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3/24/2017 1:41 pm  #1

To SLR or not to SLR?

Here's the dilemma: it's heavy. Pack weight is something I try to knock down whenever possible, and my SLR with lens attached is 1255 grams or ~2.8 pounds. Nonetheless, this camera has come with me on most of my camping trips for years, and I've always been really happy to have it along. But I filmed an up close and personal moose encounter with it last summer which was out of focus, and that really ticked me off. I know I know, blame the camera when I should be blaming the operator. But it turns out (after some googling) that the autofocus on my SLR is crap for videos, and I should have known and expected that all along. As I'm starting to film more and more videos for trip reports, that's not okay. So I've added another camera to my camping gear, which will join me for the first time on my Spring opener. It's a point and shoot, but a good quality one. I'm going to use it for all videos which means the SLR, if I continue to take it, would be for one purpose only: taking pictures. 

So finally the question, which is this: Just how much image quality am I going to lose if I turn this point and shoot into my 'taking pictures' camera as well? Will I regret leaving the SLR at home if I get that perfect sunset? 

The SLR is a Canon 60D. The lens is a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM. 
The point and shoot is a Sony DSC-RX100 III. 

In a perfect world I'd go out and buy a new SLR that handles video properly; problem solved. But spending money isn't an option right now, and I have to work with what I've got. My Spring trip has 36 kilometers of portaging, so 3 pounds definitely matters.

I realize at the end of the day only I can decide if the extra weight is justified, but I'm hoping the photographers here can give me a sense of just what I'd be losing, image-quality-wise, leaving the SLR out of my pack. 



3/24/2017 2:36 pm  #2

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Uppa - this may not solve your case but I feel your pain. I had a Canon 60D (It's at the bottom of the Petewawa now, below the natch.. long, painful story) but I absolutely HATED how horrible the autofocus system was. It literally ruined so many potentially great videos with poor focusing and very loud focusing motor. I replaced the 60D with a 70D and its unreal for instant and dead-silent autofocus - the stepping motors (STM) on new lens' are a vast improvement over USM or other focusing motors. I know you said you weren't looking for a new camera, but if you're only shooting video with the 60D, and it doesn't do the best of jobs, you might be carrying the extra weight for nothing - in which case P&S all the way.

On to your questions about the potential image-quality loss.. I've taken a point and shoot on just a couple trips since getting an SLR (for the same reason you posted this thread).. it's a big, BIG difference, and I think the weight justifies itself (and I use a battery grip.. add another lb but still justified). What you think you can get with a point and shoot, just isnt there - I've tried. Sure you'll get some good shots and at least document the memories - but the quality and range will suffer.

That's just one opinion - there are many very talented photographers on this forum and you may find I'm completely out to lunch! Just my two cents.


3/24/2017 2:45 pm  #3

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

That Sony has a pretty big sensor for a point and shoot. Still only half the size of the APS-C sensor in your 60D though. You also have much more zoom range with the Sony, but that L series Canon lens will give much crisper pictures. 

My gut feel is that if you leave the 60D at home you won't be happy with the still pictures you could have taken in that 17-40mm range. My second thought is that I would have gone with a newer Canon body (even a T6i) that would solve the video focus issues, but that's just where I'm at in camera thinking these days. 

Personally I started with the higher end point and shoots like the Canon SX30is for the zoom range and am (very) slowly moving to the DSLR space for the image quality, better autofocus, better colour, etc. 

I haven't given up the SX30is and I also carry a Canon D30 which is waterproof and has a 5X optical zoom as the camera that is now primarily out in the canoe all day long. However, I also now know that while I can get good pictures with either of those, if I'm really out to take pictures then I'll be getting out the DSLR. 

Which probably makes it obvious that weight isn't my primary concern when choosing which camera(s) to take along. On the other hand, since you are thinking about weight, then the Sony is the far more versatile camera to take with you and I'm sure you will get some great images with it. Sony is definitely leading the field in image sensors these days so even though it is a smaller sensor than your 60D it might well be close in image quality. 


3/24/2017 3:44 pm  #4

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Thanks for the feedback. When I bought the 60D (which was many years ago) video wasn't something I thought about or researched. I bought it to take pictures, full stop. I'd love to replace it with a more modern SLR, but I'll have to wait until I'm not paying $1700/month for daycare!

@Peek: you lost a 60D in the Petawawa? That's hilariously awesome. I feel your pain... I lost a lens cap once in Ink Creek ;)
And no, I wasn't taking the 60D only for videos, just the opposite. It was always for pictures with the occasional video thrown in. But I'm having fun doing video trip reports lately, so there will be a lot more of that going forward. And since I can't trust the 60D to take videos in focus, I'm now maybe stuck with taking one camera for videos, another for pictures, and a third (waterproof) mounted to my kayak. And batteries. Lots and lots of batteries. 

@RobW: ... "will give much crisper pictures". I think those five words have shaped my decision, but I'll have to see what my final pack weight is. My Spring trip is 9 days which means lots of food, lots of batteries, and lots of extra weight. Between the waterproof and point and shoot cameras I'm already taking over 30 batteries, which is over 1 and a half pounds. My thinking, as of this moment, is that the SLR will likely still join me for most trips, but on long trips it might have to stay behind. But on the other hand, 3 pounds is 3 pounds. It's not going to snap my femur while I walk a portage, it'll just make me a little slower, a little heavier, a little more tired. 

Game-time decision still... sigh. 


     Thread Starter

3/24/2017 4:31 pm  #5

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Uppa - sorry, geez. I don't know how I missed your final words of 'if would only be for one purpose: taking pictures'. My bad. I think I instantly ran with the 'yesssss. 60D auto focus argh!' sentiment. Yeah.. I lost a 60D in the Pet. I'd write a TR about it but I don't have any pictures from that trip. TR 46 shall never be..

Nevertheless, I think if you have an SLR and esp. a decent L series lens as you do - bring it. How else can you show others how amazing APP really is? dehydrate an extra meal to make up for the weight! (ok.. maybe two)


3/24/2017 5:14 pm  #6

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

The only way I would carry a DSLR on a trip is if there were no portages or if I could afford $10 000 for a full frame camera and the lenses to go with it. Otherwise, the detail and dynamic range difference just isn't  enough for me to pack the extra weight. But then I'm a gram weenie.

This was taken with a cell phone



3/24/2017 5:15 pm  #7

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Peek wrote:

Yeah.. I lost a 60D in the Pet. I'd write a TR about it but I don't have any pictures from that trip

LOL! Couldn't help it sorry


3/24/2017 5:29 pm  #8

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

lol, I can joke today.. but for like.. 2 years after it happened I was pretty pissed.

Nice photo man - what phone??


3/24/2017 6:10 pm  #9

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Peek wrote:

Yeah.. I lost a 60D in the Pet. I'd write a TR about it but I don't have any pictures from that trip.

The fact that this isn't already on your site as the complete TR 46 is almost criminal. Also, I already take nothing but dehydrated food (except the first night's meal) - I can't dehydrate any more!

@Martin: Just when I'm starting to make up my mind you come along with a dissenting opinion. Way to suck. I think, and bear in mind I'm by no stretch of the imagination a photographer, that any decent camera is going to do a decent job in good light. I've seen what a crappy camera does to a sunset, however, or any low light conditions.I think what I really need to do is take this point and shoot of mine out and take a whackload of photos with it and then judge for myself. 

     Thread Starter

3/24/2017 6:24 pm  #10

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

I think that point and shoot of yours is pretty friggin good. High usable ISO and F1.8-2.5 through its whole range. I think its going to be pretty good in low light. Plus it fits in a ziplock in your PFD.

Best camera in the world is no good stowed away in Pelican case with the wrong lens attached.

@Peek it's a Samsung s7.


3/25/2017 10:28 am  #11

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

I leave my DSLR at home, and take my canon G15, which is a higher end point and shoot. It does a great job in all settings and I love the video capability. Very focussed.
I bought a fitting, leather case for it online for $15.00 to protect it and I have it handy in my daypack. My DSLR is just to cumbersome on longer trips. Canon g15 battery lasts for about 10 days, less if you do a lot of video,but I found it easy to bring an extra battery and so far haven't run out of power on longer trips.


3/25/2017 11:36 am  #12

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

MartinG wrote:

I think that point and shoot of yours is pretty friggin good.

Yeah... I did quite a bit of research before buying it, as it was a Christmas present for my wife a few years ago. It was pretty much the best point and shoot on the market at the time. She's not using it as much I thought she would, so I figure I may as well steal it for the occasional camping trip. 

tentsterforever wrote:

I leave my DSLR at home, and take my canon G15, which is a higher end point and shoot. It does a great job in all settings and I love the video capability. ...  battery lasts for about 10 days, less if you do a lot of video,but I found it easy to bring an extra battery and so far haven't run out of power on longer trips.

So you're saying the 15 batteries I have packed for that camera might be overkill? ;)

I installed an app on it for time lapse photography. Taking a shot every 10 seconds for 30+ minutes chews through battery in a hurry. I actually probably will go through all those batteries, assuming I get nice cloudy days, or sunrises, or sunsets worth time lapsing. 

     Thread Starter

3/25/2017 12:19 pm  #13

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

Battery life is dependent on usage. I generally take a lot of pictures and video. A battery for the SX30 will last maybe 2 days. The 15 batteries for one camera may be overkill, but not when I re-read your note on the timelapse. ;-)



3/25/2017 5:53 pm  #14

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

I've been using an iPhone 4s for the past 5 years and (in my opinion) have gotten decent pictures: http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=44357

edit: and some nice sunrise ones at the bottom of this report: http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=45237

They might not be good enough to print and enlarge, but for screen purposes I think it's fine. (The images in that link are obviously scaled down from the original)

I just got an iPhone 6s last week, so I'm excited to see how my shots will turn out this year.

Even for videos the 4s wasn't bad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu77ZWY3fgM
(there's one clip that's very out of focus in that video though)

Obviously an SLR is going to be much better, but my point is that an iPhone isn't a bad alternative when weight and size are big concerns. If I was able to get some 'decent' stuff with a 4s, then the newer phones like 6 and 7 should be able to get good enough quality to justify leaving the SLR at home. It's also easy to purchase one power bank with 30k+ mAh instead of needing to bring several different batteries.

Just my 2 cents

Last edited by trippythings (3/25/2017 5:57 pm)

Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures

3/27/2017 11:19 am  #15

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

"They might not be good enough to print and enlarge, but for screen purposes I think it's fine"

Yep... I agree with trippythings... just a little illustration below why pocket camera P&Ss and maybe cell phone cameras might be good enough. Zooming in on the blown-up outlined area shows detail (a duck blind) not visible in the first photo, so "for screen purposes" here, there is more detail captured by the camera than can be resolved on the screen. Higher camera resolution won't make a difference since usually screen resolution is what's limiting what can and can't be seen.

(The camera is an Olympus TG-820 waterproof P&S, in reviews, image test patterns were judged to be good enough to be rated "sharp".)

PS... opening the photos in a new tab will produce larger versions



Last edited by frozentripper (3/27/2017 11:22 am)


3/28/2017 11:02 am  #16

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

I don't think I'd ever drop to just using my iPhone as a camera, but I know phone cameras have improved dramatically over the years. I've made up my mind, for the Spring trip at least. The SLR stays home. We'll see how I feel once I get back and have looked at the results. 

Thanks for the feedback folks - it's appreciated!

     Thread Starter

3/29/2017 7:27 am  #17

Re: To SLR or not to SLR?

I'm not 100% sure but wouldn't using a different lens help with your auto focusing issues?


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