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New camera

On Saturday at 6:45 in the morning, we were woken up by the loud knocks on the front door. I ran down the stairs in my sleepwear ensemble – that’s as far as I am willing to go into intimate details at the moment – and accepted the package with our new camera, specially delivered from Hong Kong.

In our search for the new camera, there were two primary considerations.

First of all, we were not looking for a high-end professional SLR. Our old Olympus was used as an everyday snapshot implement, and the occasional travel-magazine-quality shots made with it were a bonus, not a target. You need high-end equipment when you are framing a shot of Mala Strana from the center of deserted Karluv Most, illuminated by the early morning sun. Even there, you may get lucky without it. On the other hand, when you are trying to catch your child swinging on monkey bars, all you need is point-and-shoot automation. The camera better be good at properly recording hues, saturation and color balance, but you hardly need Karl Zeiss lenses in that instance.

The second important factor was the zoom. In the years past, we thought that a snapshot camera does not really need a powerful zoom, as majority of stand-in-front-of-a-famous-building pictures rarely require strong telephoto capacity (you’re likely to want to fit most of the building in, so you’ll probably shoot with wider zoom – and to hell with the person in front of it looking like an undistinguishable speck), but we had many occasions in our past travels when all we had with us was the camera with a limited zoom and a great idea of a snapshot turned into something less than inspiring. So we figured that we’d go for no less than 12x optical zoom.

Pixels were not a big consideration. We firmly believe that, for everyday non-professional use, once you work with 6-7 megapixels, you hardly see any benefit when going above that. And then, you optimize your pictures for the web anyway, which entirely negates your perceived gains.

The size of the camera mattered quite a bit, though, but not in the direction you may think. Call it fat finger syndrome – we are not particularly fond of wallet-size cameras. Something that is easy to grab with two hands is more to our taste. Of course, such cameras weigh a bit more, but we are quite used to that.

Small conveniences such as flip-out, swivel LCD, also got a bit of consideration.

And, finally, what else – price. For the needs described above, spending more than $500 was completely out of the question.

So, we chose Canon Powershot S3 IS. Finding it at a Hong Kong merchant lowered the cost to a bit above US price at the current exchange rates, but not so much higher as to make us wait for my parents to come visit us in January and bring it with them.

So far so good. We’ve made a few dozen trial pictures on our Saturday outing, experimenting with various settings. Only a few passed the quality control and, upon some quick Photoshop touching up, were posted here. But we have high hopes that the camera will work out quite well for us. I draw you attention to this picture of Becky. It was taken with full automation and did not require any corrective action in Photoshop. I humbly happen to think that it came out rather excellent…