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Question Travel Camera?
Old 02-07-2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Question Travel Camera?

Can anyone recommend a good travel camera? I haven't bought a camera in a long time.

I'd like it to be as small as possible and fairly rugged. I won't have regular access to electrical sockets with predictable plug-types or voltage, so I guess the camera needs to charge by USB port, or run on batteries.

As long as image quality is decent, I'll be happy.
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Old 02-07-2010, 02:08 PM   #2
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I'm no camera buff, but I've been happy with my inexpensive Aiptek (DV3100) which I bought at SAM's for under $100 five or six years ago. It is convenient for travel, as it only weighs about six ounces (with the batteries) and fits in my shirt pocket. Mine is only 3.1 Mega Pixels and has no flash, but it operates off two rechargeable or non-rechargeable AA batteries. I have found the outdoor photos to be decent quality - without a flash it's pretty much useless indoors unless there is bright light. I believe the new versions have a flash. I use the digital images pretty much for emails and computer work, but I have been satisfied with 4 x 6 prints made from the JPG files.
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Old 02-07-2010, 02:44 PM   #3
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Thanks. I'll check out the Aiptek (DV3100). How is the battery life?
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:44 PM   #4
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It really depends on what you need it for. Do you want video? Underwater? Sandproof? Indoors/poor lighting? I have liked my little Canon SD750, which is now 2+ years old. The battery life is excellent. I keep a rechargeable spare battery with the canera for emergencies.

Here's a recent NY Times article on the subject:

State of the Art - The Best Cameras $300 or Less Can Buy - NYTimes.com
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:24 PM   #5
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That Canon SD750 looks interesting. What are my options for recharging it? I may not be around compatible AC power outlets.
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:47 PM   #6
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The Canon SD750 uses removable NB-4L batteries. You can buy extras from Canon for $30, or from other makers for much cheaper. Here's the one I have, made by Lenmar.

Amazon.com: Lenmar DLC4L Digital Camera Equivalent to the Canon NB-4L Battery: Camera & Photo
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:45 PM   #7
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+1 on the Canon SD750 Elph. Our is our second, it is also around 2, and we've been very happy with its performance as a pocket camera. We're upgrading to a DSLR due to my increased desire for photographic control, but I always have the little camera in my purse or pocket for those quick shots you don't want to miss. It's been overseas with us, carried daily, dropped a couple of times... Has survived just fine.

As for charging it -- you might look into a hand-crank or solar battery charger that's compatible with the system. I don't have one, but that would give you portability and ease of use. Also, you can use a travel adapter / voltage adapter to make it compatible with your charger.
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:58 AM   #8
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I use a Canon SD780IS. It uses the same battery recommended by GoodSense but it can't be charged via the USB port. The battery charger is very compact and operates on 100V-240V AC 50/60HZ.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:29 PM   #9
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I suggest you look for cameras that take standard AA batteries, not the proprietary ones which can be impossible to find while on vacation. Canon makes a number of low cost, high quality point and shoot cameras (which is the type of camera I believe you are interested in). Don't be overly concerned about the number of "megapixels" that are advertised for the camera. For snapshot purposes that number is meaningless. Anything over 8 megapixels would be fine for your purposes.

Look for a camera that uses the common SD memory card. Most do these days.

Ignore zoom lens ads that mention "digital zoom." The only zoom numbers you should worry about are optical zoom numbers.

A digital camera is basically a computer designed to capture images. They are not as simple to use as the simple film cameras of yesterday. I mention this only because I taught a six hour course (three, two hour days of training) on the use of digital cameras for my town's citizens and the level of confusion folks had when trying to use these cameras was remarkable. Especially true for the older citizens.

Good luck and enjoy whatever camera you get.

Rich
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:07 PM   #10
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Thanks all for the suggestions. I do think I'll need one that uses AAs. Maybe I'll eventually post some pix that I take with it.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:42 PM   #11
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Plugs around the world are not that different. You can pick up an inexpensive set of adapters. Most camera battery chargers can handle 110 and 220V (But, check first). I haven't had any issue with this on my travels to Europe & Asia.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:10 PM   #12
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If you want a fairly durable camera, you can't go wrong with name brands. I have a 4 year old sony that is still going strong. With the right adapters (cheap) I have taken it through Europe and Asia (110/220). When passing the camera back and forth on a trip ( 'can you take my picture?') it dropped in the open position. The lens that comes out of the camera when 'on', got jammed, slightly askew. I thought the camera was toast and would have to buy another one for big bucks, on the road. I kept on pulling at it and got the lens straightened out. This was 2 years ago and it is still going strong. My observations is that the major quality brands build things a little more solidly. It's all metal, no plastic. If it were plastic, the thing would certainly have been toast. Oh, there is a slight dent on the corner of the lens where it hit the cement.
A few extra bucks up front makes for a better experience, IMHO.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:02 PM   #13
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If you really want "as small as possible" then the camera my wife uses has got to be the one. She absolutely loves it!

Nikon Coolpix S7C

It's 7 megapixel with s 3X optical zoom.
Takes really great pictures, but the fantastic thing is its size. It's only 4 inches wide by 2.4 inches high and less than an inch thick. You can toss it in any pocket and forget about it, and it weighs less than 5 ounces.
It has a huge 3 inch LCD monitor on the back that lets you easily see your picture as you compose it. The battery is good for about 200 shots before it needs recharging.

If I sound overly enthusiastic about this camera, it's because my wife, who has been using it constantly for the last couple of years, just keeps raving about how much she loves it.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:22 PM   #14
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I have a small Canon that works great. The one I have the charger is good for 110 or 220 that was a plus for me because I used to travel a bunch for work, I think most of the canons chargers are good for that. The battery life is really good too.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:03 PM   #15
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Took my digital SLR to Europe when we visited my son in Germany 4 years ago. Wouldn't do it again. We took lots of snapshots. I would take either one of the little mini digitals that do about 8 megapixals, or buy a the same kind of camera with a larger sensor. But you need something small unless you are planning on taking landscape photos or pictures of the people. If its a tourist trip, IMO, go with something small.

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Old 03-09-2010, 08:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathu View Post
Took my digital SLR to Europe when we visited my son in Germany 4 years ago. Wouldn't do it again. We took lots of snapshots. I would take either one of the little mini digitals that do about 8 megapixals, or buy a the same kind of camera with a larger sensor. But you need something small unless you are planning on taking landscape photos or pictures of the people. If its a tourist trip, IMO, go with something small.
Z
I prefer a small digital camera myself for travel. Most take very decent pictures.

My last SLR was a 35-mm Canon A1, and I never bought a digital SLR. I think I will need to update to a newer compact digital one that can take moving pictures, so that I do not need to bring the digital camcorder - the smallest and lightest miniDV that Canon made (I can hide it in my palm, and I do not have big hands), which cost me a bundle but is so obsolete now.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:32 AM   #17
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I would say you can't go wrong with a Canon in general.
I'd also recommend the Panasonic ZS3 as it is not much larger than the Canon Elphs, but has a 12x zoom and HD movie recording. The zoom range starts at 25mm equivalent, which is quite a bit wider than most zooms and is good for indoors or large group pictures. Really an excellent camera if you need a large zoom range.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:27 AM   #18
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Don't have a specific recommendation although I have a "cheap" Panasonic ($130? at Sams a couple of years ago).

I suggest going 7 to 8 megapix, flash, at least 5x optical zoom and a faster response than mine. Not sure how you find out what lag time a camera has, but that is my camera's main weak spot. By the time you focus, push the button and actually "take" a picture, you may have missed your shot. One other weak point of mine (and this could just be my eyes) is the dimness of the view finder image. In bright background it can be difficult to see.

I recommend one extra battery already charged. 2 batteries should last you a week to 10 days under most circumstances. A 4 gig backup memory chip is a good idea as well. Unless you take tons of pictures (or quite a bit of video) these backups are more than plenty without worrying about recharging or buying memory chips in a strange place.

I'm just blown away by the quality of the pictures I get (not the composition, you understand.) On a full sized computer screen the detail is stunning, assuming I did my job taking the photo.

Good luck.
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Old 03-10-2010, 09:22 AM   #19
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In addition to all the good advice you have received, I'd also suggest that you get a small tripod.

Those small cameras are hard to hold steady. They make some really small tripods, easy to carry around. Even if you just use it as an extended handle, it can help a lot. If you can easily set the timer on the camera, you can set up the shot and avoid all the 'shakes' as it will trigger a few seconds after you hit the shutter. You might even want to take a larger one along - a 'mono-pod', these also can fold up or telescope to a small size, and really help steady the shot.

Let us know if you find any cameras that charge via USB. I started a thread on this maybe two years ago, and I couldn't find a manufacturer that supported it. Cell phones are going this way (under pressure from the EU, goal is to reduce waste with all these various obsolete chargers), but the camera companies don't seem interested. So I've got a tiny camera, but when I travel I need to take a dock, cables and charger with me - each one is bigger than the camera. I wouldn't need any of it if I can count on an available USB port, or simply carry a single USB charger to 'feed' a number of devices (cell phone, my camera, a friends camera, iPod, GPS, etc).

-ERD50
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:46 PM   #20
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I would say you can't go wrong with a Canon in general.
I'd also recommend the Panasonic ZS3 as it is not much larger than the Canon Elphs, but has a 12x zoom and HD movie recording. The zoom range starts at 25mm equivalent, which is quite a bit wider than most zooms and is good for indoors or large group pictures. Really an excellent camera if you need a large zoom range.
I'm a huge fan of these compact, large-range optical zoom cameras. I bought a Panasonic DMC-FZ18, a bit bulkier than the ZS3, for the huge zoom range and SLR-like viewfinder. It's still compact enough to go over the shoulder on it's strap, and under the jacket, so it's very unobtrusive and easily carried everywhere, very important for a travel camera.

The zoom is incredibly handy for framing travel shots.

I've also had good results with the much smaller and more limited Canon PowerShot S30, which only had a 3x zoom. This one isn't particularly intimidating for other family members to use, as it easily is set to behave like a simple point'n'shoot box, which it almost looks like. I carried this all over in a little belt pouch.
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