Sunday, 8 November 2009

My new toy

I got into digital cameras very early on - in fact, I had the Kodak DC20 camera in 1996. It had no screen, no flash and no memory card, and it could store 8 pictures at "high" resolution (493 x 373 pixels) or 16 at "standard" resolution (320 x 240 pixels). If you made a mistake, or some idiot walked in front of you as you were taking a shot, you couldn't delete a single image - if you pressed the 'delete' button, you wiped the whole memory clean.

I told everybody that digital cameras were the future, but none of my friends and family really believed me - I was surrounded by Luddites, and the grainy images I got from my DC20 weren't enough to convince them.

In 2000, I traded up to an Olympus Camedia C-2000, with a 3x optical zoom. With a screen, a flash, the facility to delete individual photos and store up to about 100 photos on my SmartMedia memory card, this was much more convincing as the Thing of the Future - although my Luddite relatives still weren't all that impressed at the standard 640 x 480 pixel photo quality (you could take pictures at super high quality, but then you couldn't get so many on the memory card).

I used that camera for several years, and I still have it now, but in 2007 something went wrong with its internal workings which made its image processing time slow down hugely. If I missed the perfect shot, I was no longer able to shoot off another one straight away, because the camera would freeze for about 30 seconds before it was ready to take another picture.

So in 2007 I upgraded to my current Canon Powershot S3 IS, with its 12x optical zoom. This camera is amazing, and I've taken some great pictures with it - but it is a little bulky to carry around, so I have to remember specifically to take it if I'm going somewhere that a bit of photography might be needed. Also, the disadvantage of the moving parts for the zoom lens is that if you use it when you're on the beach and you get sand in it, the sand acts like sandpaper and all the inner workings of your camera get rubbed away (as I learnt to my cost with my first video camera).

Last summer, when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii, DH bought me an Intova IC600 in a waterproof case, to use when snorkelling. It's an OK camera, but one of the things I love about the Canon is that it has a proper viewfinder, which allows you to see what you're photographing even in bright sunlight and also saves on battery life. The battery life of the Intova is pathetic, and when I'm underwater I can't actually see any detail at all on the LCD screen because of the glare of the sunlight on the water.

So what I needed was a camera which could withstand a bit of sand on the beach, could go underwater to take pictures of the fish, and preferably had a proper viewfinder as well as its LCD screen.

Well, apparently nobody makes a waterproof camera with a viewfinder. I find this incredible, as surely if I can't see what I'm taking pictures of on the LCD screen, other people can't either. I really would have thought there'd be demand for a camera which allows you to see what you're actually taking a picture of, rather than just wave it vaguely in the direction of the fish you're looking at and click away a few times in the hope of catching some of them. I had hopes for the Canon Powershot D10, but apparently, although my Powershot camera has a viewfinder, the D10 doesn't.

So I did a little bit of research and a little bit of legwork, and I now have a Pentax Optio W80 as my regular beach camera which will also double as the-camera-that-can-live-in-my-handbag-in-case-I-ever-need-one.

It's 12.1 megapixels, with a 5x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle lens, and it's waterproof to 5 metres, shockproof to 1 metre, and it's dustproof. It even has an Underwater Movie mode, which I'm looking forward to trying out.

The screen is allegedly visible in bright sunlight - I'll have to report back on that after it's actually seen some sun - but hopefully it'll at least be more visible than one which is hidden inside a waterproof plastic box. I'm quite excited about trying it out, and I'll show you some of the results when I get back.

No comments:

Post a Comment