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Ask the Readers: How Do You Capture Those Special Moments?

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In about three months, I'm going to be a father for the first time. I realize that it is going to be a huge life-changing event. (Even if I didn't everyone I talk to likes to remind me. It's great the first few times you hear it. Somewhere around the 10,000th time, it gets a little old.)

Historically, I'm not one to take a lot of pictures, but I'm going to try to change. That's what I need your help with today. I'm looking to buy a device or maybe a couple of them that can capture all the moments, both in still pictures and in video. You'll note that I said a device, because the last time I looked into this, a few years ago, there were cameras for pictures and Flip recorder recording for video.

I'm looking to upgrade my existing seven year old point and shoot camera. It takes fine 5 megapixel pictures. However, it lacks the ability to shoot in burst mode and I have to essentially wait 3-4 seconds before the picture actually takes, causing a lot of missed shots. It has a video mode, but the video is standard definition quality and might be limited to 30 second clips. On the other hand, I have a video camera, but it has only a 2x optical zoom and no image stability so every video has that Blair Witch nausea-inducing effect. For $79 a couple of years ago it wasn't that bad at least it is 720P or better.

It's time for an upgrade.

What I'm looking for is something that can take pictures fast and has some kind of burst mode so that I can choose the best one of a dozen to keep. I'm also looking for something that can full HD video with some kind of image stabilization. Finally, it needs to be very, very small so that I'll actually want to take it with me and use it. Some may suggest that I simply use the camera on a smart phone, but I am hoping for better quality. Also, I don't want to picture quality to be a major factor in why I choose a phone and a plan... there are enough other factors in smart phones that are more important to me.

One solution has caught my eye. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 seems to shoot really fast, has a 10x optical zoom, 18+ megapixels (and I thought the 5MP took up a lot of storage pace), a full HD model, and it is tiny. I'm amazed they were able to put a 10x zoom on something so small.

There aren't many reviews as it is a new product. The pictures on Amazon look pretty amazing to me. They match my high expectations. The video that I found on YouTube seems passable. It didn't knock my socks off. I'm not sure if there's any image stabilization.

This is my leading candidate for now. Readers, what do you say? Have you any suggestions? While I have your attention here's a related question... what movie editing software do you, Windows folk, use?

Posted on June 15, 2012.

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15 Responses to “Ask the Readers: How Do You Capture Those Special Moments?”

  1. Peter says:

    I personally have and like our Canon T1i DSLR for both video and photos (although the newer t3i might be a better choice now). It may be a bit more than most folks need, however, and maybe a bit big to carry around all the time.

    The Sony sounds nice and most likely will be enough for casual photo and video applications. I think most of the cameras today take decent photos, and passable video, it’s just a matter of finding a brand and feel that you’re comfortable with.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Yeah, that doesn’t look like it will fit in my jeans pocket. Maybe some day I’ll be a “murse” person, but now I’m kind of on the other side laughing at those people.

    I meant to mention in the article that I’m not tied to any brand. I’m usually not a Sony person since they tend to use proprietary solutions (memory stick, anyone), but when I saw how small this was with a 10x zoom, it drew me in for a closer look.

    If possible I’d like to do better than passable video in something that will fit in jean pockets, but I think this probably close to as good as it gets.

  3. tom says:

    I recently bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ47. It has 24X zoom and 12MP pictures. It’s great and well within budget. We bought it in anticipation of the birth of our first child as well.

    I highly recommend it.

  4. Traciatim says:

    Yes, that camera you linked has Optical Image Stabilization. I don’t think its’ a very great camera though.

    Keep in mind that a 10X zoom is called a 10X zoom because the difference between how wide it goes and how far telephoto (zoomed out and zoomed in) is 10 times . . . that camera zooms from 25mm-250mm (in equivalent terms).

    Another camera that zooms from 35mm-350mm would also be a 10x zoom, but have a very different range. So trying to compare cameras by their zoom range (the X number) is very difficult, and should generally be ignored.

    Also, zoom range tends to sacrifice quality or speed in some other area. Remember that lenses are a physics problem, so there will always be a trade off between things like amount of light captured (leading to high ISO noisy pictures) or chromatic abbe ration (fringing round areas of contrast.

    What I usually recommend for a family shooter is a high end point and shoot with a fast lens so that more pictures can be captured at lower ISO settings. Small sensors tend to really lose details when they need to crank up sensitivity.

    Take a look at this link:

    http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=sony_dscwx150&products=panasonic_dmclx5&products=oly_xz1&products=canon_s95&products=oly_epl3&products=panasonic_dmcgf3&products=panasonic_dmcgf5&sortDir=ascending

    If you notice one thing, is that the high quality point and shoots and even the interchangeable lens cameras have a couple of things in common. One is that they use larger sensors, and two is that they don’t push massive amounts of pixels. The point and shoots all have small range fast zoom lenses, just limited range.

    If you are looking for a nice compact that will take great shots I would recommend the Olympus XZ-1, Panasonic LX5, or Canon S95 or some other small, fast lens camera.

    If you really must have the zoom then maybe look at the Panasonic line like their travel zoom line.

    Usually zooms in the 200mm+ range are reserved for nature photographers and things along that line. Taking pictures of your kids you are probably already close enough. You would almost never use zooms that far under indoor light (unless on a tripod I suppose, but that won’t fit in your pocket either).

    Anyway, can’t say everything I want about it in a comment. . . I think I’ve already typed my fingers to the bone.

  5. Lazy Man says:

    Thanks Traciatim,

    I’ll need some time to digest this and look into it in more detail. That’s a lot of information. It is a good point that I don’t need a fantastic zoom for kids, but the advances of technology in getting a large zoom into a small camera amazed me and perhaps guided me in the wrong direction (or maybe not the best direction).

  6. “Yeah, that doesn’t look like it will fit in my jeans pocket. Maybe some day I’ll be a “murse” person, but now I’m kind of on the other side laughing at those people.”

    I think it’s called a “diaper bag”.

    Trust me, camera size will be the least of your worries :) We just got back from a 5 night vacation and the Taurus was bursting at the seams. Two strollers, luggage, a few toys, snacks, a bunch of diapers for the little guy … the list goes on and on and one.

    10 years ago, when I was single, I packed for a weeklong solo trip in about 15 minutes (I’m a very low-maintenance guy, but not to the point of being sloppy).

  7. Lazy Man says:

    The “murse” I was referring to was the camera bag with a pile of lenses and other stuff like that.

    As for all the things that I’ll be having to carry, it seems more important to have compact things.

  8. DK says:

    All these recommendations are great and all, but I’ve found that I use my iPhone more than anything else. Why? Because it’s always with me and we can use it for impromptu moments.

    I then can edit on the go with Instagram or Snapseed, and post to our family blog or FB. I’m also a big fan of VideoPix, which let’s you pull one frame out of a video. Those little guys don’t seem to stop and smile when you want them to, but they usually DO smile while moving!

    For what it’s worth, we purchased the Panasonic Lumix as well.

  9. robyn says:

    my BF has a video/still camera he uses all the time, look up pedalist53 on youtube. i use an olympus digital but wish it recycled faster [its 5 years old] we also have a batch of ‘thumb’ cameras you can stick anywhere. i’ll get the specs from him later for you.

  10. robyn says:

    contour camera http://www.dogfunk.com/helmet-cams-and-digital-cameras and a jvc averio the thumbs are aee md 80s

  11. Traciatim says:

    Here is an interesting comparison between a small sensor large zoom Sony, the a larger sensor nice lens compact (below), and then 2 interchangeable lens compacts on the right.

    Keep in mind it’s not really a fair comparison. The main reason is that the lens on the small Olympus collects a little over twice as much light as the Sony, meaning a better comparison would be ISO800 on the Sony to ISO400 on the Olympus (at least). The trade off being that the Olympus doesn’t zoom in as far . . . so the question then becomes just how much zoom do you actually need and how much else are you willing to give up for it?

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=sony_dschx200v&masterSample=dsc00022&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=sony_dschx200v&slot0Sample=dsc00022&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=panasonic_dmcgf3&slot1Sample=p1000137&slot2Camera=oly_xz1&slot2Sample=p1170596&slot3Camera=oly_epl3&slot3Sample=p8100513&x=-0.857486759749639&y=-0.9131428571428571

  12. Brad says:

    This isn’t exactly answering your question, but your title reminded me of a good technique to capture your kid’s moments.

    Set up a gmail or other e-mail account for them, and anytime anything happens, send an e-mail to their address. You can write notes describing a particular milestone, send a picture, or just a personal note. Years down the road, they will have all of that to look at and read.

  13. Lazy Man says:

    That is a fantastic idea Brad!

  14. Brad says:

    Thanks Lazy Man. I wish I could say I was doing it myself, but my twins will be 4 on Friday and I have failed to send one email. Maybe this is the inspiration I need…

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