Q:

What’s the most hiker-friendly digital camera?

My wife and I want to upgrade from our Canon PowerShot G5 to a more hiker-friendly digital camera. We’d like one that focuses quickly in a variety of lighting conditions, is capable of taking multiple exposures in rapid succession, allows for fast scroll between images taken, and is both lightweight and durable. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Devin Glen Allen, Virginia

Jun 28, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Canon’s PowerShot SD630

PowerShot SD630

A: Well, I think we can come pretty close to what you’re after. Most digital cameras nowadays are pretty good at handling different scenes and lighting, and are good at focusing. Nearly all “compact" cameras, however, do suffer from some shutter lag—that interval between the time you take a picture and the time the camera actually leaps into action. That’s a product of all the math the camera has to do before it can snap the shot. With larger cameras such as the G5, there is more brainpower to handle this task, hence less shutter lag.

That said, you might look at Canon’s PowerShot SD630 ($400, street price is lower; www.canon.com). It’s a new camera that has some great features—six-megapixel resolution, a huge viewing screen on the back of the camera, and the ability to shoot short movies as well as take stills. I’m partial to Canons because the company understands photography so well. I’ve always found their digital cameras to be intuitive to use, well-designed, and extremely functional. The SD630 has been out just a few months but is already getting raves from users.

Another good choice is the Olympus 710 Stylus ($300; www.olympus-global.com). It has an amazing 7.1-megapixel resolution, a 3:1 zoom lens, and water-resistant construction so a little rain won’t hurt it. Like the Canon it has a very large rear screen, although also like the Canon, it lacks an old-style viewfinder. This is unfortunate—I think people see and frame a picture much better by looking through a viewfinder, which cuts out extraneous visual clutter. But then, regular readers know that I first took pictures during the Cretaceous Era.

And, to hit the magic number three in suggestions, Nikon’s CoolPix P2 ($400; www.nikon.com) has a nice set of features—5.1-megapixel resolution, excellent Nikkor zoom lens, even WiFi so you can offload pictures wirelessly. The things they think of these days!

I’d wander into a camera store and look at all three. See what feels best in your hand, seems to have the least shutter lag, and has the features you want. They’ll all take great pictures; it’ll be the little things that make the difference.

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest camera.

Filed To: Digital Cameras

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