A Love/Hate Affair with my First Digital Camera

A little history:

I began using digital cameras the first week of February 2001 when I accepted a weekend staff photographer position at the Democrat-Herald in Albany Oregon. This was the transition time for me, I would shoot digital on the weekend and film during the week. Three years later I transferred to a full time position at the Gazette-Times in Corvallis, so I was now shooting digital full time. Just over year ago I was looking at my dust covered camera gear and realized my personal photography had come to a halt. It was time to buy my first digital camera.

Shooting DSLR’s on a daily basis may have spoiled me a bit. There were several features I wanted in my first digital camera. It needed to be small, light and quiet like shooting my rangefinder camera, an Olympus RC35. Trolling the internet I found dpreview and listed the features I wanted in a digital camera, nothing matched, I guess I wanted everything. Even more research on the web convinced me there is a huge gap between DSLR’s and a decent digital rangefinder. This article by Thom Hogan highlights the disconnect between what photographers want and what the camera companies are producing.

Just over a year ago I read on Strobist about a camera that was the closest to what I wanted, the Canon Powershot G9. Next I read all the reviews I could find on the internet. Went to Oregon Camera, the local camera store and handled it, shot some images and looked at the files. Finally I pulled the trigger and bought one from the nice people there.

Over the last year here is what I have discovered about the camera.

Love:

  • Great looking files up to 200 ISO
  • Amazing video
  • Timelapse feature is a way cool extra feature.
  • Nice large LCD screen
  • Quiet compared to DSLR
  • High sync speeds and a hot shoe
  • RAW files
  • Solid construction

Hate:

  • Optical viewfinder sucks
  • Shooting off LCD means holding camera at arms length
  • Shooting off LCD in sunlight is difficult
  • Had to upgrade photoshop to get raw to work
  • Serious shutter lag compared to the DSLR’s I normally shoot
  • Slow focus in low light
  • Interface issues
  • Does not fit hand well
  • Dust in the lens, read more here and here

Conclusion:

The G9 was the best option available at the time I purchased the camera, however I believe the technology is there to create a much better camera. So I was faced with a choice, keep waiting or buy a camera that is three quarters of what is desired. My choice was to buy a flawed camera so that I could make some personal images. My fingers are crossed that the camera manufacturers will listen to their customers and that sometime in the near future produce the camera photographers have been asking for.

Here are some links to G9 accessories, I think they all lead to the same manufacturer:

Kleptography, Photography is Fun.ch, Lensmate

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