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February 9, 2010

Bold return of the crazy camera lady eminent, bring two double-A batteries, stat!

Hello! First of all, thank you so much for the comments and emails telling me about your cameras and your reviews. It was a tough decision. I've had my purchase for about a week now and while it was a slow start getting to know each other we have since grown very close and the Dyson is feeling jealous. Ah, the secret life of electronics.

That cat lady, she crazy.

I went with the Canon PowerShot A1100IS, a very simple point and shoot. This Canon is a little brick of a camera, reminiscent of my first Kodak EasyShare from a decade ago (which I loved to death, literally). I like the size but if you are looking for a tiny, credit-card thin camera this is not the one for you. It has some heft without being bulky like an SLR, which I prefer. And I really like the wheel on the top of the camera that changes settings (from auto to video, for example) because it's simple to use but has enough tension not to twirl around accidentally.

The shutter button is also very obvious so if you're off traveling and ask a stranger who doesn't speak your language to take your picture they would know intuitively which button to push. (Or if you've had too much wine. It happens.) Everything is clearly marked and the buttons are spaced well enough that you don't accidentally hit three at one time if you have pudgy little fingers like I do.

The test images I took in very low light were mostly good, some were grainy but not one came out blurry like my lemon. And that's the test, because I can retouch grainy but you can't come back from blurry. I expected some visual noise with a point-and-shoot in dim lighting (if you ever find a point-and-shoot camera that has no noise in low light settings, you must tell me!) But almost all my display is online so I can live with it. I'm only pointing this out because if you want a camera that can produce poster-size prints without a flash, this would not be a first choice.

Aren't you planning to make this into a poster?

I would recommend this camera 100% for anyone who is a novice and wants a VERY user-friendly camera. It is definitely simple to use and I love that. But I do find it irritating that no one gives the consumer a full user's manual anymore -- hello, we would pay $2 extra for a pocket size booklet of the full user's guide included in the box! -- because it improves picture quality if you know all the nuances of the settings. I went online and downloaded the full manual but wish they'd just included it. And there was no carrying case, which was surprising, not even a cheapo cloth case.

It took me a few minutes to get the auto-timer working just so, but I finally found it and tested it out. Being able to set a timer is a MUST when you travel alone. (By the way, if you do travel alone, I highly recommend the Gorillapod Flexible Tripod, you can bend the legs to wrap around fenceposts and signposts and window railings and get shots from almost anywhere!)

I almost got caught up in trying to buy something fancier but Work Jennifer helped me do a reality check and remember I mostly take pictures of cats and bumper stickers and funny signs. I don't need a thousand dollar camera with changeable lenses and extreme telephoto. Now I'm really glad I went with an easypeasy camera, I love it. The test pictures of the cats came out well even in a dark room and the knitting close-ups I took are fine, too:

Cat paw super close-up!

Bob asleep at the foot of the bed. Awww.

Mystery knitting close up in a dimly lit room and no flash.

And of course the big question is... can I take good pictures of my TV weatherman Dallas Raines like the reclusive little stalker I am...

Oh yeah, Dapper Dallas forecasting rain and sun and flying palm trees all in one day!

The one downside is that the lag time between shots is awfully long, you have to wait a few seconds for the camera to record the image and be ready for the next shot. I haven't tried the video yet so I can't comment on it.

Overall, though, I'm happy. I am mostly happy to have decided on something and be done with it! I got a little stressed out looking for a camera. I was searching and reading and poring over all the reviews and I was getting hung up on buying THE PERFECT CAMERA. As soon as I noticed I was doing that, getting all mired down with the pursuit of impossible perfection, I made myself just choose one and move on. I know this one isn't PERFECT but I like it just fine and I'm trying to remember that the world will keep spinning on its axis if I decide a year later to sell it on ebay and buy a different one. It's a camera, not a heart transplant. Realistically I don't need the $500 rockstar point-and-shoot (though I almost bought this one instead: Canon PowerShot G11 10MP Digital Camera but at the last minute realized I could buy a roundtrip ticket to Barcelona for the cost of that camera.) I liked the Canon PowerShot SX120, but the cheesy pop-up flash weirded me out. (How's that for technical jargon?) There is just so much out there to choose from!

I can't believe how much cheaper electronics are year after year... my first digital camera cost over $400 and it had such limited features compared to all these newer models. Over the weekend as I tried out my new camera I remembered how reluctant I was to make the switch from film to digital. Now I can't imagine going back to film and waiting to get your pictures developed before seeing if any of your shots worked out. I like the instant satisfaction of seeing my cats both in person and on "film" right away!

Frankie says, "Relax!"

Posted by laurie at February 9, 2010 9:21 AM