Moving away from DSLR Camera - Looking for a smaller/lighter alternative.
June 5, 2012 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Hello Mefi! My mother currently owns a Canon Rebel XSI with the default 18-55 lens. It has served her extremely well while shooting typical mom material. I typically leave the camera in P mode with a few good "auto" options and she goes to town with it.

The reason she opted for a DSLR several years ago because it was superior to P&S near the price range in all of her test shots. She enjoyed its low light performance and quick focus while shooting moving objects. Most of all - she loved the tactile feel of the camera and its ability to zoom in quickly with a twist of the lens.

Recently she has underwent several surgeries and is unable to carry or even hold the DSLR for an extended period of time. She lost some of her mobility and strength in the process.

I researched "modern" P&S that have larger sensors and great auto-modes. We ended up purchasing a Canon S95, then switched to a Canon S100 to record HD video.

The Canon S100 performed great! We really loved the quality of the photos compared to her Canon. We also enjoyed the HD video recording feature.

However - we had a major road block:

The S100 was too small for her to handle comfortably. She didn't have the "soft touch" needed to handle the camera. The camera was very light and it would sometimes slip out of her hands during an abrupt motion.

We will return the S100 for a camera that's a bit larger and ergonomic, yet smaller and lighter than her Rebel XTI. We have a budget of $500.

Must have features:

HD 1080p Video Recording with auto focus
5x equivalent zoom (or atleast 15-55mm lens)
Great Image Stabilization (for when she shoots without flash) or shakes.
Excellent Auto performance, capable of adapting to low light situations and fast moving objects.
Body style with emphasis on comfort/grip that is slightly larger than the Canon S100 yet lighter than her Canon XSI.
Swing out LCD preferred to help her get angles in situations where she cant physically squat.

No need for macro mode, or hot-slots for addons.

Ive looked at at 4/3 cameras with retractable lenses, Smaller DSLRs, and P&S. We currently have our eyes on Fuji's X10, Panasonic FX5, Olumpus PEN series, Sonys NEX3, Canon G12 (dated?), etc. As you can imagine we're pretty damn confused.

So considering our current requirements, budget, and experience level - what camera would you recommend?
posted by Highest_Of_Fives to Technology (6 answers total)
I think the first piece of advice is simply go out and handle as many of them as possible. Thankfully, there aren't many "bad" cameras out there in this class. It's ultimately going to be a personal decision as to what works best for her.

I've been losing hand function over the last many months. It's to the point that I limit the amount of time working with my oh-so-lovely dSLR setup. I still use them, but mainly for artwork projects.

Otherwise, I have been using the NEX series for street, walk around and candid stuff. I had the original NEX-5 and now have the NEX-7 as the "tri-nav" control system works better for me. I'm sure the NEX-3 (not sure which sub-model is most current) would work wonderfully for your Mom and I think it's going to fit your price range as well.

Try them all, buy the one that your Mom groks best and take tons of shots. Good luck!
posted by michswiss at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2012

As noted, there are lots and lots of cameras out there that might suit you. I'm thinking the entry-level Panasonic, Olympus and Sony NEX cameras are worth looking at. The Nikon 1-series is too, but I don't know if they'll be a budget-buster.

Another thing worth looking at are aftermarket grips, like these. They can go a long way towards making it easier to hold and use.
posted by Magnakai at 12:47 AM on June 6, 2012

Mich: I looked into the NEX 5 series but it was a little confusing with the different models (NEX5N, NEX5K). I stopped looking when I read this "unlike the Olympus, the NEX-5N doesn't have built-in image stabilization."

Magnakai: I'll take a look at those. Thank you.
posted by Highest_Of_Fives at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2012

You can get a stabilized 18-55 lens for the Sony; unfortunately, it costs a bit more than the non-stabilized version.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2012

So then it looks like I must consider others (as its part of the requirements). Would you have any other suggestions?
posted by Highest_Of_Fives at 11:38 AM on June 6, 2012

Visit DPReview, filter cameras as per your requirement, go to the store, handle them and choose whichever fits the bill.
posted by zaxour at 6:07 AM on June 8, 2012

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