Good cameras for old greezers

David Hoadley

Stormtrack founder
Apr 19, 2006
119
38
11
As senior storm chasers become more senior, some of us are looking for easier cameras to use. We are looking for good sky and landscape still-photos, without having to go through difficult and lengthy RAW conversions (which I avoid). My last quality camera was a Panasonic HC-X920 from 2015. Sometimes I use my wife’s Canon G7X Mark II from 2016 but the results are marginal. Likewise from my Verizon, Android
cell phone. Are newer cameras easier to use than my old Panasonic but with better results --and won't break the budget?
 
Sep 7, 2013
705
570
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Strasburg, CO
Some of the newer cell phones are on par or better than some dedicated cameras. Google's Pixel series is purported to of excellent quality and the new Samsung galaxy 22 is apparently top of the heap for 2022.

Honestly, if im not after lightning specifically these days I use my phone more than the two dslr's that I carry.

All that is moot though if you have a monster budget for a dedicated camera.

I hope you find what you need David.
 

David Hoadley

Stormtrack founder
Apr 19, 2006
119
38
11
Some of the newer cell phones are on par or better than some dedicated cameras. Google's Pixel series is purported to of excellent quality and the new Samsung galaxy 22 is apparently top of the heap for 2022.

Honestly, if im not after lightning specifically these days I use my phone more than the two dslr's that I carry.

All that is moot though if you have a monster budget for a dedicated camera.

I hope you find what you need David.
Thanks. You've given me a direction to go.
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,362
1,427
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I have a Nikon D5300 DSLR that also takes video. I purchased it back in 2014. On my chases in both 2021 and 2022, I hardly took it out of the bag. The iPhone is so much more convenient. I'm not sure if it technically has better resolution than the DSLR, but I would venture to say the latest one (13) does. More importantly, sometimes you need to be quick to capture a fleeting moment. Sometimes you need to shoot one-handed while driving. Sometimes you want to be able to quickly and easily send the picture to family and friends back home, or post it on social media.

The DSLR is more cumbersome. You have to download pictures and video before you can share it. It requires two hands to operate. The video in particular, on my old Nikon, requires opening the back and using the LED screen, and does not operate while looking through the viewfinder with the camera closed. I'm sure newer cameras avoid idiosyncrasies like that, and can exceed the newest iPhone in terms of resolution, but the convenience factor seems hard to beat. I did briefly look at getting a more modern DSLR this year, but they are so expensive, especially if you buy separate wide-angle and zoom lenses, which will take the total purchase into the thousands of dollars. Especially for a guy like me that loves framing nice shots, yet only shoots in automatic modes and isn't into photography to the point of learning about apertures, shutter speeds, etc., it's just not worth it to invest in a new camera. I'm considering going back to the days of having a separate still camera and video camera - i.e. a small video camera that I could operate one-handed, and keeping the iPhone as my "still camera."

Having said all of that, even the latest iPhone has a limited zoom (particularly for video), and I can't get the same wide-angle shots that I can on my DSLR. And a serious photographer probably won't be satisfied with an iPhone. But for me it seems to be what I have gradually transitioned to by default over the last few years, and on the rare occasions I want something more the old DSLR still does the job.
 
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Aug 9, 2012
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Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
Honestly any cell phone nowadays is getting pretty darned good. I just tried a Galaxy S22 and the photo quality at night is amazing. I've been an Iphone guy since 2014 and seriously has me considering jumping ship lol. With that said, if the phone route isn't what you want to take, I have 2 recommendations:

1) Canon Rebel XS or XTi, there are several online, body with the 18-55mm lens for about 100-150 bucks. This was the camera I started out on back in around 2007-2008. The good news is they take the EF or EF-S lenses and the prices are going down due to popularity of mirrorless. I think they produce awesome images still to this day and would honestly still purchase a Canon Rebel body. You don't need 40 or 50 megapixels honestly. Even for 4K viewing, 12mp is enough, so really most any camera with more than 10-12mp is gonna be enough unless you want to print the size of a billboard

2) I'd suggest a used Sony A6400. This is a mirrorrless crop camera, however they are a bit easier to use than the DSLR in my opinion. You have the electronic viewfinder which shows you in real time what your photo will look like. Sony cameras produce very very nice JPEGs (pretty well in line with Nikon imo), and I don't think you'd have to do much if any processing if you went that route. Once again, you have to buy lenses for it, but the stock 18-135mm lens is pretty good for most all purposes. If you can find one used, you can get a good deal.

Finally and probably cheapest, I'd go with my first suggestion, the cell phone route, especially if you are hard up for money or don't want to spend a ton. Phones these days can take 4k video, high resolution stills (even RAW), panos and so much more. Not to mention you have a phone and internet device in one as well as being able to use radar. Personally if I was you, I'd go the phone route, if you don't plan on processing photos much and just want high quality JPEGs. Just download PS Express for the phone and you will be set :)
 
Jan 7, 2006
596
828
21
USA
www.skyinmotion.com
A few thoughts:
  • High-end smartphone cameras are more than sufficient for reasonable quality wide-angle photos in good outdoor, daytime lighting. iPhone, Google Pixel, Galaxy S series... any of these will get you good (if not quite pristine) results in those conditions.

  • The fundamental limitation of smartphones is that there physically isn't space to do telephoto well. Sure, some high-end phones now have multiple lenses that the camera software switches between as you zoom in/out, but you're simply never going to get great quality at the equivalent of >75 mm focal length on a full-frame DSLR. In other words, smartphones are not substitutes for a standalone camera when it comes to wildlife, telephoto landscapes, or close-up tornado shots, among other applications.

  • Whether you use a DSLR, mirrorless body with interchangeable lenses, or fixed-lens digital camera, you should always have the option to save JPG files that look reasonably good out of the camera. In other words, RAW conversion should always be an optional step, and the ability of a camera to save RAW shouldn't be a deterrent.
David, based on your post, I imagine you might be pretty happy with one of the higher quality point-and-shoot options on the market. An example would be the Sony RX100 series (https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-c...-digital-camera-black/6364719.p?skuId=6364719), or even cheaper options like the Panasonic Lumix ZS100 (https://www.bestbuy.com/site/panaso...lens-dmc-zs100k-black/5001400.p?skuId=5001400). Compared to a smartphone, these should provide much better telephoto and low-light image quality, but without the hassle of juggling lenses on a DSLR. Disclaimer: I haven't been in the market for a point-and-shoot camera for 15 years, so I don't know what the pros and cons of each particular brand and model are these days!
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
Can vouch for the RX100 VII being very good. I have only used it once, but was impressed with it for being basically a high end "point and shoot". I've seen numerous people get great owl and bird photographs with it that I would have honestly came from my 600mm lens. It is a very capable camera, honestly could probably replace a lot of camera bodies and lenses for most people at just a singular price.
 

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
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Mos Isley Space Port
www.stormchaser.com
Can vouch for the RX100 VII being very good. I have only used it once, but was impressed with it for being basically a high end "point and shoot". I've seen numerous people get great owl and bird photographs with it that I would have honestly came from my 600mm lens. It is a very capable camera, honestly could probably replace a lot of camera bodies and lenses for most people at just a singular price.
Yes! I have one of these and love it. It's my travel camera and the one I use (in a water case) for hurricanes. I do suggest getting a "cage" to hold the camera because it's so small. I use this one: SmallRig Camera Cage for Sony RX100 VII/VI.

You would also need at least 1-2 extra batteries since they are small.

For a larger camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Mark IV is the best on the market, with a 24-600mm zoom that is tack sharp even at 600mm. Since it's a zoom, you don't need to carry extra lenses. It's my main journalism camera now days. It got a very positive review from Ken Rockwell here: Sony RX10 Mk IV Review

Happy shooting!