Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Digital Cameras For Cyclists

Holiday Gift Guide

Camera phones and POV cameras don’t cut it when you want great photos. I always carry a “real” camera when I’m on my bike because I want more control and better quality. For this guide I’ve chosen ten easy-to-carry cameras that will help you make cycling photos that are worthy of printing and framing. With real optical zoom lenses, large sensors for great image quality, and better controls, you’ll be able to craft better photos than you would with your phone. Most of these cameras will fit in a pants pocket and they’ll all easily fit in a jersey pocket or hydration pack. Every camera here has full HD video, too. Even if you already have a POV camera, a compact camera with a real zoom lens will allow you to shoot a second angle that you’d never be able to get with the super-wide lens on your helmet-cam. Plus, most of the cameras in this guide have built-in Wi-Fi so you can wirelessly transfer photos and videos to your phone and share immediately with all your Facebook and Instagram followers.
If you’re interested in a DSLR or you just want more camera options, check out the other Holiday Camera Guides on PhotographyREVIEW.com:
Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide »
Holiday Mirrorless Camera Guide »
Holiday DSLR Guide »
And if it’s a POV camera you’re looking for, check out Brian’s POV Camera and Electronics Guide.

Sony Cybershot RX100 II

Looking for a no-compromises camera you can carry in a jersey pocket? Look no further – the Sony Cybershot RX100 II is the reigning king of point-and-shoot cameras. Although the RX100 II is small enough to fit in a pants pocket, the 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor is way better than you’ll find in any other point-and-shoot camera so you’ll get great image quality regardless of conditions. The RX100 II has full manual controls and a 3.6x 28-100mm (equivalent) f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens so you can take arty espresso photos at the coffee shop and freeze the action on the road or trail. Of course it has video, too – 1920×1080 full HD at 60 FPS. You can even add an external stereo mic, flash or electronic viewfinder with Sony’s Multi Interface Shoe. Last but not least – the Sony RX100 II has built-in Wi-Fi so you can wirelessly transfer photos to your Smart Phone and upload your lunch ride photos from the road.

Price: $749
Intro article: Sony Cybershot RX100 II – World’s Best Pocket Camera Gets Better
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.sony.com

Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS is one of the best point-and-shoot camera deals around right now. It’s very small, easy-to-use and has a great 10x 24-240mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens and built-in Wi-Fi. The 330 HS has a proven 12-megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon’s HS system for great image quality, full HD video, and still photo bursts up to 6.2 FPS. The 10x optical zoom means you can get creative with composition and make photos of distant subjects that you’d never be able to make with a camera phone or POV camera. And the built-in Wi-Fi means you can share photos and videos from the road or trail. Just use the Wi-Fi to transfer photos or videos to your phone and then upload right to Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

Price: $150
Review: Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Review
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.canon.com

Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS

For cyclists who spend a lot of time outdoors in nasty weather – especially mountain bikers and others who are hard on cameras, the Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS is the best point-and-shoot camera available. Waterproof to 50 feet and able to withstand drops of nearly 7 feet, the Olympus TG-2 is designed to be abused. It’s small enough to carry in the pocket of your baggies, a jersey pocket, or in a small pouch on the shoulder strap of your hydration pack – that’s how I do it. It’s not just another rugged waterproof point-and-shoot, either. The Olympus TG-2 has the best image quality of all the rugged point-and-shoots I’ve had the pleasure of using. One of the main things that set it apart is the 4x 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 (equivalent) optical zoom lens. The large f/2.0 aperture makes a real difference in low light and allows faster shutter speeds for freezing action. The Olympus TG-2 has aperture priority manual shooting so you can take full advantage of the large f/2.0 aperture. It also has full HD video, built-in GPS and it can shoot full resolution still photos at 5 FPS. The TG-2 is my first choice for a truly compact outdoor camera when I’m out in the elements. The only thing it’s missing is built-in Wi-Fi.

Price: $399
Intro Article: New Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 iHS Adds Aperture Priority Control
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.olympusamerica.com

Nikon Coolpix AW110

If you like the idea of a rugged waterproof pocket camera but you also want the convenience and Instagramification of built-in Wi-Fi, then might I recommend the Nikon Coolpix AW110? The 16-megapixel AW110 is waterproof to nearly 60 feet, can handle drops of almost 7 feet, and it’s freezeproof, as well. It has a 5x 28-140mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens, full HD video and can shoot high-speed bursts at up to 8 FPS – plenty fast to capture any kind of cycling action. Install Nikon’s free mobile app on your phone or tablet and you can use the AW110’s built-in Wi-Fi to transfer photos to your phone so you can post to Facebook from the road or trail; or use your phone as a wireless remote control, complete with live view display.

Price: $249
Intro Article: The Nikon Coolpix AW110 Goes Deeper & Adds Wi-Fi
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.nikon.com

Sony Cybershot QX100

Sony is making some of the most interesting and creative cameras right now. The QX100 “lens-style” camera is one of their most interesting, yet. With built-in Wi-Fi, a mobile app and an adjustable bracket to mount it to your phone, it essentially turns your iPhone or Android Smart Phone into a real camera. Housed in the QX100 body is an excellent f/2.0 Carl Zeiss optical zoom lens, a large 1-inch sensor, a Micro SD memory card slot, a shutter release button and a customizable control ring. The QX100 is actually pretty much the same as Sony’s excellent RX100 premium pocket camera (the predecessor to the RX100 II listed at the beginning of this guide). So drop your phone in one pocket and the QX100 in another and you’ve got the best of both worlds – a real camera with a great sensor and lens; and a Smart Phone with kick-ass camera features.

Price: $500
Intro Article: Sony Announces QX10 & QX100 “Lens-Style” Cameras For Smart Phones
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.sony.com

Nikon 1 AW1

The Nikon 1 AW1 is one of the coolest and most significant cameras of 2013. It’s the world’s first rugged, waterproof interchangeable lens digital camera. If you want the rugged durability of a waterproof, shockproof point-and-shoot, but you want better image quality, performance and controls, then the AW1 was made for you. It has a large 1-inch sensor, PASM manual shooting modes and you can even shoot RAW. The AW1 also has some of the best performance specs you can get in any camera. It can shoot full resolution still photos as fast as 60 frames per second, it has world-class continuous auto focus, and it has full HD video – of course. The continuous auto focus will even keep up with cyclists when you’re recording video – something most DSLRs aren’t even capable of. With the AW1 you basically get DSLR performance in a camera just a bit larger than a point-and-shoot. Plus, when you’re done with your ride, you can spill beer on it and take it in the hot tub! The AW1 is bigger than most point-and-shoots and you won’t be able to carry it in the pocket of your baggy shorts. But it does fit in a jersey pocket and since it’s waterproof you don’t have to worry about getting it all sweaty.

Price: $799
Hands-On Preview: Just In: Nikon 1 AW1 Waterproof Mirrorless Camera
More Mirrorless Camera Ideas: Holiday Mirrorless Camera Guide
More Info: www.nikon.com

Panasonic Lumix LF1

The Panasonic Lumix LF1 is a high-end pocket camera with a 7.1x 28-200mm f/2.0-5.9 Leica optical zoom lens, a great 12-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, and a real viewfinder. That’s right; the LF1 is the only pocket-sized camera with an eye-level viewfinder – an electronic viewfinder (EVF) to be exact. The viewfinder can be used for recording video and it’s also great for panning action photos. The LF1’s fast-aperture long zoom, large sensor, and eye-level viewfinder really sets it apart from other pocket cameras. With 10 FPS high-speed burst and 1920 x 1080 60i video, it’s an action shooters dream. It can even shoot RAW. The LF1 also has built-in Wi-Fi so you don’t have to wait until you’re home to share your photos and videos. If you want a pocket camera that can really do it all, the Panasonic Lumix LF1 is one of the very best.

Price: $349
Intro Article: Panasonic Lumix LF1 – Pocket Camera With Viewfinder, f/2.0 Lens & Wi-Fi
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.panasonic.com

Sony Cybershot HX50V

I actually own this camera. Pocket superzooms are my favorite compact cameras and the Sony Cybershot HX50V has the most zoom available – a ridonculous 30x 24-720mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens that lets me shoot distant mountain peaks as well as standard trail action photos and tourist snapshots. It’s a ridiculous amount of zoom for a camera that easily fits in jersey pocket. It’s not just about the zoom, either. The HX50V has PASM manual shooting modes and a dedicated exposure compensation dial on the top right of the camera so it’s easy to take full control if you want. Shooting action is no problem, either, with 10 FPS high-speed burst and full HD 60p video. For straight-up point-and-shoot photographers it has a full range of scene modes as well as Intelligent Auto. And of course, the HX50V has built-in Wi-Fi so I can share my photos while I’m out ruling the trails or cruising on the bike path. With Sony’s Multi Interface Shoe I can even add a hot shoe flash, electronic viewfinder (EVF) or external stereo mic.

Price: $450
Intro Article: Sony Cybershot HX50V With 30x Zoom – Longest Pocket Superzoom Camera Yet
More P&S Camera Ideas: Holiday Point-and-Shoot Guide
More Info: www.sony.com

Panasonic Lumix GM1

Even though it fits in a pocket, the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is no point-and-shoot camera. The GM1 is an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with a large sensor for much better image quality than any point-and-shoot. To get the absolute maximum from the 16-megapixel Four Thirds sensor, the GM1 has PASM manual shooting modes and you can shoot RAW, as well. If you don’t care about manual controls, just put it in Panasonic’s excellent Intelligent Auto mode and let the camera make all the decisions for you. The GM1 has a Micro Four Thirds lens mount so you can use any of the many Micro Four Thirds format lenses from Panasonic, Olympus and Sigma. But for cycling you’re going to want the Panasonic 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 kit lens because it’s very small and keeps the camera pocketable. For action photos at the bike park or the velodrome the GM1 can shoot at 5 FPS; and it also records full HD video at 60 FPS. And because no one wants to wait to share their sweet ride photos, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi to transfer photos to your Smart Phone and share them from the road or trail.

Price: $749 with Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens
Intro Article: Panasonic Lumix GM1 Puts Interchangeable Lens Control & Wi-Fi In Your Pocket
More Mirrorless Camera Ideas: Holiday Mirrorless Camera Guide
More Info: www.panasonic.com

Fujifilm X100S

Here’s a camera for photography purists. The Fujifilm X100S rangefinder-style camera doesn’t have any magic auto modes, it doesn’t have a zoom lens, there’s no built-in Wi-Fi and it doesn’t have any kitschy built-in filters. What it does have is a no-compromise Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 prime lens (equivalent to 35mm focal length) and one of the best sensors available – Fujifilm’s own proprietary 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor. For the camera nerds, the sensor has no anti-aliasing filter and is useable right up to ISO 6400. The X100S has traditional manual controls, including an old-school aperture ring on the lens – anyone remember those? The hybrid viewfinder allows you to toggle between optical and electronic (EVF) modes. When you use the EVF you can see exposure adjustments in the viewfinder, playback photos and videos, and even record full HD video. The X100S is the largest camera in this guide but it’s not too big to put in a jersey pocket or wear under a wind vest on the neck strap. And the quality you’ll get from the excellent sensor and prime lens are unbeatable.

Price: $1299.95
Pro Review: Fujifilm X100S Review
More Mirrorless Camera Ideas: Holiday Mirrorless Camera Guide
More Info: www.fujifilmusa.com

2013 Mtbr Holiday Gift Guides:

Cold Weather Warrior »
Cyclocross Fanatic »
Digital Cameras For Cyclists »
For The Cyclist Who Has (Almost) Everything »
Gear For The Endurance Junkie »
Gear For the Gravel Grinder »
Great Gear For Under $50 »
Presents for the Urban Jungle »
Repurposed Gifts for the Green Cyclist »
The Newbie Road Rider »
Type A Crit Racer »
When Money Is No Object »

2013 RoadBikeReview Holiday Gift Guides:

Cold Weather Warrior »
Cyclocross Fanatic »
Digital Cameras For Cyclists »
For The Cyclist Who Has (Almost) Everything »
Gear For The Endurance Junkie »
Gear For the Gravel Grinder »
Great Gear For Under $50 »
Presents for the Urban Jungle »
Repurposed Gifts for the Green Cyclist »
The Newbie Road Rider »
Type A Crit Racer »
When Money Is No Object »

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About the author: John Shafer

John Shafer, a.k.a. Photo-John, is a photographer, cyclist, skier and general outdoor lover. He’s happiest when he’s on his bike or skis, taking pictures in the backcountry. He’s been on the Mtbr team since 1999 running PhotographyREVIEW.com as well as contributing photos and articles on Mtbr. John has been taking pictures since college and believes everyone can be a good photographer if they just learn a few simple rules. He loves big mountains, rocky singletrack, powder days, 6-inch trail bikes, coffee and tacos. Look for him pushing his bike uphill, carrying an inappropriate amount of camera gear in an overloaded backpack.


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  • shiggy says:

    I ordered the Canon ELPH 330 HS LAST week, partly based on P-John’s buyer’s guide on Photographyreview.com.
    It was on my short list and his comments confirmed my pick.

  • JimmyDee says:

    Come on man, do you really expect us to take you seriously when you say stuff like “if you want real pictures, I take a cheap little point and shoot camera instead of my cell phone…

    Some pretty bogus stats up there like the Nikon AW1 shooting full resolution at 60fps… Yeah, that’s 720p at 60fps. My Note 3 does 1080p60.

    But so does the GoPro Hero 3 (black).

    So there’s like 2 cameras on this list that are actually better…

    Oh and for that comment about wi-fi and ‘instagrammification’… how many people bring a wifi router with them on the trail? You want instagrammification, take a cell phone… unless you want to use your cell phone as a portable hotspot… which defeats the purpose now doesn’t it…

    • John Shafer says:

      JimmyDee – sorry I didn’t see your post earlier. I’ve been waiting for your comment – or a similar one from someone else.

      Yes, I do expect you to take me seriously because cameras are my business. The reality is, a small point-and-shoot will make better pictures than your camera phone. I already explained why but I’ll explain it again – better optics, better sensor and better controls. You may not believe it but almost any point-and-shoot beats a camera phone in all those areas.

      Bogus stats? You think I’m making them up? Nope. The Nikon 1 AW1 shoots full HD at 60i – that’s 60 FPS. No, it’s not 60p, but it is 60 FPS. It also has a way bigger sensor than the GoPro so the image quality is far better.

      As for your bringing “a wifi router with them on the trail” comment. You don’t have to. That’s the whole point. The built-in Wi-Fi combined with the corresponding app on your phone lets you wirelessly transfer photos from your camera to your phone so you can share them. I do it all day, every day.

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