Reluctant to take more more expensive (and vulnerable) gear to the beach, I threw the Panasonic TS1 (successor camera here) into the bag. It was a gloriously sunny day on the Cape, made all the more pleasant by these talented musicians who serenaded our stroll.
They sounded good.
You can’t beat the Panasonic TS series for indestructible and totally submergible photomaking ops. I’ve taken mine skiing, kayaking, snorkling, walking in the rain, and… to beach excursions.
Posted by Rey
Cool little camera. I didn’t know these rugged versions existed. Your image looks pretty spiffy and the on line review images hold up very well in good light. I’m still in search of a light travel camera with pretty good image quality that (within reason) wouldn’t disappoint a DSLR shooter. It would be for air travel, particularly international, when taking the whole kit isn’t practical or at least comfortable. Short of dropping $10K on a Leica M8 I’m not sure one exists. I keep watching the market (I’m on no hurry). The quirky Fuji X100 comes close for a single focal length but is limited in that respect. Any ideas?
The new Pen E-P3 or Panny GF3 with a prime and a zoom would be a nice small kit. The Sony Nex are nice as well but not many lenses to pick from and I don’t like the UI.
Mark – agree about the UI and until there’s a full lens line-up, Sony’s offering isn’t all that compelling to me.
Prentis – this says it all: “I’m still in search of a light travel camera with pretty good image quality that (within reason) wouldn’t disappoint a DSLR shooter.” This sentiment is, in my view, driving the camera market right now, resulting in the push toward smaller, lighter, better. Who knows whether Canon or Nikon will ever actually enter this space, but for now it seems as though everyone else is making hay. As my brother Ed always says, it’s all about the tradeoffs. As I always say, you have to choose between one of two ways to meet your needs: (1) have a full arsenal of photographic tools that you can deploy based on the task at hand or (2) pick one compromise solution that will excel at no one thing but be darn good in most.
I’d say that if you favor small at all cost, then the Canon S95 and Olympus XZ-1 are great as small sensor cameras go. If you want better IQ and don’t mind having a limited focal range, then the quirky Fujifilm X100 is great (and as I’ve written about on this blog, the quirks melt away over time). If you want more versatility and don’t mind a bit more size, then the micro 4/3 cameras are hard to beat and I’m waging that the forthcoming Olympus EP3 is going to be class leading. Of course, it’s not in hand yet so this is based on reviews and conjecture. Given how much I like the PEN series, the boost in IQ coupled with the AF performance gain is going to, I bet, make this camera the one to beat. If you’re inclined to go with option 1 above (arsenal of tools), then I’d say keep the DSLR and add an X100. If you’re thinking about collapsing all into one system (option 2), an EP3 centered one might do the trick.
Thanks Rey. I am firmly in the camp of your option 1. The things that can be done with a DSLR and a quiver of different lenses aren’t about to be approached with a compact camera. Size wise the X100 is an attractive option but you have already mentioned to me that for overseas travel I might find myself limited by the single focal length lens. I feel that once you start putting longer lenses on any of the micro 4/3 cameras you begin to approach the heft and size of a DSLR and the benefits to these cameras over carrying the DLSR begin to fade. (The Sony NEX with the little bitty body and that humongous lens for example…weird looking, right?) At this moment in time I think I would still opt to pack my D90 on a trip if photography is an emphasis. If not and I only need “I was there” photos your Panny TS1 would work just fine. But I watch and wait. This is certainly a fascinating time in camera development.
Prentis – this is a bit of a ‘waiting for godot’ situation. If you decide to move in any particular direction, let us know…
My brother, Ed, traveled recently to the Great American West with a D90 and assorted lenses. On the upside, his photos are magnificent. On the downside, he grumbled to me: “never again… never again…”. I’m hoping to go on an African safari next year and know that having the DSLR and long fast glass is essential, but there’s going to be some hiking and moving about and so I’m contemplating a m4/3 kit to save my arthritic hands and bum hip. Should make for an interesting post…
What Rey said about my trip out west is true, but given the quest for image quality at a decent value, I’d still take my D90 but with a smaller zoom than the 18-200 I carried last time. Although the D90 is somewhat larger, I feel the added weight is more that justified given the IQ, fast focus, and low light performance. There doesn’t seem to be a small-form alternative out there that delivers at acceptable levels in all three of these criteria, at a competitive price, not to mention the lens selection you get with the Nikon. But when Nikon or Canon or anyone else, come out with their APS C rangefinders, I might change my tune. ‘Till then, I stick with what works.
There doesn’t seem to be a small-form alternative out there that delivers at acceptable levels in all three of these criteria, at a competitive price, not to mention the lens selection you get with the Nikon.
True but that day is approaching. And fast. I’m increasingly moving toward a smaller kit. I have the hands and the hip to blame perhaps, but the IQ of the smaller outfits is getting there. I would maintain that you can get smackin’ photos using only m4/3 equipment – witness 2 Guys Photo featured photog, Bob Tullis. Most impressive.
Ed and I should do a DSLR vs. m4/3 shootout. Coming to a theater near you…
I’d like to see that.
I know this kind of stuff is all over the web but last weekend I did my own little high iso test with the GH2. I tried to keep everything as close as possible to the same and the only PP that was done was Luminance NR in LR3 to the 3200 ISO shot. I used my Panasonic/Leica 45macro lens wide open. I know it is not a high end SLR but I am happy with the step up from my old cameras.
Mark – thanks for posting this. Can’t complain about that at ISO 3200. By the way, how do you like the Pan/Leica 45? Reviews are all over the map on it.
It is very sharp. I got it for underwater macro. When in macro mode it can hunt more then I like at times but if you switch it to “non-macro” it is much faster to focus. Most of the focus issues are when there is something very close and something far away and it struggles to pick what to focus on. I love it and it was the first lens I bought after I got the GF1. Like the 20mm though AF speed is not it’s strong point. I haven’t used it a lot as a standard lens but need to use it more.
Banana leaf after a rain
The parent Anenome Fish is about 3 inches long. I have no clue how big the eggs are but to the naked eye it resembles moss of fungus.
Thanks, Mark. It has long been on my “maybe” list. I’m curious to see what the new m4/3 lenses are going to be like, most particularly the 25/1.4. Olympus is said to be readying a macro lens for this format. I’m hoping it will be cheaper than the Pan/Leica.
I was surprised by the recent success I had with a Kodak Easy Sport C123 camera in the pool:
I found it to perform better than the reviews said it would. I did have to adjust the color and contrast on the shot, however. The Olympus X-560 that I also tried malfunctioned the first time out like some of the reviews said it would. I like what this Panasonic did and your shot and would love to give it a try sometime.
Maryann – I tend to be a fan of Panasonic cameras in general. This particular one (the TS1) has been a real gem. I have literally snorkled with it, dropped it from a high height onto concrete and taken it with me everywhere. It’s nice to have a camera you never have to worry about… and there are rainy day and beach shots I never would have had otherwise.
Ed, you hit the nail on the head. No compact camera is really there yet when you really want DSLR performance so I am still “waiting for godot.” Meanwhile one of my favorite lenses is the Nikor 20mm f2.8D. It is small and on the D90 it makes for a fairly compact package, larger and heavier but not significantly so than the m4/3 cameras and is nearly the focal length of the X100. It is my “compact camera” for the time being. However, Rey, you have me very intrigued with the TS1 (or TS2). You can’t have too many toys, right?