great size, a great build quality and the face detection feature works so well it's a little scary. It needs a little special care in very high contrast scenes, though.

It has a manual mode as well.

In RE: Greyhound's recommendation, Kodak is very hit-or-miss. A few of their models have very good lenses (that model Greyhound has is one of them). A whole bunch of their models are appallingly bad. So if you go Kodak, try before you buy.
 

DRB

unemployed bum
Oct 24, 2002
15,287
0
Watchin' you. Writing it all down.
I have a sony dsc-w100. It a decent size but the pictures are no better than our old G3. I really wish I had bought another canon. I did buy the accidental damage coverage..... so maybe willow wants to go take some photos.
 

Greyhound

Trail Rat
Jul 8, 2002
5,059
353
Alamance County, NC
In RE: Greyhound's recommendation, Kodak is very hit-or-miss. A few of their models have very good lenses (that model Greyhound has is one of them). A whole bunch of their models are appallingly bad. So if you go Kodak, try before you buy.
This is very true......Although I previously had one of their M7530 models and it was freakin' awesome--best digi cam I've owned--never seemed to take a bad shot. Unfortunately, I dropped it and that was the end of that. I chose this one because(as BV mentioned) a good lens, it's super slim, big screen, and it was less than 250 bones. Takes really good videos, too. For a trail cam, I thought it was a good deal.
 

Transcend

My Nuts Are Flat
Apr 18, 2002
18,045
0
Towing the party line.
I just got a Canon 850IS - just the newer model to IAB's camera - and am very happy with it. In bright light it has a tendency to clip highlights so you need to be a little cautious, but it's a great size, a great build quality and the face detection feature works so well it's a little scary. It needs a little special care in very high contrast scenes, though.

It has a manual mode as well.

In RE: Greyhound's recommendation, Kodak is very hit-or-miss. A few of their models have very good lenses (that model Greyhound has is one of them). A whole bunch of their models are appallingly bad. So if you go Kodak, try before you buy.
I have the same camera ad actually sold a few photos taken with it on the last trip. Awesome little pocket cam.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I have the SD1000 and its worked out well. I think Canon, Fuji, and Casio all have good compact offerings and have owned each brand.

The Casio Z1080 is a great value at $200 at Amazon, has a bigger CCD than most compacts (1"/1.75"), excellent battery life (nearly 400 shots on a charge) and takes mpeg4 video (very few do that these days). It looks like an excellent consumer camera for the money:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/03/04/Casio-Exilim-EX-Z1080/p1

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_reviews/casio_ex-z1080.html

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/read_opinion_text.asp?prodkey=casio_exz1080&opinion=39233

http://www.amazon.com/10-1MP-Camera-Optical-Zoom-Wide-format/dp/B000VZN94I/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1206047139&sr=8-2
 

CBJ

Turbo Monkey
Mar 19, 2002
10,877
1,208
Copenhagen, Denmark
I am also looking for a compact camera and I have found a good review s of Fujifilm FinePix F50fd. Price is not that important I am just trying to find the best compact camera?
 

Acadian

Born Again Newbie
Sep 5, 2001
716
2
Blah Blah and Blah
Canon SD's are nice - but not so great for action shot (unless you're an ACE at pan and zooming). Also not the best low light condition camera. I have an SD 700IS and it's a nice portable camera but kindda wish it had a little more manual features. Maybe the newer SD's are better.

Casio's Exilim line is also pretty nice.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I just got the Z1080 yesterday in the mail and gave my SD1000 to a family member who broke their old camera.

UI is very similar to the Canon but the camera is faster and it takes awesome quality video for point and shoot camera - seems as good as standalone camcorder. Did not have a chance to really test it as I just got it but its small and build quality seems decent and it charged up pretty quickly.

I bought it with 16GB SDHC card from ADATA ($61). If you don't have a SDHC reader, I would recommend the transcend SDHC w/reader bundles at newegg.com

I can take almost 2500 Fine 10 megapixel shots or 5000 on standard mode. I think it showed around 3 hrs 45 mins capacity on high quality mpeg4 mode.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,644
397
NC
The Fuji has an excellent sensor in it. The ONLY reason I did not choose it when I reviewed my options for compact cameras is because of the lack of image stabilization.

However, the Fuji can actually handle some higher ISO shooting which is great for freezing action in low light situations. The SD850 that I bought was going to be mostly for situations out with friends, which means that the image stabilization was more important than freezing action.
 

highrevs

Monkey
Oct 13, 2005
827
0
NC
I have a Canon powershot A570 IS and it pretty much rocks as a cheap point and shoot. I picked mine up to use on typical bike rides.

Here are a few example photos I've taken with it.







The little bugger is loaded with all kinds of features. I used the 20 sec delay and 10 frame "burst" to do these self portraits.






for a $150 camera with complete manual controls it pretty much is teh sh!tz...
 

CBJ

Turbo Monkey
Mar 19, 2002
10,877
1,208
Copenhagen, Denmark
The Fuji has an excellent sensor in it. The ONLY reason I did not choose it when I reviewed my options for compact cameras is because of the lack of image stabilization.

However, the Fuji can actually handle some higher ISO shooting which is great for freezing action in low light situations. The SD850 that I bought was going to be mostly for situations out with friends, which means that the image stabilization was more important than freezing action.
On dpreview.com it says

Image stabilization: Yes, Sensor

Also confirmed on the Fujifilm website.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
The newer Fuji cameras aren't quite as good as their prior versions like the F31fd (one of the few highly recommended compacts dpreview has reviewed).

I had a F30 and it was good but the Casio seems like a better PS, has much more functionality, smaller, and cheaper. Bang for buck its hard to beat plus it has amazing battery life, mpeg4, and huge CCD for compact camera 1/1.75" vs. 1/1.6" on the Fuji.
 

buildyourown

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2004
4,837
0
South Seattle
I just picked up a $170 Panasonic at Costco to replace my Olympus that got jacked. It has a really good optical zoom for it's size and takes nice clear pictures. That's really all I care about so I'm happy.
 

CBJ

Turbo Monkey
Mar 19, 2002
10,877
1,208
Copenhagen, Denmark
The newer Fuji cameras aren't quite as good as their prior versions like the F31fd (one of the few highly recommended compacts dpreview has reviewed).

I had a F30 and it was good but the Casio seems like a better PS, has much more functionality, smaller, and cheaper. Bang for buck its hard to beat plus it has amazing battery life, mpeg4, and huge CCD for compact camera 1/1.75" vs. 1/1.6" on the Fuji.
That Casio does look nice and its seems a lot smaller than the Fujifilm. Plus I like the better battery life. How is the flash and low light performance? I hat how slow my current camera is, so is the Casio fast?
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
That Casio does look nice and its seems a lot smaller than the Fujifilm. Plus I like the better battery life. How is the flash and low light performance? I hat how slow my current camera is, so is the Casio fast?
I just got the camera yesterday afternoon, so I'm not going have a complete picture of the performance for awhile :D

These are some reviews you can check out that will cover your questions - the top one is the newest review from this month:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2008/03/04/Casio-Exilim-EX-Z1080/p1

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_reviews/casio_ex-z1080.html

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/read_opinion_text.asp?prodkey=casio_exz1080&opinion=39233
 

CBJ

Turbo Monkey
Mar 19, 2002
10,877
1,208
Copenhagen, Denmark
I think you got me convinced. Especially the great battery life and the smaller packages. The wife will be happy I am sure.

Thank you to everybody for the advice!
 

bluebug32

Asshat
Jan 14, 2005
6,143
0
Floating down the Hudson
Question for those who have a camera from Canon's ELF series. Is it inconvenient not to have much manual control or do you find the camera compensates on its own?

Also, I have an old Sony Cyber-shot and I know some bright light makes the LCD impossible to see. How important is an optical viewfinder? Are the new screens better in bright light?
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
It can be a PITA to adjust a small compact PS camera in manual mode and it seems to me if you are taking the trouble make manual adjustments you should probably be using and desire the benefits and results of a DSLR.

I use the PS camera for quick photos here and there to have in your pocket at the ready. A decent set of preset modes in PS is good enough for most things and maybe a few adjustments here and there rarely.

The better modern PS camera (and other electronic devices like GPS, MP3, etc) have much better panels that are easier to see in the sun. It varies by model though, so you can't make any assumptions - read the reviews and check photography forums.
 

highrevs

Monkey
Oct 13, 2005
827
0
NC
Question for those who have a camera from Canon's ELF series. Is it inconvenient not to have much manual control or do you find the camera compensates on its own?
I guess it depends on the user. At a minimum I would want aperture priority and shutter priority options. Using my P&S in manual mode is no trouble at all and I expect to get P&S quality from it. I like the idea of being able to control focus and exposure to achieve the photo wanted rather than the hit or miss photo created by auto modes. Maybe I’m more of a photo geek then others, but I like the ease of caring a compact “disposable” camera with many usable features on the trail.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I had SD1000, so I can't comment about that.

The limited few shots and videos I took with the Casio the image stabilization seemed to work well and I got smooth pans in the video for such a small camera and my unsteady hand - I can post the video when I get home if you like but photobucket or youtube will probably compress it a bit. Canon and Casio have basically the same GUI and I've heard that they use the same glass. There aren't too many digital camera OEM, so they probably share a lot of technology.

You can see there was a lot of CCD sharing years ago when there was a massive Sony CCD defect recall - tons of brands were affected.
 

profro

Turbo Monkey
Feb 25, 2002
5,602
270
Walden Ridge
I have the Pentax Optio W30. Its waterproof and pretty rugged. I like it because I knock it around quite a bit while riding and its held up great.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,640
4
SF, CA
Bumping this because I need a new compact and wondering if the recommendations changed at all.

I've always owned and trusted Canons, and this one will be replacing an sd600 that fell out the top of my pack. Loved the build quality and multi-point focus... IQ was good enough. Interface sucked. Fell in love with the design and interface of Samsungs, and am intrigued by the high-speed video from Casios.

Priorities, in order:
1) IQ - glass and sensor, best I can get in a small size. Don't care about MP count. Lumix DMC-LX3 is intriguing for this reason.
2) Startup speed and shutter lag
3) Construction - willing to pay for aluminum body
4) (functional) Image stabilization
5) Battery life
6) High speed video

I don't care about a ton of control, but I do want to be able to quickly switch flash, focus, and still/video modes without a headache. My canon had the worst possible design and placement for the still/video switch.