Welcome back for the third and final installment in my 'Which Camera Should I Buy?" series. Previously we covered camera basics and higher end SLRs. This time we'll focus on the 'middle road' of cameras, which are the more advanced point & shoots. If you are…somewhere between the two worlds I mentioned in my previous posts, you probably need an advanced point & shoot. This style of camera is a great mix between the SLR and more basic point & shoot. Portable, advanced, and ability to produce sharp pictures make this relatively newer entrant to the market excellent candidates for a wide range of photographers . There are two subcategories that we'll discuss: some still have interchangeable lenses for even greater creativity while others rely on a fixed lens with digital zoom.
The 'Fixed' Lens Compact This is what I carry on each of my trips when I'm flying for the airline each week. In fact, it rarely leaves my messenger bag just in case I find something noteworthy in my travels whenever I have my bag (which is quite often). For the last few years I've been using two different advanced compacts that I love for different reasons. One of my two is the beloved Sigma DP1, which has no zoom, a slow start up time, slow shutter speeds and mediocre low light performance. Why do I love it then? The Foveon sensor contained within the camera is utterly amazing. The color production, hues, saturation and sharpness this little camera produces are unparalleled in cameras this size. Case in point from a courtyard in Guatemala:
This camera is more for the landscape and street art photographer who wants to take the time to compose images and make beautiful shots. While I won't recommend this camera for everyone, a camera of it's quality just might be worth your investment down the road.
Now that I told you about a camera that I won't recommend for everyone, I'll move on to the my current camera that is my go to choice for this category. For the last couple of years, the trusty Nikon P7000 has been the 'daily driver' that fits my needs for a true travel-friendly compact camera. It does everything my beloved Sigma doesn't. The newer version is the Nikon P7700 which has been upgraded from my current model in several areas. Portability, great zoom capability, good ISO performance (low light capability), shooting in RAW file format and wide angle format are some of my favorite features of this camera. Of course, the portablity factor is huge for outdoor action sports capability. I can strap the camera case on my backpack when mountain biking for instance and be able to create great images on the fly. Case in point this shot from Horsethief Bench Trail near Fruita, Colorado:
Definitely check it out and consider purchasing one in the near future! Other options in this category include:
Interchangeable Lens Compact This is a category that allows for switching lenses on the go and a wider variety of creative options. However, the trade off is you might carry more gear along thus it won't be quite as an all-in-one as a 'fixed' lens compact. This category contains the hot up & coming mirrorless cameras that offer some distinct advantages to their predecessors. While I don't own one of these yet, the Nikon 1 J2 is high on my list to be a partner to my other compacts. This trend of compact cameras with interchangeable lenses does seem to be gaining strength, so if you want the best of both worlds between portability and creative options with lenses definitely consider this category. Two other options which have garnered rave reviews are:
I hope this series has helped narrow down where you should start your search and what kind of camera to look for. Remember, always head to your local camera store and try before you buy. And of course, being local-minded as I am - support local business and buy it from the store! The support & knowledge that your local camera store will offer will pay dividends down the road as you embark on your photographic journey.