Saturday, April 09, 2005


How many hours am I going to spend in trying to decide (a) whether I should get a second digital camera to cover the range/situations where the Digital Elph isn't up to snuff; and (b) if so, which camera (and what type) should I get? The answer has to be over 120 and counting. Over five full days of my life taken up with asking these questions and researching same. So far. Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

The Elph is a fine camera for basic everyday activities, such as photographing the cherry blossoms. And its size means that it's perfect for taking anywhere. But it's useless for taking pictures at United games (not enough zoom, tough lighting conditions for the many night games, not fast enough lens), and it's not great in museums (low light without flash (though I have figured out how to do better than I did in Mexico)). In addition to better zoom, I'd like wide-angle too -- my old camera started out at a wider angle (28mm vs 35mm), and I can definitely tell when I want to get entire buildings in a shot (as I did in Mexico), and I presumably will the next time I want to take a group photo indoors (in a couple of weeks at Passover?). And while the quality of the Elph is good, there's ample opportunity for improvement.

So my options are:
  1. one of the handful of digital cameras with big zoom that starts at wide angle;
  2. a less expensive, higher-quality camera with big zoom (bigger than option 1) that I'd need an adapter lens to capture wide angle (or give up on wide angle shots); or
  3. a D-SLR camera (i.e., a camera that allows you to switch out lenses (you have to buy each one, and it can get very expensive), which will give you the highest quality photos, but which is the bulkiest and costs the most).
I know how to take decent pitcures with a point-and-shoot camera, but I'm only just starting to learn about manual controls. All three options will give me lots of manual control -- while a D-SLR will give me the greatest room to grow (and screw up as I grow), there's still plenty I can learn with the other cameras.

Option 1 sounds good, and ideally it would be the logical choice. But I worry about the quality, which the reviews I've read suggest is good but not great -- what's the point of spending so much money and not being dazzled by the resulting photos?

Option 2 appeals the most to me -- the camera is hardly bigger than my old one, and it offers so many more possibilities. The absence of wide-angle is a drawback, though, and it's what keeps me from deciding to go ahead with this option. A wide-angle conversion lens wouldn't be that expensive, however, or that large -- maybe this is still my best option.

D-SLRs give qualitatively better photos, and are the best for sporting events. And the prices have come down substantially, so that depending on the camera, I can get everything I need (for starters) for only a couple of hundred dollars more than the other two options. That being said, they're big (though they've gotten smaller), and I'm not sure I want to lug around at least two lenses -- if I limit myself to one lens, the available range won't be nearly as useful.

So while a D-SLR intrigues me, there's also the fact that I don't print out many photos, so much of the qualitative difference gets lost because a computer screen isn't the ideal medium to view photos. There's also the point that digital cameras are electronics, which means that I should expect that one would have a life of at most 5 years.

But if I don't get the D-SLR, is the qualitative difference between the camera we have and another non-D-SLR worth the expense to get another camera? I'm not sure, but I think so -- there's a significant difference, and pictures are usually my only souvenirs when we travel, so it's worth getting really good quality.

And so these are the issues I wrestle with, knowing that there's no real rush, as I don't have another vacation that I'd use a camera on for a few months (I'll live with the Elph at Passover). During this extra time, prices will almost certainly fall (they always do), and new cameras that would appeal to me might get introduced. Unfortunately, this extra time also gives me time to obsess even more. And so I keep wrestling with myself, knowing that the only way to end this cycle of obsession is to buy something -- it's not enough to decide not to buy something, as that's a decision I can always change my mind over.

1 comment:

ducky said...

I went with the digital rebel over a year ago, and haven't looked back. I had lenses already from my film SLR, including a 300 mm Tamron which i bought online for less than $150. Photos have been terrific, and even though it's an SLR it comes with automatic pre-sets, allowing you to take regular photos while you learn to get creative.