Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Canon vs. Lumix

I found myself rather suddenly in need of a new camera and it came down to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 and a Canon PowerShot SX150. I've had digital cameras of each make in the past, and so, needing it right away and being busy, I decided to quickly buy a known quantity. The Canon is a solid, inexpensive camera, a bit less expensive than the Lumix, but with similar features.

The Lumix has a Leica lens, which is a significant advantage. I took this with a Leica-equipped Lumix (a DMC-TZ1), and don't think it would have been as good with a Canon. Really. But there were two drawbacks to my old Lumix (three drawbacks, really, but more on that later):
(1) The Lumix was noisy in low light situations. Right or wrong, I think Canon has done a better job with the electronics. The newer Lumix might be better.
(2) The Lumix uses a proprietary battery. Multiple times on my last trip with the Lumix, I used both of my batteries' charges, and was stuck. The batteries were expensive and degraded over time. The current Lumix batteries are apparently 1100mAh 3.6V, or just under 0.4Wh, but after a couple years, who knows?

The batteries were the deciding factor. The Canon uses a pair of AA batteries. Sanyo Eneloop NiMH are cheap, under $2.50 each, have long lives (1500 charge/recharge cycles advertised), and are 2000mAh each. So two Eneloops are 2 * 0.2 * 1.2 = 0.48Wh. Advantage, Canon, plus the Sanyo Eneloops have a low self-discharge rate and are cheap, and I can carry as many with me as I want. In a pinch I can pick up alkalines just about anywhere.

The third drawback to the Lumix? A drawback shared with the Canon, no optical viewfinder. With just an LCD viewfinder, the camera is very difficult to use in full sunlight. With both my old Canon and my old Lumix, I often thought that rather than point-and-shoot, I had to shoot-and-hope, not knowing what was in the picture until later.

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