Back in November of last year I asked the readers of this blog for advice on bike cameras (see here). I received a ton of input and the post ended up generating more comments than any post before or since. In the interim I’ve come to realize photographers are a helpful, if not opinionated, bunch!
After much research and hand-wringing, I ended up purchasing a Canon XSi DSLR. The XSi is a reasonably priced, relatively small/light consumer-level digital SLR with great specs and the ability to accept a wide selection of lenses from Canon and other aftermarket lens makers.
I ended up with four lenses: a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS which is the “kit” lens that came with the camera; a Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX wide angle that I use mainly for capturing images of bikes/riders within larger landscapes; a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that is my low light “standard” lens; and a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro that I use for all of my bike detail shots. Of these, the kit zoom sees the least amount of use. The others are all excellent lenses that serve their particular purposes quite well. Of the four, the Canon 60mm macro probably gets the most use.
After experimenting with various ways to carry the kit on my bike, I ended up with a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home camera bag. The 7MDH, as it’s sometimes called, is a beautifully made, messenger-style shoulder bag, perfect for carrying a small to medium sized DSLR with 2-3 extra lenses and accessories. You can read my review of the 7MDH here.
As much as I’ve been ecstatic with the image quality and overall performance of the XSi and lenses, there was a small hole in my system; the kit is plenty comfortable for carrying around town on errand runs, joyrides, etc., but it’s a little much for taking on my daily multi-modal commute along with lunch, clothes, and other items needed for a day at the office. Consequently, I found myself grabbing my old Canon S3IS for those trips when I would be carrying a load and hopping on-and-off of transit multiple times. Since my original intention was to replace the S3IS, yet I still occasionally found myself using it, I decided I needed a higher quality, compact camera to “fill the gap” so to speak. With that in mind, I started saving my pennies and set out to find my perfect sub-DSLR compact for on-bike use.
These were my base criteria:
- Pocketable or at least “pouchable”
- Small enough for one-handed use on the bike
- Full manual control
- Raw output
- Relatively wide, fast lens
- Reasonably high image quality
Using the above criteria I fairly quickly narrowed down my list to the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon G10. Without getting into all of the technical arguments for one camera over the other, I can say the Canon is a better fit for me and I ended up purchasing one recently. I haven’t spent much time with the G10 yet, but the initial results are promising; the image quality looks excellent (see the zoomed image at the top of this post), the size is perfect for one-handed use, and it’s quite comfortable on the shoulder in its tiny Crumpler 1 Million Dollar Home bag.
Only time will tell, but I’m hoping the G10 will meet the need for those times when it’s not practical to carry a kit bag loaded with a DSLR and extra lenses, while providing the manual control and image quality I’ve become accustomed to.