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  1. #1
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    Pocket camera with decent optical zoom?

    I am contemplating purchasing a new pocket sized point and shoot type of camera, and I know that many in the forum have highly recommended the Sony RX100 series, but the RX100 models II through RXIV are a bit pricier than I am wanting to spend right now. The price range I am trying to stay in is less than $500. I am also interested in a model with a higher optical zoom range, as I would love to take the camera when I am hiking or perhaps for travel, and there are sometimes interesting nature shots that I cannot get as close to as I would like. I was looking at models in the local electronics store today, and I am curious if anyone here has used the Sony DSC WX350 (super tiny with a 20x optical zoom), the Sony DSC WX500 (30x optical zoom and slightly bigger yet still compact) or the Sony HX90 (30x optical zoom and has a handgrip). While I realize I could achieve higher quality shots with a larger and more fully featured camera, I am most likely to bring a small and lightweight camera that is easily accessible, if I realistically assess things.

    If anyone has used any of these cameras and is willing to share your thoughts, I would appreciate it. Recently, I have been taking photos with my iPhone5s, so I am looking to upgrade my images from that.

    Thank you!

    ETA: Perhaps I should have posted this under this thread: http://forums.tombihn.com/not-about-...ch-needed.html I wanted to differentiate the fact that I am hoping to find a camera with a more powerful zoom. For anyone who has not read that thread, it has fantastic information regarding compact cameras and accessories.

    Also, I am certainly open to other brands, if anyone has a recommendation. I have just had some good experiences with Sony cameras in the past, so I gravitated towards those.
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 07-25-2015 at 07:57 PM.
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  2. #2
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    These are always hard questions to answer because there are so many different cameras and so many different ways that people use those cameras. Used correctly, an iPhone (and other smartphones) can produce very good images ... certainly sufficient for posting to the web or sharing via social media. They are also quite good at autofocusing and getting correct exposure. What they lack is good non-flash performance in low light and telephoto capabilities.

    I can't answer your specific question because I have not used either of those cameras. I have a Sony RX100 III; as noted in many places this is a fantastic camera with a moderate reach zoom. It is excellent as a travel and hiking camera ... and at the outer limits of what I would call truly pocketable.

    If not for your desire for a powerful zoom, I would say purchase one of the older RX100 IIs. New they are about $600, but can be found used or refurbished in the $420-450 range. Camera geeks go through cameras like dirty socks; they read reviews, buy the newest thing, use it for a short while, sell it, then repeat the cycle. If you live in or near a big city, a dedicated camera store (vs. a big box electronic store) is worth stopping by to see if they have any used cameras. There are also a number of reputable camera stores on the internet that deal in used cameras.

    If you really want a long range zoom, I think you could be happy with either of the two Sonys. If possible, you should find one and try it out. At maximum zoom, in bright daylight it can be a challenge to hold the camera steady enough to see your subject. This is why I now only use cameras with a viewfinder and waited for the Sony RX100 III rather than purchasing the model II.

    To see what others have done with the Sony WX350, take a look at the photos uploaded to this Flickr photo pool:

    https://www.flickr.com/groups/wx350/

  3. #3
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    I like the Panasonic Lumix cameras and that is usually what I suggest looking at first.

    Traditionally they have offered the widest optical zoom range in mid priced pocket cameras and I have always been satisfied for that use.

    I am also a fan of the Canon G series but they are neither small nor cheap so.....

  4. #4
    Forum Member marytattoo's Avatar
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    Does iPhone have cameras in the app store? I've downloaded cameras from Google which are often better than the default. I have a fast burst one which is great for moving things (wiggling babies!).

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

  5. #5
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    Juanito and AVService, thank you for your great suggestions. I will both check out the Lumix and take a second look at the RX100 series; thank you also for the link to the pics with the WX350 as that gives me a better idea of its capabilities. I take a fair amount of photos while I am hiking and traveling, and there are certain photos that I might want to enlarge eventually. I am certainly not dissatisfied with my on the fly iPhone pics, especially given its convenience, but it would be nice to have an upgraded option.

    For example, here are a couple of iPhone pics I have taken (I saved as lower resolution smaller images for this site), and I imagine how much better they might look with a higher quality camera.

    Pocket camera with decent optical zoom?-img_3841-jpgPocket camera with decent optical zoom?-img_3086-jpg

    I appreciate the ideas!
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 07-26-2015 at 04:24 PM.
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  6. #6
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    I know the spot in the first photo quite well. Snow Lake, in the Alpine Wilderness east of Seattle. Those are the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound in the second photo; not sure where it was taken.

    You will be happy to upgrade your camera. For comparison, here is a shot I took in Zion National Park, Utah last February. The quality doesn't really show because of the uploader downsizing.
    Attached Images Attached Images Pocket camera with decent optical zoom?-dsc01638-jpg 

  7. #7
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    Oops. I meant to also say that the Zion photo was taken with my Sony RX100 III.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by marytattoo View Post
    Does iPhone have cameras in the app store? I've downloaded cameras from Google which are often better than the default. I have a fast burst one which is great for moving things (wiggling babies!).

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
    I know there are a number of camera and photography apps for the iPhone, but I haven't used anything other than a photo editor.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juanito View Post
    I know the spot in the first photo quite well. Snow Lake, in the Alpine Wilderness east of Seattle. Those are the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound in the second photo; not sure where it was taken.
    You are good, Juanito! That was Snow Lake and the second photo was walking back from Dungeness Spit lighthouse on the Olympic Peninsula.
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  10. #10
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    A quick update...in polling friends, one of them has the Sony RX100 III and loves it, and he is going to loan it to me later this week to try out. While that is a bit pricier than I was considering, at least it will give me the opportunity to try one of the models firsthand. Since I have a birthday coming soon, perhaps I will try to make a decision to coincide with that upcoming event.
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 07-27-2015 at 07:57 AM. Reason: typo
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  11. #11
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    The fredmiranda.com site has a great buy forum, and I frequently see RX100 IIIs on there at good used prices, which might save you a bit if you don't mind buying used. Look for a seller with a good feedback rating; I find this a very trustworthy site with people who are zealous about their reputations.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWhikergal View Post
    A quick update...in polling friends, one of them has the Sony RX100 III and loves it, and he is going to loan it to me later this week to try out. While that is a bit pricier than I was considering, at least it will give me the opportunity to try one of the models firsthand. Since I have a birthday coming soon, perhaps I will try to make a decision to coincide with that upcoming event.
    That sounds like a great plan. Just don't tell your friend that I loaned my RX100 III to my wife and haven't gotten it back.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Keepright's Avatar
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    The biggest problem with the Sony RX100 series is that each model is worth the upgrade from the previous ones – feature creep incarnate. The sensor on the II is better than the original, the lens and viewfinder on the III are better than the II, and it looks like the sensor on the IV is going to be worth the upgrade as well. But that also means that this might be an excellent time to look for lightly used RX100iii's as some people upgrade. It's not a natural choice for nature and wildlife photographs.

    My father recently used the RX100iii for a major trip, but biffed it along the way. He's replaced it with a Panasonic ZS50/TZ70 30x zoom, and for his purposes it has turned out to be a better camera. The short zoom of the RX100 was his only complaint about that camera, and it was significant enough that he didn't want another one as a replacement.

  14. #14
    Forum Member aryabird's Avatar
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    I have a Sony HX50 which is the predecessor to the HX90 and it works quite well for me. The only thing I don't like about it is the lack of viewfinder in bright light. Sony fixed this on HX90.
    Indigo/Solar TS, Indigo/Solar Synapse 19, Black/Steel, 13" Ristretto, Indigo BB, Black/Island A30, Island LSB, Black SSB

  15. #15
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    As someone mentioned above, I'd also suggest looking at the Panasonic travel zoom Cameras such as the ZS-30 or similar. They have an excellent motion stabilized zoom range, a Zeiss lens and enough bells & whistles to keep just about everyone happy. The reviews I've read have been excellent.

    The Sony models are also excellent but they tend to be more expensive. The Panasonic provides a good balance between cost and features.

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