Camera woes

Sunday, October 26, 2008 1:38 pm By BigLig

So, I need a new camera to replace my Pentax Optio A20, which I lost, because I'm an idiot. I've put off doing anything about it for a while now - too busy kicking myself about the camera-loosing-idiot thing - but I my long threatened holiday is coming up and I'd like a camera.
The trouble is I'm having a terrible time deciding which one to choose. Now, this is of course pretty normal, since there are several jillion different digital cameras out there, but I'm actually in a different dilemma - I've narrowed it down to two but just can't choose. I'm sure you're thinking "Well, OK, but why bore us with the details? Isn't the endless twitter whining enough?" Because of one of my great insights that came with age (there's a blog post series worth working on!) is as follows:

The best way to understand anything is to explain it to someone else.

First option is a straightforward one - replace the A20 with another A20. Well, actually replace the A20 with an A40, since they've upgraded it a few times since I bought mine. However the A40 is essentially the same camera. It's black instead of silver (which is an improvement I think), and of course has more needless megapixels, but it's got the same feature set and so on. Controls are the same. It appeals to me because I liked the A20.

Second option though is to get serious. I don't mean DSLR serious - I'd love a DSLR but they are expensive and, more importantly, I want something compact that I can carry around. But I could get one of the "serious compacts". The main contenders for this these days are the Canon G10 and the Panasonic LX3, although I rather like the thought of the Canon G9, which has gotten cheaper now the G10 is out. I would like having an optical viewfinder (although most reviews say it's not very good on the G9) and I tended to use the zoom a lot on my A20, so having a wide angle is less interesting. (Although of course maybe because it's been so long since I HAD a wide angle choice...)

And I keep bouncing back and forwards. Sure, the Canon is dramatically better, but would I find myself just using it in automatic mode? Which is also better but And it has to be said, it's at the "not-so-compact" end of compact cameras. If anything the A40 looks smaller than the A20 - I should check that. My life is littered with creative tools that I've wasted money on and not gotten good use out of. I love gadgets too much to be safe. But I do enjoy photography, and always wish I did more of it.

My latest trick was to go back and look at the photos I've taken with the A20. I figured that if they all sucked, then I would know to get the A40, becuase an extra £120 spent on the camera isn't going to turn a bad photographer into a good one.

But it backfired, because a few of them were quite good, in my humble opinion. Not good in the sense that a proper photographer would like them, but I liked them. And that's worth a lot.

So, surely that means I should get the G9? Well, no, because if I can take good photographs - as good as I'm liable to be capable of - with the A20, then why do I need something better?

What I did see from looking back is that:
  • I'm very bad at geting the horizon straight, so I need to turn the grid on in whatever camera I get!
  • I get a lot of noise in low light - which the G9 can't help much with - you need to go DSLR to help with that.
  • I need to work on lighting and composition, duh.
  • My favorite photograph was taken while just messing about in a pub garden with no consideration of anything technical. I just made her laugh and took a photo, and I love it.
Ah, you see? Last point makes it. I wouldn't have brought a G9 to the pub, would I? I'd have brought the tiny thing that goes into my shirt pocket.

Thank you once again, internet. It's the A40. I'll just nip out an buy one, and then go crazy posting photos.