Melbourne, Florida June 2012 – Today travelers of all kinds, anglers, rock climbers, off and on road cyclist, boaters, day hikers and backpackers have loads of choices when it comes to choosing a digital camera and accessories to take along on the trip. The digital point and shoot and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras give the outdoor adventurer a selection so broad that making a selection can be mind boggling. Websites like CNet, Digital Photography Review, PC Magazine, Amazon.com and many more will provide loads of information on almost any digital camera on the market today. I like to use all of these websites when making a camera selection. Let me start with a little background in the film and digital cameras I have owned. Over the past thirty (30) plus years I have progressed from the 35 millimeter color and black and white print and slide film to all digital pictures taking.
I started my film camera journey back in 1970 with The Yashica Electro 35 and have migrated through Yashica TL-Electro, Minolta SRT-101, Minolta XG-1, and the Minolta X-700. I even still have my Minolta Weathermatic Underwater camera as well as my XG-1 and X-700. My first entry into digital realm was a point-and-shoot super zoom Fujifil FinePix S3000. This was a 3.2 megapixel, 6x Optical with a 3.2x digital zoom camera. Because I fished from my kayak and entered local kayak fishing CPR (catch, photograph and release) tournaments, I needed a water resistant camera. I chose the Olympus 3.2 megapixel, 3x optical zoom Styliust 300. A few years ago I upgraded my super zoom camera to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, 10 megapixels with a Leica 18X optical lens and my kayak fishing camera to the Olympus 850 SW 8.0 megapixel, 3x optical zoom Styliust 850 SW shock and waterproof camera.
With the ease of using digital point-and-shoot and some DSLR cameras it is no wonder why outdoor photography is so popular whether or not you are an amateur or professional. I think that the hardest choice for amateur outdoor photographers is selecting the right camera. I find the selection process especially difficult even though I have been taking photos for over 30 years with SLR and digital cameras. Here are a few recommendations for selecting your next camera.
1. Ask your friends what they are using and find out what your friends like or dislike about the camera they are using.
2. Research the kind of camera you are thinking about purchasing on the web. Visit some of the websites mentioned above and read their reviews. I can tell you first hand that this can be overwhelming with the amount of information and opinions you will find.
3. Make a list of all the features you want in a camera and how much you are willing to pay.
4. Visit a camera reseller like Best Buy, Sams Club or your local photography store and feel and touch the camera or cameras you are thinking about.
5. Because new cameras are coming out every year, do not be afraid of looking at last year’s model. Sometimes you can get a big price break.
This is exactly what I plan to do. Since I purchased my FZ28, there have been more than five new models come out with the latest being the DMC-FZ150. This is one of the top rated super zoom cameras. It even has a hot shoe. But this camera comes with a hefty list price of $489.99. Last year’s model is the DMC-FZ47 and has a $249.99 price today on Amazon. This camera has almost all the features of the FZ150 at a big savings.
Here is why I like super-zoom cameras. I like the compact size of an all-in-one camera that takes great outdoor photos. The features I get in my FZ 28 digital camera top the capability of my old Minolta X-700 camera and the six interchangeable lenses I would have to carry to get the same outdoor photo results. When I upgrade to the FZ47, I get a larger image processor and a longer optical and digital lens. I will give up a little capability in low-light situations, but the trade off is acceptable.
Now I am partial to Lumix cameras, but the top of the line Cannon, Sony and Nikon super-zoom digital cameras will give you great results. Super-zoom digital cameras are light, have great zoom lenses and are easy to use. Think about this. You are hiking along any of the mountain trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You come up upon a black bear in the distance. You want a close up photo. If you have a DLSR and do not have your long lens attached, you have to stop and change lenses. This takes time and you may miss the shot. If you have a super-zoom digital camera, you just zoom in take the shot and quickly get out of the bears path.
What I have found out over the years hiking and backpacking in Alaska, Colorado, California, South and North Carolina, Maine, and New York, is going light is always the best way to enjoy the great outdoors. Light-weight cameras and accessories are always the best choice for me and maybe you.