The Most Popular Secondary Digital Cameras Are....

The Most Popular Secondary Digital Cameras Are….


Last week here on dPS we asked readers about their ‘secondary cameras’ in an attempt to work out 2 things:

  1. whether having a secondary camera is commonplace today
  2. what cameras are most common as secondary cameras

The response was overwhelming with over 400 comments so far – almost all of which affirmed our suspicion that dPS readers do in fact actively use secondary cameras.

When it comes to the ‘which camera’ question – the results were not quite as clear. There were a number of cameras that appeared more often than others but there were over 100 different models mentioned.

I spent a few hours over the weekend analyzing the responses given and it seems that the cameras mentioned fell into one of 3 categories:

1. Old Cameras – perhaps the most common response from readers belonged in this category. They went something like – ‘yes I have a secondary camera, its my old Canon 400D which I had before I bought my 5D Mk II’.

2. Camera Phones – perhaps unsurprisingly with the advancements in camera phone technology were responses from readers saying that they use their iPhone, HTC Droid, Nokia N8 etc as a secondary camera (by the way they were the most common 3 camera phones mentioned).

3. Dedicated Secondary Cameras – this was the category I was most interested in – people who have invested specifically in a second digital camera. There was quite a large group of readers who responded in this way – they almost all seemed to want a smaller camera as an alternative for their bulkier DSLR gear which they didn’t always want to haul around.

In most cases these were either feature rich compact cameras or medium sized cameras or four thirds format cameras.

Interestingly in this last category there were a number of camera models that stood out from the pack and which were mentioned multiple times.

Here’s the most common responses (and I’ve linked to each on Amazon and B&H photo for those of you in the market for your own secondary camera):

  1. Canon Powershot S95 (Get a price on B&H Photo)
  2. Canon Powershot G12 (Get a Price on B&H Photo) – the older G10 and G11 were also mentioned numerous times)
  3. Fujifilm Finepix X100 (Get a Price at B&H Photo)
  4. Panasonic Lumix DMC LX5 (Get a Price at B&H Photo)
  5. Olympus PEN E-PL1 (Get a Price at B&H Photo) – the newer E-PL2 and E-PL3 were also mentioned numerous times)
  6. Panasonic Lumix GF2 (Get a Price at B&H Photo) – Panasonic Lumix GF1 was also mentioned by quite a few people)
  7. Sony NEX 5 (Get a Price at B&H Photo) – other NEX models were mentioned including the NEX C3)

Notes about this list: this list shows cameras mentioned from most popular to least popular. It is generated from responses from readers on our previous blog post, facebook and on Twitter.

It also should be said that the top 3 cameras mentioned were mentioned quite a few times more than any other cameras.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • mary December 11, 2011 09:57 am

    My secondary is the Lumix lx3. My primary DSLR is a Canon D40. I have artharitis in my left hand, which sometimes precludes using the larger camera and associated gear. I purchased all of the lx3 gear. This is the finest point ans shoot ever. I realize its limitations and fully appreciate what it can do, and that is assist

    me in taking great photographs.

  • Richard Hattauer November 20, 2011 07:59 am

    until i can afford the Nikon D7000, the Sony NEX5N is still my primary. It will soon be my secondary, (or at the one i take to non professional shootings), but i love that it shoots in RAW, 10 fps, 1080p/60 video, and has interchangeable lenses....only problem is there aren't many lenses for it yet.

  • neuroanatomist September 30, 2011 12:34 am

    I shoot with a 5DII and a 7D, but I also have a Canon S95 for those times when a gripped dSLR and bag of lenses jsut isn't feasible. My feature requirements for a secondary (or tertiary, I suppose) camera were:

    • Fit in pocket
    • Shoot RAW
    • Largest sensor possible for form factor

    A short list, but there was really only one camera that fit the bill, and I find that the S95 does a very nice job. The main shortcomings for the S95 are, IMO:

    • CCD sensor
    • slow frame rate
    • 28mm not quite wide enough

    All of those seem to have been addressed by the forthcoming, I've already pre-ordered the new version. :)

  • Rob September 19, 2011 06:46 pm

    I got a Canon S95 as a secondary camera and *I HATE IT!* Not only are the dials very sloppy but I really cannot get on with composing a picture without a viewfinder, especially in bright sunshine. I wish I had bought a G12 (and I wish I could afford an X100!)

  • Daryl September 18, 2011 10:01 pm


    My main camera is a Canon MkII and my secondary camera is a Fujifilm X100. My reason is that I wanted a smallish camera to take to work in the city and photograph whatever. I ride on trains or trams after work and I take photos.
    Interestingly, it's not my first secondary camera, I had a Sony DSC-something and I didn't use it much because I was put off by the bright monitor as being obvious and visible in public and I decided my secondary camera had to have a viewfinder.

  • Graham Smith September 17, 2011 07:19 am

    Hi I use an Olympus D 400 as my main camera. And a Samsung NV11 as pocket back up.It is a fantastic piece of kit. She is my baby.

  • Marilyn Armstrong September 17, 2011 02:28 am

    Nice to discover that others share my preference for small, compact cameras! I think it's the way the future is going. Regardless of make and model, I think that we are going to see ever more lightweight, highly portable cameras and few great big heavy ones. Not that I expect the big ones to disappear, but I suspect the camera world will be more evenly divided between the Big Kids and the Little Kids, all having similar functionality.

  • Andrea Boyle September 16, 2011 01:26 pm

    The Canon S90 is always in my purse, pocket, pack or bag. Older version of the S95 and has served me well, taking HDR photos without a tripod as long as I have a steady hand. I'd upgrade, but I love this one so much I figure, what's the point? Smaller, lighter and with a 2.0 option (depending on other settings and light) than the G12, so, what's the point? It is a no-brainer for me...

  • tylera7707 September 16, 2011 01:03 pm

    I passed my d5000 to my wife when I got my d7000. While not digital I plan to buy a nikon fe next week. Throw a 28 2.8 on and learn film!

  • Matt September 16, 2011 05:37 am

    I use a D700 as main, another D700 as backup, and a Fuji S5 as an allternative. I suspect that if I wont the lottery I'd still have the S5 long after the D700s were replaced.

  • John Dawson September 16, 2011 05:28 am

    First....a trusty old Nikon D50. Second... a recently purchased Panasonic DMC LX3; a good pocket camera.
    Enjoy your site and can also enjoy the odd typo without having to comment. Keep up the good work.

  • tim gray September 16, 2011 02:28 am

    @alaxander your t2i takes better photos than the fuji ever will.
    In fact that t2i takes photos as good as a 7d or 5d. it's the photographer not the gear.

  • Richard Davis September 16, 2011 12:18 am

    I guess my G10 would be a third camera after my old 5D which I bought before my current primary 5D Mark II.

    I've yet to see a phone camera hold a candle to even a point-and-shoot. The megapixel count may be going up but the thinness of the phone dictates a very small image sensor. But, if they can start squeexing light field cameras into phones and uprate the resolution, then things will get really interesting!

  • Adam September 15, 2011 11:51 am

    I bought my gf a canon s95 specifically so that when I didn't want to take my dslr I would have a small GREAT compact that I would have great point and shoot photos or any creative photos that I want. Love that little thing.

  • Barry September 14, 2011 07:35 am

    Sounds like I am in good company. I originally got a panasonic gf1 as a secondary camera, but recently also picked up a canon s95 for keeping with me all the time.
    For my wife we got a new panasonic waterproof camera to give us some different options when we are kayaking or hiking/climbing in weather that we don't want to subject the slr to.

  • Alexander DiMauro September 14, 2011 06:37 am

    I can't believe that the Fujifilm Finepix X100 is between $1200-1500+! That's more than I paid for my T2i with 2 lenses + external flash. What makes a point-and-shoot worth that kind of money? Or is it just hard to find now so everyone is jacking up the price?

    Anyway, I still have my old Canon PowerShot A570IS that I use as a secondary camera, but it really needs an upgrade. Instead of my secondary camera, it's slowly becoming my 7 year old daughter's first camera, as she is learning how to use it now. Thanks to this list I'll now know where to look for a replacement. Probably stick with Canon, and one of the top two on the list. Thanks.

  • v September 14, 2011 06:33 am

    i REALLY love my g12. it's an EXCELLENT camera and i trust it. just did some street photography with it over the weekend and what was really cool was using the articulating screen. i could steady the camera on my knee and use the screen to focus and shoot. good set up if one doesn't ask to take someone's photo. *hangs head low*

  • John September 14, 2011 04:25 am

    Nikon D2x main camera D2x backup and a D300s

  • camerasoola September 14, 2011 02:25 am

    typo: HTC Doid

  • Anthony September 14, 2011 02:21 am

    Darren, I am a avid reader of your posta and this website as well as a photographer. You made a spelling mistake under the Camera Phones section, it should read HTC Droid, not HTC Doid. Just thought I'd let ya know. Great articles you have, I need to join this website.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck September 14, 2011 02:20 am


    I currently use a Nikon D7000, D90 as a backup and a D40X as secondary. I plan to convert the D40X to infrared.

    Would love to see images like this one from the Salton Sea in IR