Rugged P&S-ish camera accurate enough for slides...

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c.w.

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I'm looking for a camera to take skiing. Since i'm shooting a bunch of slide film this winter I don't really have anything in my kit that can handle both the accuracy needed for slides, and is rugged enough (or cheap enough to replace) to not be an annoying liability. Budget depends on how certain I can be I won't need to replace it. $80 USD -ish if it's a brick, and $20-$30 if it's more a regular point and shoot.

So far, i've looked at the XA, but i'm thinking the rangefinder will get knocked out of alignment in about an hour, meaning guesstimating focus. There's the XA2 with no rangefinder, but it's not exactly well liked from what i've read.

I've also looked at the Canon Shureshot WP-1/A-1 but I can't find a whole lot of information about it that doesn't seem to conflict with other information, and i can't find anything about how fast the autofocus is, or just exactly how rugged or waterproof it is.

Then there's the Nikonos stuff, but it's on the spendy side, and probably more than I really need.

Thanks.
 

jpberger

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The XA and XA2 sound idea for your purposes-- the xa rangefinder is pretty durable, and with a 35mm f2.8 scale focus is not big deal. I've throughly abused my xa, including dropping it on a concrete floor, and it's still ticking. Metering is good on both. For snow shots you'll need to adjust the iso or use the backlight switch to avoid under exposure as you would on any auto exposure camera. Because the camera is so small and light you need to take care to hold it firmly to get sharp pictures. The Xa2 may actually be sharper.

An olympus 35rc could be good choice too-- more control and a slightly sharper and less distorting lens.
 

mike c

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Years ago my wife had a Canon Sureshot,both of us liked it for what it was.Took pretty good pictures,flash worked well and never had much of a problem with focus that I can remember.Had alot of tape holding the battery cover on,can't remember what happen to it .
 

Whiteymorange

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Yashica T4. My son has drop-kicked his down mountain paths a number of times and I'm still astounded at the great shots he gets.
 

domaz

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I found a T4 at a garage sale for $1. I couldn't believe my luck. Couldn't resist reselling it though at the fantasy land prices..
 

nickandre

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I've tried the Nikon L35AF and the Olympus Trip 35. Both about $5. Both will expose Kodachrome accurately. Ken Rockwell has reviews on both of them.
 

Ektagraphic

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The Canon Sureshot line is pretty good.
 

phenix

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I had 3 AF-P&S, and also used a 4th belonging to a friend.

The Canon Sureshot stooped working at the first roll, during a winter. I’ve put new batteries in it when starting to shot, and also changed the batteries when got back home, but it vain. Still, it came back to life after 2-3 months, but stopped again before finishing the next roll. One year later started working again and continued to work for other 3 rolls, after which I gave it away. I heard it still worked before the person went digital. I do not recommend it.

The Nikon One-Touch is my best P&S. Bought it defective at a church sale, but after opening it and mounting a spring back, I never had a problem with it. It has a low contrast VERY high resolution lens (colors are very natural), and despite the usual behavior of Tessar-type lenses, it works beautiful large open and gets vignetting when aperture closes down. This is why I use it for architecture, street, and indoors where small group portraits are incredibly beautiful. Colors are just like those produced by my YashicaMat. Focus is fantastic, even at f/2.8 and 1m close, on any lighting (even in dark). Two weaknesses: it only gets DX films (no possibility to set the speed manually), and the lens does not accept filters (still, an adapter for filters can be easily found on the bay). I wouldn’t recommend it for winter shots, or any other scenics in plenty of light, because of the vignetting issue. Otherwise, it is the best AF-P&S I’ve ever seen.

A Ricoh 35 AF (or so), with a threaded lens barrel allowing to mount 46mm filters. Beautiful camera, with a high contrast Tessar-tipe lens. It gets vignetting when wide open, although works just fine. I used it especially in landscape for highly saturated colors. Focus only showed errors in total darkness and on dark objects (although it has a red focussing beam). Because it can get filters, I use it in B&W, mostly outdoors. But I also would recommend it for slides, because of its capability to saturate colors. Colors are just like those produced by my Rollei B35.

Yashica T* (4?), also works beautiful. The lens is contrasty and shows a surprisingly high resolution too (maybe the accutance is very well balanced to both saturate the colors and create the feeling of high resolution). Colors are in the Olympus style, if I can say so (I don’t have an Olympus, but I have seen pictures done with a Zuico lens on the same film I was using). The weaknesses of this camera are: the largest aperture being only f/3.5, and the lake of filter thread. But the force, especially during the winter, is that it is powered by large 6V(?) lithium battery (expensive, but long life). I would recommend it especially for slides and/or winter shots.
 

Pumal

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Your best bet is an Olympus Stylus Epic if you can find it.
 

Denis K

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A lot of outdoor folks use one of the Olympus Stylus series cameras. I've carried an Olympus Infinity Stylus (f3.5) outdoors for around 300 nights and it gave me good service, proved rugged enough and took nice pictures. The later Olympus Stylus Epic (f/2.8) is probably a bit better. Personally, I would pass on the Epic Zoom. They are popular, but the zoom feature worries me as ruggedness is what I'm after. These camera's have proven themselves in the field. Most people would say their biggest problem is that the flash mode comes up as default each time you open the clamshell. They take the cr123 battery, which is good as it is very common. Like many P&S cameras there is no manual mode, but it has both focus and exposure lock which will help you on the snow. If you are looking for a downhill camera, you are on you own, and you will just have to test a few to see if they can take a tumble.

Denis K
 

Rick A

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My XA survived MANY years of skiing, backpacking, fishing,and hunting. It survived my kids borrowing it, and years of bouncing around in the glove box of my old CJ-7-- other than needing new seals, it still works great.

Rick
 
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c.w.

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I'm curious as to what the deal is with the Stylus Epics. From what I can find they seem like they have ok lenses and decent metering, but the AF speed and shutter lag seem to be not terribly amazing, which worries me somewhat.

Thanks for the Yashica T4 suggestion everyone, but it's a little out of my price range.

domaz - thanks very much for the Trip 35 suggestion. I wasn't immediately drawn to it and it sort of slipped my mind until you mentioned it due to the longer lens, but i'm starting to think it might work nicely, plus the prices don't seem to have gone through the roof.

It's nice to hear from people that the XA is a tough little beast. I'd sort of been curious about them before, but not really enough to get one. Does anyone know what a fair price would acutally be on one of these? KEH prices seem a little steep for me (50+ USD) and auction prices seem wildly varying.
 

Denis K

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I'm curious as to what the deal is with the Stylus Epics. From what I can find they seem like they have ok lenses and decent metering, but the AF speed and shutter lag seem to be not terribly amazing, which worries me somewhat.

The Infinity Stylus I have moves the lens from its parking position to the AF position just before firing the shutter. It works this way even when you use the focus lock feature. The movement takes about 1/4 to 1/2 second which is probably the delay you are discussing. I think Olympus chose to do it this way so the clamshell could be used to both open the camera as well as function as the power on/off switch. By moving the lens just before taking the picture they didn't have to worry about what happens when you close the clamshell as the lens is almost fully retracted already. I'm not sure how the later versions (Epic and Epic Zoom) function. I would think the Epic Zoom must work differently.

Personally, I think the quarter second shutter delay is one of those necessary compromises you have to accept when using a modern AF P&S camera. Having the clamshell as the only action required to turn the camera on and off improves the overall human interface for a device often used just for grab-shots. Furthermore, when considering that both the camera and built in flash are powered by a CR-123 battery, they have done a masterful job on optimizing the battery life. I was amazed at how much use I could get out of a single battery. I'm sure if you wanted to drop the AF times down there would be a noticeable drop in battery life as well as an increase in size, weight and cost.

Devices such as this are the product of some designer corralling the necessary engineering compromises into as small a list as possible. I think Olympus did a respectable job with the Stylus series as was proved by their popularity among their devoted users. I suspect the XA series falls into this category as well and the T* series needs nobody to come to its aid.

Good luck on your search and come back and post a picture or two of your trips.

Denis
 

Nicholas Lindan

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Not sure what you are looking for...

  • Rugged & cheap - Russian LTM's, Minolta Hi-Matic, Cannon QL-17 - but figure you may need to pay for a CLA. CLA'd Zorkis & Feds are available from fedka(?)
  • Rugged & expensive - Nikon 35Ti, Leica, Contax G & T, Ricoh GR series
  • Ruggedish & overpriced - Yashica T4
  • Ruggedish & cheap - Nikon 1-touch, older top-of-the-line-at-the-time P&S's from Canon and Pentax

Unlike other posters I have found Olympus XA's and Styli to be flimsy and unreliable. Olympus designs, though compact, are shaved a bit too thin for my taste.
 

Larry.Manuel

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>.....I have found Olympus XA's and Styli to be flimsy.....

I don't disagree. Your pluralization of Stylus delights me.

Many years ago, I used a Rollei 35B and then a Minox 35, almost exclusively for Kodachromes. I was pleased.
 

BetterSense

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There's the XA2 with no rangefinder, but it's not exactly well liked from what i've read.

It's extremely well-liked by me, and one of my favorite 35mm cameras. I prefer it to the XA which is too fiddly. I've shot some of my best shots with my XA2.


KEH prices seem a little steep for me (50+ USD)

Oh, the horror. One of the best 35mm cameras ever designed, for $50. Why, that's nearly as expensive as a 8GB compact flash card!
 

Pumal

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Take a look at the Ricoh 500GX f/2.8 I've had one for years and the pictures are excellent.
 
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c.w.

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Denis K - Yeah, that 1/2 to 1/4 second delay worries me quite a bit for action shots.

Nicholas Lindan - Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to look more closely at the Minolta Hi-Matic and Canonets.

BetterSense - $50 isn't terrible, but unless the things are made out of unobtainium i'm also budgeting a backup or at least planning on having the cash around to buy another one. Not to mention a lot of the other options are nearly half the price.
 

Denis K

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c.w., Now I think I understand what you really want. It's the same thing we all want, unfortunately it hasn't been made yet.

Denis K
 

Karl K

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Konica MR.640

Another option: Konica MR.640 35mm Point & Shoot camera. Features Tele/Wide option, weather-proof, Dual Sensor AF, carry case, & neck strap. Makes an excellent back up camera. Battery cells required: 1(one) 6V 2CR5, & 1 (one) 3V CR 2025. These can be found for under $50.
 

Leighgion

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The Action Touch is Nikon's waterproof P&S. You have zero manual control, but get a nice 35mm f2.8 and it's waterproof to 10' so no amount of snow would harm it. I've got two, both of which I snagged off the 'Bay for ~$35 each. Work considering.
 
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c.w.

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Well, after some searching and all you guy's help i'm at a sorta at some kind of decision. I'm poking around for one of the numerous 70s scale focus or rangefinder automatics. Something like one of the numerous olympus 35 series, a canonet, yashica electro, minolta hi-matic, or about a hundred other ones. Since i've got a while until the snow really hits hard, i'm just sorta on the lookout for a good deal. If anyone's got something like that they're willing to sell, maybe send a PM? :smile:

Thanks for all your help guys. This was definitely a field of cameras i didn't have much experience with and your suggestions were extremely helpful.
 

viridari

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My experience with the Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 DLX QD is mixed. When I first got it (for $10 mind you) it was great. I always had it on my belt in a pouch. So if I didn't have a TLR or SLR with me, at least I had the Oli.

After a few months, the lens developed a very frustrating sort of flare, indoors & out, that pretty much ruined all of my photos. Here's a quicky scan to show you an example of what I'm talking about:
4054853981_491cb62488_o.jpg


Now the really confusing thing is that I get this on most of my photos, but not all. The same evening on the same roll of film, I took this image that does not exhibit the problem (and yes, both images were taken with flash):
4062028606_eb4ee3c0f6_o.jpg
 
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