Sunday, February 8, 2009

The New Camera

I find myself at a crossroads. Since two thousand and three, I have shot with my Canon G5. This camera has wandered the world with me, always providing quality images, and well framed shots.

How can a camera create the well framed shots, you might be asking yourself? Certainly it is the eye of the photographer, and not the tools she/he uses that creates the perfect image. But, as with most things, the tools one uses can be of great importance. The Canon G5 offered the greatest invention in photographic technology today: The swivel screen.

Standing in front of Trafalgar Square I would watch with sadistic delight as fellow solo travelers, or partners too afraid to ask for assistance, would hold out their arm and take pictures of themselves. Without a doubt, after the flash bursts the photographer will look at their image, shake their head, and attempt to shoot again.

After ten tries of shooting too high, or too low, or a bit off centre, curses start to fly. I feel a great sense of self satisfaction walking up to the same location, turning my swivel screen towards me so that I can see myself and my surroundings, and getting the perfect picture. One flash, and I’m done.

Those without this feature are quite possibly still standing there in front of the large lion sculptures to this day. Their angered voices drifting softly into the night.

From vacation shots, to photographic essays, to the simplicity of a local air show, the G5 has been there for me. It is always ready to go, holding a good charge for three hundred shots, even in the coldest winter (when held close against my heart – where it belongs – and also so the temperature doesn’t sap the battery life away. That’s why it’s there too.)

A quick charge overnight, in any plug socket, always has it ready to go again. But therein lies the problem.

I will be headed to Africa, where – apparently – there is no plug socket in the middle of the landscape. I know, this was a shock to me too. As we all know, power comes from everywhere right? But no, in the middle of game parks and open roads, sockets apparently just don’t exist. So I’m faced with a problem. I need a camera that runs off of AA batteries.

There are always problems with this. AA battery operated cameras drain very fast. You can help to combat this by using Lithium or NiMH batteries. But even still, they’re going to drain.
But, I need a backup camera. Would I be able to live with myself if while in Peru I made it all the way to Machu Picchu only to have my lens retract, and my screen go dark without any hope of recharge?

So what camera offers everything I need: A swivel screen, AA batteries, the Canon name and features which I already know and understand (quite important while always switching manual settings on the fly.)
The Canon SX10IS.

Is it perfect? No. Does it offer an additional handful of great features, including a 20x optical zoom? Yes. Also, the ISO settings go all the way to 3200 (the noise is devastating, but in a pinch, it’s better than nothing.)

Will this be my camera of choice? Time will tell. The Future Shop rental policy will help me decide. I recommend this course of action to anyone and everyone. Walk into Future Shop, or Best Buy, or whatever local retail store you have. Buy three different cameras. Shoot them all as hard as you can, stress testing them, and checking image quality. Most retail outlets offer a 14 day return policy, provided you keep the original receipts and boxes. Keep the one you like best, or just return them all. If you have no moral reservations against it, this is a great way to get a high quality camera for special events too.

My upcoming trip to New York this March will make for the perfect test. Don't let me down SX10IS. Don't let me down.

In honour of my Canon G5 I will be running a series of photographic essays through Tokyo Japan over the next few days.

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