Monday, January 26, 2009

Camera Obscura

I'm in the middle of a retail dilemma.  A creative conundrum.  A financial justification of the highest order.

You see I want another camera and as well as the choice being bewildering, I'm faced with not even knowing what I want in terms of specifications.  Well except that it has to be small.

At the start of the digital era, for me anyway, I bought a 1mp Kodak camera that had more plastic about it than Paris Hilton. ( It's been about a year since I slagged her off so she's well overdue ). 

Then I moved to a 4mp Canon G2 which served me well but after a while I missed having the ability to change lenses as I did in my pre digital days. I wanted a dSLR and so, for the last few years, I've had a 10mp Canon XTi (400D) and although I'm perfectly happy with it, it is a large camera and so not suited to carrying around with me wherever I go.

So now I'm thinking of getting a 'stick it in your breast pocket' type of camera, the type you can leave by mistake in the credit card wallet at a restaurant, but am faced with an ususual problem.  I'm looking for a lesser camera than the one I have now, in terms of lens quality, functionality, manual control and especially cost, and this is making my choice very difficult.

When you upgrade or buy a replacement you normally go for the best you can afford and hopefully this will be a product that betters the previous one. In this case I'm not wanting to upgrade OR replace but just complement.  So I started by looking at the cheapest of these micro cameras and that's when I saw I would have a problem.  I wanted one with a good lens.  I needed to move up about $50.  I also wanted one with more than X3 optical zoom.  Another $50.  I wanted one with image stabalisation.  Kaa-gingggg.

Suddenly I was heading for the much more expensive end of the market and I was in 'danger' of getting a camera that was on a par with the one I have now !!  So I headed back down again, telling myself I could do without image stabalisation as after decades of taking photos with all sizes of still and video cameras, I have my own in-built steadycam feature.  Also known as wide apart legs. I could also accept only x3 zoom as if I want to get a closer shot, I can just move closer.  Radical.  (Ok I know that doesn't work most times as there can be a river or an interstate in the way or that Yeti up in the tree is 300ft away but you know what I mean).  I do want a good lens though.

At least I know what I DON'T want. I don't want or need those features like face recognition or, God help us all, a smile recognition feature.  Yes you can now get a camera that refuses to take a photo of the Mona Lisa, as her enigmatic smile wouldn't be enough of a smile to trigger the shutter mechanism.  And if you've ever looked at the group photos on any music album, well they weren't taken with one of these cameras, that's for sure. Now if they had a sullen recognition feature, they'd clean up in the music world.

As for my constant 'can I justify it' problem when buying anything over £10 ($15), I'm pretty much over that one now.  The 100th time on this trip that I've said "I wish I'd got a camera with me" was justification enough.  Hell watching some of the customers in the local WalMart is justification enough.  I'd no idea they built mobility scooters that wide and it really IS true what they say about marrying your first cousin !

So right now I'm all over the place.  I've read every compact digital camera review on the internet and looked at more store prices than a bargain hunter at Christmas.  I can't ask people who HAVE one of these cameras as I assume no one is going to tell me theirs is a piece of crap.  And one persons little gem may be anothers.....well piece of crap.  Cameras are like that - just read any set of reviews.

I've not written this post to ask for camera suggestions (although feel free to do so) as like I said, each to their own.  I guess I just wanted to get my feelings written down.  When I've made my decision and have been more than happy with it for a couple of years, maybe I can look back on this post and ask myself what all the fuss was about.

Unless I bought a piece of crap.

9 comments:

Daphne said...

I think this is an instance where your considerable technical knowledge doesn't help. I love taking photos, as you know - - but my considerations are a) is it small enough to carry about b) can I switch it on quickly, before the bird flies off etc c) can I work it easily (yes, I know, I know) d) has it got a reasonable zoom - - - and that's about it. And it's got to have the X-factor which makes me go - - - THAT one. And, for a point-and-shoot, I think that's the most important thing. But, as you say, you are trying to LOWER your standards - which is tricky!

Milo said...

I use a Casio point & shoot that cost about £75. Have been happy with it.

dpreview.com (if you've not been there) is very good for reviews.

Jennyta said...

"It's been about a year since I slagged her off so she's well overdue."
I really will have to start wearing my glasses to read your blog, Ian! ;)

Silverback said...

Jenny !! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww !!

Debby said...

Whatever you get, I'd like to borrow it when I go to Wally World for sure.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Well hello fellow Brit', so glad you found me from Dylan who I adore. I have the same dilemma - got the souper-douper DSLR with lenses that cost me an arm and a leg. But it's not practical to keep in my bag, although I do which is why I need a chiropractor alot! So let me know when you narrow it down, like you I refuse to spend a fortune!

Sara G said...

Your blog is really nice. I have enjoyed my visit here!!
Good luck on your hunt for a new camera. Nikon came out with a new point and shoot digital with an 18X optical zoom that looks pretty cool. The only point and shoot camera brand I have ever owned is a Kodak. I love them. Hubby bought me a Nikon D60 for my birthday this past May and I still have lots to learn about it, but am having fun with it.
Take care

Silverback said...

Sara G - you're talking about the Nikon Coolpix P80 which may be point and shoot but it's not a pocket sized camera by any means.

Thanks for the comment and the suggestion though. If any pocket camera had a x18 optical zoom, I'd have it in a heartbeat.

Jan said...

Your blog is excellent - I'm so glad to have found it via Katies blog. I'm off now to have a good read!

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