Point-and-shoot or D-SLR?

I got a new camera today! It’s for my trip to the NASA Tweetup in July. I took the new point-and-shoot out for a spin this afternoon to find out if it was up to the task. My assumptions were confirmed; my mind unchanged.

My Nikon D70S is several years old and has many tens of thousands of shutter cycles. It’s been a good camera, but is no longer 100% reliable. Occasionally the camera will not recognize the card while it’s in the camera, which requires me to remove it and reinsert. This is okay in most cases, but not when seconds count and the shot is getting away.

It’s also bulky and heavy.

The Panasonic DMC-ZS10 is small, lightweight, has a HUGE zoom, allows full manual control, shoots video and stills simultaneously, encodes GPS location and has a large touchscreen display. In nearly every category it demolishes my Nikon. The three shortcomings, however, are huge: it doesn’t allow lens filters, saves only to JPG, and it’s slow. I love circular polarizing filters and never remove them from my D-SLR lenses. I’m a RAW guy. When the new point-and-shoot shutter is pressed it has to process the image to JPG and store it on the card before it’s ready to take another picture, which is agonizingly slow (a couple seconds, it seems).

I think I can live with those limitations and will leave my old Nikon home. I need photos that tell a story, not ones that can be included on a wall calendar. If I need high-resolution images from the launch I can get them from NASA. I’d also like to shoot video.

No zoom
No zoom
Zoomed all the way in
Zoomed all the way in

This is a rock and cigarette butt.

Macro
Macro
Perimeter fence
Perimeter fence

This is zoomed all the way out. Notice there’s hardly any chromatic aberrations, and there couldn’t be any more edges in a photo.

Zoomed and cropped
Zoomed and cropped
Landing two-niner
Landing two-niner
The plane I've been flying: N739JW
The plane I've been flying: N739JW

When I got home today Skye was here and wanted to play a game. So I did.

Macro with shallow DoF
Macro with shallow depth of field
I won!
I won!

The Panasonic isn’t the only camera I’ll take. I’m going to bring my iPhone 4 and GoPro HD Hero, all point-and-shooters.

Would you trust a point-and-shoot camera for a once-in-a-lifetime photographic event, or lug around a less-than-reliable D-SLR? Let me know in the comments.

4 Comment

  1. Good choice! I have the older 10X version.

  2. I have been pretty happy with my DMC-FZ100.

  3. Wow… that looks like a great camera, although I think lack of RAW capability would be a deal-breaker for me. That’s why I ended up with the Canon S90, which is trumped by your camera in several important areas. Your lens looks great, and the built in GPS is surel;y a huge plus, too (although in some cases you need to make sure you don’t leave that metadata in there!)
    I’m a big fan of point’n’shoots – and I’ve actually been working on a blog post of my own about that, so I won’t give all my thoughts here.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Steven. I look forward to your post on the subject. Not having RAW is kinda a big deal. Your Canon S90 only has a 3.8x zoom, which would be inadequate for the event for which this camera was primarily purchased.

      These things are so inexpensive they’re almost disposable, which is another great “feature.”

Leave a Reply