The Epic Search for a Digital Camera

March 16th, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

Over the last however many years digital cameras have existed, I’ve owned my fair share. My first was a really old, super bulky, Sony CyberShot. I love the hell out of that thing and while it didn’t exactly die, it just became a nuisance to carry. Digital cameras have been shrinking in size and portability, but expanding on their capabilities. Removing DSLRs from the mix, the Point-and-Shoot cameras have gotten so good that it’s nearly impossible to figure out which ones will be the best choice for my application.

The criteria for what I was looking for:

Point-and-Shoot (P&S): It had to be portable. Maybe not necessarily pocketable, but I didn’t want something bulky. As portable as possible, that’s for sure. I understand that DSLRs take the best true macro shots, it’s simply not in the cards for this gal.

Price: The price of the camera needed to be in the $350 and below range. I wasn’t looking to spend my rent money on a camera. The cheaper the better sure, but there’s an understanding that inexpensive cameras aren’t always very good cameras. Thus why I set the price range a tad higher than what I would truly rather spend (about $200). The name brand models fall in the more expensive range, but the technology that these cameras offer also tend to be better. It’s a cost/benefit analysis in the end.

Macro: This is a must. I needs to do macro/close-up shots. It doesn’t have to do them fantastically or like I said to a friend “I don’t need National Geographic quality pics.” And the statement can’t be more true. I’m less likely going to use the camera for things like bugs, flower, dew drops and the like and more for other macro type shots. Because of this, I don’t need perfection. I just need good. Damn good is ideal, but I’ll settle for good and able.

In searching for a digital camera that had these three qualities I ran into many opinions and articles. David Pogue’s over at the NY Times was the first article I read, many weeks ago. It was an interesting insight into the various feature sets of each individual camera and I looked closely at all of the three he mentioned as the top 3. However, no where could I find that any of them had the macro/close-up setting. I was terribly disappointed.

Next came the google searches on various word combinations in hopes that I night score with finding a nice comparison piece on macro enabled P&S cameras. Yeah, as you can imagine, I found an awful lot of junk and very little of anything that was fruitful. After much frustration, I gave up the search.

Until today.

And then I went on yet another search for macro-abled P&S cameras. A kind friend pointed me towards Steve’s DigiCams. Rather than hoping I find something I went straight for the Best Cameras link. For anyone curious about digital cameras, this site gives you an excellent quick look and separates all the cameras into nice little categories. However, no “does it do macro?” category. /doublesigh

After much searching and some additional frustration I stumbled across Engadget Labs article on the best point-and-shoot cameras under $400. So, first of all, thank you guys at Engadget for giving me the exact kind of comparisons (in shots, quality, gripes and goodies of each, etc) I needed to see and read. After looking at the photos and reading what was said about their first choice camera (of the small number they looked at, mind you), I think I’m going to go with their choice for the Samsung SL820. Now when I have a couple hundred dollars, I’ll be picking this up (and keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t disappoint).

Moral of the story from this entire many month long experience?? Read a lot of tech magazines. Look at the related links. And wait until the expensive camera comes down in price.

My nook… and ebooks in general

February 22nd, 2010 | Tags: , , ,

I am, without a doubt, a book lover. While I was in school I found myself buying books upon books where they sat, collecting dust on my bookshelves as the pile grew more and more. My large bookshelves (note: more than one) are already brimming with books that I have read and those I have not had the pleasure of reading including paperbacks being two deep that the new books are literally piled on top of each other, for lack of space. Books that I bought and loads of books that other people bought for me. My lack of free time kept me from being able to make a dent in the fantastic world of psychology as well as fiction stories.

I am also one that has many hobbies. I have tried to find a balance between my love of knitting and crocheting, video games and reading. After 2 years of intense schooling (my last semester yielding me 18 units and no free time) I needed a break from reading. I won’t lie, I had spent so much time reading that the last thing I wanted to do was read for pleasure. Period.

Since getting my nook, I find myself reading much more often. Initially there was the “Oh! Shiny!” factor, but it has now become something more significant than just a new gadget for me. The almost instant on to the last thing I was reading makes it so much easier to read a few pages, or a chapter, and set it down again. No need to prop the book open. No need to find a comfortable position to rest my elbow. I hold my nook in my hand or rest it in my lap. While laying in bed it weighs exactly the same if it’s 200 pages or 800 pages. I prop up my book light as I would with a paperback, but no need to shift from side to side, or change the way I lay down to read. The inconvenience of reading an actual book in bed is no longer there.

I must say though, I will not stop buying physical books. There is nothing I love more than walking into the infinite possibility that is a bookstore. Small or large, new or used. I have been known to judge a book by its cover or by its title. I found gems and duds, but rarely do I regret a purchase because I learn something from the experience of reading a new author, an unknown author, or a well-known author I’ve never had the pleasure of reading previously. My purchase of physical books will just slow down, tremendously. Especially with the only new bookstore within 50+ miles of me closing down.

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