Best compact camera/equipment?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Damian Speekes, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. Damian Speekes

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    I know this is an obscene question in a DSLR world, but...

    I haven't owned a camera since whatever I had when I bought my iPhone 3GS(?), and haven't looked back, until now. I did have a DSLR, but hardly used it for the size, and know that I won't again. Even so, it seems stupid to pay $3000ish for a storm-chasing tour, and then take along an iPhone 8S.

    So.. if I want to buy a camera to take chasing which I can use afterwards for day-to-day family stuff, what should I buy? Is there a decent compact camera with suitable features - I guess high ISO, long optical zoom, large aperture, waterproof(!), tripod mount, various time-lapse and video options, and easy connections back to the iPhone for editing and saving? Is there something that chasers living in a storm area have in their glovebox for those unexpected photo ops?

    Thanks!

    D
     
  2. Bill Giles

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    Hi there. I can give you my thoughts on it.

    Unfortunately I think some of the things you're looking for are at odds with the type of photography you're likely to be doing while chasing.

    First of all, your iPhone might just be the best tool for you. The built-in camera is good, and I recommend the FilMIC Pro application for more features if you want to shoot video. Additionally, many smartphones are hardened against water (but not completely waterproof), whereas many compact cameras won't be. I'm not going to say ALL compact cameras, but since price is usually the motivating factor when buying one I'm guessing that water protection won't be high up in the features list.

    In my opinion, if you have a smartphone already you probably aren't ever going to see the need to cart around another camera for day-to-day stuff. The smartphone IS your day-to-day camera. You can also get all sort of tripod mounts that work pretty well with a smartphone.

    This all being said, what I look for in a camera for chasing is primarily sensor size (a bigger sensor = more light and therefore the ability to shoot at lower ISO under dark skies. I also want lens flexibility; I tend to favor wide shots of storm structure and photographing lightning, so I went for a wide lens to start. But sometimes I want that ability to zoom in.

    If the physical size of DSLRs bothered you, you might look into mirrorless cameras. I have a Sony a6300 which is an APS-C camera, so my pictures will be cropped a bit more than a full frame DSLR or mirrorless. The features met what I needed and the price was right, and so far I'm pleased with the results. I get all the functionality and quality of a decent DSLR (and then some...digital viewfinders are great for adjusting and seeing the results before you shoot), as well as the time-lapse and video options (it can do 4K at 30FPS, but your iPhone probably can too!) It's not really hardened against the elements, but since I'm either shooting at a distance for structure or right under the updraft being hailed on, issues haven't really come up yet. They don't really harden cameras in my price range for large hail.

    Mirrorless cameras aren't really glovebox cameras, but your phone will be better than a glovebox camera and more apt to be charged up and ready to go when you need it. They don't break the bank, and they're small. You might check out a local camera shop and try holding a few different models.

    Oh god I sound like an ad. I don't work for Sony! Fuji and Panasonic (yeah, really) make great mirrorless cameras too!
     
  3. Damian Speekes

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    :) That's fine, genuine enthusiasm is always very welcome.

    It does look a lovely camera, and looks more portable than a DSLR to the point where we would likely take it along to events, if not have it everyday. The specs are certainly higher than anything I've used before, and to be honest the price and specs are above both my budget and photographic capability.

    I do think I need a camera, if only so I can use my phone while doing time lapses! I think I'll have to do some browsing first to make sure I set realistic expectations. I guess I could also buy secondhand, keep it if I turn out to keep shooting after the trip, or sell it if not, to reduce my total outlay.

    Thanks Bill!


    D
     
  4. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    I'm looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80, personally. Looks like a great balance of features, price, and size.
     
  5. Damian Speekes

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    The 60x zoom and 4K video does look great for the price. They do note it's a smaller sensor and may suffer in low light; would be interesting to see whether that's an issue in typical storm light levels...

    Thanks Dean!

    D
     
  6. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
    Staff Member

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    There are a lot of chasers who are just using a phone these days. If you really want a DSLR and higher-end lens, you could do a rental from Borrowlenses.com or similar outfit.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. STexan

    STexan EF4

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    Just make sure you get one that can shoot in RAW (and shoot in raw and learn basic RAW development skills), at least an 85 mm equivalent zoom capacity, and 20 mpxl image size. There are lot's of decent cameras out there today. Canon and Nikon both have outstanding equipment and software and online support and firmware updates. If you decide to shoot in Jpg only, that's fine and it's easier and faster, but you should learn to leverage the capabilities of shooting in raw at some point and it would be a shame to not have that option available in your purchase.

    Don't put too much weight on 4k video capability in regards to video aspect of the purchase.

    Also, might consider interchangeable lens compacts, too if these are not getting too big for your preference. I get you want something that's easy to "pocket" at all sorts of occasions. There are times I want this convenience, too.

    As far as phone cameras go. I understand both Samsung and Apple make great phones with next level camera/vid capabilities to include better low-light performance and image stabilization and RAW mode stills, but to me, "shooting stills with a phone" just doesn't come natural and I'll need all the image stabilization I can get to shoot a decent landscape in low light.

    But the other important advantage of shooting with a phone is instant geo-tagging. Although some compact cameras have built in geo-tagging capability, too.
     
    #7 STexan, Apr 27, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  8. Warren Faidley

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    Olympus TG-5. Best without any doubt. I sold all my high end Nikon equipment last fall and it was the best move ever. The quality of smaller cameras is equal to SLR's of just a few years ago.
     
  9. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    I've seen a lot of good things about the TG-5. The only thing that puts me off about it is that, apparently the 4K video it shoots is cropped?
     
  10. Warren Faidley

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    I'm not aware that the 4k video is cropped? Again, we are talking inexpensive point and shot cameras. For an upgrade, I believe one of the best fixed lens cameras is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000. It has a 2.8 - 4.0 Leica zoom (25-400mm) and a big 1" sensor. For under $600.00 it's deal. You can also extract decent stills from the video frames.
     
  11. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    I've heard good things about the Lumix line. Planning on picking up a Lumix DMC-FZ80, or equivalent. Can't really afford too much more than that.

    Yeah, I've heard that the 4K video on the TG-5 is cropped, but I've also only heard that from a couple of people. Maybe someone didn't set it up right, or played with settings they don't understand. The TG-5 looks great, though. Small form factor, submersible, shock-proof. Awesome.
     
  12. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    TG-Trackers are also going for decently cheap, less than $200, and feature 4K video at a 270 degree FOV.
     
  13. ScottCurry

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    I have to agree with Dan on this one. Rent a camera for your storm chasing trip. You can rent a much better camera than you could afford if you bought one. And yes, go for the largest sensor you can afford so that you can get good low light photos without the noise.

    Here's one place that rents DSLR cameras:
    https://www.borrowlenses.com/category/dslr-cameras
     

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