Camera: Why?

Why buy a camera when smartphone cameras are so good?

The strongest answer is that many cameras are much better than any current or future phone. If you’ve got, say, $1,000 to spend on camera, lenses, and accessories, then you should probably buy a camera.

What if your budget is $300, with a preference for spending less? The answer might be to put that money towards a new cellphone. That wasn’t my answer.

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Camera Dies at Five

CameraLibCardI took this picture in July 2009, when the young camera had just come to live with me in Boston. For five years, it served me well: the limit on photo quality was more often the photgrapher than the camera. It was very portable, and rather resilient.

But it was not immortal. Its behavior became more and more erratic until, a couple of months ago, it stopped working altogether.

What device (or devices) should I use to take photos for the next five years? The option with the lowest incremental cost is my phone, an iPhone 4. I know I’ll want something better than that as a camera, and probably soonish rather than later.

But I haven’t done much with the photos I’ve taken this year. I haven’t looked through the photos on the deceased Canon’s card. My Flickr photostream has seen little activity.

A new camera would probably renew my interest. A new photosharing service might also do the trick. I don’t feel as Flickr-friendly as I used to; and no, that isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to the acquisition by Yahoo.

As the holidays (and my birthday) approach, it’s time to start thinking what I want in a camera in terms of photo quality, ease of use, portability, price,…or to search for the natural heir to the camera in the photo. Any suggestions?

Point and Shoot: The Next Generation

New CameraTwo and a half years ago, I posted about a new digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A540 6MP, and remarked on how much camera you can get for a couple of hundred dollars. History repeats itself: this new Canon PowerShot SD1200IS 10 MP Digital Camera cost a couple of hundred bucks.

I ordered it from RitzCamera, since they take PayPal. (The link in the previous paragraph goes to Amazon, not only because I am an affiliate, but also because their price was lower). They ran out of my preferred color (Orange). A real human being called to tell me that they had Grey, but that I’d have to place a new order. For some apparently PayPal-related reason, I couldn’t just change the order to substitute a different color of the same camera at the same price.

The camera arrived a few days later. The package was waiting on the front porch. The front door bore a tag from FedEx stating that the package was round the back.

My favorite shots with the camera so far include this one (featured at Universal Hub) and this one.

The SD1200IS, as you can see from the picture, is about the size of a credit card in length and width. The depth is proportional. I went for another point-and-shoot, rather than trading up to a DSLR, because I usually go with automatic settings anyway, and explored only a very small subset of the A540’s settings. But if, two and a half years from now, DSLRs are getting down toward the $200 price-point…