Pocket Camera Recommendations

004_1172404, originally uploaded by infrar3d.

Over the holidays my sister-in-law and a friend asked me for new camera recommendations, and I answered them over the course of a couple of emails. I try to be as specific as possible when making gear recommendations to people that aren't gearheads. And they were specific with me as well, here's what they were looking for in a camera:

  • Ease of use
  • Good image quality
  • Macro capability
  • Less than $600

In addition, my sister-in-law wanted to know how to take portraits with separation between the subject and background, which I got into in the second email.

Here's the first email.

I put cameras in two categories; the kind that will fit in my pants pocket, and the kind that won't. Let's tackle the small ones first, they're easier.

If you want a pocketable camera with a single focal length (that means no zoom, but slightly higher optical quality) I think there's one best choice; the Ricoh GR Digital III. I just got the older version of this camera, the GR Digital II, and I carry it with me everywhere. It has great image quality and takes excellent macro shots. Most small-sensor cameras tend to excel at macro shots. Here one I took of a figurine in mom's window - it's about two and a half inches total length.

The GR Digital III retails for a little over $500.

If you want a zoom lens there are a few more choices, here are three I like.

  1. Canon S90 or S95. The S95 is slightly newer, but they're nearly identical. $400 - $500.
  2. Panasonic LX3 or LX5. Again, the LX5 is slightly newer. $300 - $400.
  3. Ricoh GX200. You can probably only find these used these days. They should go for about $250 on ebay.

Any of those would be great. Good places to buy new camera gear are B&H Photo and Adorama. Another great place that has both new and used gear is popflash.com.

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