Monday, September 15, 2008

What camera do you use?

I'm becoming less and less enamored with carrying a DSLR on bicycle trips. My current camera that I take with me is usually a D200 or D300 with a 17-55mm and 12-24mm lens.

For one, they're not cheap to replace. They're also not light. A single camera and lens takes up ALL the room in my Ostrich handlebar bag. When I'm tired, I'm less inclined to take it out of the handlebar bag and out of it's separate case to take photos.

What I would really really want would be a digital Leica, but one that is full frame and doesn't have the problems the current one has. That won't happen for a few years, I think (hopefully Leica will still be around).

The things my "dream" touring camera would have are:

-full frame if possible...though not an ABSOLUTE deal breaker.
-small and compact like a P&S
-fast lenses (2.0/2.8) and wide angle (24mm or wider!)
-good high ISO quality...the images have to hold up to atleast ISO 400! if not 800
-the ability to shoot RAW
-the ability to take a longer lens on occasion to get narrow depth of field
-rugged enough to last a tour
-good battery life
-good shutter lag response
-analogish controls so I'm not digging in the menu

Interesting enough, DPreview just showed a preview of the new Leica D-Lux 4 and it looks rather promising.

What cameras are you using? Are you happy with them? Any suggestions for anything close? I'm almost considering getting a Nikon D50 and a 18-200...a smallish but high quality kit.


Concept Photography said...


I have had the same issue, my 5D is just a pain to haul around and I am always worried about it. I have started to carry my M6 with a 35 summicron and it works great. I just got a voightlander (sp) 90 f3.5 for the long lense thing. It fits in my handle bar bag and comes out when I need it.

50% of my work is still film so I love the fact I still have negs of my adventures. Check out the voightlander stuff, inexpensive rangefinders and great glass.

Also for the dictionary:

JRA- "Just Riding Along" When I worked at a shop we had a number of people come in with bent wheels, cracked frames and such and when I asked what they were doing it was "Just riding along." The best were the teenage boys who would come in with their parents. They were "just riding along", not trying to clear the big set of doubles at the BMX track. We would even write "JRA" on the repair tags.

Jared said...

I use a fairly cheap point and shoot camera. It takes decent pictures, but not's small enough that it sits in my jersey pocket and best of all it gets used quite often because it's within easy/fast reach. The best camera to carry is the one you use!

I can turn it on and take pictures while riding with almost no effort. Startup time to first picture is less than a second.

I believe it's a Casio Exilim...not great...but it's cheap and it does a pretty good job for the price. If I break it I wouldn't be all that sad.

If I were to replace it I would go with something like a Lumix LX-1 or something more contemporary but similar. The Lecia stuff is probably out of my price range.

bmike said...

using a canon sd500. i just discovered cdhk - it lets you temporarily update your canon's firmware - giving you options to shoot raw, view histograms, run scripts (and write them), overide shutter speeds, extend the video capabilities, etc. etc.

lifehacker on the cdhk:

not sure if there is a canon p&s with the lens requirements you want... but mine has been bounced out of my bar bag at 15 mph and dropped down a flight of stairs and is still going strong. it fits in a jersey pocket too.

i'm looking at switching to an 'a' series model - they run on 'aa' bats - and i have a plethora of rechargeables around for various tailights and headlamps.

that leica is a sweet looking camera! ~$750

Apertome said...

I have a D50 and it's great, but I've never taken it on my rides. For me this is the best camera I have, so it's not at all expendable. I think it might still be heavier and bigger than what you'd want to carry around.

I occasionally take an old rangefinder, and I intend to take my old Pentax K1000 more often, but usually I take a pretty inexpensive (sub-$200) digital point & shoot camera, a Fuji A800. It's not the greatest, but the quality is better than you'd think, and I don't worry about destroying it. I even got a warranty that covers accidental damage, so I don't even mind that it got broken when I got hit by a car (OK, I mind the car part) except that now I'm waiting for it to come back from the shop.

That said, I am hoping to upgrade this camera soon anyway, but I still think a nice digital point & shoot is "good enough" and the convenience can't be beat.

Alan said...


I stumble along with a Canon S3IS that's running the cdhk firmware as mentioned above by bmike. I'm on Macs, so converting from Canon's native RAW format to DMG is a major pain; it's much simpler for Windows users. I've been pleased with the S3 for what it is, but of course, it's terribly limited.

I also leave an SD500 in my handlebar bag at all times, just for those times when I want to record something and I haven't bothered to bring along the larger camera. I also *love* the SD for taking on-bike movies; with a large SD card I can get 20-30 mins of video which is plenty for me.

I'm just a neophyte, but I hope to upgrade to a decent SLR system sometime within the next year; I'll be curious to see what you end up with...


fullcycletraveler said...


I'm enjoying your new blog.

My demands aren't as high as yours, but I'm now using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 for touring and hiking--and loving it. It features an excellent Leica wide/zoom lens, with 28mm (not quite up to your needs) on the wide end, 504mm reach, shoots RAW, full manual control option, threaded lens for use with filters, and gives very nice outdoor and macro results.

Although shooting in RAW minimizes some of the noise issues, it increases quite a bit >ISO 400. It's also not great in some low light situations.

While there are compromises in using most digital cameras, the advantages of the FZ definitely out-weigh its short comings. One of the aspects that I especially like with the FZ18 is its flexibility, while eliminating the need to haul my lens kit along on tour. While it's not a pocket camera, the FZ18 fits comfortably in the handlebar bag for easy access. For my amateur/hobbiest needs, the FZ18 really fills the bill.

2whls3spds said...

Another Casio Exlim user here. I am by no means a professional photographer. I was big into B&W in high school. We did our own developing and had some very nice cameras for the day. Got away from that in the late 80's. Love digital! The Exlim fits in the pocket and easy to grab and shoot. I wear mine on a neck lanyard and keep it in my front shirt pocket. I can operate it one handed and even shoot short video's with a one button push.


twodeadpoets said...

After a couple of tours with the Nikon D50 I bought my son a couple of years ago, I bought the Nikon L12 point and shoot for my wife, which we use extensively. I've also heard the the L11 is also pretty good.

Start up times is not lightning fast but fast enough to be able to take it out of my handlebar bag, turn it on, and shoot what I interned to shoot. Macro is excellent and it has video which is nothing to write home about BUT I works well enough for Youtube. The only thing I don't like about it is that it eats AA batteries quickly and two at a time.

Anonymous said...

I was in a similar situation, not wanting to carry a dSLR and all that entails. Bought a Canon G9 and couldn't be happier. Hear the G10 is just a month or so away, will probably switch to that.

Anonymous said...

I love my dSLR, but hardly use it because it's too bulky to haul around. I bought the C-Lux and use it almost all the time. It captures beautiful images rich and deep in color, sharp with clarity that's rare in a P&S. For these reasons, I imagine that the D-Lux 4 would be a great and manageable camera for your purpose. I am also considering moving the the D-Lux 4.

Love your blog!

ars said...

I recently bought the Panasonic LX-3, which is the Panasonic version of the D-Lux 4. I have been rather impressed by it. Especially the joystick menu and a custom function button take away a lot of the pain. The dimensions of the thing are well suited for biking.

That being said, I still prefer the SLR Leicas, which have a real aperture ring. And if money is no objection, there's the new Leica M8.2 as well.

RussRoca said...

Ars...I think from the photos the D-Lux4 has a psuedo-aperture ring??

Does yours have the 24mm 2.0 on the wide end?

How is it around the 400-800 ISO range?

The DPReview post says the panasonic equivalent is the LX-3...but I've seen photos of a LX-3k that has the same pseudo aperture ring..which would be pretty neat.

I don't know they sound so similar.

Shek said...

I use a Panasonic FZ50. It is a superzoom camera but can go completely manual. You can check out my shots in my blog ( High ISO suffers a bit though. It has a focus ring and a zoom ring, so it feels like a DSLR. f stops are 2.8/3.6 - 11. Zoom is 35mm to 400mm. Check it out on DP review.

Matty said...

Believe it or not, I use the camera on my Blackberry Pearl. I keep my phone in my handle bar bag, and I can pull it out to snap a shot. The camera is great, the pictures look nice and I can email them instantly if I like. said...

Ey Russ,

The Panasonic LX3 and the Leica DLux4 are essentially the same, one company benefitting from the lenses of the other while the other gets the techno wizardry in return.

Canon recently released its G10 and its worth a look now with a 28mm 2.8 wide end. this should have a matching waterproof housing following soon to ma go with your wetter adventures.

Panasonic is also releasing the G1 its 1st micro Four-Thirds format, essentially a DSLR without the mirror, ie a live view cam with replaceable lenses. New interesting concept, and its resulting compact size. No video like the previous two.

Keep us posted on what you ended up with.

Mark said...

My Panasonic LX2 is a great traveling companion.

Joe said...

This Olympus Micro Four Thirds concept isn't at all close to full frame, but it will have interchangeable lenses, is compact and right off the bat will have a nice speedy normal lens. It also looks great!

I guess if you can live with the compromises it could be a great little camera to toss in your bag.

Otherwise the D40 is much smaller than your d[23]00 but the lenses you're carrying are not at all svelte.

Here's a radical idea: What about film? The voigtlander/cosina bessas have lots of wides to choose from.

Good luck.


superlocal said...

i ride with my Ricoh GRD,
and the GRD2 i hear takes RAW shots well (not so good with jpegs). from reading your specs, it looks like it fulfills quite a few of your needs...wide angle. etc.
the extra bit worth noting is the interval timer.