The ever-important road shot
Seeking advice on compact digital cameras
Somewhere in rural Oklahoma, July 2008
Christmas is coming and I want to make sure I am fully prepared to make my request. Competing for the top spot on my list are a new compact camera to replace one that died and a set of lightweight wheels to replace the stock behemoths on the Felt. Until I start racing regularly, I will hold off on requesting the wheels (and my birthday conveniently falls on the same day as the first criterium of the local race season).
I’ve done quite a bit of research, but in retrospect my research often comes up a bit short, so I would appreciate advice on jersey-pocket-friendly cameras. In an effort to make my search simpler, I narrowed my criteria down to one thing: photo quality. I don’t care what kind of controls the camera has; if it doesn’t take great pictures, I don’t want it.
Unfortunately, $300 seems to be the magic price point where cameras move beyond just “good for their class” into a realm where the photos can actually be considered great. But that’s quite the chunk of change and it’s hard to justify getting a really nice compact digital when I have a Nikon D40 digital SLR that I use on any occasion when it’s reasonable to carry it with me. But the D-SLR has spoiled me. I love to take photos on my rides and am being a bit fussy about this.
The pocket camera I use currently is a Panasonic Lumix FX10 that I bought for $150 when my cherished HP died post-Europe study abroad. It was all I could afford, but I have hated it since the earliest shots. The photos are grainy above ISO 100, white balance is weak, the low-light performance is non-existent and – despite what reviewers say – the image stabilization feature is worthless. I don’t like replacing things that are still mostly functional, but I also flat-out don’t like it. Despite good reviews of higher-end Lumix models, I don’t think I can stomach getting another. I’m hoping to pass the camera on to a younger cousin.
The model I have my eye on is the Canon PowerShot SX120 at about $250. I am of the school that believes Canons have some of the best photo quality (even though my DSLR is a Nikon) and the reviews are consistently positive when it comes to the quality of this camera’s shots. It also boasts a 10x, wide-angle zoom lens that takes macro photos at 1 cm away. Unfortunately, the SX120 rather bulky and would barely fit in one of the small rear pockets of a women’s cycling jersey. I’m debating about how important that is, since it would otherwise tag along in a purse/bag. If you ride with a camera in your back pocket regularly, what is it and how comfortable is it?
Any and all advice welcome. Thanks!