Bob's Digicams and Photo Gear

Canon Digital Elph

The digital Elph, shot in a mirror. Note the dent!

My first digicam! This little gem saw a lot of action, including a month-long trip to the Caribbean. It has seen so much action that it developed a dent on the side of the lens somwhere along the way, but it still works fine. I'm addicted to the idea of a go-anywhere-because-its-so-small camera. I also want a little higher performance machine for more demanding applications. There were some occasions on the trip I could have used more pixels and a longer lens. If I could get the Elph with a 10:1 zoom and 5 megapixels, I wouldn't bother, but somehow I don't think that's coming real soon. Instead, I'm looking at the possibility of a second digital camera. I'm maintaining admirable restraint in not just immediately going after the Nikon D1X, which my friend Steve Kahn bought, and which will take all my Nikon lenses. It's just too bulky, and I'm afraid it would sit in the closet.

Nikon CoolPix 5700

Eventually, I began to succumb to lens-envy (his is longer than mine!), and wanted a step-up camera over the Elph. I would still retain my digital Elph for its knockabout convenience, but I would also have a camera with a better lens, more pixel sensor, and a hot shoe for better flash. These were the weak points of the Elph. Indoor photos were poor because the flash wasn't strong enough. Things very far away at all were hard to shoot for lack of lens and pixels. Frequently, I find myself cropping to fix my poor compositions. Cropping a 2 megapixel photo really cuts the resolution. Cropping a 5 megapixel photo leaves a lot of pixels still around.

After much research and reading of photo reviews at the DPReview site, I became convinced I wanted more camera than I could afford, and was prepared to "settle" for a Fuji Finepix S602. They're great cameras that would have been a significant step up from my Elph. Unfortunately (from my wife's perspective), or fortunately (from my perspective), my buddy Steve Kahn intruded on my decision-making process and upsold me to the Nikon Coolpix 5700. Now this was significantly more camera, being about as much camera as you can get before you are buying a digital SLR-body.

The new Nikon Coolpix 5700...

The 5700 is an awesome piece of gear, and though it is too large for all but a bulky jacket pocket, it remains amazingly small compared to an SLR. We'll see whether my skills as photographer improve, but I can no longer blame any shortcomings on the camera I own! The Elph, regretably, has been gathering dust ever since. It seems the Nikon is small enough to carry most of the places I could take the Elph, so I don't bother with both.

The worst shortcomings of the 5700 are that its slow to focus and very noisy in low light. Aside from those issues, it was just about perfect. I wound up replacing it unexpectedly when I came back from a trip to Cozumel, unpacked it, and discovered it wouldn't turn on. Something had given out on it.

Olympus C8080

The Olympus C8080, Stroboframe, and Promaster Flash...

My latest digicam is an Olympus C8080, and I have to say I've like it better than my previous Nikon right from the start. The camera does not have quite as much zoom range as the other 8 megapixel cameras, but the image quality is unparalleled. I could tell this as soon as I started processing images I had just taken in Photoshop. These images just took a lot less adjustment than my Nikon used to, they were more natural, and truer to the look I wanted right off the camera. The feel of this unit is great, though it is definitely bulkier than the Nikon. The camera is also much faster than the Nikon, and noticeably less susceptible to noise in low light.

You can see from the photo above that I decided to try something a little more potent for indoor flash photography. A friend recommended the stroboframe and a search of the internet turned up the Promaster flash with Olympus TTL module as being a much better deal than buying the Olympus Speedlite. I think it has paid off well, although I still have a lot to learn about shooting with it.

Other Gear and Software...

Besides a camera, I also use an Epson Stylus Photo 750 printer. It isn't state of the art, but does an excellent job. The secret here is in getting the right paper if you want the output to look like film. I hear the best paper to use is from Epson, but I haven't done a side by side comparison. I find I don't print many photos, though. I much prefer to view them online in the web site. It's more like seeing a photo album.

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All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.