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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.


Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: February 22, 2007, 9:29 pm

Nice! I’ve been thinking about picking up a small, cheap one to snap some some pics on the upcoming road trip. If I was going to get something more high-end I would want it to be able to use standard photo lenses as well. Does this one?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 23, 2007, 5:11 am

Yes, this’ll take other lenses. Apparently, it won’t take ALL of them, though (a concession to its low-endness). I think it will only take the newer ones, where the focusing motor is in the lens.

Ideally, I’d also like a very good tiny pocket camera to carry everywhere, in case I see Bigfoot at the supermarket. Have to wait for my budget to recover a bit first.

Comment from Alissa
Time: February 23, 2007, 1:43 pm

I donno about Bigfoot, but his lily-assed cousin, Yeti likes bagels and Brie.

Comment from lizardbrain
Time: February 24, 2007, 8:45 am

I work with a Nikon D100. I love it. Except…

I spend way too much time cleaning the CCD. When I was shooting with film, I wasn’t too concerned about dust getting into the body when I changed lenses; the dust stayed where it was on the film and only affected one shot. With digital, the dust stays where it is and affects the whole shoot.

If you can get one lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths, it’ll cut down on the number of lens changes you have to make. That CCD is delicate, and cleaning it is a pain in the pooper.

Dang. 550 bux is pretty cheep for a digital SLR. While the D100 is smaller than some of the other pro models, it’s still big, and most of what I shoot is out in the woods. Now you’ve made me start thinking about a new camera when I don’t have the funds for it.

Darn you, Weasel! Darn you all to heck!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 24, 2007, 1:00 pm

Yeah, my other half has the D80 and loves it (that was an unmentioned factor in my choice — being able to ask questions instead of having to RTFM, plus the likelihood of inheriting good lenses). So I had heard about the CCD thing.

You should try this one out in a shop. It’s *tiny*. It’s smaller than some of the bigger point-and-shoot cameras. It feels fantastic to hold, and all the controls are beautifully placed. And it’ll take your lenses (the newer ones, anyhow).

I took it out for a test run today, and I was comfortable wearing it around my neck instead of be-holstering it between shots. I couldn’t even say that about my last p&s camera. However, I nearly froze my ass off (temps in the teens and winds at 35mph), so I high-tailed it home without giving it a proper run.

Everything was grossly overexposed, but I didn’t have my P mode set up right. I think I’ve got it now.

Comment from lizardbrain
Time: February 24, 2007, 5:44 pm

“Tiny” and “…feels fantastic to hold” sound like the reasons I once bought a Beretta pistol. I still have a scar on my hand from the slide that wouldn’t stay locked back. Although I doubt a malfunctioning camera would have such severe consequences.

Polyester fleece. That and a good wind-resistant shell. In really nasty conditions I resort to a neoprene face mask. See my posts “More From This Morning” and “Heading Out To Work” for the kind o’ conditions I mean. (Sleazy way to get traffic, eh?) Campmor has good cheap stuff to keep you outside when the weather doesn’t want you out there.

Thanx for bringing it to my attention. Have fun with your new toy!

pee ess:

For those of us who are elderly, and thus tend to be more loquacious at times, and have to include a bunch of urls, a bigger text entry box or a preview function would make this easier.

Comment from lizardbrain
Time: February 24, 2007, 5:48 pm

“Tiny” and “…feels fantastic to hold” also sounds like one of my exes. I think she was also the tramp I had in the woods.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 24, 2007, 5:55 pm

Lots of URLs got you a trip to the spam pit. My filter thinks that’s a sign of a feelthy Cialis merchant.

Hm. The comment box is already the full width of the center column, but I’ll see if I can figure out a preview button. “Figure out” is weaselese for “find somebody’s code and steal it.”

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