I’ve been dreaming about a new camera the last few days – ever since my DSLR died. I’ve been shooting a Nikon D80 for the last 2 and a half years and was very happy with it. Then last week while out shooting it suddenly stopped responding. All I got was an flashing ‘Err” message in the display. I did few web searches for possible fixes and tried all of the obvious “worth a try” suggestions: power on and off, remove and replace battery, try another battery, try another memory card, reformat memory card, try a different lens, clean the lens contacts – NOTHING! I took it into a camera shop on Saturday and paid $40 for them to ship it to Nikon for a diagnosis and repair estimate. That could take up to 4 weeks and then another 2 or 3 to get it back to me. I hadn’t realized how attached I had become to that camera.
My immediate plan B was to use the camera in my iPhone. I do quite enjoy the creative challenges of working with such a primitive camera teamed up with some amazing apps. Last summer and fall I had used the iPhone more than my DSLR, but as winter set in I wasn’t prepared to go bare-fingered to operate the iPhone. So I went back to my DSLR and it became my constant companion. I will continue to use the iPhone camera but I was reminded of a couple of shortcomings yesterday that has me longing for a quality point-and-shoot that I can use now until my DSLR is back and then I can continue to use the little camera in the future as my electronic “sketchbook”, when I need to quickly capture an image (often as a reference for a future painting).
The situation I was in yesterday was cycling around and wanting to capture some some photos for my cycling blog. Each time I stopped and wanted to take a photo, I had to pull my iPhone out of a pocket, turn it on, take off my glove, then type in the password and then select the camera app. this got to be a real pain, especially if I would see something 20 seconds after I’d stopped for my last photo. What I was longing for was a camera that would hang around my neck, turn on with one press of a gloved finger and then zoom, focus and take the picture – bing-boom-bam! The other big drawback I was reminded of was how useless the LCD display is in bright sun!
Before I got my Nikon I had a little point and shoot much like this. It was a Pentax Optio S – a powerful little thing in its time but alas it became unreliable a year or so back and besides the specs just don’t cut it these days. It was only 3.2 Mpixels with a 3x zoom!
My dream camera of today will have at least a 12Mp sensor and a minimum 5x zoom (although 10 would be pretty nice) and fit easily in a pocket. I also want a camera well suited to low light photography. That means some sort of image stabilization, a very high ISO setting and a high quality fast lens. Oh, and I’d also like it to be inexpensive (maybe $250). I’d also love to find a camera with an optical viewfinder and options for manual exposure/shutter speed would be nice. As you can probably guess there are tradeoffs and I am not likely to find everything on my wishlist.
My initial search started with Nikon products and the other traditional camera giants (Canon, Pentax etc.) but I’ve heard that the big general electronics manufactures (e.g. Panasonic- especially teamed with Leica lenses) have some very credible camera products too. I’m still shopping around so if you have any suggestions or good or bad experiences please let me know.