Compact camera for travel

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by Phil K, Jun 30, 2013.

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  1. Phil K

    Phil K New Member

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    Hi all,

    I've traveled to Europe before, and found lots of good pictures, both in the city and the landscape, that I thought would be excellent. However, after getting home and actually looking at the pictures on a decent screen, the Fujifilm XP that I was using let me down. I know that for that price that I shouldn't expect top of the range quality, so I don't hold it against it, but this time, I'd like to make sure that the beautiful shots I saw in my mind, are actually what gets taken. With that in mind, I'm looking to move up to a lot more control over what I'm taking, but without saddling myself to a big DSLR as I enjoy being a lightweight backpacker. I favour landscapes and architecture, as well as anything that might capture the moment and provide me with a memory of my trip. As such, I've been looking at mirrorless cameras, knowing that I can use a pancake lens for portability when I'm just knocking about but can bring the bigger guns to the party if I wish.


    * What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.

    About $1000 AUD, but with a little give if it's a good reason.


    * What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?

    Lightweight, portable, as in without the "steal this bag" advertising. I'd like to be able to slip it into my pockets where possible, and given I'll be there in Autumn, it'll be an internal jacket pocket rather than a small pants pocket.


    How many megapixels will suffice for you?

    Enough to do the job. Beyond that, no idea.

    * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x)

    Given my preference for landscapes, I'd imagine standard would cover me really.

    * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)


    Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?

    I like sunrise/sunset photos (a bit cliché), so they would come in handy I'd imagine.

    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for?

    Travel, but also to teach myself more than point and shoot.

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?

    If I can get the right shot, I'll print them, but probably no more than a metre in either direction (and only that big if it's really good).

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?

    Some at night, and some indoors. The standard travel mix.

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?

    Not as much.


    Are there particular brands you like or hate?


    Are there particular models you already have in mind?

    Sony Nex-5r, it's right in the price range with the 16-50 and 55-210 with enough left over for a pancake. Also wondering whether I'd be better off going with the rx100 which won't have the changeability of lenses, but if it fits what I'm doing better, then that's an option.. I'm not sold on anything in particular, brand isn't important to me, quality in the price range is what matters.

    (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)

    Most of them are nice to have, but probably not going to kill me if I don't have them.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    The Nex-5r with its standard kit lens is less expensive than the RX-100 and is the better camera. Unless the small size of the RX-100 is very important to you, the Nex makes more sense, whether or not you choose to buy the long zoom lens.
    Another alternative is to buy a long zoom point and shoot. Granted your experience with the Fuji XP was not the greatest, but long zoom point and shoots like the Canon SX260 HS or the Panasonic ZS20 are much better cameras. And they are small with versatile long zoom lenses. Image quality is not as good as the NEX-5r or the RX100 but much better than your Fuji XP.
    Here are some sample images from the Nex 5, RX-100, SX260 HS and ZS20:

    Flickr Search: nex-5

    Flickr Search: rx100 sony

    Flickr Search: sx260 canon

    Flickr Search: zs20 panasonic
  3. KCook

    KCook Well-Known Member

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    My mirrorless is an Olympus PEN. Don't have a pancake lens for it, just the standard 3X zoom. Which is too thick, in spite of the collapsing lens design, to fit easily in a pocket. I carry this in a smallish belt pouch, which is not invisible. With a pancake lens, I expect the PEN could be squeezed into a large pocket (resulting in a conspicuous lump). Ditto for pocket carry for Nikon 1 and Panasonic GF series. The more important a pocket carry is, the more you will want the Sony RX100 or Panasonic LX5/7. There is just no way I can see the Sony NEX in a pocket carry scenario, even with pancake lens.

    If you can break away from the pocket requirement, then there are a bunch of mirrorless and lightweight DSLR to consider, including the popular NEX line. Whatever bag you use does not have to scream "expensive camera". Any common bag big enough will work, such as a really fat purse.

    Kelly Cook
  4. Phil K

    Phil K New Member

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    Hi guys,

    I haven't ignored your advice by any means, I just haven't had a chance to reply, it's been a little busy lately. Andy, the nex-5r with standard kit lens is actually more expensive here (Aus) than the rx100, but I'm not sure if that's because the rx mk 2 has pushed down the mk 1 prices since your post. The long zooms are an interesting proposition and the zs range look to be good machines, but the image quality doesn't seem to be as good as I'm looking for, unless I just haven't look at the right long zoom cameras.

    After some thought about my traveling style, I'm heading in almost the opposite direction KCook, and reinforcing my pocket requirement, rather than breaking away from it. I would firmly put pocketability and image quality on equal tiers, with at least some level of manual control coming up behind them. At the moment I'm strongly thinking about the rx100 because of the price drop, and while I lose some flexibility with non interchangeable lenses, at least I know that the only one it has is a pretty good quality one. The only question is whether the little upgrades are worth the 100-200 for the mk 2, and whether it'll get cheaper before I leave (while giving me enough time to get used to it). That and whether I can find something with similar size and equal image quality at a better price...

    Thanks for your advice, it got me thinking on the right track about what it is I actually want when I'm traveling and gave me a few handy options to really look into.
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