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It’s here!

I’ve been agonizing about a new digital camera ever since mine started to go screwy a year ago. So far, I’ve bought good quality point-and-shoot cameras, and I’ve been happy. But I use a camera enough to merit something better. I’ve been teetering between high-end point-and-shoot and low-end digital SLR (even if I could scrape up the money for a high-end DSLR, I’d be scared to use it). Here’s what it came down to:

Sony Cybershot DSC-H5. Somebody at work just bought one of these. It’s slick. It’s a high-end point-and-shoot, so you can compose with the LCD (only one digital SLR will do that — I love to shoot using the LCD, not the viewfinder). Plus, it’s got a 12X optical zoom Zeiss lens with image stabilizing. Plus, it takes regular old AA batteries, which is sweet. Downside? Sony. They make beautiful stuff, but they abandon product lines, leaving you stranded. My poor Clié was traumatized when they bailed on the PDA market.

Olympus Evolt. Low end DSLR. The newer versions support composing on the CRT. Also, they sell it bundled with a wide lens and a long lens, so you’d be all done buying gear. All my early digital cameras were Olympi, and they make splendid optics. Downside? All my Olympi eventually broke on me, so I think their stuff is delicate. And a complete kit it may be, but at getting on for $700, it’s a little more scratch than I want to fork out.

Some flavor of Canon. In the days of film, it was Canon for me. My A1 was a dinged-up, ruggedized thing of Road Warriorific beauty. They’re certainly a major (maybe THE major) player in the digital market. It’s what they’re using at work right now. But…I dunno. My last point-and-shoot (the screwy one) was a Canon, and defective from the get-go. To be fair, I know someone else who got brilliant pictures out of the same model, but I didn’t and I’m inclined to be grouchy about it.

So I went for the Nikon D40. Not because I had any blinding insight, but because I missed a shot last weekend on account of my duff camera, and I thought, “Shit! Get off the pot! Choose now!”

This one has gotten great reviews. It’s Nikon’s newest, and its most entry-level. The image quality (everyone says) is equal to better models, but with some of the (so complicated I would undoubtedly never use them) bells and whistles stripped away. Around $550.

It’s beautiful to hold. Much smaller and lighter than any of the other SLRs I tried (which relieves me of one worry — that I’d so hate lugging around all that camera, I wouldn’t). All the controls are in easy reach of the index and thumb of the right hand — I started to feel at home within minutes. Big, clear LCD (even if I can’t compose with it), and a great menu system (I’m allergic to product manuals, so this is a must).

I haven’t had much chance to shoot with it yet, but I think I did the right thing. Expect more searingly observant photo essays of the alienation of young people in urban society adorable cat pictures.

sock it to me

February 22, 2007 — 7:00 pm
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