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Tip • Point-and-Shoots for the Professional (Finally)

December 08, 2014
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Phones have been slowly taking over the point-and-shoot market for years. And the days of the low-end point-and-shoot are completely over. There is no reason to purchase a cheap camera, when your phone does amazing 8-12MP photos. But, as professionals we all struggle. We have those times when we’re going to our kids’ football games, basketball games, etc., and we want nice pictures. But who wants to lug around a DSLR and a 2.8 zoom? Not this guy. Or we’re taking a trip and want nice family photos, but don’t want to worry about thousands of dollars of gear. Fear not, there is light. The point-and-shoot that passes muster with the professional eye is here. This is a very brief review and my opinion on how these cameras fit into our lives. There is no pixel peeping. The images will not be the same as a full frame DSLR. The point of this review is to show you three great cameras that are perfect on-the-go cameras for people who are serious about photography.

Big Sensors

The number one thing that makes all of these cameras so awesome is a big sensor. Sensor prices are coming down and what this does, is enable manufacturers to larger sensors in compact cameras and keep the prices reasonable. Now, these are expensive compared to small point-and-shoots. But the costs are totally worth it. Here is a breakdown of the two sensors I’m going to be discussing.

sensors

My favorite camera, which I’ll discuss below is built on the 4/3s sensor. This is an amazing sensor that is a 2x crop. Many of you know this sensor well from the amazing Olympus Pen and OMD series. Amazing quality for a small package. Next we have the 1″ sensor and this is really the new go-to sensor for small, high-quality cameras. You can see that it is almost half the total area of the 4/3 and gives amazing quality for its size also.

The Casual Camera – The Sony RX100M3

If you are looking for something you can throw in your purse or into your cargo pants pocket and have very good images, this is the camera for you. It’s built on the Aptiva 1″ sensor – a 2.7 times crop. The lens is amazing, and this is a common thread with all of these cameras. It has a Zeiss 24-70mm (35mm equivalent) that is an f/1.8-2.8. Say what? 2.8 on the long end? Yes! This sucker sees in the dark. Great ISO, a built in flash and pop up viewfinder. And one of my favorite features is the selfie mode. Whenever you flip the LCD up backwards, the lens goes extra wide and gives you an auto three second count down. Super awesome.

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This is the camera I purchased for my wife. Then Kate, our Marketing Assistant, got the same one for herself and took it to Italy.

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Learn more about this baby here.

The Kids Sports Camera – The Leica V Lux/Panasonic FZ1000

These cameras are basically the same camera. Leica shares its lens tech with Panasonic, and Panasonic shares its electronics with Leica, so they both released a version. The Leica is a bit more expensive but you get a three year warranty and a free copy of Lightroom, not to mention the Leica color look.

There are a few things that are amazing about this camera. It’s about as small as the smallest DSLR, but much lighter. It has a 1″ sensor – a 2.7 times crop. But this is where the really cool stuff starts. It has a 25mm-400mm (35mm equiv) lens that is f/2.8-4. Yes, that is a 400mm f/4 on the long end. It’s amazing to shoot high school football with it from the stands. But even better, the autofocus is super fast. Just as fast as my old D3, even in low light. This thing focuses instantly, even at 400mm.

leicavlux lumix fz1000

 

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I am in the stands. This is at 400mm at f/4. Oh, did I mention this shoots 12 frames per second in slow mode and 40 frames per second in high speed mode? That’s not video, that’s photos…

Leica V Lux 114 info here. ($1199 retail)

Panasonic FZ1000 info here. ($899 retail)

The Best For Last: the All-Around Pro Point-and-Shoot – Leica D Lux Type 109/Panasonic LX100

Again, these are both the same camera. The Leica is more expensive but gives you Leica colors, a three year warranty and a free copy of Lightroom. This camera is insane. The 4/3 sensor is a 2x crop. This is the same quality as the Olympus OMD and I’ve printed huge prints with that baby. The lens is a true Leica Summilux quality zoom. The 35mm equivalent range is 24-75. And wait for it…f/1.7-2.8. This sucker shoots in the dark. Built in viewfinder. It also has a hot shoe so you can use studio flash or off camera flash. I actually shot a wedding with the OMD once. So you could in theory shoot one with this baby. Totally enough resolution for professional headshots.

But the point is not to say that this is a professional camera. My point is that I would totally travel with this camera and leave my expensive kit behind. It really is an insane camera.

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LeicaD LUX 109 info here. ($1199 retail)

Panasonic LX100 info here. ($899 retail)

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