We joined the 21st century today, as I took advantage of the Boxing day sale at Future Shop and bought a digital SLR camera. Up until Christmas, we had no digital cameras at all — not a little cheap point-and-shoot, not even one in our cell phones. (This is actually not true, but I’ll describe the exception below.) When Ryan was very young, we bought a Canon Rebel SLR camera, and a year later we got a big zoom lens. The pictures we get out of the camera are fantastic, and the zoom lens is awesome. However, it’s not digital. I’ve been thinking about going digital for a couple of years, but Gail never wanted to, because she was not convinced that the pictures that you’d get from a digital camera (other than the seriously expensive professional quality ones) were as good as the ones we were getting from our SLR, and she might have been right. However, in the last year or so, prices have come down while camera quality has gone up, and we’re now to the point where you can get 5 MP cameras for under $100, and the good SLRs are over 10 MP (and the really good ones are over 20). There is no way, short of blowing a picture up to wall mural size, that a picture from a 10 MP digital camera is distinguishable from a picture from a standard SLR camera. When we decided to go to France this coming summer, we realized that we might take 15-20 rolls of pictures while there. We’d come home to several hundred dollars of processing costs, and only then would we find out if the pictures we took even turned out. People’s eyes may be closed, or the lighting was such that the picture was unusable, or whatever. This pushed Gail over the edge, and we started shopping for digital cameras.
For Christmas, we bought the boys (each) a little 5 MP digital camera, which they’ve been going crazy with (Nicholas has gone through three sets of batteries and has taken over 250 pictures in a little over a week). When we went north for Christmas, we managed to bring our camera without extra film (duh), so when we wanted to take pictures of anything, Gail borrowed one of the boys’ cameras, and I think that helped. She found (like the majority of people who have had digital cameras for years) that the way you take pictures is different with digital — you don’t always have to wait for just the right moment. You can take 20 pictures and if only one turns out, that’s fine. You don’t feel like you’re wasting film taking more than one of the same thing.
Because we have this great zoom lens and didn’t want to give it up, we were excited when we found out that as long as we bought a Canon digital SLR, we could still use the same lens. We started looking at Canon SLRs and narrowed it down quickly. The 30D was about $1200 for the body only, and we didn’t want to spend that much. The Rebel XT (8MP) and XTi (10.1MP) are cheaper ($480 and $620 respectively), but still very nice cameras. I believe the XTi is the newer version of the XT, so I went with the XTi. It has nine-point autofocus (our old camera had three), can take up to three pictures per second, and can take a picture within 0.2 seconds of powering the thing on. I’ll post a more detailed “review” once I’ve had a chance to play with it a little more. I put “review” in quotes there because I’m not camera-savvy enough to post an actual review (the Dioptric Adjustment Correction is -3.0 to +1.0 diopters — I don’t have any idea what that means, but the word “dioptric” is pretty cool), so like everything else in this blog, it’ll just be my uninformed opinions — things I like about it, things that I don’t like, things that could be improved, etc.
The exception I mentioned above was about six or seven years ago, when I bought a small digital camera at an online auction site for $40. I knew it was a pretty low quality camera, but I figured it would be fine for taking pictures for our web site or stuff like that, and for $40, it wasn’t a bad deal. When I received it, I found that calling it “low quality” was a compliment, and that I would have been ripped off if I’d only paid $4. It was no bigger than a credit card and about an inch thick, but the images it took were tiny. I took a couple of pictures of our office, then uploaded them to the computer. The pictures came out slightly bigger than icons on the Windows background, and were completely unrecognizable. I don’t remember the specs (which I obviously never looked at before buying it), but I think it must have been measured in kilopixels — and not many of ’em. Caveat emptor in a big bad way.