Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheap cameras

Cameras are a necessary part of photography. And most photographers (at least most of the ones I know) enjoy discussing and acquiring that equipment. Myself included.

In fact I've recently found myself lusting after cameras such as Canon's SD780, the Canon S90 and Olympus' E-P1 (with the 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens). The problem is that these cameras cost money; $200, $400 and $800 respectively. Okay, the real problem is that I do not have the funds to cover any of those purchases, and it will be some time before I do.

But I got to thinking, do I really need to spend that kind of money on a camera to be happy? And I realized the answer is a resounding no!

I've always liked having a compact digicam. Primarily for my Beloved's use, family photos and the like. But also to have with us at all times, in case I saw something I needed to make a photo of when I didn't have my "pro" gear with me.

About three years ago, after shutting our previous compact in the door of the car, we purchased an 8 megapixel Fuji point-and-shoot from Wal-Mart. It came with a little kit including batteries, charger and nice leather-like case. The cost was under $80.

It is just about the most basic camera you can get. You can not set the ISO. There are no aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation controls. There are some funky "scene modes" but we never use them. The camera is either on "green" or video mode.

And for the kind of photography I tend to enjoy most, it makes excellent pictures. A good majority of my favorite photos were taken with this little camera (Drink Coke in Bottles, Luna, Pirate ship of the Prairie, Fall Color, Christmas tree).

So I realized that I would be much happier -- having saved up that $800 -- spending it going some place I've never been and shooting pictures with my sub-$100 camera, rather than sitting home-bound with my expensive toy.

PS- If I had to choose another cheap camera today, it would be the Canon A480.

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