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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Comments

Mike, I love your blog and I did love my old XA, but I must disagree with your choice of Thorogood as best Who Do You Love cover. My vote would be for John Hammond on So Many Roads.The players on the album were most of the BAND (Hawks) with Charlie Musselwhite on Harp and included Mike Bloomfield on PIANO.

I would have to say the Ricoh GRD3. Yes, it's a small sensor camera but I have never enjoyed using a camera that has been so well designed for those who know how to really use their cameras beyond the auto modes. And it also takes great photos!

Olympus XA
Olympus OM4
Canon S90

Cosina Voigtlander Bessa R3a with a 40mm 1.4 Nokton.

My poor man's Leica so to say, on holidays its my favorite companion filled with Ilford XP2 film.

And so nice to handle and carry compared with my 5D mk II and Lenses.

Another Rollei... B35 in my case - it may be the 'bottom of the range' model but has so far given me 24 years of service.

I shoot with a number of cameras, but I always seem to see more shots when using the Rollei... perhaps having such a small simple camera frees up the mind but probably also because it's less conspicuous than an SLR ( compared even to my other lightweight setup of Nikon FG-20 and pancake lens ).

Loaded with 400asa film and stopping down a bit gives some leeway with focus, and being able to setup focus and exposure whilst looking down at the camera is quietly discreet.

Sigma DP1 w/Voitlander 28mm viewfinder attached. This little camera has been to the Andes, the jungle, Asia, everywhere with me. For all its limitations, there is something magical about the Foveon images this unassuming camera can make with its tack sharp 28mm lens. For me, it is a great little travel and street camera.

Another vote for the S90... as well as the old Oly clamshell cameras (XA, XA2, etc.). Have my hopes up that some of the Nikon low light capabilities will make an appearance in their compacts before too long (love my D700).

Minox B and C - lovely mechanical wonders
iPhone 3G - goes with me all the time
I like the above.

The Minox are unused these days (run a D40 & Linhof usually).

My Canon G11. I carry it everywhere in a belt pouch and use it every day, and there is just something special about it.

The Olympus XA, of course. (Never used the little screw-on flash though - did anyone ever?)

[And I have to say, the photo of the child on the sofa is quite a stunning photo for how refreshing the perspective is].

and PS can I add one for looks alone? Never owned one, or even used one, but I always thought the tiny Pentax 110 cameras were the cutest miniaturized SLRs ever.

Probably "politically incorrect" but it was a common Cantonese saying that camera is the second wife and also have a kind of principle of "love" roughly translate as
- wife is not as good as 2nd wife,
- 2nd wife is not as good who you have "stolen" - those you do not deserve but got it,
- but the best is always those who want to "steal" but never got around to really get it.

Based on this, I guess the best I love so far is a Mamiya 7. Never have that. I got a lot of camera but that one I only have a chance to touch for 5 minutes. Do not dare to shoplift and hence never got it.

May be that is the one that you do not have that is always the best loved.

My favorite is the Holga- I have a slightly modified version that gives 2 true apertures. Simple as a box of rocks. Great for family portraits with a cheap flash. Also unreal landscapes.

Another vote for the Canon S90 (which also means another vote for the S95 as it's pretty much the same camera). I like it very much for it's very compact body, and the IQ which is much better than what I've seen on any of my previous compacts.

Runner-up: my now-broken Nikon Coolpix 5400. OK, image quality is nowhere near what you can get on any compact today, but the lens was superb, it could do RAW (after a firmware upgrade), had a flip-out screen and you could do insanely close macro shots - with subjects almost touching the front element.

Olympus OM-4T and Contax T2 are at the top of my list, though the Olympus OM-1, Pen F, Stylus Epic and XA are also great.

Bit of a trend there... unimpressed by the Olympus digital options though.

"the pedants among us might argue 'whom, not who'."

I thought of that, but your quarrel is really with Bo Diddley, not me.

Mike

Petri Color 35

From film days:

Pentax MX with the 50/1.7 SMCM - small, robust, lovely
Canonet QL - got mistaken for a Leica more than once. Great photos from an unfussy little box.
Lubitel - real sense of achievement when you get a good shot out of it!

From digital:

Pentax K-7 - well, it's small for what it is
Lumix GF-1 - in my bag every day with the 20mm pancake lens
Lumix LC1/Leica Digilux 2 - tragedy this camera and splendid lens did not evolve beyond its original version

Famous (down under anyway) rock band Hoodoo Gurus also covered as a B-side. Featured on their Gorilla Biscuit album.

"Sticking with camera/lens combinations that fit in a back pocket: Pentax MX with 40mm f/2.8 SMC-M."

Seems like several people are using the term "back pocket" in a different sense than what it means to me. To me, "back pocket" refers to one of the rear pockets in a pair of pants--i.e., the pocket that goes over your ass. What do others mean by that term? Because no one in the world would ever put a Pentax MX in what I would call a back pocket.

Just curious,

Mike

A Hanimex 110 camera given to me by my father on my 12th birthday: he had noticed (and was probably tiring of) my interest in his Leica M4, and wanted no doubt to encourage me without risking his own camera. To be honest, it was probably really rubbish, but it started me on a lifelong hobby, and for that reason alone is worth affection in my heart. I used it until I was 19 when I upgraded to a used Spotmatic. I have no idea what became of it. Like all young people, I was too much in a hurry to get on with adult life to care about things that had been part of my childhood.

I also want to nominate the Hubble Space Telescope (hey, size is relative, right? 57 metres in length is small in relation to most space objects...). Some of the imagery coming off that thing is literally changing science and thus human understanding.

Good morning. I'd like to cast my vote for the E-P1 with the Panasonic 20mm, although I enjoy carrying the GF1 as well.

Regarding "Who Do You Love," another slick version is John Hammond's Sixties cover on the So Many Roads album, which features several other blues rockers. You might also have a look at Big City Blues from about the same time period.

Minox GT
Pentax Optio 33WR
Panasonic GF1 20mm 1.7

Ok, I'll bite. I have a couple.

The Ricoh GR-D was my favourite for its weighty feel and controls. Image quality was not good though.

My S95 is almost as nice to hold. One grumble - I can't find the on/off switch by feel. However, the overall package fits in pockets (easily), great image quality (much better than you might expect) and the control dials make it.


So for now it's the S95.

G1 with 20/1.7 - fast and intuitive - delivers the goods - a shooter's dream . . .

Canon 780is is pretty sweet. Image quality is insanely good.

Looks like I'm the odd duck on the pond. With over 100 responses, I didn't see my two (went through the list fast):

Film -- Yashica T4
Digial -- Casio P600

Jim B

Canonet QL17 GIII. But it's so obvious that it was probably already on your list.

Also, I can't say I love my GF1. It works, it's portable, but I find something a little too inorganic about it (please excuse the vague criticism--the camera's too good on paper).

Film: Leica Minilux for its top draw lens, and Contax TVS for its quickness fo use and flexibility to 28mm.
Digital: Canon A80 for its swivel screen, sweet 4MP and (low ISO)image quality not see bettered in today's mid-range compacts.

Yashica T4, with a great Zeiss 35 mm lens. Took one of my all time favorite pictures with this camera. largely because I had it with me.

For film, I loved my Olympus XA. Great engineering - open the slide and its on!

My current favorate is a Canon A1100 IS. Its cheap, fits in a pocket, has an optical viewfinder, runs on AA batteries (available everywhere), takes movies, etc.

One sits in my brief case all the time.

For years I carried around an Olympus XA. Still have it and love it but I have been drifting away from film for a while now so it is on the shelf.
Last week my son and I both had birthdays and my wife and mother in law got together and bought us a couple of Canon S95s.
Looks like a fitting succesor to the XA.

While I do love my current little camera which is a Canon G9, I'm viewing this as a survey of sentimental favorites.

For me hands down is my little chrome variant Rollei 35S. Mine has a 35mm Schneider lens on it that is tack sharp. The guesstimate focusing always worked quite well as the wide angle lens had sufficient depth of field to make a good guess, the right guess most of the time.

My little buddy came to me when as a kid I worked in a camera store and some fool came in and traded this gem for an early Canon Sure Shot. I payed $45 for it around 1985 and I still use it from time to time.

It is tough as nails, meteres accurately enough, fits in my coat pocket and just feels like a well tuned machine in my hands. I have not shot with it all this year, but I think I will go home now, break out a roll of slide film from the fridge and get reaquainted with my long time friend. I will never give up my most favorite small camera of all time. It will be with me long after the G9, dies and gets turfed in a can.

My Minox 35GT was one of the best cameras I've ever owned. Nice lens, compact package, aperture priority and an indication of shutter speed in the finder. might have been better with a rangefinder but mostly I found focus by dead reckoning worked well.

I'm now using an Olympus 35DC which has a phenomenal 40mm f/1.7 lens but is shutter priority only.

I like my Canonet GIII QL-17 (40/1.7). It's light, accurate and goes snick-snick-snick.

But I LOVED my Olympus Stylus. That thing lived in my briefcase and took an astounding number of my favorite shots just because I liked fooling around with it.

To this day, I'm still looking for a "digital Canonent" (maybe the new Fuji...) and a "digital Stylus" (none in the offing).

Nikon EM with the slim Series-E 50 mm. I've taken thousands of pictures with this over the last 30 years. With the Nikon logo blacked out it looks like one of those plastic fake SLRs TIME magazine used to give out with a subscription, which is an advantage because no-one takes a second look at it. But it has a super-accurate meter and very dependable shutter. The whole thing slips into a jacket pocket. Smallest, lightest SLR Nikon ever made. Love to get the 45 mm pancake, but eBayers have bid that lens into the stratosphere.

It's got to be the Olympus XA. Felt good in the hand, took awesome photos, stealthy, black and silent...I was foolish to sell it.

Too bad about the goofy flash attachment though....but of course, who would ever use a flash with such a stealthy camera...sort of defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Honorable mention to the Minolta 16 MG-S. Mostly because my Dad had one that he bought on a trip to Japan in the late '60s/very early '70s, and when I was growing up, (now too for that matter), everything my Dad did was cool! It also helps that it's a teeny tiny camera...very James Bond...

Cheers

Funny how much the iPhone is mentioned. I just ordered a little square blurb book with just square iPhone pics I made while I was in Berlin for a week long conference. I had my M8 with me but decided for the sake of continuity to just use the iPhone. The weather was grey so the very limited dynamic range of the iPhone didn't cause to much trouble. Never seen an iPhone pic printed so I look forward to the book!

Another vote for the OM1n. But with 40mm lens.

The smallest camera that I have ever really loved is my current Sony A900. Before that it was the Bronica GS-1. Both are much smaller than the view cameras I used to use and allowed me to be much more spontaneous since I didn't need to always drag around a tripod. The Sony particularly frees me up to photograph hand held in much lower light than I could before. I have used smaller cameras than these, but I can't say I ever really loved them.

Ugh. 250+ comments? I don't even feel like trying to read those, so I hope you will provide some sort of summary.

My favorite small camera by far (weight this vote x10): Pentax MX - I have three or four of them. Beautiful, beautiful cameras. Smaller than a Leica M6, huge, bright viewfinder, perfect size, simple controls, fully manual but with light meter, a sheer joy to use and to hold.

Pentax ME-Super: The ME-Super is a great small camera as a USER, but it is a distant second to the MX as an art object. The ME-Super offers a finder that is almost as large as that of the MX, but with the added benefit of aperture priority-automatic exposure. Changing exposure modes is a pain however, and the ME-Super always feels slightly cheap in the hand. But it's just as small and light as the MX, slightly faster in operation (unless you're working in manual mode) and happens to take great pictures.

Others:
Olympus XA: not because its all that sharp (I would hate to try focusing a digital version or testing the lens too closely by modern standards), but because it is small, manual, simple to control and was always with me.

Nikon FE-2: I know it isn't a small camera by most definitions. But when I compare it to my Nikon F3, Nikon F90, Nikon D300 and even my Nikon D60, I am amazed at all of the technology in such a small, non-digital, non-autofocus package. 1/4000 top shutter speed, 1/250th flash sync speed, mirror pre-fire with self-timer, etc. etc. Great camera.

The other small cameras I have wouldn't count as small or light cameras today. People wax poetic about a Canon QL-17, but those cameras really weren't all that small and they were HEAVY (at least looking at them through modern eyes). By contrast, the Olympus XA is still a small camera by today's standards.

P.S. Did I mention that the Pentax MX is a jewel of a camera (whether big or small)?

Digital: iphone, I shot/kept an average of 2 photos a day over the first 2 year contract. It was great to flip back through and see little mementos and photos from places and times where my dslr or 35mm cameras were not with me. And if they were keepers i could send them to friends or post them online in a few touches. The current iphone 4 camera is even better with touch screen focus and exposure, much better macro focus too.

35mm Film: Olympus Clamshells (XA, Infinity Jr, Stylus Epic) I don't feel a dedicated digital camera (non camera phone) has surpassed this class yet. The form factor is smooth and they fit in a pocket easily but they can be pulled out/turned on and fired in a matter of seconds. Always ready. I have an S90 but still often prefer these film bodies. The GF1/2 with a 14/2.5 or 20/1.7 look tempting but still are not pants pocket sized.

The Leica CL, one of the best travel cameras ever made.
My own CL kit includes the 40mm and 90mm Leica lenses and the 28mm Minolta lens made for the later Leitz/Minolta CLE, along with a Leica 28mm viewfinder. The two Leica lenses are just wonderful, the 28mm very servicable.
It all fits into the original Leica shoulder bag, which was made to hold only the two Leica lenses. I quickly put a yellow sticker over the red "Leica" logo on the bag, to make it more unobtrusive when traveling.
I used this camera to make two stunning photographs of bicycle racing in Germany.

Sigma DP1/2: as Alton Brown says frequently, "your patience will be rewarded"

Yashica T4: was a great travel camera until it died, didn't have a replacement until the DP2 came along.

Olympus OM10FC: my first camera, not counting dad's old Miranda. Small, simple, results that made me very happy.

-Olympus XA

-Contax T3(don't use it anymore but still ownn it brand new...)

-Contax TVS digital(My first digital...And it had a very decent optical viewfinder...Can't sell it neither...)

-Leica X1 With viewfinder and grip

...and I continue to use G9 and LX3

Mike,

I hope there is a (media, marketing, communications, internet business) student out there with a need for a project who could tally all of this data.

Small and loved:
Olympus Pen FT
Minolta CLE


Tiny and not loved:
Panasonic DMC-FX35

Joseph,
No need. I'm not treating it as data. I just needed some suggestions to round out the list I've been working on, and I got what I needed.

Mike

I love my Chinon Bellami. Scale focused 35mm f/2.8 lens. Has auto-exposure that tends to favor large apertures. It's as tiny as a Minox 35, but has a sturdier build and barndoors that flip out with a flick of the wind lever in a motion that's much more fluid than pulling down the Minox's front door. Looks like a toy, but has a great contrasty lens.

I was hoping you'd ask that. Hands down, it's my Leica M9, especially with the Elmarit 28. Since the early 60s I've been a Nikon owner - couple of Fs, F4s, Coolpix 950, D2x, and currently the D3. All excellent cameras and, in the digital category the D3 is truly a superb instrument - but it's huge and weighs a ton. On July 21 this year I bought a Leica M9. Since then I've made 3,744 shots with it, of which 2,315 are keepers, 45 actually printed.

As digital cameras go, it's kind of a throwback, with manual focus only and a rangefinder that gives only an approximation of the frame cropping, which in any case is partially blocked by most lenses. There are no zoom lenses available. But it's built like a tank, is small and light - incredibly so compared with the D3! - focus is fast and accurate once one gets used to working with a rangefinder and with accurate DOF markings on the lenses, very easy to zone focus which is perfect for my landscape photography. And (almost) no damned menus!

I don't worry much about careful composition and cropping in the rangefinder (which is impossible anyway) and so i just point and shoot. If I don't like the cropping in the LCD I move closer or further away, re-frame, and re-shoot. Inconvenient? Maybe for some but I find the entire process liberating. It's like my old Nikon F except smaller, with an excellent built-in meter and instant playback of what I just shot. In manual or aperture priority it's very easy to get a good exposure. I almost always make a first exposure, check the histogram and adjust exposure if necessary for the final.

On the downside, the computer chip compared with the D3 is slow as molasses. It has a really second-rate LCD considering it's a $7,000 camera and records in the metadata only a guesstimate of the aperture used. Also, there is occasional moire and odd chromatic aberration in some textured subjects and because of luminance and color noise it's not really useful above iso 800.

And the images... wow! At 18 megapixels, which is only slightly higher res than my 12mp D3, there is a sharpness and quality of tone that is wonderful. Inexplicably wonderful. Maybe it's the lack of anti-aliasing filter[?].

I really do love it!

Rollei 35. Shore shot American Surfaces with it.

Small to me is pocket size. Many I like but only one I loved: Minox 35. Unfortunately it died a premature death when the shutter failed - apparently something that happened far too often with these little jewels.

1) Sigma DP1 and DP2. Yes they are a pain to use but that's part of the fun.

2) Olympus E-P2

3) For film, I have two of these little Fuji half frame cameras from the 1960's Or teh Pentax MX. But perhaps the Pentax MX is too big to qualify?

I've probably owned or used close to half the cameras on the list, but the only small camera I have really loved is my Panasonic G1.

Size is relative, of course. The great love of my camera life was the Polaroid SX70, which I used off and on from the time they came out until I couldn't get film anymore, but for much of that time I was also "happily married" to a 5x7 Deardorff.

For now I love the G1, but I'd be up for a fling with an S90.

Another vote for the Olympus XA... I have had it for 25 years daily use. It was rugged, and my XA by now looks like some of those worn paint job Leica's one sees on the web. Its plastic front shell gave more confidence then any metal body has ever given me, and the bare metal and fine rust on the back only added to that image of an old trooper still going strong. I have fallen in water with it, stepped on it several times and dropped a lot. It only died on me when I stopped taking it with me on a daily basis.
Its range finder focusing kept me in real photographic mode, thinking about what I was doing (unlike the Canon S80 that is now my daily companion). Its lens was good but not all some people proclaimed it to be, but the Tri-X grain made everything look sharp anyway. I used 12x16 prints in exhibitions...

My favorite small camera is the Pentax UC-1. A super small 35mm camera with excellent optics. I carried this with me on business trips after I pretty much gave up lugging a bag of equipment around. Although an automatic camera, I found that my results with it were pretty much spot on; recently discovered that a large number of my better film scans came from pictures shot with this camera. A real gem.

I'm gonna beat a dead horse and say Olympus Stylus Epic (Mju ii)!!!! Mine is still in regular use and I dare say my most useful camera in the sense of results, mainly because I don't want to carry the bigger boys with me all the time so i get lots of random keepers with it. I was worried I commented too late but the very first commenter and a dozen more also said the Epic so no worries there.

Leica M2 w/1960's collapsible 2.8 elmar
Rollei 35
Retina IIIc

Elements of small camera love for me:
AE (w/manual override) - so I can concentrate on framing, finding "the moment" and focus. Override for the 10% of the time that AE is fooled.
Portability - a camera in the hand/pocket loved more than a "better" one at home. The fleeting nature of light, and circumstances...
Quality results - first two are worthless if resulting image has distracting flaws. Quality has to be adequate, not necessarily the highest possible.
Ergonomics - I know it when I feel it. Not "fiddly", but fast to use. Including a shutter that releases quickly, not 300ms later!
Reliability - carrying everywhere is tough on cameras.

Kodak Retina 1b: my first "good" camera after a box Brownie. Coupled EV taught me exposure relationship between aperture and speed, no rangefinder taught distance estimation. Took it everywhere. Ticks off all boxes except AE. First love.

Olympus XA: (until it broke) gave me some of my favourite photos, on E6 no less! Small, unobtrusive, ergonomic, excellent photo quality. This was probably the all time most loved because it gave me quality photos, and the right (for me) amount of control in a highly portable body. Didn't buy a 35mm lens for my slr because the XA covered that with equal results. Everything except reliability.

Contax G2: current favourite film small, go everywhere camera. Although the CLE w/Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 is awfully close. G2 ruggedness, automation, Zeiss lenses vs CLE smaller size, better focus control. AE exposure on both is excellent.

E-P1: digital closest to XA (not quite, but close - if only it had a tiny XA-like lens that focused by helicoid, not by wire and a rangefinder patch & a focus scale on the lens - ergonomics letdown)

OM4: Honourable mention (for me, slr dimensions take it out of small category since not really pocketable) but a joy to use - viewfinder, controls in the "right" place, precision mechanics...

Awaiting the Fuji X100....or a digital XA

I loved my FE2 to death. Literally. Now I have an E-P1 which you will have to pry out of my cold, dead fingers.

When you do, please make sure to put those last JPEG's on my Flickr page. No pp needed ):^p

Sigma DP1

Someone already mentioned the love/hate relationship. ;)

Analog:

Minox 35GT

Digital:

Panasonic Lumix LX3
Panasonic Lumix GF1

BTW why nobody mentioned the little humble Minox beats me. Great IQ for its day, light as feather and sturdy with its trap door.

Greetings, Ed

The Kiev 4 will always be close to my heart. Contrary to other soviet copies, it is supremely functional and built like a brick ; it is the size of a Canonet and yet it takes interchangeable lenses, including a superb non-retrofocus 35mm lens ; its shutter goes with a soft, yet very satisfying clang.

I have to admit part of my obession with it comes from disassembling it many times, including one where I replaced a snapped shutter ribbon with a strip cut from my backpack on a rooftop in Istanbul.

What about a mainstream camera from many many years ago? The vestpocket Kodak Autographic. This camera essentially started the small enough to always have it with you concept and also was the first camera to feature a "date back" idea with the stylus to scribe onto the area between the frames. I can't shoot with it any longer since 127 film went the way of the dodo but it is still a gem of a camera.

As for something small, light, nicely made, and has a sharp lens I vote for the camera I learned on and still have. A Kodak Retina IIIC.

Hipstamatic on an iPhone.

Had an Olympus XA - more like a fun date than a love affair as the lack of controls meant it always seemed a bit superficial. Like fun dates it seems popular with an awful lot of guys...
I'm surprised that only a few people so far have mentioned the FM2n. That was a camera with which I had an enduring relationship. It did everything I wanted and did it well -and after the first few weeks I never had to think about the controls. I would be using it still if I had a darkroom. Of course it's not so small as many cameras mentioned here but it's way smaller than many digital SLR's.
Just taken delivery of a GF1 + 20mm lens. First impressions are that this may well be a good FM2n substitute. We shall see.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35 (second version). Small, really small. Solid, as in real metal. And what a lens.

Fuji Instax Mini
Cute as a button..(or butt ugly depending on your taste) and the joy of business card sized instant tangible pics.

My favorite is the Ercona II similar to the Zeiss 524/2. With a 105mm f3.5 Tessar and 6X9 format it has stunning detail for a small camera. The only downside is after eight shots I have to change film. Not a deal breaker though.

Gowland Pocket View. Hey, it says "pocket" in the name.

"Hey Mikey, is that an 8x10 in your pocket or..."

sorry

Film: Inconditional love: Olympus OM-1, OM1n, OM2, Om2n (still have and use all four of them. All were cla'd this year, two by John Hermanson.Should be rational and sell at least two, but... Lenses: a rare Asanuma (Tokina) 18mm 3.5 and Zuiko 24mm 2.8, 35mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8.

Digital: I didn't love (and sold) the G1 and it's 14-45. Retained the 20mm 1.7, which I love. Still don't know exactly what to do with it. Perhaps waiting for a Olympus EP-3?

Thinking about something pocketable, with an inclination to the LX-5: 24-90mm, 2.0-3.3? hummmm....

the panasonic waterproof cameras. No fear when i go to the beach, pool or when i let my little kids enjoy photography. :)

Can't get along with my Oly XA but certainly like my Minox 35GT.

And I have to thank my Canon G7 for getting me back into loving photography and taking much better pics than the above two.

Best small camera I used was the Olympus XA. I wish Olympus had spent more money on it and made itto last.

The best version of Who Do You Love was by Juicy Lucy.

This may sound weird, but my favorite small-ish camera is my Rolleiflex. Compared to my D700, Linhof 4x5 and F5 the Rollei is light and easy to use.

What's small is a relative matter but if I were forced to pick something that was small by most peoples definition it would have to be my Oly XA, followed by my Leica M3 with VC 35 Skopar lens attached.

I had a brief yet torrid love affair with the Rollie 35S and 35T sometime ago, but like most fantasies the realization was not up to expectations.

In 1978, my (then) girlfriend (now my wife) and I planned a bicycle trip from Vancouver Island back east to Ontario. My father loaned my his Rollei 35 T for the trip - I had a hard time giving it back to him at the end.

I ended up buying myself an OM-1, which went missing during a move 12 years later after several more bike trips in Europe. I eventually replaced it with a used OM-4 which I still have.

However, size trumps all. I bought a cheap Vivitar 3.0MP camera from Walmart on a trip, and on my next canoe trip I took my OM-4 in its Pelican case as usual, but stuck the vivitar in a ziploc bag in my case. Took more than three times as many shots with the cheapie.

But... In 1980 I phoned a guy who'd put an ad in the Kitchener selling a Gibson electric guitar. When I got to his apartment, he pulled out from under his bed a battered case, and opened it up to reveal a Gibson ES125 TCD guitar, exactly like the one you see George Thorogood playing on the cover of the 'George Thorogood and The Destroyers' album. Didn't make me play any better, but I still have that guitar. Which reminds me, it's been hanging on the wall for an awfully long time...

For a compact P&S, here's another vote for the Canon S90/S95 (i have the S90, but i'd prefer the HD video of the S95). We're up to, what, 105 mentions for the S90/S95 already?

IMHO, it's delivers better image quality than the Panasonic LX3 and LX5, and it doesn't have the annoyance of a lens that sticks out significantly from the body and requires you to fumble with that infernal lens cap.

For a small travel dSLR, i find my Olympus E-520 + 9-18 zoom (18-36 mm 135-eq) and 25/2.8 pancake the best overall setup so far.

Yes, the 4/3 sensor is a tad noisy, but the IBIS is extremely effective and the Oly lenses are sharp corner-to-corner wide-open, so you can compensate by using slower shutter speeds and shooting wide-open with no impact on corner sharpness.

There aren't many small APS-C lenses that are stabilized for Canikon, and the sensor-based IS system of Olympus is definitely more effective than Sony's SSS and Pentax's SR systems from my experience.

As for the sensor having less DR than APS-C and FF, i manage scene contrast and DR by exposure bracketing and/or using a grad ND filter.

For me, you're not giving away much capability at the end of the day, but you save 1/3 of the weight and size of a comparable APS-C solution.

Cannon G9 .... takes a lickin' and....

An extra vote for the iPhone 4: It may seem crippled, but you can't name many other cameras that have a very usable image stitching function (not to mention HDR) essentially built in to the camera...

Yes I voted twice. Sorry about that.

Having owned a number of cameras mentioned here (XA, XA2, Stylus, Canon G Powershot, etc...) I'd have to say the Ricoh GX100. Damn smart handling little urchin took more than its fair share of excellent photos until a miscreant pilfered it in Rome.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmflores/1487464680/
Motorcycle marshall with cyclists

First runner up is the Pentax K-x (in red preferably) mated to the pancake of pancakes DA40 Limited.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmflores/4183566402/
Red Pentax K-x with SMC Pentax-DA 40mm/F2.8 Limited

Exposes bigger cameras for the clumsy behemoths that they are.

Contax T--An absolute jewel of a camera. Wonderful Zeiss lens. Clever, gorgeous Porsche design. Optical viewfinder with a real rangefinder. Fits in your pocket.

Canon S95- I wish it had an optical viewfinder, but otherwise the perfect truly pocketable digital camera.

Canon SD880. So long as there's enough light it does a very good job (I've got 21" x 28" prints from it).

When (if?) it breaks, I'll look at the Canon S95 ... hopefully the S100 will be out by then and a bigger step forward in low light.

I love my M8 and my K5. The B&W files from both cameras are a pleasure to work with. I use the 28/3.5 CV lens with the M8 and the DA 21 with the K5. The K5 kit is smaller and lighter than the M8 kit. It's a total gas, man.

Leica IIIc with 28/3.5 Color Skopar
Contax T3
Contax Aria, usually with the 85/2.8 Sonnar attached
Sony NEX with a Contax G 35/2 Planar attached

Small (enough), loved, and well used:

35: Leica M2/3/4 (IIIf - slightly smaller, but not well loved - if I had a IIIg, I might have felt differently; CL is smaller but not so well loved; the Bessa equivalents are functionally equivalent but not quite as well loved!)

120: Rolleiflex MX (given to a college girl friend photographer!)

Field, technical and view camera: Linhof Technika 69 with roll film adapter.

Digital:
Leica M9 - finally, a digital full frame camera to come home to for 'M' users.
Canon 5D (a lot smaller and lighter than 1D and 1Ds!) - still going strong after 80,000+ frames;

Panasonic LX-3 and Canon S90 - When traveling using the S90, my wife often comes home with more images of greater interest and variety than I do.

Astronomical photographs (Unfortunately, No personal experience): a second vote for the Hubble Telescope! (which seems significantly better than our Meade 90 ETX)

One more that I forgot:

Agfa made a 110 camera (anybody remember 110s?) (model not remembered) that focused and had a shutter release with a wonderful feel. Unfortunately, it broke within the first year. (And can anybody really see if you mis-focused your 110?) But I'm still reluctant to throw it in the trash.

Small is relative.
If the images you have made are satisfactory, to you the photographer, small or large the camera doesn't really matter.
Ironically my first camera was a Brownie Hawjeye, simple, basic, 620 film, processed by myself.
These days digital simply doesn't do it, but then neither does film, for me. Would rather sit on the side and watch and remember what life was,
in my happier past.

Minolta tc-1

my personal favorites are for film Contax G1 together with the best lenses I own, for digital it's now my little Olympus E420 I bought for travelling only and now like it much more than other cameras.

In The 80's the Rollei 35T – and now – the Sigma DP2.
Think differently – it‘s all about Photography, Passion and Fun.
...

George Thorogood and the Destroyers

My Canon G-9 and G-10. One of them is always in my shoulder bag with me when I'm out and around.

Pentax MX - although I am relatively new Pentax user, switched to Pentax about 1998 or so and bought my first MX in 2004.

Minox 35 ML (can't get smaller than that and still shoot 35 mm film)
Leica IIIf (classy, but needs a photographer at the helm)

First love: Leica CL
Great digital love: Canon G10
Cute mistress: Canon S95
Recent flirt: Panasonic LX5

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