Friday, November 9, 2012

Cameras, Part 4

Sorry for so many "gear head" posts.  But what do you expect from an engineer?  Stay with me.

So, the problem is we have multiple cameras, each good for specific situations.  The small ones are great for traveling, hiking, and sticking in a purse or pocket.  But they don't have the superior image quality of a DSLR, nor larger sensors for improved low light shots, nor interchangeable lenses.  The DSLR takes fantastic photos, but is bulky and inconvenient to lug around, and the one we have doesn't do videos.  We are bumping up against its 6MP so I have been shopping for a replacement.  While I'm at it, I decided to open up the shopping beyond the traditional DSLR.

So, the Holy Grail of cameras would have the following traits:

Compact size (okay, pocket sized is asking too much, but how about fits in a reasonable belt pack)

Large sensor for improved image quality and low light performance

Interchangeable lenses for zooms, primes, etc.

Has an option for one "travel" zoom lens that spans at least 28 to 300mm (35mm equivalent)

Takes HD videos

Has all the features of a DSLR (bracketing, manual control, etc.)

Priced no greater than mid-range DSLR

There are a number of other features that I personally prefer, like a viewfinder, built in flash, articulating screen, dedicated movie record button--but those above are the main ones.

A couple of years ago I bought a Sony Nex-3, a mirrorless smallish camera, which scores very highly on all the points above, but it didn't have a long enough zoom to cover all the bases.  I always thought of it as a notch below DSLRs.  Almost all of the Sunriver photos (see slideshow in the column to the right) were taken with this camera.  But as I'm doing more research I found there is an 18-200 zoom lens for it.  And the image quality is right up there with DSLRs.  In fact, this camera uses the same sensor type as most DSLRs.  The lens isn't cheap, and it would make for a somewhat bulky belt pack, but it just might be the closest I can come to the Holy Grail.

Here is a neat Sony promotional video for a new camera in this series.   (I feel like I'm starting to drink the Sony Kool-aid.  By the way, anyone know who did the soundtrack music for this video?)

I'll be continuing my research, and then seeing if there are any deals on Black Friday or the weeks leading to Christmas.  Wish me luck!

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