Sunday, February 3, 2008

A history of cameras

I went over to see Rich and check out the all new Canon G9 today, which I am pretty much now convinced that I want. It got me thinking about digital cameras and the ones that have passed through my hands, so I thought I would throw a quick post up about it.


1. Canon SD-100 (online review)


This little guy was my first. It was the winter of 2003, and my friend Matt had gotten one for Christmas. After playing with it I was quite enamored. I rushed out to buy it as soon as he left town the next day.


At the time (as always) it was top of the class. 3.2 Megapixels, the first digital ELPH to take SD memory cards, it was small, and it could take red-eye out before you downloaded the pictures to the computer. I was in love. I took pictures all the time, and it captured many of the moments early on in mine and DaNece's relationship.


We still have this little guy, and it still takes perfectly fine pictures, though after 4 years it needs a new battery.


2. Canon SD-600 (online review)


A wonderful present that I received from DaNece for Christmas of '06. The SD100 was getting older, and easily outclassed by everything on the market. Suddenly 3.2 megapixels was laughable. How could anybody live with such low quality. And then there the SD-600


6 megapixels of beauty, 2.5 inches of LCD display, and a digital macro setting which finally allowed me to take pictures close-up. Different Scene modes which automatically adjusted the camera for different places you might find yourself. The new Digic II processor meant way better color in my photos, as well as better response when I hit the magic button. I started to feel like a real photography-type person. I was in heaven.


I took it everywhere. Ultimately this was my downfall. On a hike one day while bushwacking, the camera was somehow pulled from my case without me realizing it. I returned to the truck to find my lovely sidekick gone from my side. It was less than six months since I had gotten it, and I was heartbroken. I followed by tracks 3 times that day, but never did locate it. Somewhere there was a Javalina enjoying it's new found photography freedom, as I wept for the loss of mine.



3. Olympus E-Volt 500


Ever since DaNece and I had been together she had spoken longingly of a film SLR camera that her brother had. "It has changeable lenses" she would say with a far-away look in her eye. The answer to her subliminal cries for appeasement came in March of '07 in the form of an affordable digital SLR camera that came with 2 zuiko lenses (a 14-45mm, and a 40-150mm), all packaged together for around $800.


It comes in at a whopping 8 megapixels, which is plenty big enough for almost anybody. And it was the only DSLR that came with a dust-reduction system to help remove unwanted guests from your pictures.


DaNece is in love with this monster, and when we go out for a drive around the state, it sits nestled in the back seat, ready for it's chance to shine. She sometimes lets me play with it, and I am constantly stunned by how sharp the images are, and how crisp the colors come through. For the money paid, it is a great camera.


But it has a flaw. Features. Lots of them. So many, in fact, that they have overwhelmed my dear-heart, and so it is often left on 'AUTO' mode. As she learns more about what all the buttons do she realized that this is an amazing camera, but often wishes for something smaller and easier.

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4. Canon SD-800is (review here)


My newest baby. This camera has been a muse to me. Purchased in August of '07 right before a trip to Philadelphia, I had lots of time to learn my new camera while in airports. A minor upgrade in resolution (from 6.0 to 7.1 megapixels), and yet another digic processor upgrade (to Digic III), the true feature that made this camera for me is the Optical Image Stabilization. Often times I am shaky, either from caffeine or lack thereof. This camera removes minor shakes to make super crisp images. I am constantly astounded.


Weather driving to Wickenburg, or hiking through Prescott National Forest this little camera has come through time and time again. Great battery life (the entire Philadelphia trip, well over 300 photos, on one single battery charge), and the perfect size to take on a lunch-hour walk through the alleys of Prescott. 


My love with this camera, however, is fading. I want to branch out and I sharply feel the lack of certain features, such as aperture priority, and external flash capabilities. I want more, but I don't want to carry a suitcase to fit all my goodies in. I had told myself that such a beast didn't exist. I was wrong.


5. Canon G9? (review)


I blame Rich and DaNece for my conundrum. Rich for linking me over to the G9 in the first place, and DaNece for saying that she wants a smaller camera that she can take on hikes. Yes, I'm afraid it is all their fault, and I am not to blame at all.


6x optical zoom, all the same options as a DSLR camera, and without having to cart around lenses! 12 megapixel resolution, which is a bit of overkill for the sensor size, but impressive nonetheless if big numbers impress you.


How easy it is for me to think "Well if she wants a smaller camera, I will give her the sd-800 and then I will upgrade." She looked at the G9, and she still thinks it is too big for her. To me it looks just right, and for $450 it's starting to sound awful tempting with an IRS refund on the way....


Mike said...

I wish I had known you before I bought a digital camera. I'm not much of a camera buff, but I hate my Canon.You need a suitcase full of batteries and an advanced degree to operate it. Everytime I touch a button on that damn camera, something else goes horribly wrong.

TomboCheck said...

Mike - What model do you have? As much as I am enamored with Canon cameras, I always do a ton of research on models before I go out and buy. I pretty much know what I am getting from reviews etc.

As far as batteries: the DIGIC III processor in the newer Canons makes for great battery life. Between alley walks, hikes, and food pictures I am taking pictures all the time. And with the SD800, I only have to recharge a battery about once every 2 or 3 weeks.

As far as operation of the camera, I have to say that I am a bit of an oddball.
Most people get their box, open it, plug the battery in and go to town.

I start with sticking the battery in the charger, and sitting down for an hour or two to read the manual. Then the next day I start playing with the camera to figure out how it all works in real-life.

Being a computer guy though, the manuals make sense to me, which I'm not sure is true for everybody. I know DaNece sure doesn't seem to speak the language in them.

quilteddogs said...

I've been looking at the G9 but more seriously at the A650 because it weighs slightly less and is less expensive. I have the Canon S3 but I'm looking for something that is a little bit lighter weight and with more megapixels. The A650 has twice the megapixels as the S3.

The G9 and the A650 are pretty comparable with the G9 getting a higher rating from Cnet. I've always had pretty good luck with Canons as I see you have too.

TomboCheck said...

Quilteddogs - I looked at the A650 as well but there are a few things that are swaying me towards the G9.

1. The G9 shutter has a slightly higher speed (1/2500 sec vs. 1/2000 sec for the A650). This isn't a huge advantage, but if you've got a lot of light it could come in handy.

2. Hot-Shoe for external flashes. Which would also allow you to take advantage of #1 better.

3. The custom shooting modes on the G9 that you can set for scenes that you shoot on a regular basis, and then all your settings are saved whenever you go to those modes.

4. bigger screen, 3.0" LCD vs. 2.5" in the A650. As a guy I am required to get as big of a screen as possible. :) Plus the Vari-Angle screen annoys the heck out of me. I don't like my screen to pop out at weird angles.

5. Battery type: the A650 takes 4xAA batteries, and I hate carting lots of batteries around. I would way rather carry one NB-2LH battery around with me.