Which camera meets my needs?
April 24, 2014 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I need a point and shoot camera that meets these three criteria: 1. Mega zoom 2. GPS built in 3. Shoots in raw format. My Google-fu has failed me. Any suggestions?
posted by gnossos to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a recommendation, but have you tried http://snapsort.com?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:29 AM on April 24, 2014

Panasonic DMC-ZS40?

Found via DPreview camera feature search
posted by Magnakai at 11:39 AM on April 24, 2014

(Though if you can compromise on the RAW and extreme zoominess but still want something pocketable, I strongly recommend the Sony RX100 II (or I, if you're budget's tighter))

If you don't want to compromise on zoominess, the Sony RX10 is meant to be brilliant. But then you're getting into DSLR territory.
posted by Magnakai at 11:44 AM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Define mega zoom? is 28-100(35mm equivalent) good enough?

Because as far as i've ever seen, as a long time amateur/hobbyist photgrapher, there is no compact camera even remotely as good as the sony rx100. It has an impressive range of focal lengths, shoots in raw, and a very large(and very nice) sensor for a compact.

It doesn't have GPS, but in my searching every non-slr camera that does has a sucky, microscopic sensor. None of the ones that are actually a good camera first and foremost do. Every one i looked at had some major caveat. And there are very few that shoot raw, have GPS, have a long-throw zoom and have a non-microscopic sensor. For example this has GPS and raw, but only a middle of the road zoom. This(on preview, heh, mentioned above) meets all your requirements on paper, but has one of the tiniest sensors of almost any camera i could find.(It does have an electronic viewfinder though, which is potentially sort of cool. i love my EVF camera). A lot of mega zoom cameras actually sort of cheat by having a smaller sensor so that they can cram the optics to have that amount of zoom range into a reasonably sized camera, but they sacrifice a lot in the ways of optical resolution and ability to resolve fine detail(and i'm not talking megapixels here)/contrast and generally dynamic range to do so. Pixel size matters more than pixel count in nearly every situation, and these cameras mostly fail at that.

If low light matters to you at all, i would do a serious critical review of demonstration photos and focus charts, etc before buying any of those compacts from that list. The rx100 is capable of producing seriously professional quality photos you could print posters of and hang on a wall, like national geographic looking stuff. Most superzooms fall short on this.

An alternative solution would be an eye-fi card and many potential accompanying smartphone apps which will use the phones GPS receiver to tag the photos(or at least create metadata then you can use in aperture/lightroom) giving you the GPS data you need. This is what many people with SLRs do, and upon some googling what many people who have nicer compacts like the rx100/rx100II do.

Personally, i would do that. I'd much rather have a high performance camera that hit 2 of my 3 bullet points and come up with an external GPS solution of which there are several. If that doesn't work for you though, there's at least a couple workable options out there. My main concern would be that you could spend a similar amount of money and get much better image quality in a lot of ways.
posted by emptythought at 11:58 AM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Another option, if you can find a Canon Powershot that has the GPS and zoom you like, is to use CHDK. It's an alternate firmware that unlocks/adds many features that the camera doesn't have using the factory firmware. It's non-destructive; you just need to load a few specific files on your SD card and lock it, and it will bootload in place of the factory firmware, but you have the option to revert to the factory firmware any time you like, simply by unlocking the card.

For example, I have the PowerShot SX 230 HS, which has GPS and 14x zoom, and CHDK gives me the ability to shoot in RAW if I like. I don't actually know enough about photography to do say anything about the RAW files, but there seem to be quite a number of people who are satisfied with them.
posted by yuwtze at 2:23 PM on April 24, 2014

I have the Panasonic Lumix ZS25. The Leica lens is great and the 20x zoom is awesome. You'd need the ZS30 to get the GPS though.
posted by caryatid at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2014

Another vote for the Sony RX100 II plus an external GPS solution as mentioned by emptythought. Just to clarify one early comment in this thread, it does indeed shoot in RAW, so you don't need to compromise on that.

I don't know if the zoom counts as "extreme", but it's pretty good and still works quite well in low light.

The RX100 takes amazing quality photos, miles ahead of any other point and shoot, while still being easily pocketable. It's definitely worth the inconvenience of an external GPS.
posted by mxc at 8:11 PM on April 24, 2014

I guess it will depend on your desired use for the camera. Are things like extensive zoom, RAW imaging, and GPS absolutely necessary because you are a private detective, or something? Or do you just want a really nice point-and-shoot that can do some or most of those things and take killer photos?

If the latter, allow me to put in yet another plug for the rx100 line of cameras. I'm just an enthusiastic amateur, but the results I've gotten out of mine (rx100, not 100 II) have been very impressive. I took a photography class last year, and many of my more experienced classmates -- the ones with $3,000+ rigs and all the fixin's -- were seriously jealous.

The zoom is totally adequate for most situations, and if getting really close is more important than fine detail the optical zoom can be extended digitally. Additionally, if shots are taken at f8 --> f11 and well focused, the resulting images can reliably be cropped in significantly without losing detail.

The camera has a robust set of auto settings if you just want to take great pictures without worrying about it. But it has several more layers of manual adjustments for those who want to explore technique, too. It even shoots solid video, with a similar depth of adjustable settings.

Yes, it's not cheap, but it offers many of the advantages of much more "serious" cameras for roughly a third of their cost. Hands down, the most consistently satisfying piece of gear/gadgetry that I've ever purchased.

Great low-light (hell, pitch-black) performance, too. For your detectivery (that I made up).
posted by credible hulk at 10:10 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an older version of the sony HX50V. It has 30x zoom, GPS, and I think it shoots in RAW.
posted by Morgangr at 6:56 AM on April 25, 2014

GPS complicates things a lot. If that is a want more than a need I have two options for you:

1) Money is no object option: The Sony RX10. A ridiculous feet of engineering.

2) Money is an object: The Fuji XS1 Still excellent, but not in the same league as the RX10.
posted by lattiboy at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2014

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