Friday, November 16, 2007

An Obsession Renewed

In the original Star Trek, the character Spock is a Vulcan, a species that prides itself on logic and rationality. Still, a Vulcan's logic and rationality must bend to erratic behavior every seven years, as part of a mating season. I'm pretty rational and fairly logical, but it goes without saying that I'm not a Vulcan. First, I can't wait seven years between matings. Second, my rationality apparently goes out the window much more often, at least every 2.5 - 3 years. But rather than being tied to mating, my temporary leave of my senses takes place because I go camera crazy.

I've been happy with my camera -- it's given me lots of great shots, and it shows no sign of falling apart. But it's got a weakness, and that weakness is the action shot. The action shot wasn't so important to me the last time I bought a camera because at that time I didn't have in my life a certain little girl who has trouble staying still. No matter that it has image stabilization, even that can only do so much -- virtually any point & shoot digital camera is going to have the same difficulties, given the little lag between clicking and the camera taking the shot. The alternative to a point & shoot is taking the plunge and buy a dSLR. Making the decision to buy one was easy -- picking which one was much harder.

While I like the idea of getting a camera that I can grow with, an opportunity that a dSLR affords, I knew I wouldn't be looking to become a serious photographer, and I don't have an interest in buying several different lenses. So it seemed that a "low-end" dSLR would be fine. The nominees were the Canon Rebels (XT and XTi), the Nikon D40x, the Pentax K100D, and the Olympus E-510. All of these are highly regarded, so in many ways I couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, because all of these are highly regarded, I had a lot of trouble picking among them. The choice boiled down to picking between a less-popular brand with good quality, a ton of features, and a great price (either the Pentax or the Olympus), the popular camera (the Canons), or the ugly stepchild of the photographer's brand (the Nikon D40x).

Blah blah blah -- no one but a techno/camera geek would want to hear about how I chose among these options, so I'll skip that part of the tale and tell you that I went with the Olympus E-510. The price was great, and the camera has image stabilization inside the camera, mucho megapixels (10.1), a dust reduction system, and a mediocre live view (this isn't bad -- the other dSLRs don't have live view at all). Plus, the kit I went with comes with two well-regarded lightweight lenses that give me a huge range (28-300mm equivalent). I just got the shipping notice that it's expected to arrive on Tuesday, so if all goes according to plan I'll have it when I head down to Florida the next day for Thanksgiving. Hopefully my family will understand if I'm somewhat preoccupied with playing with my new toy instead of hanging with them (don't worry Mom and Dad, I'm kidding (mostly)).

For what it's worth, over the Thanksgiving holiday I won't be the only one with a new toy. Whether the decision was made as a salve to the guilt I'm feeling from my big purchase, or simply because she's been looking into getting a tiny camera with image stabilization, Kathy's new toy is scheduled to arrive on Monday -- it's a PowerShot SD850 IS, a seriously updated version of the camera she's had for nearly three years. At around $250, it's ridiculously inexpensive compared to what that price got you three years ago.

One of Emelia's favorite words is "cheese" -- I have a feeling that we're going to be asking her to say it more often than she already does, even though she might get disappointed when after she says it, her parents don't give her one of her favorite foods.