Looking at a new camera?


Changing cameras can be a very difficult decision.  For one, cameras do not seem to be getting any cheaper, even point and shooters.  More features, but still around 5,000-10,000 baht.

However, looking at a DSLR, you have arrived in the 20,000-50,000 baht price range, so you have to choose wisely!  In fact, I was just offered a 24-105 zoom lens which was 23,000 baht on its own, camera not included.  Photography can be expensive.

User friendly (you friendly) is also something you need to ascertain before you leave the camera shop.  You have to become completely at one with the camera, you must know how to focus, change aperture and shutter speed – the whole magic black box is under your control.  Today’s cameras are a miracle of electronic engineering, but you need to know how to drive it.

There is another reason to look carefully at a new DSLR, and that is the new anti-shake technology.  When I first started in photography, I could ruin my shots with camera shake through excitement or nervous anticipation.  I had to learn to slow down and pay more attention to steadying the camera, but I have noticed that my shots are becoming ‘soft’ again.  This I have to put down to the combination of age and some fungus appearing in my lenses.  One is not curable and the other is.

However, evaluate many choices as much as you can.  Price is not everything.  I was at a function a couple of years ago and one of my colleagues came in dragging one of those aircraft-style bags on wheels, with the extending handle.  Wondering to myself why he had brought his change of clothes with him, I was blown away when he opened the case and it was full of camera and equipment.  This was his D2X system.

Now I always thought that I would like a D2X, but it was always out of my price range, but here was my opportunity to play with one.  An old proverb goes “expectation is always better than realization” and that certainly was true with the D2X.  For starters, it was incredibly heavy (1,252 gm with batteries, and lenses extra).  You needed a back-pack to carry it, or a permanent porter.  D2X was obviously designed with fit young men in mind.  The Nikon D2X could never be mine.

Finding your new (replacement) camera is also something that takes time.  For me, I was not in a hurry, and it took a good 12 months to make up my mind – there are scores of DSLR’s out there!  My choice was one made by an electronics manufacturer, in conjunction with an optical camera lens manufacturer.  It was the Panasonic Lumix FZ-50.

This camera has 10 megapixels and can be run in all modes from Auto to fully Manual.  Now this is an interesting camera, being neither the usual compact, or a DSLR, but something in between called a “Mega-Zoom”.  Looks like an SLR, and to be honest, when I was using it I did not know it wasn’t an SLR, but the FZ-50 has a fixed lens like a compact.  However, this lens is a 12 times optical zoom going from 35 mm to 420 mm, and made by Leica.  In addition, you can manually focus if you wish.  For an old “film camera” buff, this represents the best of both worlds.

One of the more recent advances in electronics has been image stabilization.  The camera technology is making it hard for you to end up with blurred shots, and the Panasonic Lumix answer is called MEGA O.I.S. (optical image stabilization).  With this system, you can do hand-held photography when working at a 250 mm lens range at 1/60 second shutter speed.

Another feature is the Intelligent ISO Control.  When the camera detects movement of the subject, the ISO and shutter speed are adjusted in a way that ensures the movement of the subject will be frozen.

The Lumix has been trouble free, other than the rubber cover of the camera body “growing” and coming loose.  The camera is having a little trip to Panasonic to see what can be done.  I will let you know.

Remember to choose carefully!