Sunday, July 08, 2007

New camera window shopping

My entrance to the online self publishing world was in June 2003. My Marines were going though training and until someone got hurt; my job was to sit on my thumb. So I started taking pictures to pass the time and Marines asked for copies of the pictures. Where else can they get someone to follow them out into the field, run besides them and take pictures of them doing exciting things at cost?

Well that lasted 2 or 3 months and became a full time job of developing, getting the prints, delivering pictures and breaking even so I told everyone, I’m just going to post them on line and you can print your own pictures. That's when the fotopage came into being, I still had a film camera and was getting CD's made of my pictures, being a broke enlisted guy, it took me a little while to gather up the spare change to get my digital camera, it was a HP Photosmart 935. I had a lot of fun with that camera, I stretched what it was capable of to the limit, just look at the 2004 pictures on the fotopage, but eventually, being in my pocket in a 120 degrees was taking its toll, I started seeing defects in the pictures, little smudges like finger prints on pictures of the sky, parts started sticking eventually it died.

Before this happened, I had picked up the photographing bug and was selling CD's of videos I made to my Marines at 5 bucks a pop. Business was good and eventually I saved up enough money to buy a Digital Rebel and I was a picture taking fool. Back in OIF3, you were still allowed to take backpacks everywhere so it was easy to carry around plus I was flying a lot more seeing things that the average Joe rarely got to see. The only problems I had with it was it's size, huge, and that I had to carry around a separate video camera.

I was in Thailand in January of 2006 with my wife when the Rebel died, well the autofocus did and with the small viewfinder, it's sort of hit and miss for my pictures to be in focus. Which cut down on my pictures (it's still not working).

In the middle of my third trip out, since my HP was long since moved on to the next world, I was in search of a new pocket camera. One of the new base rules was you weren’t allowed to take bags into MWR or the Chow Hall and carrying around a DSLR around my next made me look like a Japanese tourist (I’m half Thai by the way). I don’t need any extra help with the being a nerd, I’m totally happy with my current level of geekdom. I didn’t need a big camera around my neck to let total strangers know too.

The exchange in Iraq had a weakness for Panasonics, most of the cameras they order where that brand, no idea why. I ended up getting a 5 megapixel 6 optical zoom model, the DMC-LZ2. They only had two left and the way things are at the exchange, I might not get another chance at picking a camera up. It was a good price, took movies and had a 6 zoom on a pocket camera, how could I go wrong? Amazon gives it 4 stars and DP Review gave it Recommended review. I should have read further into the review, the movies were in a .mov format which you needed Quicktime Pro to edit and the only way to get that was to download it and I couldn’t plug my laptop in anywhere on base. The images were somewhat over exposed and the color balance was terrible, the HP I bought 2 years prior took better pictures and the low lights on this camera weren’t even worth mentioning.

The lack of pictures posted my third trip out were mostly do to this crappy camera taking shoddy pictures and not being able to carry around the Rebel (and it’s hard to use the manual focus on the fly with the small view finder, I need better eyes).

So the camera I'm looking at is the Canon S3, it dropped down below the 300 dollar range, not too big nor too small, takes great movies and has good reviews. I already have SD cards and the rechargeable batteries, now just have to talk the wife into letting me buy it.

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