Travel Junkie Scores Her Latest Fix (a.k.a. Camera Upgrade)

As mentioned in a previous post, I was jonesing for a camera upgrade, but choosing the right camera for me was no easy task. After diligently researching every last detail (along with helpful input from others), I finally selected the camera that will (I hope) exceed my expectations as I trot around the globe.

The Canon PowerShot SX40 and the Nikon CoolPix P510 were among my top 4 finalists, but in the end, they didn’t make the cut. Canon and Nikon are both well respected brands in the photography community, but the reviews I read led me to believe I would have been disappointed with these cameras based on shutter speed, battery life, and possibly even image quality. Both of these cameras had amazing optical zoom capabilities, but I was looking for more than just a good zoom. I was in search of a well-rounded camera that would suit all of my needs, not just a one-trick pony.

I then went back and forth (for days!) between the Sony CyberShot HX200V and the Panasonic Lumix FZ200. They each had certain specifications that outdid the other, making it difficult to pick a clear winner. For example, the Sony had more megapixels, but the Lumix was slightly faster. The Sony had a GPS function, while the Lumix had a longer battery life. The Sony had a longer zoom, but the Lumix had better image quality. The Sony was cheaper and more within my price range, but the Lumix had a sharper lens. I agonized over these details trying to figure out which specifications were most important for my travel needs.

And the winner is………………

The Panasonic Lumix FZ200

Photo from www.photographyblog.com
Photo from http://www.photographyblog.com

The Lumix was more expensive, but in the long run, I think I’m sure it is the better camera. The deciding factor was the Lumix’s amazing zoom lens that has a constant f2.8 aperture through its entire zoom range! This is an amazing feature and it is the first camera in its class that has been able to accomplish this. What does all of that even mean, you ask?  It means this camera is pretty stinkin’ awesome!  In order to keep the size and the cost of a camera down, most super zoom lenses must decrease the aperture size as the lens zooms in.  This lets in less light, which in turn can affect image quality.  But not the Lumix FZ200.  This super zoom lens lets in the same amount of light even when the lens is fully extended!

Photo from www.cnet.com
Photo from http://www.cnet.com

I originally ordered this camera through an online website that I had never heard of before because it was listed $75 cheaper than on Amazon.com.  Ten days later and my camera had not even been shipped yet.  I called the shady website (with an even shadier Customer Service Rep) and learned that my camera wouldn’t arrive for another week!  I decided the $75 savings wasn’t worth it, so I cancelled my order.  Amazon shipped the camera immediately and it arrived two days later.  Lesson learned….I heart Amazon!

Because of my little ordering snafu, I have only had the chance to use the camera once.  I used the camera on our recent trip to Norfolk and you can see those pictures here.  So far I am extremely happy with my choice and I can’t wait to play with it more.

Do you know a lot about cameras?  Do you think I made the right choice?

Travel Junkie Jonesing for a Camera Upgrade

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About 6 years ago, I purchased an Olympus 550UZ super-zoom camera to better document my travels and record precious memories. The camera took great pictures, but what I loved most about it was that it had 18x optical zoom. At that time, super-zoom cameras were fairly fresh on the market, and in my humble opinion they were ideal for any traveler. I loved everything about this camera except the fact that it required 4 AA batteries, rather than a rechargeable lithium battery like many other cameras had. The camera seemed to just chew through AA batteries in no time and of course the batteries would always die at the most inopportune time. I learned very early on that I always needed to carry several packs of AA batteries as spares, but by the time I changed the batteries, the moment would have most certainly passed and the opportunity for my perfect shot was gone. I had been complaining about this battery problem for long enough, so it was finally time to purchase an upgrade. At first, Rob wasn’t really on board with this “unnecessary” added expense since our Olympus camera still worked. But then I ran this silly half-marathon and I suggested that I deserved a camera upgrade as a reward for completing my first half-marathon. He couldn’t really argue with me there….and so, the search for my new camera began.

I am not interested in a fancy DSLR camera for several reasons. First of all, they are expensive and definitely above my price point. Second, they are way too heavy. I am not interested in lugging around a huge camera bag while traveling and having to switch out lenses for different shots. Third (and probably most important), I am not a professional photographer. As an amateur, I really don’t want to inundate myself with manual settings, ISOs and apertures. I am more of a “point and shoot” kind of gal.

I am also not interested in a super compact digital camera. Many travelers prefer to use pocket-sized digital cameras while they are on the go. I can definitely see the allure of being able to fit your camera in your pocket rather than carrying around a camera bag, but I doubt those tiny cameras would live up to my expectations.

So, my camera upgrade is definitely going to be a super-zoom “bridge” camera (bridges the gap between compact and DSLR). The super-zoom cameras have advanced in leaps and bounds since I bought my first one 6 years ago. My old camera with 18x optical zoom was a breakthrough camera back in the day. Current super-zoom cameras average about 30x optical zoom, but some of them even go as high as 50x optical zoom! Those specifications are incredible! However, 50x optical zoom seemed a bit excessive for my needs and would likely add to the weight of the camera that I would be lugging around the world. So I started my research with these basic specifications in mind:

1. Rechargeable Lithium battery with good reviews on battery life
2. Upgrade in megapixels (Olympus 550UZ was 7.1 MP)
3. Upgrade optical zoom (Olympus 550UZ was 18x)
4. Prefer tilting or fully articulated LCD screen

With these criteria in mind, I came up with the Canon PowerShot SX40, Sony CyberShot HX200V, Nikon CoolPix P510, and Panasonic Lumix FZ200. I spent many hours across several days researching all 4 of these cameras. I asked for advice from friends and photographers alike. I read online reviews until my eyes were about to bleed. I agonized over every last detail. I finally made my decision and ordered my shiny new camera. I don’t want to reveal which one I picked until I have received it and get the opportunity to test it out. But in the meantime, I would love to know which camera you would have chosen and why. What type of camera do you prefer to use while traveling?