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Good News, Bad News, and a Digital Camera Bleg

The good news is, the company I work for has managed to get itself into a better financial position and my job isn’t as as iffy as it was a few months ago. Thus much of my hard work over the past year has paid off. The bad news is, I don’t get to stop working hard, because now we’re being given the chance to prove ourselves, and we better deliver. The long days will continue. But damn if I don’t really need a vacation.

Having job security for at least a few more months would normally mean I could go to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous this year, but Bitter and I have wanted to go to Hawaii for several years now, but a variety of factors have frustrated the idea. Since her grandmother, who lives out there, has a free condo that’s currently unoccupied in downtown Honolulu, that sweetened the pot sufficiently for me to say, “Let’s go!” I haven’t had a real vacation since 2004, mostly due to job insecurity, so I’m looking forward to this. We’ll be going at the end of August, into the beginning of September. I will probably be looking for guest bloggers to help fill in while I’m away.

Before I go, however, I need a new digital camera, so I’m looking for some advice. I don’t think I want to step up to an SLR, but I’d like an SLR-like camera with a nice telephoto. I’ve been looking at the Canon PowerShot SX20IS. Of all the point-and-shoot digital cameras I’ve had, I’ve liked the Canons the most. But I’m not sure if this is suitable, or whether I’d be better off with another camera in a similar class. I have experience with Nikons, Kodaks, and Canons. I’m curious to hear about other brands, if anyone has experience with them.

27 Responses to “Good News, Bad News, and a Digital Camera Bleg”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have a Nikon Coolpix P80 that I love. It has many of the SLR features and a great zoom lens. Easy to use and takes great pictures.

  2. EMDFL says:

    Given a choice between a Canon and a Nikon, I’d choose the Canon product. Imade the mistake of buying a Nikon Cool-pic to replace the Canon 570(?) I had and am not a happy camper. I find the Nikon to be much less user friendly. Have to back to the manual every time I want to use it.
    ‘Course YMMV.

  3. Bob says:

    Take a look at the Canon G11 about as close as you can get to an SLR in a compact form and it has the ability to shoot in RAW format
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/digital_cameras/powershot_g11

  4. Sebastian says:

    I had looked at that one, but didn’t understand what it gave me above the other one.

  5. Bob says:

    The Big difference is the RAW format you get the unprocessed data from the cameras sensor. This gives you higher quality images and a lot of control.

    http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/pdfs/understanding_digitalrawcapture.pdf

  6. DirtCrashr says:

    My dude friend: Hawaii – do you want to be afraid of getting it wet or bumping it? Afraid of losing it to the cockroaches who can get in and out of a car in seconds? I’ve posted a number of <a href="pics and movies taken on Maui and The Big Island with my 12MP 28mm/5x zoom w/stabilization Pentax Optio underwater camera. Including wildlife close-ups.
    As a former trackside photographer (@Sears Point/Infineon Raceway) I now appreciate NOT lugging a big dinosaur camera body around. I’d like to check-out Instapundit’s> underwater Lumix because I get the sense that it has better low-light capabilities than my current Optio W80 – frankly my (still have it) 11MP Optio W60 did a better job in that regard. Maybe the newer W90 has corrected that gap in performance.
    Enjoy the mai-tais!

  7. Andrew C says:

    For Hawaii, I would recommend a water-resistant camera. Even if you aren’t planning on spending much time on the water, the humidity, sand and grit can do terrible things to a camera. I spent more time worrying about protecting my DSLR than I did taking photos with it.

  8. Robert Imholz says:

    I bought a GE camera through HSN which I really enjoy and you might give a look at. GE E1486TW.

  9. Bitter says:

    As for waterproofing, we’ll probably pick up a couple of products from here that I saw recommended through Flyertalk.

    Granted, it looks like only their most expensive one would fit Sebastian’s preference, but we might be able to do something different. But we’ll definitely have one for the Flip camera and just something to hold our phones, keys, and a bit of cash without having to worry about it while swimming or snorkeling.

  10. JP says:

    I know you said you werent looking for an SLR, but I think if you’re going to get an advanced camera you might as well. Just so you have ALL the options if you want them.

    You can get a Canon Rebel digital SLR for under $500 if you do some looking around, and it’ll act as a point and shoot +plus being a real SLR, it’ll have all those settings as well.

    Looking back on it, I am very mad at myself that I sold mine.

  11. DevsAdvocate says:

    Do you really need a new camera?

    • Bitter says:

      Yes, we need a new camera. Mine died earlier this year, and it was our nicer point-and-shoot. The one we have left works for some things, but it’s not going to really deliver on this trip. We’re already in a position to need to replace one, so we might as well upgrade to something that can deliver more than the small one we have left.

  12. Blake Sobiloff says:

    I’m a Nikon DSLR shooter, but have always preferred Canon’s point-n-shoots. I’ll second the recommendation for the G11 (although if you know the fundamentals of photography you don’t really need RAW unless you’re trying to get artsy with a lot of post-processing).

    For just a little more money I’d also examine the micro four-thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus; not as bulky as traditional DSLRs, but much better glass and larger sensors than point-n-shoots (even the G11). They’re still a little slower to focus than a DSLR, but they’re a lot faster than most point-n-shoots.

  13. Dannytheman says:

    The things people will do to just get lei’d.

    Have fun and enjoy the jet lag!

  14. DirtCrashr says:

    I really like the ability to just slip the camera into my boardshorts and not worry about cases and other rubbery water protection when I’m already grabbing for snorkels and flippers and towels and all the paraphernalia of travel – it’s a major stress-reducer.
    And take HD movies underwater or stitch together panorama stills on dry land – not lugging a behemoth around that attracts the wrong kind of attention.

    • Bitter says:

      That’s a good point about the convenience factor. Although the only time we’ll have all of that stuff is really only when going to Hanauma Bay (likely only once, just to do it) and then again at Kealakekua Bay if we can get permits to land over at the monument. Otherwise, it will probably just be the camera.

  15. DirtCrashr says:

    Convenience also equates with having it with you at all times – again without the bulk-factor. It’ll be hot and you won’t want to be carrying much or hanging things off your person everywhere.

    • Bitter says:

      I don’t know, Sebastian may already be prepared for some level of discomfort. I couldn’t even convince him to buy a pair of shorts for the trip. :) (He’s not a shorts kind of guy.) That said, we’ll also have a Flip camera with us and have the option of taking our one remaining small & minimal point & shoot with us for things where we don’t plan to do much that’s exciting. Though I can see where the hikes up Diamond Head & Makapuu Lighthouse might be a bit rougher carrying a big camera. On the other hand, improved picture quality could make it worth it.

      It’s his call. I think I’m just charged with handling video. :) Along with making all of the plans.

  16. I have had a variety of digital cameras over the years, starting with a Kodak back in the mid-1990s, which belonged to my employer. I currently have an HP point and shoot, and a Pentax K10D.

    Suggestions: if you aren’t going to go for a high-end, professional camera like a DSLR, you should look at the smallest camera that has a decent range of zoom. The Lumix cameras are really attractive in this respect.

    Why go for the cheapest and smallest? Smallest for the same reason you carry the smallest 9mm or .380 you can find: the camera that you don’t have with you because of bulk or weight is inferior to a worse camera that you actually don’t mind having in your pocket, or on your belt. (Get a pouch with a belt slide.)

    Cheapest because you ARE going to drop it, or it is going to be damaged somewhere along the way, and these cameras almost never make sense to repair. Besides, by the time that happens, you will be able to buy 28 MB cameras that record in HD video–and probably in 3D HD video, for all I know.

  17. Countertop says:

    Clayton makes a great point about durability. That, and general quality of lenses are why I remain a Nikon guy.

    Back in the day, when I was foolish enough to try to earn a living with one, my go to camera was an old Nikkormat El. It survived hundreds of concerts, dozens of bike and ski races, trips – with minimal protection – banging all around the country and up and down mountains all over the world. It still functions fine today.

    I got a nikon coolpix about 2000 and ated that even worse. It lasted a good 4 years till I got my current D40 which has also been to he’ll and back and has survived many an abused winter morning in a duck blind, visits to scores of livestock operations, and raging wind and snow and 17 below hunting pheasants in SD.

    In my mind, no one tops the durability of a Nikon camera – YMMV of course.

  18. al says:

    I have a Canon S3 (previous evolution of the SX20). Great little camera. Other than raw mode it does just about everything my EOS XSi does and has the benefit of not drawing attention as a “professional” camera. The SX20 also does 720P video (may not be important to you). The articulating display is great for shooting over people and actually seeing what you’re trying to get a picture of. Also – uses AA batteries rather than a device specific battery. If you buy it give the Sanyo Eneloops a try. Great rechargeable batteries.

  19. DirtCrashr says:

    If you can find it (at Long’s droogs), Doc. Martins’ of Maui is a great waterproof UVA/UVB sunscreen that really lasts longer than any others – I know Sebastian will need it or something like it. A lot of it. :-) Never sting your eyes, either. I like it a lot because I don’t have any protection topside.

  20. Lucky Forward says:

    Whatever you decide to buy, see if you can get a better price at B&H in Manhattan, which I’m told is pretty famous in the shutterbug world; I’ve purchased a few things from them, and found their prices and customer service to be excellent:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

    I’m on my third Pentax point-and-shoot (one was, cough, somehow left in my pants during the laundry, the other flew out of my pants when I was in a hurry; now I have two lanyards!) and have found them all excellent for price, portability, and reliability; some even fit in an Altoids tin! The W90 has been mentioned in earlier posts, and is getting a lot of buzz:

    http://www.pentaximaging.com/digital-camera/Optio_W90_Black/

    Pop Photo Magazine likes a pocket-sized DSLR, but I recommend you check its shutter speed against what you’ve been used to.

    http://www.popphoto.com/reviews/cameras/2010/06/camera-test-olympus-pen-e-pl1

    The Canon Digital Rebel is pricier than the Olympus, but I hear it’s a great way to get into more sophisticated photography, and into the Canon line of lenses.

    BTW, there are a couple shooting ranges in Honolulu that cater to Japanese tourists, who I guess let the hot lead out of their system when they come to a free country. You’ll be swamped with fliers for them when you hit the main drag near Waikiki.

    • Bitter says:

      Actually, there are about half a dozen of the gun ranges. I was amazed because I don’t remember any ads for them when I used to visit growing up. When I looked them up for fun, I was completely shocked to see that they are really right there. Outrageous prices, but it still makes me laugh.

      Thanks for the tip on sunscreen, Dirtcrashr. If you think Sebastian will need it, you ain’t see nothing. I’m beyond pale. (There are actually some brands of makeup where their “pale” foundation adds just a bit too much color.) I will probably be one of very few who manages to come back from Hawaii just as pale as the day I arrive. (That’s a good thing with my family history.)

  21. Mark says:

    I have one of these and recommend it. I like the zoom and use of standard AA batteries. There are physically smaller cameras, but none that use AA (read: cheap) batteries and take quality pictures. Good Stuff!

  22. DirtCrashr says:

    It’s ok to NOT burn! I found out about the stuff when I asked a humongous bald surfer how he wasn’t toast. He said he goes to him each year for a full-body dermatological checkup. Being out in the sun a lot makes people who do that, do that. It sticks good and is a bit like cold Vaseline (but better smelling), and has physical UVA/UVB blockers – and it sticks and stays useful, doesn’t sting and doesn’t just wash-off. He formulated the stuff after moving his practice to the Islands.
    Don’t use it at the range though. In my experience GSR will stick to it, and I get little teeny-tiny water blisters around my hat-line…Not dangerous (I think), just not pretty.

  23. Henry Posner says:

    “Whatever you decide to buy, see if you can get a better price at B&H in Manhattan, which I’m told is pretty famous in the shutterbug world; I’ve purchased a few things from them, and found their prices and customer service to be excellent:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

    Thank you. This is very gratifying and much appreciated.


    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video

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