The Search for a new Point and Shoot!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The last time I purchased a point and shoot camera George W. was in the first year of his first term, I was a freshman in high school, Circuit City was still open, and 5 megapixels... while not top of the line was a big deal. My Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P10 lasted for almost 8 years before it bit the dust.

The Sony lasted me through high school, most of college, a trip cross-country on a bicycle, and 2 weeks at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM. The time at Philmont included some of the most abusive days of its life until this past summer when it was was subjected to surviving 70 days in a plastic bag in the back pocket of my cycling jersey. It survived rain, sweat, dirt and grime and only started to fail me the last few weeks of the trip when it would work sporadically.

Fast forward 6 months. I find myself slightly more motivated to purchase a point and shoot after lugging around my SLR everywhere and I find myself overwhelmed with the options on new p&s. Instead of comparing price tags and megapixel made a list of desirable attributes to help narrow the selection.

Since the primary function of this camera will be outdoor use, I want the camera to be rugged. Now what defines rugged you ask? Well shockproof, cold proof, waterproof and basically able to take anything I throw at it for the next 8 years or longer. More importantly is the extent to which the above listed qualities are applicable. A camera that's waterproof to 10 feet is cool but what if I decide I want to learn to scuba dive and need something more, say 30 feet? (I understand light and depth of water varies depth of color) Of course weight, size, and battery life are important but I really want a camera that can shoot HD video as well.

In come the contenders, now it would be much more exciting it were gladiator days and the cameras were like the cell phone in Transformers and fought to the death, but I guess I'll simply have to do it the old fashioned way and compare pros and cons.

Transformers Nokia Phone

I'm surprised at the lack of participation from major manufacturer in the "rugged" camera category. Canon has only one option which fails to meet my rugged demands and looks as if it is intended for children. The bubble lens makes the camera large and odd in pocket.

Sony doesn't even have a camera that falls into this category unless you consider there recently leaked DSC-TX5. Photos were leaked earlier this month and quickly pulled but not before most tech sites grabbed the photos. It'll be interesting to hear the specs on the camera once the details are officially released.

Also competing in the rugged category are Pentax and Olympus with their Option W and Stylus Tough series respectfully. The Pentax W80 which seems to have replaced the W60 which DCRainmaker Ray uses, has lots of bad reviews concerning the graininess of the photos but closely matches my requirements in my price range. The Stylus Tough series are pretty cool and I had an opportunity to play with both the 6000 and 8000 today at Best Buy, but don't shoot HD video that the newly released 3000 does. Olympus says this is the first of several Tough cameras to be released this year which makes me want to hold out for the release of the 8000 with HD video.

The newly announced Stylus Tough 3000

My problem with all of these cameras is the decrease in quality of everyday photos (particularly indoors) for added function. I have some time before I intend to make my purchase so I'll keep researching and reading as much as I can and hope that I find something that meets my demands.


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