I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself always completely befuddled when I go shopping for the simplest of things. I can stand in front of a single make-up or socks display for 10 minutes just trying to decide if I should buy this one or that one? So, you can imagine the agony of shopping for a new camera. The fact that there is really nothing wrong with the camera I’ve got (other than the fact that it’s a 4 megapixel snapper that takes great pictures that don’t print as great as they look on a computer screen) doesn’t really help the situation.
I’ve been shopping for the perfect camera for the last six months. That’s right, six months. At first, I couldn’t decide if I wanted a DSLR or another bridge camera in the point-and-shoot category. So, I figured I’d just find the best one of each category and decide later. Just finding the best of two different types of camera has eaten away hours equaling weeks of my life. Among the bridge cameras, I really liked the Canon Powershot SX20, except that I didn’t like the way it did something (I forget what). So, then I ran into the Panasonic FZ-35, which seems to take awesome pictures, and I went so far as to download the User’s Manual and took a look at it. I kept it in my Amazon Shopping cart, and moved onto thinking maybe the bridge cameras are too bulky; perhaps what I really need is one of those nifty little compact point and shoots. After all, the best camera is the one you have with you–and the compacts are such a cinch to keep in my handbag. So, I found a couple of models of those that were great in that they are not only compact but they also have a good zoom factor. I picked out the Canon Powershot SX200 IS and the Panasonic ZS-7, filed them away in my Amazon shopping cart and turned my attention to the DSLRs, but I was scared of this category. Scared for the price, for the bulk of the cameras, for their complexity. I didn’t want to face this monster.
Back I went to reading CNET reviews and Amazon user reviews. I learned that some DSLRs have LiveView (where you can use the LCD as the viewfinder) at the entry level and some don’t. Some have smaller sensors and the sensor size matters but the megapixels don’t as much matter. Some cameras are built on a Four-Thirds system (whatever that is!), and those are great, but the lenses are very expensive. There was so much information flying at me, I didn’t know which way my head was spinning, or if it was spinning at all! Eventually, I ran across the one site that made things so much simpler. They’ve got a image sample feature that allows you to compare the pictures of different models, in addition to having reviews of most cameras on the market today. Now, this image comparison thing is the absolute best thing since Google. By the time I found this website, I had already pretty much settled on the Canon XS, for the fact that it is an entry level camera with a great feature set for a price I can live with (well, kind of). So, here I am, looking at the camera comparison page, wondering which camera I should compare the XS to. I compared it the bridge cameras, the compact cameras, the Nikon D40, the Nikon D5000, and of course the XS did better than the point-and-shoots by miles. With respect to the Nikon D40 and D5000, I wasn’t blown away enough by the image quality difference to change my mind from the XS.
And then, I saw something in the camera list that triggered a memory in my mind. Over these past few months, I’d seen something somewhere about the Pentax K-x, but I didn’t pay it much mind. Until I saw the camera’s name on the drop down list of cameras to compare the XS to. And when I compared the sample images from the Pentax to the sample images from the Canon, my mind was made up…almost. I started comparing the K-x, an entry level DSLR, to higher model Canons, and I could hardly believe my eyes. I can’t imagine how such a gem of a camera, with respect to photo-quality anyway, could be such a well-hidden secret that it is number 32 on Amazon’s Best-Selling DSLR list, lost in a plethora of Canons and Nikons.
While I still don’t know which camera category I like best (insert groan here), I know which DSLR I’d want. And if you’re wondering which is the website that helped me so much, it’s the popular Imaging Resource website. If you’re on the hunt for a new camera, this is one place you must visit when trying to narrow down the list of must-haves.
Now, I must go meditate over whether I really want a DSLR or not.