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Which Premium Compact Camera Should You Buy?

If you’re looking to purchase a new point-and-shoot camera, you should consider upgrading to a premium compact camera. You’ll be able to snap superior pictures and successfully battle photo blur, but it’s going to cost you…

If you’re looking to purchase a new point-and-shoot camera, you should consider upgrading to a premium compact camera. You’ll be able to snap superior pictures and successfully battle photo blur, but it’s going to cost you…

You might be wondering why anyone would want to spend an ungodly amount of money on a newfangled compact camera that can fit in your pocket? Haven’t those kinds of cameras been around forever for a couple of hundred bucks? Plus, can’t your smartphone already take care of all your photo-snapping needs?
Well, not quite…

For me, the challenge is still how to capture a great moment in low light without a flash. That eternal blur is killing me. Unless, I’m shooting a bowl of fruit, any kind of motion creates some amount of blur!

I just want to be able to generate a crisp shot!
But for that, I’m going to need a bigger camera sensor. And I want it in a small camera.

Exactly…

The ‘Better’ Pocket Camera
They’re called ‘premium compact cameras.’
And they belong to a relatively new category of camera that’s supposed to solve the blur problem by using a much larger 1 inch-type sensor that’s typically built into larger and better DSLR cameras.

This upgrade provides a massive improvement over all other compact cameras that use smaller sensors.

If you think that ‘premium’ means it’s going to cost you more, it certainly will…

You may recall I recently destroyed my old Canon S100 pocket camera while performing an especially silly and pretty dangerous parenting maneuver. Since then, I’ve been on the market for a replacement camera. I questioned whether another standard point and shoot would really be that much better than the camera on my old iPhone 6 Plus. Not to mention the more advanced camera(s) on the iPhone 7.
(By the way, I think I’m going to wait to upgrade to the 8.)

And here’s the major reason for the creation of the premium compact camera market. Why else would anyone shell out anything for a pocket camera unless that camera could knock the socks off your smartphone?

And with that ‘promise’ in front of me, I decided to shell out some big dough in search of a little more clarity.

How to Decide…
There are essentially three choices to consider:

  • Sony DSC-RX100 V
    This is the fifth generation of the camera that launched the premium compact camera market. By most accounts, it’s still the one to beat.
    Among its superior features, it’s the only one of the three to have a separate pop-up viewfinder in addition to its LCD screen.
    The problem is it costs a thousand bucks!
    (You can save some money by buying an earlier model… The III and IV are still on the market and are solid choices.)
  • Canon G7X Mark II
    At $700, the Canon is a little easier on the wallet. But the jump from what I’m used to spending is still startling.
    The G7X II also has lots of fans out there. So I wouldn’t go wrong remaining in the Canon orbit.
    The one big drawback is it doesn’t offer 4K video like the other two.
    (More on this later.)
    On the plus side, it has a longer 24-100mm zoom lens than the other two.
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10
    This one will also set you back seven hundred bucks, but it has a slightly brighter lens. (F1.4-2.8 24-72mm equivalent) Every little bit helps when you’re fighting the blur in low light.
    (But you only get the F1.4 boost when you’re framing at 24mm. I really like the 24mm wider angle when trying to handle group selfies.)
    The Panasonic also has 4K-video capability. (As does the Sony)
    But the LX10 can create MP4 video files in addition to AVCHD unlike the Sony, which can only generate AVCHD.
    (I prefer editing with MP4 files in Final Cut Pro X.)
    The LX10 has a cool ‘4K Photo-Burst’ mode, which gives you the option to generate a specific jpeg from a short MP4 clip that’s captured at 30fps.

Process of Elimination
You’ll find tons of camera reviews out there comparing these options. And you’ll probably spend hours (days) trying to digest it all. (I certainly did!)

I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of these three amigos. But each has its own advantages. There’s no perfect choice.
(Is there ever?)

For me the decision comes down to this…

As much as I don’t feel the need to start shooting my family videos in 4K right now, (1080 is just fine, that you very much.) I want to future-proof this camera as much as possible. iPhones already shoot in 4K. I don’t think it’s going to be that long until 1080 HD video becomes yesterday’s dated 720 HD format.

As much as I’ve been a Canon guy for over a decade, I have to make the difficult decision to walk away from the G7X II, because it lacks 4K.

And I just can’t bring myself to spending a thousand smackers on a pocket camera. That means I can’t go with the Sony.

So that leaves the Panasonic…
Though the process of elimination does lead me here, I don’t feel I’m going with a runner up. The LX10 gets its own great reviews.
(And by the way, I don’t mind that it doesn’t have a separate viewfinder. I never have the time to frame like that. I’m lucky if I can pull the camera out of my pocket and point it at a family moment before that moment has moved on!)

Click.
panasonic-lumix-lx10-is-ready-to-go

 

 

 

 

 


Hello, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10!

Consider Yesterday’s Model
So I set myself back $700. And I’m not done yet.
(More on that in a moment.)

But before you take the same financial plunge, you should remember you’ve always got a fourth choice…

If you buy an older camera model, you’ll certainly save some money…
(Newer versions seem to get cranked out every year.)

The popular Sony RX100 III is selling for $698 at B&H Photo. That erases my Sony price premium concern. But it doesn’t have 4K video capabilities.

Amazon’s got the original Canon G7X for a hundred bucks less than the G7X II.
But I figure if I’m ready to spend $600 on a camera, then it’s worth ponying up a little more to get the latest and greatest.

As for the Panasonic LX10, there’s no earlier model that enough of an apples to apples comparison.

Should You Buy the Insurance?
I decided to purchase my Lumix LX10 online at B&H for $697.99.
As I looked at B&H’s check-out screen, there was the option to pick up an insurance plan through SquareTrade. (3-years of Drops and Spills for $128.99)

I quickly dismissed it, as I’m not a big believer of insurance for tech gear, except for my Apple products. My curser hovered over the camera-purchase button, but I just couldn’t press it…

What was wrong?

My subconscious was communicating with my conscious self…
It reminded me that I’ve broken more than one camera since becoming a daddy. The odds weren’t good that this one could go through the next few years totally unscathed.

Why wouldn’t I protect this camera, as I’m sure to be putting it in harms way?

I’m spending a boatload on this camera! It’s not going to be a throwaway item the first time it needs a repair. So why wouldn’t I buy the insurance?

Okay… enough said.
Hello, SquareTrade!

Accessorize!
Remember when I said I wasn’t done spending money…?
Well, there are a couple of important accessories to consider…

  • Soft Pouch
    I’ve got to protect my new precious. It just can’t bang around with all of my spare change in my pocket.
    (What little is left!)
    A stretchy, soft pouch will do the trick. The question is which one?
    (There are dozens out there.)
    So I called up B&H and asked the sales guy. He pointed me to this:
    OP/TECH USA Digital D Soft Pouch – $17.95 at B&H.
    Done.
  • Extra Rechargeable Camera Battery
    I always like to carry one with me. You never know…
    It’s the Panasonic DMW-BLH7 – $39.95 at B&H.
  • Battery Charger
    Guess what? The LX10 doesn’t come with a separate battery charger.
    Surprise!

You’re supposed to charge it in-camera using a supplied USB cable and AC charger.
While that felt like a game changer when I opened the box, after I sat with it for a bit, I realized it wasn’t such a big deal.

That said, I am getting that second battery. It would be nice to have a charger instead of always having to shuttle batteries in and out of the camera.

The B&H guy told me Panasonic hasn’t come out yet with its charger. But you can buy one from this manufacturer…
The Watson Compact ac/DC Charger Kit with Battery Adapter Plate for DMW-BLH7 is $19.95 at B&H.

It’s Not So… Small
And how pocketable is the LX10, really?

Well, it’s quite a bit bigger than my obliterated Canon S100. (R.I.P.)
But it’s smaller than my old Canon G9 (R.I.P.) …not as tall and thick.

Does the LX10 fit in my front pants pocket? Yeah…technically.
But honestly, it’s kind of tight.

I’ll make due…
(There’s no smaller camera with the same specs… especially a fast 24mm lens at the wide end.)

The Bottom Line
So I’ve got three takeaways to review as you consider your own decision:

#1
I love my new Panasonic Lumix LX10. It’s built like a tank, and my early photos look super!
lumix-lx10-hand-and-keyboard-shot

 

 

 

 

 


#2
Yes, I’ve been suckered into buying into the world of 4K video to create my family videos.
(But I bet my future self will soon come back in time to thank me for this forward-thinking move.)

#3
If a camera costs a lot… go buy the insurance to protect it! You don’t have to feel good about the fact that you need it. (I still don’t.) Just do it. Trust me.

You can’t control your world. But now, you can certainly take better pictures of it. At some point along your photo-snapping journey through life, I expect you’ll decide it’s worth it to spend the extra money.

As my father likes to say, we go around once.
Get the nice camera…
lumix-lx10-depth-of-field-globe-shot

I Bequeath My CD Collection to My Five Year Old

But before I do, I need to buy a new portable CD boombox, so my son can continue to listen to all of those near-abandoned discs I have yet to rip to my computer. The question is… which boombox should I get?

But before I do, I need to buy a new portable CD boombox, so my son can continue to listen to all of those near-abandoned discs I have yet to rip to my computer. The question is… which boombox should I get?

When my five year old was just a baby and beginning to crawl, he wasn’t really moving more than a few inches. One day, he spotted our old Sony CD boombox on the other side of the family room. It was playing a nursery rhyme. He stared at the magical device, and it was love at first sight. Now, he had some real motivation to advance his locomotion.

He had to touch it. In that moment, he crawled an entire foot towards it.

Over the next week, I watched him repeatedly return his attention to the CD player, and observed his effort to crawl over and touch it. When he eventually made it to the singing device, his face lit up as his stretched hand made first contact.

It felt like my son taught himself to crawl at an accelerated rate, because of this need to get to his CD boombox.

Yes, his boombox.

Music to His Ears
Since then, his attachment to the wonderful music box has never waned. He’s learned that pressing buttons makes it sing, and that there are different songs.

Eventually, he mastered the entire interface, plus the CD track numbers. He also enjoyed popping different CDs in and out to create a seemingly endless supply of music.

Like a boy and his dog, it was my son and his music.
(A dog is a conversation for another day.)

End of Life Lurking
But now there’s trouble lurking in his magic kingdom…

Our boombox is over a decade old, and his sometimes rough handling of it over the years has taken its toll. It’s finally starting to malfunction.

And before the CD player totally breaks down, I’ve got a decision to make.

Should I replace the Sony or introduce my son to the more current world of iPods and MP3 players?

Hanging on to CDs
It should be an obvious answer, but part of the problem is I still haven’t ripped all of my old CDs to iTunes. There’s a whole bookcase of them waiting for rainy days that never come… thanks to busy parenthood with other priorities.

Plus, somehow he’s picked up his own personal CD collection over the past few years. (Gifts, mostly)

My conundrum is CD use is still alive and well throughout the Lester household. As much as I want to, I can’t pull the plug… not yet. So I decided it was time to get a new boombox for my boy.

You Get What You Pay For
What made the decision a bit easier was the expected low price point of this near dead tech.

Sure CDs are still selling at the same prices as a decade ago.
(Odd)
But who’s really buying CD boomboxes anymore?
(Besides me?)

And in fact, Amazon has a whole host of no name CD boomboxes to choose from in the $30-$50 range. But user reviews are absolutely terrible for the whole lot of them.

Whatever I buy is going to take its share of wear and tear from my son’s use.
It needs to take a little licking…

Hmmm…

A Sony CD Boombox on Steroids
So expanded my price point and took a look at what Sony had to offer…

Of course Sony is selling its current boombox model for a hefty 100 bucks.
(You pay more for the brand, right?)

Sony ZS-RS60BT Boombox

 

 

 

 

 

But as it turns out, the black Sony ZS-RS60BT CD Boombox has a few updated tricks up its sleeve.

  • It has Bluetooth connectivity. So I can stream music to it from my iPhone.
    (Much like my nifty Logitech UE speaker)
  • It can play music files from USB devices.
  • It can rip CD files to USB devices.
    (As MP3s)

Not too shabby…

Sticking with Sony
Okay… so I’m spending twice as much as I need to… but I’m technically getting a superior unit with newer tech to future proof it somewhat.
(Plus, Daddy can use it too.)

Okay, let’s shop it…

Click.

No Magic Bullets
Most portable CD boomboxes on the market today have seemingly become glorified toys at ludicrously cheap price points. But if you want a good one, you’ve still got to spend some coin.

Does my son need a premium ‘Sony’ product? Well, I’d like it to last for a few years, and the Amazon reviews on this one are mostly solid.
(And don’t forget, my last Sony held up to normal toddler abuse like a champ.)

Equilibrium Restored
So my five year old is getting a new CD boombox.
(The holidays are just around the corner…)
No, he won’t be the coolest kid on the block, but thankfully, he doesn’t know that yet.

Soon, I will expose my son to newer musical tech. But for now, my boy will continue his reign as the CD king of our household.

He’s happy. I’m happy.

Yes, I blew some bucks on dead tech.
But I got a Bluetooth speaker along the way…

Rock on.

Is Jet an Amazon Killer?

If you’re not a big fan of Amazon these days, you might want to check out Jet.com to save some money… Does that mean Jet can beat Amazon at it’s own game? It depends…

If you’re not a big fan of Amazon these days, you might want to check out Jet.com to save some money… Does that mean Jet can beat Amazon at it’s own game? It depends…

Okay… so Amazon may not be the friendliest place to work. Recently, a few of my friends mentioned to me that after reading The New York Times article on Amazon’s toxic work culture, they’re thinking of ending their Amazon relationship. As I tried to consider my own ethics position on all of this, my conscience was quickly interrupted by the ‘hunting and gathering’ part of my brain…

“Where else is there to shop?!”

First off, I’ve got to admit the irony of my own question, because it was only a few short years ago when I was still dipping my toes into the water of online shopping. I remember calling it,
“The Joy of Shopping at Midnight in your Underwear.”

Now, I simply can’t do without online shopping… day or night. I’ve long ago applied those former brick and mortar shopping hours to other aspects of my busy life.

Married to Amazon
So yes, Amazon has firmly become my go-to online shopping site for quite some time now.

  • It’s simple.
  • There’s always a huge selection.
  • Amazon Prime’s free shipping seems like such a deal even at $99/year.
    (Not to mention the load of other benefits Amazon is piling onto Prime)
  • And Amazon’s pricing usually beats the pants off of brick and mortar stores.

But even without all of the bad press Jeff Bezos has received, I’ve grown a tad uncomfortable with the idea of shopping at only one URL.
(How do you know if the pricing has remained competitive?)

To be fair, I do go to a few other online destinations…

Cheating on Amazon

  • If I’m looking to buy some tech, I usually log on to B&H Photo. The best price is usually there…
  • When my son was still in diapers, I frequented Diapers.com and eventually dropped some coin on its affiliated websites- Wag.com, Soap.com and Yoyo.com. The pricing was sometimes competitive, but the free shipping (if you spent more than $49) always seemed to beat out Amazon’s 2-day Prime delivery.
    (The huge irony here is Amazon has owned Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com since 2011. I didn’t know this until I started writing this post.)

I also spend my money with a few specialty online merchants, such as…

…But for the vast majority of my home staples…

  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Kleenex
  • Cat food
  • Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Cree LED light bulbs
  • My favorite crackers
  • Toothpaste
  • Batteries
  • Dish Soap
  • Vitamins
  • (As well as an assortment of other items)

…I’ve been hitting up Amazon.

And while the convenience can’t be beat, I really don’t know how good the deals are anymore.
(No, I haven’t yet taken the obvious step of price comparisons at my local supermarket.)

I think it would be nice (and appropriate) if Amazon had a little competition… right?

Well, guess what?…. Hello, Jet.com!

Jet has Landed
Jet launched a couple months back, and it’s clearly looking to undercut Amazon’s pricing.

Co-founded by Marc Lore, who used to run Diapers.com (note the irony), Jet is structured somewhat like an online Costco with a $49.99 annual membership fee. (The first three ‘trial’ months are free, before you have pay up.)

And then you get ‘club-price’ discounts in several ways:

  • The more you spend, the greater the discount.
  • If you waive your right to a free return, you get a little more off.
  • You also get additional discounts for certain payment methods. (like debit cards)

Jet claims its profit model is focused entirely on its membership club fee, which allows it to sell items at the lowest prices.

Taking a Ride on Jet.com
So I signed up for my free trial and took Jet out for a spin…

  • First off, it’s base pricing usually just seemed to match Amazon’s.
    (Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash was a price match.)
    Sometimes the pricing hovered a few cents either way.
    (Brown Rice Snaps were slightly more expensive.)
  • Jet gives you an Amazon comparison tool right there on the page.
  • But then, Jet applies an immediate discount, which grows if you order multiples of the same item. And as you put more things in your cart, your overall discount keeps growing.
  • When you’re ready to check out, there’s indeed a significant savings. On my first order I saved $17.54 off the $72.54 subtotal. Plus free shipping. And no tax.
  • I don’t pretend to understand how all the discounting is applied.
    (‘Smart Items’ are supposed to save you more.)
    But at the end of the day, it’s less than shopping on Amazon.
  • And Jet even has a guarantee that if you don’t save at least $49.99 with your membership, they’ll refund the difference.
  • Just like Amazon, Jet sometimes finds your item through another retailer.

So what’s the downside?

  • Selection
    Jet doesn’t have (yet) the same massive selection as Amazon. I couldn’t find everything I wanted… No bags of Caribou Coffee… and Ziploc sandwich bags only in quantities of 500.
  • Delivery speed
    Every order doesn’t get to you in two days. Sometimes the free shipping takes 2-5 days.
    (And that’s fine, as long as you’re not in a huge rush.)

Jet Vs. Amazon
Is Jet an Amazon killer? No, not really.
(Not yet)

But I can’t tell you how happy I am that finally there’s some good, old-fashioned competition to Amazon out there.

And it doesn’t hurt that Jet gives you $10 off your first order (over $35) with a ‘TENBUCKSNOW” discount code.
(That’s on top of the other savings.)

So all this said, will I still continue to use Amazon?

Yep.
(Even though it may be a terrible place to work.)

But now, Jet has immediately become a cost-savings alternative for much of my general online shopping needs…

Am I rooting for the little guy?
Absolutely.

Can Jet beat Amazon at its own game?

We’ll have to wait and see…

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