The Best Camera Is The One You’ve Got

imageThis morning, Phyllis and I went out for a short walk in Northeast Harbor, Maine, where we arrived yesterday after an overnight sail from Nova Scotia. We were more in search of sticky-buns than photographs, but I slipped the newest and smallest of my three cameras into my pocket, just in case.

It was a rainy old morning and I would not have bothered carrying either my large camera with all its paraphernalia, or my medium one, which still requires a bag, albeit a small one. (More on those systems in upcoming posts.)  But because my Olympus XZ-1 fits into my coat pocket, I grabbed it. In fact, since I got the XZ-1 I’m rarely without a camera, which is way cool, since I can’t tell you the number of great shots I have missed over the years when my bulkier gear was back on the boat.

Other features of the XZ-1 I like a lot, aside from its size, are:

  • Shoots RAW (as well as JPEG) and I always shoot in that format because of the flexibility in post processing. (By the way, don’t go down the RAW road unless you are ready and willing to commit some serious time to learning to do it right. For most casual shooters JPEG is a better bet.)
  • Unlike most small cameras and smart phones, which are fitted with really junky lenses, it has a professional quality Olympus Zuiko fast 1.8 lens. And Olympus have long been famous for the quality of their glass—this lens is no exception.
  • Olympus has not tried to cram too many pixels onto the sensor, but has instead concentrated on image quality, which is outstanding for a camera this size.
  • It doesn’t have too many features crammed onto it, making it reasonably easy to use.
  • It has complete creative control as well as fully automatic modes.

All in all, it is the nicest pocket camera I have seen to date with by far the best image quality. It makes a great small camera for the enthusiast and would also make a good first camera for any voyager just getting into photography.

Update January 2014

The XZ-1 is still a great camera and you can get incredible deals on them on eBay.

Olympus now sells the XZ-2, which builds on its predecessors strengths and adds even better image quality, particularly in low light.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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