Photo Envy

Three cameras that will make your friends hate you.

What fun is going on a snowboard trip if you can’t torture all your friends with images of perfect blue-sky powder days, first tracks, huge air, and long nights of full-color party action? The three cameras we checked out this month can’t guarantee you a perfect snowboard trip, but they will promise to capture the moment so all your friends will wish they’d gone along for the ride.

Yashica T-4 Super D

MSRP $380

This Yashica T-4 is the favorite low-cost point-and-shoot camera of professional snow and skate photographers for one major reason: the Carl Zeiss f3.5 lens. This speedy lens offers the sharp images of a camera three times its price. While the lens may be the reason professionals use it, there are many features that make it perfect for snowboarders. It shoots 35 mm film, is small enough to stuff in a jacket pocket, and it’s completely weatherproof, which means it can survive snowstorms and accidental fumblings into snow or slush. Another cool feature is the “super scope” that allows you to look down through a viewer in the top of the body, just like the old large-format cameras. The T-4 has a self-timer, total flash control, and optional time-stamp function. The only thing the T-4 doesn’t have is a zoom, but what the hell, just take a step closer to your subject.

Canon Elph 2

MSRP $420

Canon’s little soul stealer is by far the smallest two-by zoom camera in the world. It measures 3.4 x 2.2 x 1 inches (about the same size and weight as a deck of cards) and runs Advanced Photo System film (APS), which makes handling the film completely foolproof. With APS the size, shape, and number of prints can be chosen before the image is shot. But don’t be fooled by how easy this camera is to use–the Elph 2 also appeals to people who know what they’re doing. The Elph’s custom function settings allow a real-time shutter release that fires the shutter instantaneously, eliminating the shutter lag so common in point-and-shoots, making this camera perfect for capturing “hot snowboard action.” And for those night shots in Aspen, the Elph’s “slow synchro mode flash” makes it possible to shoot flash photos without losing the background. Best of all, the camera looks downright bomber. The brushed stainless-steel industrial-strength case makes the Elph 2 look like it should be on display in a museum of modern art rather than in your pocket.

Sony Mavica MVC-FD83

$799

These days if it’s not digital, it’s not going to be attached to e-mail. If torturing friends long distance is in the cards, then the Sony Mavica MVC-FD83 may be the right camera. It takes still images as well as five-second long video clips that include sound. Sending “wish you were here” messages over the Internet has never been easier–especially since this Sony uses ordinary three-and-a-half-inch floppy disks for digital storage.

The Mavica runs on a rechargeable lithium battery and uses a color LCD screen as a viewfinder. The later can be difficult to get used to, especially if you’re accustomed to putting a camera up to your eyes. The LCD can also be hard to see on extremely bright snow days. But if you like the idea of sending photos to friends, or shooting photos that you don’t want the kid running the Costco photo department to see, then check out the Sony Mavica.

–Lee Crane