Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Take your best shot!

It is hard for me to believe, concieve, that I am the only person out there with the following qualifications:

*soccer/softball mom (football, rugby, lacross and track would absolutely count, my kids just don't do those)
*interested in both macro and telephoto options
*camera and computer literate, but not fluent, and not really interested in learning the whole language
*limited in budget mostly because spending more doesn't get ME more, though it does buy more whistles and bells
*the time has come to get a better, bigger zoom, camera. 3x zoom on the little pocket camera isn't cutting it too many times.

Do I need all of the fancy attributes like panoromic 260 shooting and burst photography? Not really. I want a good steady camera that can take pics from behind the outfield or up into the roller coaster, that has a fast aperture and ISO setting, and a low F-stop. I want something big enough to hold comfortably, small enough and light enough to accompany on a short-ish hike. I'm not taking it backpacking, just wanting it to be able to move w/out a backpack of it's own. I don't want multiple lenses, I can't afford them and am likely to damage them moving them back and forth. I'd rather not have to use a tripod most of the time, so HUGE doesn't seem fitting. I do like a view finder, because sometimes outside, the LCD is hard to read. I do want an SD card because despite all the Mac equipment I've clung to all my life, I actually like being able to communicate easily between computers and printers at home and in shops where I am likely to print my photos.

So what are the options???

#1 on my list right now is the Fuji Finepix HS10. which no one has in stock right now. It's at Amazon, so I could buy it ($500 no card, no reader), and return it if I don't like it, but I pay shipping return, which isn't free, and I shouldn't have to pay to just try out a nice new camera. I could drive down to NYC and pick one up, hold it, at B&H photo. But again, that's 5hrs+ of driving just to get to touch one of these little ladies? Hmmm. Or I can wait. It could be MONTHS before it is in local stores, so forget this being a b'day gift.

#2 on my list is the Canon XS1is which has a lot of what the Fuji has, but the Fuji has a longer lens (would I use it, or need it?), and the Canon has a fully articulated LDC. The Fuji also has a really cool little sensor at the viewfinder (in addition to the manual button) that knows when you are looking through the viewfinder, so it automatically switches between the two for you. Kinda cool. :D Fuji also has a fully manual (no electronic) zoom, so I never have to wait for the zoom engine to catch up with me. I really like the physical feel of zooming, something very kinesthetic about doing it myself that I like. Canon has a great reputation for quality build (and the little Elph I have has been great that way - 3 years and counting!), where as the Fuji's I've had haven't made it past the 3 yr mark yet. On one the lens went, on the other the power toggle collapsed. The Canon is slightly more expensive, about 10% more.

#3 is a big jump down - a savings of $150 is nothing to sneeze at! But the trade offs are big too. To keep to the basics (SD card, 18x+ Optical zoom, 8MP+, 2 or 3 stabilizers, viewfinder, and a quick turnover (shot to shot time), I eliminate about 1/2 of the options out there (that use XD or other memory cards, that are too slow, that don't have viewfinders, or that don't stabilize well enough for the big lens) leaving a small number that all sort of tie for 3rd place.

There's the Panasonic Lumix, which is slower than either the Canon or the HS10, the smaller lighter, less wonderful Canon SX20is, and the Nikon Coolpix P100. They are fine cameras, but none of them have all of the things I'm looking for. The Nikon comes closest, using a CMOS sensor that allows the camera to take somewhat better photos of moving objects (like my soccer star) or in low light (like at parties and amusement parks at evening or at night). It is an improved technology, not new, but better than it used to be and better than the more traditional CCD sensor that has been used in small cameras for more than a decade of digital photography. The SX20is uses a CCD still, but the SX1is uses the CMOS, as does the HS10.

So - can anyone help me figure this out? It's just slightly more money than I am comfortable spending w/out repercussion.


Karen said...

I don't know that I can really help you, but I do have that type of a camera. It's a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7-- looks just like those. It's a p&s but has the bigger lens and 15x zoom.
It's big, but not too big, and the quality of photos with the bigger glass is really obvious, esp when the light is low.

If I were to buy a new camera right now, I'd try to get into a shop (probably harder for me than you) to feel them-- not the best advice given your 5 hour drive issue, but personally I like to "feel" things!

Andy said...

I agree, Karen. I'm a bit frustrated, it's vaca week here, Jac actually said he'd give me Thurs AM off, which is SO great! There isn't a great store around here, one camera shop in the Mall (small and very busy) and Best Buy, hard to find a salesperson - everything is locked up tight (welcome to NY!). I wish I could do the drive one of these days, just to play around with them! B&H is 2 blocks from my folks apt!