Canon 7D

UPDATED: You can now bid / buy my Canon S95 on eBay.

The time has come for me to sell the camera that has been the best camera I’ve ever owned and after only 6 months.The S95 is phenomenal and has been my only camera throughout trips to all over the country and Europe. The S95 has been in my bag in an iPod sock or in my back pocket or in the cup holder in my car. The S95 is sitting on my desk next to the iPhone. It’s the only camera that has been this flexible where I can take it anywhere and trust that it will fire right up and take the shot that I need.

I’m in love with this camera.

It’s almost as if my “selling” of the camera is kind of spurring a “review” but I won’t ramble on for too long. Whether you’re an amateur or seasoned photographer, everyone would agree that the Canon S95 is the best compact camera affordable to the masses. Even David Pogue calls it, “..But you are the best pocket camera on the market. I have carried you for many weeks, in many situations, and I have been thrilled by the sharpness, color, control and photographic success rate that you give me.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Pogue’s review and I’d like to keep it but selling it will fund my “upgrade” even though I’m not sure what that is yet. Everyone at home is yelling that I should go D-SLR but I’m not going to do that this purchase. There are many reasons for holding off. One main reason is I want a Canon 7D, a 50mm F/1.8, a 70-200mm and a few other fixed lenses with a nice Speedlite flash & difuser. I want a fancy camerabag with filters and an extended battery…I want all of that but I also would like to eat and put gas in my car and, once I get the body, that’s when I will uncontrollably spend each pay check on lenses and accessories. That’s why I’m holding off.

So, if I’m not getting an SLR, what am I getting? Well, I LOVED my Canon G11. It was similar to what some people refer to a Micro four-thirds camera but it only shot VGA video and the audio was pretty bad. Sure, I could get an external mic but the Canon G10 had great audio quality. Oh well. I want to get back into the micro four-thirds market a bit and I’ve been looking at the Canon G12 now that it has HD recording but the lens hasn’t improved. It’s still a reasonably slow F/2.8 but that zoom is nice. I want a faster lens in my pocket camera because that F/2.0 on my Canon S95 has clearly spoiled me. It is a phenomenal low-light camera. Also, the UI & controls of both the G11 and S95 are SLOW. The G11 wasn’t as bad because most of my most used controls were manual but the S95 is almost all via the screen and it’s painfully slow and I’m shooting so much that those delays add up. For most people, the delays in between switching settings and modes won’t be so painful but, when you shoot 1,000 shots every week, it starts to hurt terribly. I had hope for the G12 as well as a small glimmer but they made the navigation wheel hella-small to make room for that pivoting screen (which feels cheap & flimsy) so I just can’t go back to it. The Canon G9 was the best G series camera ever made (in case anyone at home is wondering)

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So, what am I going to do? Which camera will I buy? I’ve narrowed it down to three cameras.

1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5: This camera is priced similarly to the S95, is slightly larger but has an identical aperture (f/2.0) but a improved focal length allowing for 3.8x zoom versus the S95’s 3x. It also has a Leica Glass which means something to a lot of people that have reviewed the camera. It also shoots 400 photos per charge (compared to the S95’s 200 photos) and has a hot shoe for adding an external flash. This camera is still pocketable and runs $399 ($400 for S95)

2. Sony Alpha NEX-5K 14.2MP: This is a response to the Panasonic micro four thirds cameras that are growing in popularity. It’s a Sony compact “pocketable” camera but allows for interchangeable lenses. Personally, I’m ont a HUGE fan of Sony cameras. their build quality has always been disappointing and the menus are often confusing. However, it makes up for these short comings in one HUGE way. It supports dozens of Sony lenses. The body with an okay lens will run $699 and I can go crazy with a pancake f/2.0 lens or  up to a 200mm zoom lens with a much smaller aperture. I think it’s a very versatile camera. Why not just buy an SLR at that point? Well, I see this as a graduating camera. It’s small and light and good for traveling which is what I need right now and, one day I can buy a Sony SLR. A lot of readers will ask why in the hell I’d want to do that. Honestly, I’m a Canon guy but this has me thinking that, after a year with this, I’ll have enough lenses that buying a Sony SLR will just make sense. I think this is a good camera but it has me a bit torn on going all-in on Sony.

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens: That’s a mouthful. This is a micro four-thirds camera which has a nice fat sensor, better low-light handling than any other compact point and shoot and crazy insane ISO speeds. The best part, it supports interchangeable lenses just like the Sony. To start out on this model, I’d buy the kit with 14-45mm f/3.5 lens and add to that cart the 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens. The lens potential is larger than Sony’s as you can see here. There’s a 3D lens and even a 500-1000mm lens for super crazy zooms. They all snap right one. Here are a few reviews, 1, 2, 3.

Of course, I must note that if I do go the DMC-GF route, I’ll go with the G2, it has a touchscreen which I don’t care about but is thinner, lighter and has support for full 1080p video and a stereo microphone.

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So there you have it. Photographers, what do you think? I need a camera that has a large aperture and good low-light performance and I need a camera with interchangeable lenses or at least a good lens out of the box. The 1st choice is affordable but the later two have more options going forward. Should I just get the DMC-LX5 for $399 and save my pennies for an SLR or go four-thirds and spend another year growing into that market? What do you think?

I’ll make my buying decision later next week. right before my trip to another country *wink*.