Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Ideal Biking Camera?



Digital cameras have become throwaway items, with new models appearing twice a year--or more! Nevertheless, the one category we bikers crave--a true wide angle lens--has been very hard to find. Ricoh makes an expensive and quirky 24--72 (35mm equivalent) camera that got mixed reviews. The little Sony I took to Holland was fine for what it could do: 50mm (the 35mm equivalent of the digital's "35mm") to modest zoom. That meant the many panoramic and inspiring views I tried to photograph, ended up as little "cameos." Like most digitals now available, the Sony simply had no wide angle capability at all. To date, the best "wide angle" pocket camera has probably been the Canon SD870 (and it's predecessors) which opens up to 28mm. It's close to what you need, but a slightly wider field would make all the difference. So much biking takes place against the backdrop of vast landscapes.

That's why the new Panasonic DMC-FX35 could be the camera we have all been waiting for. It zooms from a rare 25mm to 100mm! That means it's a true wide angle at the wide end. I look forward to trying one, when they appear on store shelves in a few weeks. Panasonic's partnership with Leica has enabled them to draw on some really fine lenes.

Yes, 25mm is noticeably wider than 28mm.

We could wish for a weatherproof body, something a few manufacturers do offer. The Panasonic itself does not appear to be weather-protected, however it is available with an underwater case. My own biking adventures have been land-based, so far...

Addendum: Panasonic just announced another, more powerful pocket camera that zooms out to 25mm: the Lumix DMC-FX500