Friday, May 29, 2009

The Perfect Adventure Camera

I received an email from a reader asking me:

“If cost and weight aren't an issue what are the top 5 Perfect Adventure Cameras on the market?”

Ooh... So I did a little research, and came up with this ‘Drool’ List:

1. Nikon D700
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR
This is my ultimate setup, and I’d be pretty much prepared for any kind of adventure shoot. The D700 offers a lot of versatility and flexibility with very high image quality. I can add the MB-D10 Battery Grip and get up to 8 frames per second, or strip it off if I wanted to go light(er).

2. Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon 17-40mm f/4L, 70-200mm f/4 L IS
Or with just the 24-105mm f/4 L IS
to keep things really light. I’m a big fan of Canon’s lightweight f/4 ‘L’ lenses. I’ve tried to switch to Canon, but I’ve been with Nikon too long, and it didn’t work. If I shot Canon, this is what I’d be shooting with.

3. Nikon D90
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5, 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
This setup is a big step down from the full-frame DSLRs in terms of both cost and weight. The D90 gives you more creative options with the HD video capability. If I needed to keep it really light, I’d pair up the D90 with Nikon’s 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens.

4. Olympus Evolt E-420
Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0
I know we said that cost and weight don’t matter, but for most people (and that includes me) they really do, and the Olympus E-420 brings both down. Although the image quality has some minor issues (according to some reviews), the Olympus E-420 still warrants consideration for its built-in image stabilization, dust and splash-proof body and lens. If you need DSLR quality and need to keep the load extremely light, like if you were climbing El Cap, consider this camera and lens combo.

5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
This is my pick for a compact ‘adventure’ camera. It’s got a very fast, wide-to-normal, 24-60mm f/2-2.8 Leica lens and shoots HD video. The JPEG shots off the camera look good, or you can shoot RAW for more control. Yum! It’s a shame it’s missing a built-in optical viewfinder. It’s also not waterproof, so if you think you’ll get it wet, you’ll need to use a separate waterproof case, such as those made by Aquapac.


Images courtesy of Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic (USA).


3 comments:

-ben said...

The Panasonic DMC-Lux 3 reminds me of the Leica D-Lux 4. I toyed around with a D-Lux 4 and found it a very nice piece of gear. 'Would be a shame to get it all banged up in the course of an adventure though :-D

Ken said...

Hi Ben,

I think the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX3 is essentially the same camera as the Leica D-Lux4. I've heard anecdotal evidence that says the Leica is better, but the specs are the same, and the Panasonic is significantly cheaper.

I did consider putting one of the new waterproof, shockproof compacts on the list, but (I've read that) they can't really match the image quality of the LX3/D-Lux4.

Ideally, Panasonic will make a water resistant version of this camera for adventure sport use :o)

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