Posted by: sbarrett | 2007.12.12

New Camera

See, I told you…  I am back!

 Well, this is a post about something that we actually got months ago, a new camera.  Just a little background – we take lots of pictures.  When our 1st child was born, we bought a digital point and shoot, as we figured we would be taking lots of pictures(man, we were right!).   It was a 3 mega-pixel Casio QV3500.  It was a great camera, had a nice lens, pretty quick performance (or so we thought).  At the time, 3mp was near the top end.  I got a big memory card for it and it also took AA batteries, so we got a few sets of NiMH ones that lasted a long time. 

 That worked great until the flash went out.  We did get if fixed, however, while it was away we bought a new camera – a super zoom Olympus C750.  Although the extra zoom was nice sometimes, (380mm equiv vs. 100mm equiv.) we rarely used it.  Not only that, but the camera took forever to focus, often focused on the wrong thing, and it overall selected slow shutter speeds, so pictures of our kids always came out blurry.  They are the primary subject in our pictures by the way.  We, frustratingly, used this camera for a few years, then finally we got pretty upset over it and decided to sell it and go for a DSLR.

 I have become somewhat of a camera junkie.  I am always reading stuff onlne about the new models, and I have become the go-to guy for camera information where i work.  When looking for our first one, I found a few websites that seem to give real good reviews and information.  What I think are the top sites are DCResource, DPReview, and Imaging Resource.  I just like how the reviews are conducted, a and their insights and opinions on the cameras.  They all have been very objective and consistent in their reviews and try to take similar pictures for the cameras being reviewed at the time so you can do valuable comparisons.  As a side-note, no review can do justice to a piece of hardware, so make sure you can go to a camera or electronics store and actually grab the unit, put it in your hands, up to your face, etc. so you can get a feel for it.

 Anyway, on to the D-SLR.  After reading many reviews, viewing many forum comments, and grabbing a few to feel how they were, I decided to purchase two of them – I got a Nikon D80 and a Pentax K10D.  Both are full size, mid to high end consumer models, 10mp, APS-C sensor size cameras.  I put the same lens on both, the Sigma 17-70mm (25-100mm equiv).  I just could not decide between the two of these.  They came from B&H, which is a quite reputable online and B/M retailer.  After using them both for a week and shooting a bunch of shots, the Nikon went back.  I just liked the pictures on the Pentax better.  It has features not found on the Nikons or Canons – weather sealing, compatibility with older lenses, built in stabilization, larger viewfinder… and it just felt right in my hand.  It is not a small camera, nor is it light.  It also is more of a photographers camera, as it has no scene modes.  You need to know what you are doing when you are using it (not hard to know, but it does take some thinking…)  One of the things I really liked is that the features were made for the shooter.  You did not have to dive into menus to change basic shooting functions like bracketing, raw format, exposure comp, and the things that were on menus – ISO, white bal, shooting mode, they were one button away and used the screen.

Overall I love using the camera.  I would not trade it for another model.  We just got back from Disneyworld  with it and it was rainy and misty almost the whole trip.  I just did not worry about the camera.  It was a little awkward to carry around, as it is not compact, but even with a smaller SLR, it still is not a compact.  However, the image quality makes it.  I love being able to push up to ISO 800 or 1600 and know that I can get a shot that is still decent, as opposed to a little compact that if you got the shot, it would be grainy and hard to see.

 I know this is long, but I wanted to get something posted on this.  I will post more thoughts on this and how it compares later. 

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