Your best bet is an Olympus Stylus Epic if you can find it.
A lot of outdoor folks use one of the Olympus Stylus series cameras. I've carried an Olympus Infinity Stylus (f3.5) outdoors for around 300 nights and it gave me good service, proved rugged enough and took nice pictures. The later Olympus Stylus Epic (f/2.8) is probably a bit better. Personally, I would pass on the Epic Zoom. They are popular, but the zoom feature worries me as ruggedness is what I'm after. These camera's have proven themselves in the field. Most people would say their biggest problem is that the flash mode comes up as default each time you open the clamshell. They take the cr123 battery, which is good as it is very common. Like many P&S cameras there is no manual mode, but it has both focus and exposure lock which will help you on the snow. If you are looking for a downhill camera, you are on you own, and you will just have to test a few to see if they can take a tumble.
My XA survived MANY years of skiing, backpacking, fishing,and hunting. It survived my kids borrowing it, and years of bouncing around in the glove box of my old CJ-7-- other than needing new seals, it still works great.
I'm curious as to what the deal is with the Stylus Epics. From what I can find they seem like they have ok lenses and decent metering, but the AF speed and shutter lag seem to be not terribly amazing, which worries me somewhat.
Thanks for the Yashica T4 suggestion everyone, but it's a little out of my price range.
domaz - thanks very much for the Trip 35 suggestion. I wasn't immediately drawn to it and it sort of slipped my mind until you mentioned it due to the longer lens, but i'm starting to think it might work nicely, plus the prices don't seem to have gone through the roof.
It's nice to hear from people that the XA is a tough little beast. I'd sort of been curious about them before, but not really enough to get one. Does anyone know what a fair price would acutally be on one of these? KEH prices seem a little steep for me (50+ USD) and auction prices seem wildly varying.
The Infinity Stylus I have moves the lens from its parking position to the AF position just before firing the shutter. It works this way even when you use the focus lock feature. The movement takes about 1/4 to 1/2 second which is probably the delay you are discussing. I think Olympus chose to do it this way so the clamshell could be used to both open the camera as well as function as the power on/off switch. By moving the lens just before taking the picture they didn't have to worry about what happens when you close the clamshell as the lens is almost fully retracted already. I'm not sure how the later versions (Epic and Epic Zoom) function. I would think the Epic Zoom must work differently.
Originally Posted by c.w.
Personally, I think the quarter second shutter delay is one of those necessary compromises you have to accept when using a modern AF P&S camera. Having the clamshell as the only action required to turn the camera on and off improves the overall human interface for a device often used just for grab-shots. Furthermore, when considering that both the camera and built in flash are powered by a CR-123 battery, they have done a masterful job on optimizing the battery life. I was amazed at how much use I could get out of a single battery. I'm sure if you wanted to drop the AF times down there would be a noticeable drop in battery life as well as an increase in size, weight and cost.
Devices such as this are the product of some designer corralling the necessary engineering compromises into as small a list as possible. I think Olympus did a respectable job with the Stylus series as was proved by their popularity among their devoted users. I suspect the XA series falls into this category as well and the T* series needs nobody to come to its aid.
Good luck on your search and come back and post a picture or two of your trips.
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Not sure what you are looking for...
- Rugged & cheap - Russian LTM's, Minolta Hi-Matic, Cannon QL-17 - but figure you may need to pay for a CLA. CLA'd Zorkis & Feds are available from fedka(?)
- Rugged & expensive - Nikon 35Ti, Leica, Contax G & T, Ricoh GR series
- Ruggedish & overpriced - Yashica T4
- Ruggedish & cheap - Nikon 1-touch, older top-of-the-line-at-the-time P&S's from Canon and Pentax
Unlike other posters I have found Olympus XA's and Styli to be flimsy and unreliable. Olympus designs, though compact, are shaved a bit too thin for my taste.
>.....I have found Olympus XA's and Styli to be flimsy.....
I don't disagree. Your pluralization of Stylus delights me.
Many years ago, I used a Rollei 35B and then a Minox 35, almost exclusively for Kodachromes. I was pleased.
It's extremely well-liked by me, and one of my favorite 35mm cameras. I prefer it to the XA which is too fiddly. I've shot some of my best shots with my XA2.
There's the XA2 with no rangefinder, but it's not exactly well liked from what i've read.
Oh, the horror. One of the best 35mm cameras ever designed, for $50. Why, that's nearly as expensive as a 8GB compact flash card!
KEH prices seem a little steep for me (50+ USD)
Take a look at the Ricoh 500GX f/2.8 I've had one for years and the pictures are excellent.
Denis K - Yeah, that 1/2 to 1/4 second delay worries me quite a bit for action shots.
Nicholas Lindan - Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to look more closely at the Minolta Hi-Matic and Canonets.
BetterSense - $50 isn't terrible, but unless the things are made out of unobtainium i'm also budgeting a backup or at least planning on having the cash around to buy another one. Not to mention a lot of the other options are nearly half the price.