Camera Hunting

Warning: camera neepery ahead. Or, depending on your temperament: yay, camera neepery ahead! 🙂

I’m looking to replace my Leica V-Lux 2, which is a hand-me-down from my mother, ergo more than a few years old. Searching for a replacement has been educational, because it’s illustrating for me the extent to which the niche occupied by this model appears to be, well, disappearing.

There are DSLRs. There are point-and-shoot cameras. What there doesn’t appear to be is a point-and-shoot with specs that are equal to or better than what I have right now. Nikon’s Coolpix line is right out; they don’t seem to have any model with an aperture range bigger than f/3 to f/6.5. (My Leica goes f/2.8 to f/8.) The Leica website still lists the V-Lux 4, but given that I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s been discontinued. My best bet so far is Canon’s PowerShot G1 X Mark II . . . but, and I admit this is a trivial concern, its LCD is embedded in the back of the camera. My Leica has the screen on a swivel arm, which has come massively in handy when I’m trying to take photos at weird angles, like from over my head or around a corner.

The Nikon D5200 has the swivel screen — but it’s a DSLR. (Or, to be more precise, it’s a system camera/ILC.) I’ve kind of wanted to move to interchangeable lenses for years now, so I should leap at the prospect, right? Well, not quite. Because that means carrying lenses with me, and I’m not keen to have the added weight, given how many of my trips involve being on my feet all day. Not to mention that switching out lenses will slow me down, and my husband is already wonderfully tolerant for putting up with the amount of time I spend taking photos. (Not to mention carrying our backpack part of the time, so he’d be dealing with the added weight, too.) I’ve worked hard on being as quick as I can, but swapping out for a wide-angle lens or whatever is going to inevitably take time.

Sure, I could get the Nikon and then just never buy any other lenses. But at that point it seems stupid to have a system camera in the first place.

Except that I’m not sure I can get what I want otherwise. The Canon comes closest, if I’m willing to give up the swivel screen; it’s gotten some excellent reviews. But the point-and-shoot market is being cannibalized by smartphones: they may not be as good at taking photos as a dedicated camera, but for most people’s purposes they’re good enough, and much more convenient. If you actually care about the finer points of photography, it seems like you’re increasingly looking at the higher end of the market, just because of the way the lower end is vanishing.

All of which is extended background leading up to a question: is there another camera I should consider? The swivel screen is negotiable, but I definitely need f/2.8-f/8 or better, decent zoom, and ISO up to 1600 (bonus points if the levels above 400 are actually usable). Right now it’s a race between the Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II and the Nikon D5200, but I’d love to know if there are any alternatives.

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