Best digicam for travelling?

The wifey and I are EXACTLY four weeks away from our big trip to Oz, and I’m at decision time for what kind of new fancy camera I should buy for the trip. My leading candidate of the moment is the Panasonic DMC-F78, which has a great zoom, Leica lens, and other goodies to it. But I’m wondering if there isn’t something in the compact range that’ll still let me take an awesome frameable picture. Just a little worried about the camera being a little bulky while wandering around the continent, is all.

Anybody got a teeny-sized camera that they trust to take high-quality pictures? I can live without the big optical zoom and RAW mode, but I still wanna be printing pics from this trip.

Are you considering an ultra-compact, one the size of pack of playing cards or smaller? If so, you’re not going to have a smaller CCD, worse optics, and few if any manual controls. You can still take frameable pictures (pretty much any camera will do that in good light) but it’ll require more work and you won’t be able to in some situations (like low light).

You can look at some very capable compacts that are smaller, like the Canon A570 which takes AAs, something I find very handy when travelling. You might not always be able to get to a charger or you will run out of juice. With AAs you can buy some alkalines and limp through more shooting.

Yeah, my real question is whether there are any ultra-compacts worth looking at if I do want decent optics and manual controls. Sounds like your answer is no, which is fine.

Good advice on the battery! Not a bad idea to go the double-A route while traveling. And sure enough, the PowerShot A___ do look to be noticeably smaller.

Other thoughts?

I just got back from two months weeks in Europe with my Canon Powershot SD700. Amazon link. It’s a small little bugger, about as big as a blackberry (the phone, not the fruit) and can definitely take a beating. I tossed it here and there and cared it unprotected in my pocket for two months. The finish is definitely scratched and the screen is dirty, but the pictures are great for the cost and size. I recommend upgrading to the next model, as I think the 800 and up will allow for the new SD cards that hold 4+GB of memory. The battery is rechargeable, but I could go a couple of days without recharging, and I took a lot of pictures.

Here is a small sampling of the pictures I took. I tried to include a variety of backgrounds, colors, distances and focuses to give you an idea of what it’ll look like. A couple are behind glass.

I loved my Canon SD300 (until it finally died this weekend after 3 years of abuse) but it’s strictly a P&S, no manual controls besides ISO and WB. There are some ultracompacts with manual controls but I can’t name any off the top of my head. The SD-series is great, but if you don’t need an ultracompact the A-series is much better, cheaper, and uses AA batteries.

One camera I’d add to your list is the Fuji F31fd. It’s small, has manual controls, and has the best high ISO (low light) performance of any P&S camera on the market. This will be very useful indoors (cathedrals, castles) where flash is not allowed or won’t have the range.

I too am leaning toward the FZ8. One thing in favor of the Super Zooms is when I was kicking around France and the Netherlands, I noticed a lot of archtectual detail and sculpture I would have liked to capture with a big zoom.

Also the opposite end of the zoom, consider how much you can capture. The pocket camera’s don’t have that width of field.

Don’t feel too selfconscious taking pictures. I was there if Frbruary and most of the people taking pictures were natives.

Let us know how it all works out. :slight_smile:

Make sure you register your camera with Customs before you leave home. Otherwise you risk paying duty on it when you return.

I bought an Olympus mu770sw (sold outside Japan as the PowerShot, I think), just before going to America. I have a nice D-SLR (Pentax istDs2), but it’s was a bit bulky and fragile, especially considering that our main priority was going to be looking after an infant, with the safety of anything elser secondary. The new camera’s 7.1 megapixels, small enough to fit in my shirt pocket, armor plated enough to withstand being dropped from eye-level onto a hard surface, and waterproof to 10m. Even though I don’t do any scuba diving, that last one is very useful since you can clean the lens and LCD just by running the camera under a faucet.

It doesn’t have the range and versatility that my SLR does, but it’s more durable, more portable, and still takes some very good-quality images.

For a while, I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 and loved it. It has a Leica lens (Leica actually has their own rebranded version of this camera called the D-Lux 3), image stabilizer, full manual controls, wide-angle (28mm), widescreen (16:10), great image quality, 4x optical zoom – all in a small package. The only downside for me was that it wasn’t too great at nightshots, since the sensor tended to be noisy. But then again that’s probably true of most compacts.

Another compact I used to love was the Canon PowerShot S80, which was like the Panasonic in a lot of ways. Here are some vacation pics I took with that camera. Unfortunately, I think they discontinued the S product line and merged it into the A line. You might be able to find it on eBay, or you could try the A570 IS or A710 IS, both of which I believe have manual controls.

Sold in the States as the Stylus 770SW. About $320 online.
I just bought one for my kid’s husband.

I love the waterproof feature for rain and light scuba, and not worrying about being overly gentle. For travel I will take portability and weatherproofing over most other features because the camera you have with you is the one you will be taking pictures with–not the expensive one tucked safely away.

Certainly not a professional camera and not even the most sophisticated compact digital. But capable nonetheless and will take being dropped, drowned, or frozen.

I used a Canon ultracomact SD300 for the past three years for hiking, backpacking, skiing, winter mountaineering, and canoing. You don’t need weatherproof or bombproof if the camera is well made, and these general purpose cameras will take better images and have more features. It did finally die last weekend after 30,000+ shots and abuse that I’m amazed it survived; but I expect to get new cameras every 2-3 years.

There are times when an armored camera makes sense. Travel and hiking isn’t one of them, IMO. If it buys you peace of mind then I’m all for it, but my experience has been that it’s not needed if you get an all metal compact camera.

Thanks for all the info, folks. I went with the Canon A640 after all; the Panasonic had crazy-awesome features, but, I realized the only reason I wasn’t getting an EVEN NICER camera was my desire to keep it small for the trip. So, I’d be doing myself no favors for getting what was almost the biggest compact camera available!

A640 has excellent reviews though, I should be quite happy.

Thanks again!

I’ve had a Canon A610, which is very similar to the A640, for about 2 years now, and I’ve been very happy with the results. (But I now have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT – a rather better, but much larger camera – that I use most of the time).