Bike Cameras – The Epilogue

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post asking for input on bike cameras. Here’s an excerpt:

So, I’d be curious to hear what others are using for their on-bike camera. Do you risk taking your expensive DSLR on the bike, knowing there’s the possibility of strewing that expensive glass all over the road, or do you willingly make the sacrifice in image quality and carry a less expensive point-and-shoot camera for the peace of mind? And if you don’t have a DSLR, are you happy with your current point-and-shoot camera, or would you like to have better image quality and more features?

To my surprise, my request elicited more responses than any other single post on this blog. I found out photographers are an opinionated bunch! I want to thank everyone for their input and let you know what I ended up doing.

Since I started out with only a minimal knowledge of the current options on the market, it took a concerted effort to get myself up to speed and sort through the myriad of possibilities (boy, there are a lot of cameras on the market these days). I had to take into consideration my limited budget, how I plan on using the camera right now, how I plan on using it a year from now, and what kind of trade-offs I’d be willing to make in regards to image quality versus portability.

In the end, I made a compromise that leans toward image quality by going with a smallish DSLR, the Canon XSi. I’m hoping that I’ll be satisfied with a slightly larger and heavier camera than what I’m currently carrying. I went ahead and purchased the kit since the Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens is practically free once you apply the discounts and rebates. I also added a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 because I wanted a relatively fast, “normal” focal length prime lens. When the budget allows, I’ll probably add a short telephoto of some sort, perhaps the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8.

Yes, I do plan on taking the camera on the bike, though I plan on keeping my S3 IS for those days when I’m in the mood for shooting Panda Portraits. At some point I’ll report back here and let you know how it all works out.

11 Responses to “Bike Cameras – The Epilogue”

  • Charles says:

    It’s definitely one of the popular SLRs. I’ll be looking forward to your reports and pictures!

    You might want to take a look at some lens review sites:
    http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos
    http://lens-reviews.com/

    You have to read between the lines, especially on the cheaper lenses, but they do give good information about how far you have to stop a lens down before it’s sharp in the middle/edges.

    Congratz on your purchase!

  • Gordon Inkeles says:

    Quantum leap, Alan. Well done!

    I look forward to your photos.

  • Eddie says:

    I’m glad you’ve settled on what you figure may work for you best. I never look at stunning photos and wonder what camera the photographer used. I only care about the eye of the guy pushing the button, so keep the inspired shots coming. Great work!

  • Miguel Marcos says:

    For those interested I sometimes carry my Canon XT when I’m riding and this is what I use:

    http://www.optechusa.com/product/detail/?PRODUCT_ID=4&PRODUCT_SUB_ID=&CATEGORY_ID=4

    I love it because it keeps the camera at the ready on your chest but it reduces bouncing around all over the place to a minimum. I have the elastic version. I think the non-elastic version would be useless as you want to keep the camera close to your chest but be able to raise and snap away. I use it when I backpack, too.

  • Darryl says:

    Alan

    You’ll be happy with the camera. The nice thing about SLRs is that they can adapt to your growing capabilities. A camera is a vehicle for visual exploration as a bicycle is for geographic exploration. Use them both and you’ll never know what the next corner will reveal or technique you will master. Have fun! I’ve certainly enjoyed what you’ve done so far.

    DJ

  • Julian Smith says:

    I also use the OP/Tech USA bino cam harness and love it. It works well on the recumbent but will probably allow the camera to flop around on an upright bike. OP/Tech also sells a “stabilizer strap” that holds the camera to the chest. It can be used with or without the harness.

    I upgraded from an analog SLR to a superzoom. The reality is that I did not carry around the Canon AE-1 Program. I bought the Canon S5 IS, and it does what I want. It has a 12x optical zoom and I really want/need that range, even at the cost of image quality. Disclaimer: I do not have an artistic bone in my body, nor am I a good photographer. However, friends & family seem to like the quality of the pictures I take, and they are good memories

    I have read about the difference in lens quality between the compacts and SLRs, and I wonder if anyone has actually taken the same shot at the same time with one of each, for a direct comparison. I no longer have the SLR, but a friend has a digital SLR so we can try this.

    One really bad feature of the S5 is that the lens cap won’t stay on. I have not been able to find a replacement that does.

    I thought the S5 was the successor to the S3. Nobody mentioned the S5 in their comments, and I am not sure if that implies anything.

  • Apertome says:

    Looks like an awesome camera — I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

  • arkipelago.ph says:

    Will you be letting us know when you’re shooting with the XSi or with the S3IS?

  • Alan says:

    @arkipelago.ph

    “Will you be letting us know when you’re shooting with the XSi or with the S3IS?”

    I probably won’t be doing that as an ongoing thing, but feel free to ask anytime in the comment area below the particular photo.

  • Rick Steele says:

    Alan said:
    “I’ll probably add a short telephoto of some sort, perhaps the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8.”

    Consider with the XSi 1.6 crop factor the 85mm f1.8 lens, becomes an effective 136mm medium telephoto. For portraits, you do need to step back a ways. An EF 50mm f/1.4 is more of a short telephoto with Canon crop bodies. The EF 85mm f1.8 lens that I have is the most used. I love the bokeh it produces and it’s high speed focusing. Had an opportunity to borrow the EF 85mm f/1.2L lens that costs magnitudes more, and found it to be very slow to auto focus.

    Congrats with the new camera gear. You will be very pleased I’m certain.

    Rick
    Gold Country Cyclery

  • Alan says:

    @Julian

    I’ve been generally happy with my S3 IS and it kept me satisfied for a couple of years. It was when I started looking at my photos with a more critical eye that I felt a DSLR or a higher quality digicam might be worth the investment. Your S5 is a nice camera, and if you’re happy with its performance, it’s a handy and versatile camera that can do many things with little fuss.

    Lensmate sells a number of accessories for the S5, including lens caps:

    http://www.lensmateonline.com/store/S2_S3_S5.html

    Alan

 
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