Digital camera recommendations for bicyclists?
August 13, 2009 5:50 PM   Subscribe

What is the best digital camera to take on bike rides?

I have a full DSLR (Nikon D80), but am thinking about getting a smaller compact digital camera to take with me when I ride, and am looking for recommendations/advice on what a good balance of features might be, what tradeoffs I should consider, the best place to pack it, etc. I'm not hardcore into either biking or photography, I'd just like to have something small/light enough that I won't dread having to pack it, durable enough to withstand moderate mountain biking, and good enough to take respectable occasional photos.
posted by Mr. Palomar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I enthusiastically suggest anything from the Canon SD line. They are the size of a pack of cards, and take wonderful photos. The SLR takes better photos in lower light, and when you want a nice DOF -- but at F/9 and ISo200 .. you really cant tell the difference between a nice pocket cam and an SLR until you pixel peep.
posted by SirStan at 5:53 PM on August 13, 2009

Any name-brand pocket camera is going to be fine for you. I have a Nikon Coolpix, and I love it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:54 PM on August 13, 2009

I have a Fuju FinePix Z10. It was the coolest-looking (orange satin metal!) digital camera I had ever seen...........but.............IT SUCKS: STAY AWAY. BAD PICTURES. BAD FUNCTION. BAD SOFTWARE. BAD BATTERY. JUST...NO. (This is my second in a row--and my last--BAD Fuji digital camera.)
posted by applemeat at 6:13 PM on August 13, 2009

Seconding the Canon SD's. My SO has the SD770. Awesome camera.
posted by cyniczny at 6:17 PM on August 13, 2009

Thirding Canon SD. And if you're feeling creative, you can use the open-source CHDK firmware to make a time-lapse movie like this.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:32 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recommend the Canon SD780. It has the newer DIGIC IV processor, so you can't run CHDK (yet?) on it, but it has built in hi-def video capture. Also, if you're industrious, you can make a durable case for it out of an altoids can, which will let you worry less about the abuse your bike riding will take on the camera. Also, the image stabilization technology on this camera is amazing, so you may be able to take clear pictures while your bike is still moving (I haven't done this, but it did take crystal clear photos when I mimicked somebody taking photos while extremely drunk).
posted by Mijo Bijo at 7:00 PM on August 13, 2009

Like you I have the D80 and a bike. The Canon A550 has been my grab and shoot friend that goes everywhere with me. Both cameras are older and superceded by newer versions; none the less I love both of them for their different applications.
posted by X4ster at 7:37 PM on August 13, 2009

I've had a couple Canon SD's and they are great cameras, and the CHDK software is awesome, but the lens mechanisms are very sensitive. I've sent my current SD800 in 3 times for repair (and now no longer turns on at all, sadly) and my prior camera, an SD410, had to be repaired once and was eventually stolen so I don't know how long it would have lasted.

Just be aware that if you drop one of these cameras or it gets tossed around in your bag too much, you will probably need to send it in to repair the lens mechanism. My next pocket-cam for cycling, partying and backpacking will probably be an Olympus Stylus Tough model, or something similar. Or at least anything without a moving lens.
posted by skintension at 12:25 AM on August 14, 2009

A friend of mine carries a Flip around with him when he bikes--not really for stills, but the resolution + convenience is hard to beat.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:44 AM on August 14, 2009

Sony DSC-T77 or T90. My climbing partner has an earlier version, which has been carried with gear and dragged over several continents. On the strength of that I, a lifelong Canon guy, bought a DSC-T77 and I couldn't be happier with it. The optics are protected by the vertical slider and they don't extend or retract. The only thing I worry about is the large touchscreen/display, but I keep the camera in a bag. It's gotten sweaty, bashed around with gear, rained on and blasted by grit and it keeps working just fine.

Had I been able to wait another year I might have done what skintension advocates and bought the Stylus Tough.
posted by jet_silver at 9:46 AM on August 14, 2009

Wow, lots of Canon love - I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. I'd totally forgotten about CHDK, I first read about it quite some time ago, but I remember being intrigued (if a little intimidated) by it. I also really like the Altoids case, that's right about my level of DIY. Thanks for all the tips, it's definitely given me a few more things to think about.
posted by Mr. Palomar at 12:50 PM on August 14, 2009

Another vote for the SD. I have an SD400 which has lasted four or five years of being banged around in my pocket. It is small, light, and takes fairly good pictures for what it is. The batteries have lasted fairly well, although they are just now on the way out. I chose it mainly for its very, very quick focus when set to "kids and pets". This has enabled shots like this and this. With more time on my hands, I've eked out fairly satisfactory pictures like this and this.
posted by plinth at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2009

« Older Next time, label DO NOT CRUSH   |   Showers at Heaven's Gate? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.