The other day I considered five camera brands, one at a time, looking for your recommendations as to which cameras best fit the description "small cameras we love" for a list by that name that will come out in October.
I got some useful suggestions, too—for which, thanks.
Here I'm taking a look at four more cameramakers and asking for your advice. I've appended my thoughts, but bear in mind this is not the list—I'm just sketching my first impressions and asking for your input.
Canon: So far I've got the tiny-sensor pocket S100 and the larger-sensor all-in-one G1X on the list. The antediluvian G12 with its point-and-shoot sensor sits on the fence, a relic of an earlier digital era, a throwback, nice as it is—as does the T4i. To me the G12 seems superseded by the G1X, which has most of the former's virtues but a better, bigger sensor. As for the T4i, well, I actually do kind of love the T4i. Canon has a wonderful history with affordable DSLRs, and the T4i is the inheritor of the original Digital Rebel that set our world on its ear back when we were all younger and very slightly less cranky. The good side of the T4i is that Canon could build a great small DSLR in its sleep...the bad side being that sometimes it seems like that's exactly what it has done; excitement—and hence, the inducement to love—seems a bit thin on the ground. So what do you think—should the G12 and the T4i be in, or out?
Sony: Two must-includes for the list are the hot camera o' the moment, the RX100, and the Siren-singing NEX-7 which is to Yr. Hmbl. Editor as crack is to a crack addict. My feeling is still that the NEX-7 is one of the most desirable cameras currently being made, plus that it's not just small but the perfect size—with a feel in the hand and ergonomics to die for. But aside from those two, are there any more Sonys you'd put on the list? I confess I'm confused by Sony's proliferation of DSLRs, some of which are indeed small. The DSLR lineup seems like the shampoo aisle at the supermarket, where there are just too many choices and the brain-overload just makes me feel anxious.
Nikon: Friends in the camera retail industry tell me that the Nikon 1 series is hitting its marketing target—prosperous people who are actually capable of detecting the flaws of point-and-shoots but who just aren't serious enough about photography to want to buy/carry an entry-level DSLR. Seems to me the Nikon 1's are the very definition of cameras we enthusiasts do not love, however, and this despite positive reactions from a few adopters. We're spoiled, and it took us a while to get over our dismay that Nikon actually spent a lot of time and money building a nice little product that isn't for us. So in the Nikon brand category for this list I get...nada. Nuthin'. No small camera we love. I must be missing something. Am I? (Maybe we could throw Nikon a bone by naming their top superzoom as our token inclusion for that less-than-loved general category.) Your thoughts?
Pentax: Ahhh, Pentax. I love Pentax, speaking of love. I'm an old Pentax guy, and lately I've been a new Pentax guy, and they advertise with TOP so I gotta love 'em for that, too. And they've been on walkabout in recent years, bought and sold and traded and swapped around the corporate world, finally coming to rest in the loving arms of Ricoh, which our intuition says is a match made in heaven; or could be, anyway. I also really don't mind a camera company whose models don't really coalesce into a coherent lineup: I dislike the current tendency of Japanese companies to make lockstep Stepford-wife product lineups with each standard product category covered by a me-too, keep-up-with-the-Joneses entry doused in the official corporate "design language." Let your products be free! Allow creativity to bloom, to breathe the air! Let each product be itself, and to hell with lineup coherence! At the same time, I'm not sure we quite love either the Pentax Q—a delightful, delicate little toy system aimed directly at the Japanese audience—or the think-outside-the-box K-mount K-01. Although, really, we do love them: we're just not sure we think they're mainstream recommendations for camera buyers. So, to me, the cameras from Pentax that go on our list are the K-30—the list's favorite small DSLR by virtue of, well, its virtues, but also its lenses—and the waterproof shockproof crushproof coldproof dustproof Optio WG-2. Discuss: do you approve?
We'll wrap up with the remaining marques next time around. I really am grateful for your advice and suggestions, really.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by John L: "Add another vote for the V1. I like it so much because its the first small digital camera I have used that works as well as my first camera, a (marvellous, loved) Yashica FR1. It focuses fast, so you can take the pictures before the moment passes. The EVF works. Having a silent shutter matters. And then there's that FT1 adaptor...so handy.
"Here is an Olympics picture (for those missing their hit). Should have used a faster speed, shouldn't have been hand-holding while sitting down in the stands, but, as others have said, the V1 allowed me to use a 500mm+ equivalent lens all day without getting a sore neck or indebted. (And yes, the control wheel is a pain, but you can just tape it in place....)"
Mike replies: John, I think you used the perfect shutter speed. That bowstring....