Camera technology is changing rapidly, leaving many single-purpose devices to the history books. Consolidation of platforms is allowing the adventure traveler to document at a higher quality and with less bulk to carry around.
I thought it would be worthwhile to explore compact photography/videography platforms and share our experiences, opinions, thoughts, etc. A sampling of images would be great as well.
From my perspective, there are three classes of compact digital/HDV cameras on the market and all three are worth considering.
These are extremely small cameras and none will have interchangeable lenses. This segment is experiencing a shift upmarket and is under considerable pressure from the smartphone devices. If you consider the images and video an iPhone 4 will produce, it is understandable. However, the smartphones (any of the popular ones) lack optical zooms and are still in the 5-8mp range and without RAW capability. So for now, we can leave the smartphone out of this discussion, though they are certainly worth having, especially as a back-up to a compact or ultra compact primary device.
Based on my experience and research, I see the following units as best of breed. Please add you own and we can update the list here.
Wicked: Sony DSC-TX100v with 16mp and 1080 HDV. Oh, and 3D
Bombproof: Panasonic Lumix TS1. Waterproof
Compact travel zoom:
I have done a lot of photography with the Leica D-Lux, including print editorial from my trip on the Trans-America Trail (for Overland Journal and MotoUSA). The images can be surprisingly good.
Sexy: Panasonic Lumix LX5
Feature-rich and durable: Canon G12
Interesting: Ricoh GRX
Compact EVIL Cameras: While not super small, this new class of cameras packs some serious punch and image quality. They make for a perfect back-up system or primary for adventure moto trips or ultra-light travel. I find this class of cameras very appealing and reminiscent of the old rangefinders that captured much of the 1900s.
Olympus PEN Cameras: Classic and use micro 4/3 lenses (4/3 with an adapter)
Sony NX-5: Super small and still 1080 HDV capable. Metal chassis.
Panasonic GH1 and GH2: Install that Leica M-Mount adapter and make even a 1D Mark blah blah blush.
Conspicuously absent is anything in the EVIL class from Canon or Nikon - I expect that will change quickly